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Stardock Releases the Galactic Civilizations IV: v2.2 Ethnology Update

Article posted on 12/19/2023

Ethnology update gives each civilization and custom civilization far more uniqueness and lore 

Stardock Entertainment released its much-anticipated update to its newest space strategy game, Galactic Civilizations IV today.  

Dubbed “The Ethnology Update”, this new version focuses on making different civilizations feel more distinct and unique in both cultural and biological ways.  

“Galactic Civilizations has always had to walk the fine line between being an open-universe space sandbox game and a narrative driven space strategy game,” said Brad Wardell, Creative Director at Stardock. “The Ethnology update looks at the different biological and cultural traits of different civilizations and makes available unique planetary improvements, starships, events, etc.  For instance, what humans would want to do with their worlds is a very different thing than say a race of sentient crystals.”  

Because the Ethnology system works based on civilization traits it means that custom civilizations that have these traits will automatically inherit the unique abilities and planet upgrades making the universe more alive.  

The new version also includes: 

  • Revamped UI: Intuitive and Player-Friendly. Responding to valuable player feedback, the update introduces a major UI overhaul. The new main screen UI and Fleet Manager make fleet management more intuitive, enhancing the overall user experience and strategic decision-making. 
  • Custom Civilizations in Multiplayer. The update introduces the ability to use custom civilizations in multiplayer modes, adding a new layer of strategy and personalization to online gameplay. 
  • New Weapon and Defense Components. Ship designers can look forward to an array of new weapon and defense components, allowing for more intricate and interesting ship designs. 
  • Lore-Rich Technology Descriptions. Long descriptions for technologies now provide players with the lore behind each advancement, enriching the game's narrative depth.  
  • New Planet Biomes.  Players can now encounter dozens of new biomes across different planet classes, making worlds feel more unique and interesting. 
  • Updated Graphics Engine. The update features an updated graphics engine with a new light source system, offering a substantial visual upgrade over previous editions. 
  • Improved Localization. Localization improvements, especially for Chinese, Russian, German, and French players, ensuring players from around the world can play the version in their native language. 


Galactic Civilizations IV is available at a discounted price on Steam and also available on the Epic Games Store.
Also released today: Tales of Centauron, learn more.


v2.2 Ethnology Screenshots

GalCiv IV: Supernova
GalCiv IV: Supernova
GalCiv IV: Supernova
GalCiv IV: Supernova


v2.2 Change Log:


  • Fix for district crash.

  • Fix a stuck loop in map generation.

  • Fixed a softlock related to ship path display. 

  • Minor perf boost for nebulas. 


  • Reduced distance between stars by one tile.

  • Baratak star is now yellow. 

  • Aquatic worlds, Frozen worlds, etc., are now more common. 

  • Updated map size tweaks for faster and more satisfying generation. 

  • Updated map generation should help with the maps not generating in some cases. Also results in more pleasing map size options. 

  • Updated sectors to support more branches as well as support fewer branches as well to have more pleasing maps and faster generation. 

  • Slight adjustments to the map generation settings. 

  • Slightly more asteroids. Slightly more resources. 

  • Slight tweaks to the lighting colors of the stars. 

  • White stars are more likely to have asteroids spawned around them. 


  • Support was added for point lights in Galaxy View and Battle View. You may enable point lights in the Options>Graphics menu and start a new game. Old save games still work, albeit without the new lighting effects.



  • Improved AI prioritization of defenses on ship design.

  • AI will no longer adjust the value of your trade (in terms of money) based on how much it likes you. Values money more.

  • AI is greedier about being paid to go to war with other civs.

  • AIs with weaker militaries will now require that their fleets use up more of their logistics so that they're more efficient.


  • Workers now have +5 Expectations.

  • Farmers no longer provide Influence.

  • Farmers' food production increased from 0.02 of their Diligence to 0.05 of their Diligence.

  • New citizen type: Enforcer, shakes down people to get stuff from them.

  • Added “Ruined Torians” citizens.

  • Added Zombie citizens.

Culture Traits

  • Nerfed "Sovereign Identity" culture trait. Instead of increasing stats by 50%, it increases them by 25%.

  • The "Individual Identity" cost was lowered from 2200 to 1200 to compensate for the loss to "Sovereign Identity."


  • AI difficulty levels will affect governor loyalty.

  • The godlike difficulty logistics bonus was reduced from 100% to 25%. 


  • Dozens of new and updated Leader Events, including "Clone Crime," "Lost Legacy," and "Sentient Plants." Leader events are based on what leaders you've recruited and their roles. Many of these events are chained together to tell a larger story.

  • Additional events around Sentient plants. Don't judge me!

  • New Korath Event images.

  • The "Smuggler's Revenge" fleet was given a battleship. The earliest turn the event occurs is moved to turn 90.

  • Lots of existing anomaly events now have cooldowns so that they don't come up so frequently.

  • Event image updates.

  • Events are now much more common in early-game.

  • Balance pass on Colonization Events to increase variety.

  • Balance pass on galactic events. 

  • Balance pass on events, especially negative ones, so that they aren't so debilitating. 

  • Update events so that more of them are restricted to certain times of the game (i.e., first 100 turns, second 100 turns, etc.). 

  • The first Crisis event comes much sooner.

  • Added dozens of new Leader events.

  • New types of encounters: Sentinel swarm and Dreadlord Mothership.

  • Balance tweak to event likelihood.

  • Occasional events' cooldown was reduced from 8 to 6.

  • Fixed an edge case where events failed to deliver their ship rewards.

  • Silicon-based races won't get Natural League showing up on their planets. 

  • Lots of new character background stories. 

  • Updated human advisor images. 

Executive Orders

  • "Draft Colonists" cooldown increased from 8 turns to 12 turns.

  • "Emergency Speed" (New) Makes the target fleet travel faster but lowers HP.

  • “Exploit Nature” now requires the Trader's ability. 

  • The “Orbital Defense Drones” order now requires the Vigilant Ability. 


  • The Drengin favor Totalitarianism instead of Nihilism.

  • The Korath favor Nihilism instead of Totalitarianism.

  • The Korath "Genocidal Ability" converts non-Korath citizens into Batteries.

  • Added new Korath (and exterminator ability civs) related conversations.

Faction Abilities / Traits

  • "Engineer" ability now reduces Supply Attrition by 15%

  • "Clever 1" Research benefit increased from 10% to 15%

  • "Clever 2" Research benefit increased from 5% to 10%

  • "Rich 1" Wealth benefit increased from 10% to 15%

  • "Rich 2" Wealth benefit increased from 5% to 10%

  • "Productive 1" Manufacturing bonus increased from 10% to 15%

  • "Productive 2" Manufacturing bonus increased from 5% to 10%

  • "Militant 1" control starting bonus increased from 40 to 50.

  • "Militant 2" control starting bonus increased from 20 to 30.

  • "Likeable 1" Diplomatic ability increased from 2 to 3.

  • "Likeable 2" Diplomatic ability increased from 1 to 2.

  • "Veteran 1" XP bonus increased from 40% to 100%

  • "Veteran 2" XP bonus increased from 20% to 75%

  • "Brutal 1" Soldiering bonus increased from 20% to 40%

  • "Brutal 2" Soldiering bonus increased from 10% to 30%

  • "Courageous 1" changed from a Resistance bonus (Influence) to a Planetary Defense 30% bonus.

  • "Courageous 2" changed from a Resist bonus to a Planetary Defense bonus of 20%

  • "Miners" now give a 50% bonus to asteroid mining.

  • "Bureaucrat 1" now gives a +1 pre-turn control bonus.

  • "Farmers now" increase food production by 25%

  • "Urbanites" now get a population cap bonus of 25%

  • "Intimidating 1"bonus increased from 25 to 50.

  • " Intimidating 2" increased from 10 to 30.

  • "Persuasive 1" increased from 25 to 50.

  • "Persuasive 2" increased from 10 to 30.

  • "Proliferation carries some negatives: Intelligence of species reduced by 2, Diligence reduced by 1, Resolve reduced by 1.

  • Removed all the piddly little cultural awareness buffs from abilities.

  • The "Wealthy" ability text description was updated to mention the techs it gets.

  • Evil abilities like "Exterminate" now come with a hit to Influence.


  • New Starting improvements. Instead of civs getting the same starting improvements, we are giving them unique ones based on their abilities. For ease of understanding, we will refer to what races get them, but these improvements are tied to their abilities so that custom civs will get them.

    • Navigators:

      • Translight Hub

      • Central Borehole

    • Mimots:

      • Home Burrow

      • Nurture Den

    • Xeloxi

      • Enforcer Den

      • Industrial Espionage Center

    • Arceans:

      • Neural Link

      • World Engine

    • Altarians:

      • Elemental Fabricator

      • Tower of Procipinee

    • Terran Resistance:

      • Auto Printer

      • Communications Array

    • Yor:

      • Durantium Scanner

      • Precursor Relic Scanner

    • Korath:

      • Interrogation Center

      • Death Camp

    • Torians:

      • The Grand Resort

      • The Great School

  • Colony Capitals now provide one food (as that's the whole point of the domes on the colony ships!)

  • New and updated Improvement images.

  • Restricted some improvements from being built on mountains.

  • New evil improvement: Crucible of Pain.

  • New unique improvements:

    • Central Core Mine

    • Secondary Mining Core

    • Mining Operations

    • Air Purifier (heh, too little, too late!)

    • Xeno Patent Office

    • The Great Arms Expo

    • Father Tree

    • Father Root

    • Crystal Core

    • Crystalize Land

    • Crystal Facet

    • Harmonic Gem

    • Prismatic Matrix

    • Shard of Harmony

  • Stinky plant improvement.

  • Awarding a colony improvement now places it in a random spot on the planet.

  • "Precursor Elevator" improvement reduces "Supply Attrition" by 15%.

  • Burrows and other Mimot-like buildings are now restricted to Mimots. 

  • The Proliferation trait, if you aren't Mimots, gives you the “Growth Center.” 

  • Baratak and other spore races get the “Verdure Globe Vault” improvement that provides culture. 

  • Fixed bug that prevents a Citizen's race from being able to be used as a prerequisite for improvements. 

  • Asteroid Mining bases now also provide Tech and Wealth to planets instead of just minerals. 

  • “Fusion Power Plant” is now a galactic achievement (one per player) but has been buffed to provide neighbors a +3 to neighbors. 

  • Houses now provide neighbors +1 to influence. 

  • “Orbital Market” no longer costs money to build, just Durantium. 

  • The Industrial Center increases pollution as it levels up; the initial benefit increased from 10% to production to 12%.


  • Tweaked campaign mission map settings to be more fun.

  • Updated campaign maps to move opponents slightly closer.

  • Added more VO.


  • Pirates start with more money.

  • Population growth slightly slowed down.

  • There is more variance in how long various anomalies take to research so that players don't have so many discoveries in a single turn.

  • Fixed a problem with Navigator achievement caused by the Navigators forgetting who they really were.

  • Change population capacity decay to be a citizen lost every X turns.

  • Base culture trait cost increased from 10 to 12.

  • "Colonial Supplies" Artifact Power now reduces "Supply Attrition" by 15%.

  • Fixed the "Sponsor Decay" system being a positive % that is lost from a distance. Fixed a bug that prevented penalties from working.

  • The "Trade" option should not be a "First Meeting" option if the player is in permanent war with the faction.


  • Balance pass on planets to make them a bit less mineral-rich.

  • Balance pass on Earth to make it more consistent with other planets.

  • Torian planet class increased from 25 to 34, but minerals reduced from 3 to 2, and Tech reduced.

  • Fen Planet minerals reduced from 4 to 2 and Wealth reduced from 4 to 3.

  • New types of resources found on planets:

    • Durantium Deposits

    • Borehole

    • Precursor Relics

  • Balance pass on planet types that spawn.

  • Adjusted weights of various planet types so that there is more variety.

  • New planet tile biomes:

    • Flood Plain

    • Rainforest

    • Tropical Grasslands

    • Stony Plains

  • Updated terrain graphics.

  • New types of planetary terrain with their bonuses:

    • Oasis

    • Flowing Lava

    • Volcano

    • Volcanic Plains

    • Barrens

    • Coral Reef

    • Shallows

    • Coastal

    • Fertile Plains

  • The "Shallows" terrain type's color code is changed to gray instead of green. 

  • Baratak's home world influence increased from 9 to 10. 

  • Fixed the tile outline color for various terrain tiles to match their bonus. 

  • Updated balance pass on planet outputs now that asteroids provide so much more benefit. 


  • Commander ship unlocks spread out more.

  • Carrier Template now comes with a large hull.

  • Spread beam weapons across more techs.

  • Supply Ship Component reduces "Supply Attrition" by 50%.

  • Ships will now target and attack targets of opportunity rather than holding fire until the ship their class prefers is in range.

  • Renamed hull sizes back to their actual sizes rather than calling them Fighter Hulls, etc.

  • AI design of ships for the player has been changed. It no longer cares about the types of weapons the ship uses, only the overall cost and effectiveness BY CLASS.

  • AI designs for the player now focus exclusively on making ships based on the class without concern for what weapon types are on them.

  • The Armed Shuttle no longer gets a "Point Defense" module but instead another gun.

  • The trade module for freighters now provides a +2 to speed to help get trade going over long distances faster.

  • Tiny ships tactical speed increased from 3 to 4.

  • Small hull cost decreased from 75 to 60.

  • Small hull mass (space) increased from 15 to 18.

  • Small hut tactical speed increased from 1 to 2.

  • Medium hull cost decreased from 200 to 120.

  • Medium hull mass increased from 24 to 32.

  • Medium hull tactical acceleration increased from 0.8 to 1.0.

  • Large hull tactical acceleration increased from 0.2 to 0.5.

  • Add an "unclassified" ship class to the designer that has no special requirements or bonuses. 

  • Chaff and Point Defense modules added. 

  • Fixed the spawning of award ships.

  • AI designs only non-redundant ships for the player. 

  • If the game can't find an awarded ship design, it will create one on the fly as best it can. 

  • Point Defense requires anti-matter but is very good at defending ships. 

  • The Caretaker was reclassified as a Support vessel. 

  • Update of AI fleet ship designs to be more effective. 

  • Cruisers now target Frigates first instead of capital ships. 

  • Updated description for ship classes. Starting ships now explain how they're used. 

  • Fixed a bug where the game would not show a new ship design for the player because it wasn't as good as the "best design," which was equipped with weapons the player didn't have. Like, no kidding, the best design is better than the new design, but you can't actually build that!

  • Fixing another minor logic error that could result in a ship not being added.


  • Mining HQ moved to Starbase Refineries. Duh.

  • The Slipstream Module (which makes nearby ships go faster) is now available to all Starbase types.

  • The Mining module benefit was reduced from 0.5 to 0.2.


  • Updated and cleaned up Tech Tree.

  • Interstellar Banking now requires wealth ability.

  • New Tech: "Interstellar Investments" (requires Trader ability).

  • New Tech: "Interstellar Markets" (requires Trader ability).


  • Updated strings for v2.2.

  • Chinese 

    • Chinese cleanup pass of fixing clipped text and improving the translation quality. 

    • Chinese fonts are made somewhat larger for easier reading. 

    • Major pass on removing overuse of spaces in Chinese localization. Instead, text will tend to be more vertical when there's a lot for easier reading. 

    • Customized background character descriptions for Chinese players. 

    • Technologies now have a long description for Chinese (and other languages). 

    • Major update to the Chinese language to fix cut-off text. 

  • French 

    • Significant polish passes on French localization to size icons and font sizes for more pleasant viewing. 

    • Lots of minor text fixes for French. 

    • Simplification of French text (less formality) for easier reading. 

    • Removed redundant text keys that were causing pop-up errors (debug). 

    • Mission names shortened. 

    • Shortened French stats so that they don't get clipped. 

  • German 

    • Fixed font and image sizes so that there isn't screen dirt on the planet screen. The text should also be more readable in German. 

    • German text tweaks for removing various clipping issues and other language bugs. 

  • Italian 

    • Shortened strings to fix clipping in Italian. 

    • Font size tweaks to remove some screen dirt. 

  • Polish 

    • Fixed supply attrition text being too long. 

    • Fixed Polish pop up message error about missing asteroid icon. 

    • Updated font sizes to remove some screen dirt in Polish.

  • Portuguese 

    • Fixed errors and clipping. 

  • Russian  

    • Lots of Russian text fixes to solve clipping problems. 

  • Spanish   

    • Fixed pop-up errors and clipped text in Spanish. 


  • You can now choose your own custom factions to play.

  • The host has the option to disable custom factions during game setup. 

  • Display custom faction images when restoring the save game.


  • Fix missing strings for the "Central Mine," "Core Mining," and "Mining Operation."

  • Social Stat updated to say "Social Skills" in English.

  • Updated "Mod Manager" to "Workshop" in the offline tooltip message.

  • Some of the techs, mostly the armor and shield upgrades, were using 'will provide' rather than 'provides.' Updated to use 'provides.'

  • Some techs did not end the short dec with a period. Added a period to be consistent.

  • Through much of the UI, changed 'turn' to 'month.' Left as 'Turn' when explicitly referencing a specific player's 'Turn' rather than the turn cycle, which is a month.

  • Updated UI to measure events and cooldowns in Months instead of Turns.

  • Korath Command Ship: "Swift Scourage" was changed to the "Swift Scourge."

  • Cultural Influence Victory: Updated small typo in the victory screen that was 'the bodies' instead of 'their bodies.'

  • Luxar Dominion War Declaration: Clarified text.

  • Killed Mercenary Alert: Cleaned up text.

  • Text change. It's CIVILIZATION. NOT EMPIRE. The game is called Galactic Civilizations, not Galactic Empires.

  • Added more Korath dialog and flavor text.

  • Added more flavor text for GNN.


  • Major Feature Update: Technologies now have long descriptions available that give a lot more detail and history for each technology. Long descriptions for technologies are now viewable on the research screen and upon completion. New Fleet Manager allows you to assemble better and organize your fleets."

  • Added a new tab to the "Data Bank" screen to see existing agreements that contain treaty information. You can use this tab to break treaties and speak to the select treaty's faction.

  • Culture Ability Tooltip: Update to show more information about what it does.

  • Civilization Summary Tooltip: Cleaned up alignment and overlapping issues on the.

  • Added Faction-based UI colors. The game UI is tinted differently based on what faction you've picked.

  • You can now multi-select ships. Hold SHIFT and drag over the area you want selected.

  • Battle notification map markers no longer block ship selection.

  • Changed sign on supply attrition (decay) because a positive number is a bad thing, not a negative number (less of a bad thing is usually considered a positive).

  • Tooltips can now distinguish between buffs that are capital world only versus all the other colonies.

  • Sponsor Decay changed to Supply Attrition; therefore, the sign of effects for them is reversed.

  • Slightly increased in-line images for 4K and up resolutions.

  • If you have no relations with another civilization, the civilization tooltip is no longer a giant empty box.

  • Tooltip window widths were slightly increased to fix clipped text.

  • Updated the top bar to include status information on your civ.

  • New context menu style for ships, fleets, planets, starbases, planets, and shipyards.

  • Updated tutorial images to match the new UI. 

  • The default scaling of UI images changed from high performance to high quality. 

  • Ship Designer: Addressed a few seconds delay in opening Ship Design from the Shipyard window.

  • Ship Designer: Ensure ship parts are displaying the correct icon. 

  • Adjusted the “Ship level” tooltip and “planet population” tooltips.

  • Cosmetic update to tech tree where there are several new techs and the tech tree has been updated so that techs use new colors based on the type of Tech it is. 

  • The orange ui color is a bit more orange. 

  • Changed tech names that were too long to fit in UI to shorter names. 

  • The Research Window UI was updated to have more pleasing text sizes and to fit longer description text. 

  • Font size tweaks to remove some screen dirt. 

  • Note for our 2.2 insiders: Editing an older custom faction no longer makes the UI all-black. However, if you edited an older custom faction using the insider's build, you will need to edit the custom faction again and choose a color from the drop-down.  Folks who didn’t run the Insider’s build are unaffected by this.


  • Workshop: fixed a problem with ship preview images not generating.

  • In the gameplay options screen, we added a button for Steam users to migrate their legacy workshop items to the Steam Workshop automatically.