Published on July 9th, 2014 | by Tony Odett11
Galactic Civilizations 3 Hands-On Preview
As a hardcore strategy gamer, there’s a line I see in articles on the 4X genre from writers with a bit less experience than I have. It is always written about space 4X games, and it always makes me cringe in the ultimate cringe fashion. The line is as follows: “Will this game finally be the spiritual successor to Masters of Orion 2 that we’ve all been waiting for?” The problem with this line is that Stardock already made that game in 2006, Galactic Civilization 2: Dread Lords. That game spawned several expansions, and earned a deep affection throughout the strategy gaming community. 2006 was a long time ago, but, thankfully, Stardock is returning to that beloved franchise with the upcoming Galactic Civilizations 3. I was able to get some hands on time with the game’s early access version (currently on Steam priced at an astonishingly high $99.99, probably to keep out the riff raff).
The game has the same starting point as its predecessor: humanity has just discovered hyper drive, and various civilizations are beginning to explore the universe. I began my quest for conquest of the universe with one planet, a couple of scout ships, and one colony ship. From there, I searched for prime worlds to colonize, sifted through the ashes of previous civilizations, encountered life forms, and dealt with random events as they popped up. I also begin to research technologies in the massive tech tree, allowing me to build new buildings on my planets and construct new ships.
Constructing ships was the best part of Gal Civ 2, and I will admit to delaying my playthrough until Stardock had released this option in its sequel. The current build is far from fully featured, but I still found myself spending lots of time in the ship builder, putting together ships that both had state-of-the-art technology and had a look I found aesthetically pleasing. It was a fun way of getting ownership of my playthrough- the chance to build ships using technologies I had researched and had a look I had put together myself. I’m anxious to look at some of the other building sets from the other civilizations as they become available.
The build as I played it already had a look much improved over its predecessor (which at this point is pretty dated). Visuals have improved dramatically in strategy games over the past couple of years (Crusader Kings II, X-COM: Enemy Unknown, and Civilization V, for example) as developers have noted that the reputation for strategy games being ugly wasn’t helping them gain new players, and Galactic Civilizations III seems to be looking to continue the trend. I found myself wanted a new laptop to take full advantage of the colorful and awesome campaign map, and the delightful battle sequences.
The game is still in alpha, and as I mentioned previously, it’s pretty expensive to get into the early access build (though that price does include monthly content and the post-release DLC packs). But there’s enough here to remind me of those many hours in its predecessor, and to give a solid taste of the awesome that awaits when Galactic Civilizations 3 officially launches later this year. I for one have this at the top of my list for most anticipated games still to come in 2014.
Galactic Civilization was previewed using alpha code provided by the developer. Images may not reflect the final game. Look for our review shortly after the game releases.