It's always a delight to see a new and interesting looking game world, one you'd really want to play around in, and Proxy Studios' Zephon looks to be set up to deliver just that. It'll be a followup on Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War, a 4X game set in the eponymous grim, dark universe that has gained a very devoted following over its years of development.
It's a game where the advanced world of the late 21st century is collapsed by an invasion of eldritch-horror-adjacent alien invaders. In the chaos, some kind of horrible cyberpunk-esque rogue AI has created an army of monstrous machines. The dark magic has gotten loose, and so have the nukes. Now, far later, the remnants of humanity is emerging from underground bunkers into the shattered post-apocalyptic landscape.
That's the setup for Zephon, where players will fight a 4X strategy campaign to reclaim Earth's surface that's guided by the mix of dark technologies and black magic that fueled the apocalypses in the first place. Players will choose a specific leader character, but they can then choose how their group of survivors integrates elements like alien technology, cybernetics, and magic into their fight.
Zephon will be Proxy's fourth 4X Strategy game, and it has steadily iterated on this particular interpretation of the genre for over a decade now. Their wargame-inflected approach does a very unique thing, carving out a space in the crowded realm of hex-based 4X games by focusing on making the often-least-fun Exterminate step markedly more fun.
"4X games often give combat the back seat. It’s not necessarily an issue, but it’s a question of focus," said Proxy Studios in a Q&A. "We feel that these games, after the economic infrastructure is created, most of the time end up being decided by combat anyway. We can do the whole experience more justice by going beyond simplistic combat. That’s done primarily by giving each unit a very distinct role through unique weapons, skills and upgrades. We’ve been inspired to bring RTS elements into 4X combat and believe it works excellently."
So far, Proxy's other big stated goal is to bring a heavy roleplay aspect to the diplomacy in Zephon, making it feel like the various factions are just as dominated by their leader characters as yours is. They'd also like to emphasize an economic model that combines resources into higher-tier materials, rather than single-form resources, and are going to focus on fancier visuals than their past games by doing stuff like making sure every unit upgrade is represented on the models.