Have you ever dreamed of what it would be like to hold the galaxy in an iron grip? Have you ever looked to the heavens, thinking of life beyond our stars and thought to yourself “yea, see that star system over there? Screw those guys.”

Of course you have. If you haven’t, then you better start because Stardock Entertainment is hard at work on making all those dreams come true. Galactic Civilization III is the new 4X game in the works by the fellows at Stardock Entertainment, and Gamer Assault Weekly had the pleasure of getting some hands on experience at running a galactic empire.

But what in the universe is a 4x strategy game?” you might be asking yourself, to which I would respond “Shut your dirty noise hole terran and pay attention.” 4X games are a subgenre of strategy games where players focus on the four X’s of ruling an empire:

  • Exploration
  • Expansion
  • Exploitation
  • Extermination

With that in mind, 4X games provide a rich experience that has players constantly balancing resources, military, culture and diplomacy. Or at least that’s what we hope to be saying once the game is fleshed out a bit more. Currently the beta build will see players coming across a lot of “coming soon” tabs, especially when it comes to things like diplomacy and trade. Luckily, I’m of the belief that the best form of diplomacy comes in the shape of a huge armada, and the best trade agreements are the ones that leave others cowering before you. Those small details aside, the content that is currently present in the beta gave us some fun features to play around with and explore.

Being new to the franchise I opted to do some research before jumping head first into the vast emptiness of space, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Galactic Civilization is a series heavely inspired by the Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise, so fans of the series will immediately feel at home.

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So far to choose we have Humans, Space orcs, Blue Space Humans, and 4-Eyed Space Kermit.

When loading up a new game, players will be met with familiar menus. At the start they can choose one of 8 races (currently in the beta only 4 are playable), and afterwards they will be able to adjust settings ranging from size of the map and density of resources to win conditions. So far the game looks to be doing a good job of allowing users to set up their own pacing.

Once the options are all set, players will be launched into the middle of the galaxy. They begin near their home world with a colony ship, survey ship, scout and a shipyard. They map itself is covered by traditional fog of war, which reveals the area and its contents as players explore. Through exploration they may encounter space debris and other anomalies that will often reward players with bonus resources.

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One man’s space junk is another man’s more valuable space junk

When inhabitable planets are revealed, players can choose to colonize them by sending in the colony ships. One fun feature that’s present is the way players can choose to interact with a planet when first colonizing it. They will be greeted by a menu which gives a brief summery of the current situation on the planet. From there, players have the option to proceed based on one of three paths: benevolence, pragmatism, or malevolence. Each path offers varying rewards and penalties, adding depth to how players choose to run their empire.

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I was a little disappointed that “nuke the bastards” wasn’t an option.

planetscreen

Speaking of colonies, selecting a planet will bring players to the world map. This map offers an overview of the current planet, showcasing territories and options on what to build. Hexes with bonus resources or natural formations will have a designated icon which will give players more information when they hover over. Once again, this will feel familiar to players who have ever touched Civilization game.

One of my personal favorite features of the game was the inclusion of a Ship Designer, where players get the chance to customize their own ships. By selecting the Designer option, players will be taken to a creation screen in which they can frankenstein their own ships based on available parts. They have the option of creating anything from a simple scout to a behemoth pastiche of incongruent parts incapable of any useful function, and one that begs for the sweet sweet release of death at every turn. It’s great to be given that level of customization. While not all options were readily available, it’s a fun concept that will definitely see some use.

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Like seriously, the game does not care what you build here. I don’t even know what this thing can do, it’s horrifying.

The game itself will feature both scenarios and a single player campaign, which sadly were not included in the beta trail. Most of our time was spent building up our colonies and finding planets to bend to our will. One hope that I have for the game is the inclusion of a tutorial of sorts, as all the options and features can seem a bit overwhelming to new players.

All in all I lost a good 22 hours in the short time I had with this game, which is saying something. While on the surface Galactic Civilizations III might have some recognizable influences, the game has the potential to quickly set itself apart. The game is definitely worth keeping an eye on for anyone who has that strategy space itch that needs some galactic scratching.