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Galactic Civilizations 4 announced

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Earlier today, Stardock announced Galactic Civilizations 4: a new 4X space strategy game in the series that's been around since the early '90s. The full release is planned for next year, but an alpha version is scheduled to be out this June.

GalCiv 4 will elaborate on GalCiv 3's interstellar empire building in some pretty significant ways. Put briefly(ish), with quotes from Stardock CEO Brad Wardell:

  • The standard GalCiv star map has been improved with "genuine coherent solar systems." But the bigger thing is that each map is now a "sector," and when you zoom out, you see a bunch of sectors connected by "subspace streams." In other words, the scale of each game has been upped by a conceptual level. There's a "map of maps." (Though you can customize the size of games and just play in just one sector.)
  • Planets are no longer equal. There are core worlds which are supported by colonies.
  • To keep micromanagement down, colonies operate independently, feeding their core world with resources automatically.
  • However, a core world can't effectively govern an unlimited number of colonies. Crime will begin to interfere. The answer: Send a governor to a colony to turn it into a core world.
  • This effectively "flips" the typical strategy game dynamic. Rather than recruiting AI leaders to automate governing, the player recruits AI leaders to add to the number of worlds that they can personally govern.
  • However, players may find themselves at odds with their own governors; "It's been interesting to see how much insolence play testers have taken from an AI leader if that character provides really good perks to their civilization," said Wardell.
  • Rather than a campaign, hidden conditions can trigger story events that can potentially result in a new story-driven event. These events are "very, very infrequent." 

With "something like 16-plus playable species, each with its own unique set of leaders," the number of possible story events should be big. And you won't only have to deal with your own leaders during a game. You'll be dealing with the leaders of your competitors, too.

"In previous versions, the computer AI meant other civilizations," said Wardell. "Now, every civilization is made up of hundreds of characters who have their own agendas. In 4X terms, it's like dealing with Civs of Civs."

While the structure has changed quite a bit, the basic assumptions of the 4X genre aren't at all diminished here: Your goal is to research new technology, explore space, exploit what you find, expand your empire, and exterminate your competition.

GalCiv 4 will go into early access this June, and Stardock notes that "early" really means early, starting "at the alpha phase" to get player feedback.

"The team feels pretty good about the direction of the game but we really want to get early feedback from our hardcore fans," said Wardell. "For example, should we have a tech that allows players to eventually bypass the subspace streams and fly through the void to other sectors?  We can theory craft all day, but gameplay questions like that are ones we'd like to see actually played by real people at length before unleashing the final game on the masses."

You can find more about GalCiv 4 on the official site (opens in new tab).

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley alongside Apple and Microsoft, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early personal computers his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. After work, he practices boxing and adds to his 1,200 hours in Rocket League.