Galactic civilizations 4 early access Galactic Civilizations 4 promotes itself as the series’ most approachable game. This is accurate, just as a tiger’s tail is the most accessible part of its body. Stardock’s long-running 4X series now has an official lesson in the guise of a small robot assistant dubbed ‘Space Clippy.’ When a game explains everything as though it came from another dimension, Space Clippy doesn’t assist much.
Take, for example, modules. You might be wondering what modules are. I did as well. At first, I mistook modules for optional accessories that could be used to customize your starbases (which act as both resource harvesters and deployable control points, with modules helping improve those functions in various ways). But then I ran out of modules, and I realized that they are a limited resource. Modules, on the other hand, are built at shipyards, unlike practically every other resource in the game, which is either harvested in space or created on planets.
Oh, and you can only build modules after researching the required technology, which is another issue I’ll discuss later.
GalCiv, like many other systems, never fully explains anything. Like a disdainful waiter in a strange restaurant, Space Clippy simply sends you to various menus. The irony is that GalCiv 4 isn’t as difficult as it appears. It’s just bad at communicating, so getting the most out of the game requires a lot of failed starts.
The universe is vast.
It’s not just about comprehending particular systems; it’s also about the presentation of major aspects. Consider sectors, the game‘s most innovative concept. Rather of portraying the universe as a wide expanse of stars, GalCiv 4 divides it into self-contained bubbles linked by subspace warps (aka space roads). You can play on randomly created maps with a dozen or so of these bubbles, each with about 30 stars.
As a result, Stardock can declare GalCiv 4 to be the largest game in the series’ history. While visually stunning, playing on this scale isn’t all that enjoyable. Games of this magnitude are horribly slow, and ship management gets exceedingly complicated because you have to zoom in and out to issue instructions to individual fleets all the time. On smaller maps, GalCiv is more enjoyable. Not only does the game progress quicker as empires are forced to interact more, but the strategic value of sectors increases as the space roads that connect them become highways that can be monitored (though not entirely blocked) to aid in the defense of your empire.
It’s not as if keeping invaders out will ensure victory. In GalCiv 4, a new victory condition called “Prestige” is introduced. This keeps track of how wonderful your empire is in a variety of categories, providing Prestige points based on how good your military, science, and tourism industries are. You win the game if you get enough prestige points. This makes nonviolent victory easier and keeps larger-scale maps from devolving into attrition conflicts. Prestige bonuses can also be earned by completing a variety of quests that replace the regular campaign from prior games, unlocking as your civilization fulfills certain conditions. This allows you to enjoy GalCiv 4’s “narrative” without being constrained to play as a single side.
Galactic Civilizations 4 Early Access
The divide between colonies and core worlds is one of the most welcome changes. Planets that you directly administer are known as core worlds. You’ll be able to assign a governor to them, build productivity-boosting structures on them, and even establish a starbase nearby. Colonies, on the other side, do not require direct control; instead, they merely channel their resources to the nearest core world.
The goal is to decrease your management responsibilities from hundreds of planets to a dozen or two. And it works—at least once you figure out how to successfully distinguish between colonies and core worlds. When you assign a governor to a colony, it becomes a core world, therefore the decision is functionally yours. Only worlds rated “Excellent” or higher are worthy of becoming core worlds. Because the game doesn’t warn you, it’s tempting to rush into colonizing a lot of barely habitable backwaters while the AI steals all the excellent planets from under your nose, snout, or proboscis.
The “right” procedure to build core worlds is slow and involved, so you could be tempted to intervene directly. Conquering other civilizations is a simple matter of clicking on a fleet or planet to attack it, then waiting for the fight or siege to end. GalCiv, on the other hand, ignores the fact that core worlds can only be invaded after researching a technology known as Planetary Invasion. Colonies, on the other hand, can be taken by any ship, even alone starfighter, at any time. This goes too far in the opposite direction, with conflicts devolving into glorified pest management unless all colonies have a few ships stationed to protect them.
Don’t be concerned.
After you’ve deciphered GalCiv’s jumbled attempts to communicate with you, the universe feels strange enough to warrant a large sci-fi sandbox. Not only in the races you encounter, which range from fleshy mantis-like creatures that thrive on oceanic worlds to armies of sentient robots that don’t require food to survive, but also in the numerous anomalies you can scan for minor rewards, such as ships you can repair from wreck sites or strange artifacts that grant you one-time powers.
As your empire grows, you’ll be able to use “executive orders,” which are special edicts that can recruit a new colony ship, increase your income, or expose a new system on the map. These quickfire bonuses provide a pleasant sense of urgency in a game where progress is slow. In one case, I used an item to grant a colony ship an extra move, allowing it to avoid a pirate fleet and beat a competitor vessel to the sector’s greatest planet.
As the game progresses, your options for attack expand. Diplomacy, for example, appears to be limited at first, and getting anything like a good deal from other factions appears to be difficult. Your possibilities for forging new connections and alliances expand significantly when you acquire access to superior diplomatic technology. However, there are still concerns, such as opponents suing for peace during a battle while refusing to offer any incentives for you to cease fighting.
While the majority of GalCiv’s “issues” arise from inadequate onboarding, there are a few more black holes evident among the competence glow. Research is by far the most important. GalCiv’s tech tree is more of a tech arboretum, so the game gives you with numerous new techs to choose from for your next research project, cut semi-randomly from the tree. This is OK unless you actively desire to pursue a certain technology, such as the Planetary Invasion system I discussed before, which is far too crucial to leave to chance.
You can trade technology with other races—which is how I obtained it—but they must be willing to trade it with you, which is not always the case.
In general, GalCiv 4 lacks a strong hook when compared to other space 4X games. There’s not much here that hasn’t been done better elsewhere, such as in Stellaris, such as the narrative nuggets related to anomalies. Other new features, such as the Crusader Kings-style relationship you have with Governors and Citizens, are overly simplistic, implying that if you let the Governor’s opinion of you drop too low, a planet may quit you for another faction. The ship editor is attractive and complements GalCiv’s overall aesthetic appeal. However, it’s primarily a decorative component with limited utility.
Galactic Civilizations 4 is like an ancient alien culture waking up to find a slew of newcomers on the scene, all talking about their flashy new spaceships and ground-breaking ideas. It responds by going huge but in a wide and conservative way. Galactic Civilizations 4 doesn’t really care if the message is understood, therefore Space Clippy symbolizes a minimal effort to make contact.