Stellaris is one of the defining space strategy games. Carrying the 4X formula, as laid down by classics like Civilization 6 and Europa Universalis, into the far reaches of the galaxy, it mixes hardcore tactics with glorious sci-fi visuals. But there’s another stone-cold classic of PC gaming to rival Stellaris, and it feels apt that it should launch now, hot on the heels of Bethesda’s Starfield. After a lengthy time in Steam Early Access, Galactic Civilizations 4, one of the icons of strategy gaming, is finally available in full on Valve’s store.
Galactic Civilizations 4 is huge. Effortlessly combining the stalwart principles – eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate – this is a classic 4X game in every single sense. At the same time, as detailed in our own Galactic Civilizations 4 review, it’s incredibly flexible. If you want to conquer the galaxy and spread your government as far as possible, you can colonize other worlds and build an empire. On the contrary, if you want to drill into the details, you can link all your colonies into smaller ‘core worlds’ and pool their output to research better tech and forge stronger armies.
If you want to be a cultural, pacifistic regime, dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and peace, Galactic Civilizations 4 will let you. Alternatively, its sophisticated opponent AI makes the challenge of armed conquest absolutely irresistible, as you battle to take over vast swathes of the universe. There’s even a ship designer, so you can customize your fleet exactly the way you want, and march your personal banner into war.
Massive, varied, and never the same twice, Galactic Civilizations 4 marks the return of one of PC’s best strategy sims. As of today, Thursday, October 19, it’s out of Steam Early Access and available in full. You can even play it on Valve’s Steam Deck, though it’s only listed as ‘playable,’ not completely ‘verified.’ If you like good strategy, and want something to play as we wait for the Civilization 7 release date, you can get Galactic Civilizations 4 right now.