The 2016 is turning to be a nice year for space game, in particularly my favorite genre, the 4x games. The 4x games stands for, in case you are unfamiliar, the four main activities in such games, namely eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate. Explore the space around you, expand and colonized, exploit natural resources of new planets and, finally, exterminate all opposition so there is no one standing in your way to the galactic domination! I must admit that I love these games, and that the best example of them is, in my humble opinion, Master of Orion 2, which many consider to be the game that started an entire genre. I recall playing it twenty years ago. In fact, the game is so damn good that I played it a month ago last – it still hasn’t lost any of its charm.
But there are new (more or less) kids on the block. Or the kids of the kids that used to dance away the 4x block? Anyway, 2016 will be bringing us some very nice surprises in the 4x genre, and I can’t wait to try them all out!
Master of Orion – The Reboot
When I first heard that Wargaming.net is doing a reboot of Master of Orion, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. Even though they are famous for their “World of” games, I was somewhat skeptic about their choice of game and their ability to deliver a game that will be a worthy sequel to the legendary MoO 1 and 2. Additionally, Wargaming.net has a great record of making free-to-play games with a truly fair game mechanics (no pay-to-win here) and Master of Orion was supposed to be a pay-to-play title! Luckily, at the time as I am writing this, Master of Orion has entered its early access phase on Steam and I have been able to play it extensively for a preview, which is coming soon. Short spoiler here; things are looking really good. I will add a link to the preview as soon as it is done.
Master of Orion is currently in early access on steam. If you buy the game, you also get Master of Orion 1 and 2!
Endless Space 2
I have loved Endless Space and played the game more than I should admit, also writing a half of a decent guide before time restraints and other pressing matters forced me to abandon the project. Apart from somewhat lackluster space combat, I have enjoyed it immensley. Done by the French indie studio Amplitude Studios http://www.amplitude-studios.com/ , ex Ubisoft employers who were also responsible for the Dungeon of the Endless, Endless Space has quickly garnered a huge mass of dedicated fans that enjoyed a direct conversation with the developers and their full attention. Endless Space 2 is promising to be even better, bigger, stronger… Well, you get the picture.
Endless Space 2 is scheduled 2016.
As strategy games producers, matrix Games and Slitherine definitely know their business. They have an arm long list of niche strategy games, among them such amazing titles as Panzer Corps, Armada 2526, War in The pacific, Unity of Command, Close Combat (just to name the few!) and the impressive Distant Worlds: Universe http://store.steampowered.com/app/261470/ which should be in your gaming collection by all and any means, if you conisder yourself a serious strategy gamer! Randomly generated galaxy, full customization while doing that, full control over ship design, all the 4x features you can eat and then some more! If Polaris will be as deep and as detailed as so many games from Matrix/Slitherine production, we can expect it to be a one of a kind 4x experience.
Polaris Sector release date is set for March 22. I am definitely looking forward to see how it works!
Galactic Civilizations 3: Mercenaries
The expansions for the Galactic Civiliaztions 3 has brought me back to this impressive 4x game, a thrid in its series, to check out what changes and improvements it has brought. Well, one is obvious, which is the introduction of mercenaries you can obtain from the galactic Bazaar (sweet, eh?) to do your bidding, assuming you got the space cash for it. Also there are new additional features such as new ships and new ship parts, two new races, Arceans and Torians as well as a new campaign. Not a huge change, but then again, a good reason to revisit this awesome game.
Technically, Gal Civ 3 is not a 2016 best of 4x game, but the expansion makes it OK to cheat a bit and revisit the game!
Galactic Civilizations 3 Mercenaries is available now on Steam.
StarDrive2: Sector Zero expansion
I loved StarDrive 2, even though I never got as good as I should be in the ship designer tool, which offered incredible opportunities for creativity. I am still baffled, up to this day, what a single man with incredible passion for gaming has managed to achieve. The new expansion Sector zero is revamping both quite some old aprts of the game as well as introducing new features such as “a new Hex-tile Strategy map, there are three new ways to win the game, dozens of new quests, anomalies, technologies and events. The ground combat received a major overhaul and new Deep Space Construction Mechanics have been added. Moreover, UI and AI are improved and there are more options for your Galaxy Size.”
Just as the case with Gal Civ 3, this is a bit of cheating since we are talking about an expansion, not a full new game, but it has a lot of new features so it
StarDrive 2 Sector zero is now available on Steam.
I have very great expectations regarding this game; you may as well say that I have left the best for last. Where does this unsubstantiated enthusiasm stem from? well, first there is a fact that this game is being developed and published by Paradox people, and that name means a lot in the world of strategy gaming. Next to that, there is the fact that the guys making Stellaris are the same guys behind titles such as Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis. The 4x game in the galaxy far, far away is supposed to be a cross between Europa Universalis IV and games such as Master of Orion.
Stellaris will be available on Steam on May 9th 2016.
Now, this game just might end up being truly stellar.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist…
In case I have missed a good 4x game, dear Internet, please let me know in comments below. Cheers!