Stardock Announces Galactic Civilizations IV
The biggest space 4X game is getting a lot bigger
Stardock announced Galactic Civilizations IV today. The newest installment of its award-winning space 4X strategy sandbox game series takes the best of what its predecessors had to offer and adds to it with many new and exciting features.
As the all-powerful leader of a spacefaring civilization, the player must seek out new star systems and discover the exciting potential of the subspace realm. There are thousands of worlds to colonize and dozens of civilizations - both old and new - to encounter.
The new game, scheduled to go into early access later this Spring, aims to vastly increase the game’s scope and depth by introducing AI characters, star sectors, ministers, central control, a much bigger technology tree, and more.
“The focus in Galactic Civilizations IV is the player actually dealing with AI characters,” said Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock. “In previous versions, the computer AI meant other civilizations. 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.”
To go along with the greater depth in the way civilizations are handled, the game’s galactic scale has been vastly increased.
“In previous games, players would pick a map size and the game would generate a cluster of stars with planets. This time, those same clusters of stars and planets will be connected to other clusters via a new concept called Subspace Streams,” said Wardell. “Each cluster is known as a sector. It’s like having a map of maps.”
To deal with the much greater number of stars and planets from previous games, the concept of “AI governors” has been thrown out and replaced by the Core world / Colony World metaphor.
“There’s no point expecting players to micro-manage dozens, let alone hundreds of worlds,” said Wardell. “Instead, virtually all planets are simply colonies – worlds that simply output raw resources to their associated core world. The player assigns one of their precious leaders to a particularly good world in order to turn it into a core world. The core worlds are the ones the player directly manages, with the leader character providing various bonuses and unlocking various features based on the attributes of that character.”
Much of the game deals with the player carefully balancing their personal power versus that of the leader characters they’ve recruited. Leader characters are what unlock many features of the game - from research, to planet management, to diplomacy - but they also have their own agendas and individual stats that can lead them to do things to the player (or to each other). Moreover, the player can bypass their leaders and issue executive orders using control points.
“Executive orders work a little bit like say a ‘spell’ would in a fantasy game,” said Wardell. “One executive order might be to fast build a ship on a target planet, and another might be to draft armies to invading planets. But these orders are paid for via the new ‘control’ resource.”
Acquiring control points typically involves actions that result in reducing the loyalty of various leaders. Thus, the player has to carefully balance their desire for control with getting along with their leader characters.
“We are a long way away from the old raising and lowering taxes to affect approval,” said Wardell. “Our goal here is to make use of AI to give players the experience of foes not just being foreign, but potentially domestic as well. 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.”
With the entire galaxy now being part of the game, Galactic Civilizations IV includes several new canon alien civilizations to play as or against each with their own unique abilities, lore, and features.
Popular features from the previous versions of the game have also been greatly improved, including ship designs, planetary invasions, combat, diplomacy, research, planetary improvements, and more.
Replacing the traditional campaign system of previous Galactic Civilizations games is the new “Missions” feature. These story-driven elements allow players to feel like every game is effectively a unique, compelling campaign unto itself.
“We eliminated the ideology tree we had in previous games,” said Wardell. “Now, players will find themselves choosing between personal liberty and collectivism, authoritarianism and anarchy and seeing what kind of civilization they want to create. These choices not only unlock additional gameplay features, but determine what kinds of ‘missions’ will spawn.”
Because of the dramatic changes from previous Galactic Civilizations games, the early access program for Galactic Civilizations IV will start at the Alpha phase rather than the more typical Beta phase, so that player feedback can be incorporated early.