Posted: June 24
I've played a LOT of 4x games, and for the first time I feel like I've found a worthy successor to the Master of Orion series.
Be forewarned, though...this game has a MASSIVE learning curve. It took me no less than 20 starts spread over 60 hours to gain a modicum of proficiency with the interface and gameplay mechanics. The number of AI and automation settings is simply staggering, and the in-game documentation can be a little sparse and vague. I yelled. A lot.
And then there is the gameplay.
Pirates raided my early colonies. Hostile space monsters ate my mining ships. Independent colonies resisted my troops and absorbed my early colony ships. My empire was blockaded by a race of cute rodents with big dewy eyes, who proceeded to bombard several of my early colonies from orbit. Pirates raided me again, this time leaving behind troops and building fortifications on my colonies, siphoning off my trade revenue.
My first fleets met horrific defeat after defeat. My first ship designs were underpowered pieces of crap. The tech tree presented a huge array of paths to follow, and invariably I was beaten to the punch by my AI neighbors.
Every restart presented a new challenge, a new lesson to learn.
And then it happened.
I learned how to defend my colonies, turning the pirate factions into resources to be exploited. I learned how to explore and expand effetively, seizing ancient relics and technologies and forging early alliances with sympathetic races. I learned how to design specialized ships, and was able to bring highly effective combined arms fleets to bear against my enemies.
Once I got rolling, I still had more to learn. Ancient races, rivalries, and forms of government were discovered in the forgotten corners of the galaxy. Natural alliances shaped by history and biology came into play. All the while, carefully expanding, defending, and trading tech and info with my allies.
After 120 hours I finally won a game. At the end, my empire controlled 70 colonies across 50 star systems. 24 automated fleets of fast warships patrolled my borders as I directed 6 strike fleets in crushing pirates and bringing my neighbors to heel. Thousands of civilian ships plyed the starlanes protected by hundreds of automated escort ships and frigates. My economy was supreme through an absolute monopoly on several rare luxury items, and an embargo by my empire could bring an opposing empire to civil war and ruin. The sheer scale and detail was incredible, and I wasn't even playing on the largest settings.
So, if you're into 4x games and don't mind jumping into a challenging UI, I highly recommend this game.