Galactic Civilizations IV is one of this year’s most anticipated strategy games and it’s about to hit a major milestone on the road to release. This month’s update will bring Stardock’s sci-fi sequel firmly into beta by unlocking all of the available civilizations and adding a new one: the Terran Resistance.
Throughout the beta period, we’ll see more features and polish as we build up to the 4X game’s ultimate form. Remember that you can get in on the action right now if you pre-order Galactic Civilizations IV via the Epic Games Store, which will net you instant access to the pre-release build. The beta update lands on Thursday, but you can read up on how it has improved through past coverage of major alpha milestones.
We’ve already highlighted what’s exciting about this new chapter in the Galactic Civilizations saga, but now that we’ve reached such an important stage it seems like a great moment to revisit some of the most exciting things the game brings to the table.
This isn’t the highest rated (and best selling) space strategy series of all time for nothing, and that winning formula is definitely present in its fourth iteration.
Power to the people
Galactic Civilizations IV puts your empire’s citizens in the spotlight like never before. Your planet’s population is now represented by the number of citizen units present, all of whom have their own traits and ideologies. Your initial group of citizens are largely a homogenous bunch, but as your empire expands over time your citizens will develop different traits and beliefs. By choice or by conquest, members of other species may even come to reside within your borders.
Citizens can also be trained into specialised roles, providing boons to specific stats and helping you to make your planet as productive as possible. Are the peasants down in the dumps – figuratively or literally? Train some entertainers to lift their spirits. Need to resist some pesky invaders? A strong core of soldiers will help with that. Certain species excel at certain roles; if you want to give your research a boost, court some Navigators to come live in your empire and train them to become researchers.
From one strata of society to another, citizens aren’t the only physical manifestation of your empire. Leaders drawn from your realm’s best and brightest can also be hired as governors, ministers, and even ship commanders for the new unique ships every civilization now has. Leaders are another brand-new feature, and will be able to give you a decisive edge over your enemies – provided you can keep them loyal.
The role of planets has been overhauled and improved to reflect Galactic Civilizations IV’s truly galactic scale, with galaxies now divided up into sectors that your empire spans across.
A planet’s worth is decided by five primary factors: wealth, minerals, technology, influence, and farming. There are other specific bonuses a planet can offer as well – like boosting tourism or military power – but those main four are what determines how much money, production, research, and food your civ will draw in from the planet.
Assimilation: watch out for Galactic Civilizations IV’s Yor
Each planet possesses its own hex map for placing buildings, the dimensions of which are defined by planet traits such as size and type. New buildings are unlocked via research, and you’ll be able to fine-tune your planets so they make efficient use of your empire’s resources.
The amount of planets you need to control has also been reduced, with planets divided into ‘core worlds’ and ‘colonies’. You no longer need to manage a dozen small planets that only contribute a token amount of resources. By assigning governors to key worlds with lots of resources, you can turn them into core worlds.
Non-governed colonies don’t need to have buildings placed on them and will contribute their base resources to the nearest core world. This cuts a lot of the management bloat of long-running games where you could have dozens of planets to individually keep an eye on.
To boldly go
Galactic Civilizations IV will immerse you in the universe like never before. Not only do you explore and expand in true 4x game fashion, but you also have to contend with missions and large-scale events. Missions can be triggered in all kinds of ways like discovering something in an anomaly, encountering a new civilization, or reaching some hidden milestone.
All missions are tracked through a log; this system is highly flexible, with dynamic tags that will open up a lot of potential for modders to add in their own content after launch.
It’s not just about dynamic events, however. Galactic Achievements are a more prominent version of the missions concept that provide high-stakes goals to aim for in the mid-to-late game. You can trigger these undertakings, which represent major crises that will affect the whole galaxy, whenever you feel ready. If you come out the other side on top, it’ll be an achievement indeed.
There goes the neighbourhood
We’ve already talked about some of the new civilizations in Galactic Civilizations IV, such as The Xeloxi and Festron. It’s worth saying that there are six brand-new civilizations in total, including a few we haven’t explored in depth yet such as the prolific Mimot, or the Baratak, who are basically sentient plants.
Of course you can expect plenty of fan-favourites to return, including DLC civilizations from Galactic Civilizations III such as the Arcean Republic. With the beta unlocking all previously blocked civs, there’s plenty for you to explore on beta launch day. With such a large roster of civilizations, there’s no telling what will come in post-launch updates and expansions.
Working together for a better (galactic) civilization
Galactic Civilizations has been going for over thirty years now as a series, gathering loyal and dedicated fans who have their own ideas on how the games could be made better. While incorporating community feedback is always something Stardock has done where appropriate, the team was especially keen to work with the community for Galactic Civilizations IV.
Major changes for the new game, like new advisors to help guide your turn-to-turn decisions, a cleaner UI, and a rework to policies were inspired by community feedback.
In Galactic Civilizations III players could unlock and choose what government type they wanted for their empire, which came with a set array of perks. Players indicated they liked these perks, but they also wanted to be able to mix perks from different government types in order to tailor their empire to their playstyle. This is how the policies system was born.
There are plenty of other new systems that have spawned from community requests, such as the Prestige victory type and Galactic Achievements. Stardock CEO Brad Wardell says that the tools communities can use to interact and collaborate with devs have been getting more important every year. “The line between developer and player gets more blurred each year,” he says, “and I, for one, welcome our new gamer overlords.”
And much, much more…
This is nowhere near the end of the things we could say about Galactic Civilizations IV. There’s a new and improved ideology system, which pairs with Galactic Civilizations IV’s policies.
There are also new features and mechanics on the galaxy map that offer more ways to use your turn. A new currency called ‘control’ will allow you to issue executive orders that act as shortcuts for directives like research projects and building new colony ships. New strategic actions give you a way to gain an early advantage when the fleets open fire. And we haven’t even touched on the new multi-turn space combat mechanics yet!
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There’s never been a better time to check out Galactic Civilizations IV. Pre-order today so that you’re ready to jump into the beta update when it lands on Thursday.