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Galactic Civilizations 4 wants to mix Stellaris with Civilization in epic galaxies

Galactic Civilizations has always been a staple in the pantheon of 4x games, offering a niche, almost indie alternative to the likes of Civilization and others of its era. In many respects, it is quite literally Civilization-in-space, but as turn-based strategy has evolved, so has ‘GalCivs’’ place in the cosmos.

Galactic Civilization III was released back in 2015, although it’s been getting DLC support right up until last year. We had been wondering what Stardock has been up to over the past year, and now we know: Galactic Civilizations IV is coming.

The fourth entry in this iconic strategy game series wants to turn everything up to 11, with new systems and design ideas that will help the new iteration keep up with other modern space strategy games, such as Stellaris or Endless Space 2. For example, the previous ‘maps’ of past Galactic Civilization games will now be connected to other similar maps via subspace streams, offering an entire galaxy for players to explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. There are so many changes that Stardock is keen to start collecting player feedback early, with alpha testing kicking off this Summer ahead of a planned release next year.

Here’s the announcement trailer to set the mood:

Each individual map is called a ‘sector’, and sectors will now operate slightly differently to cut down on micro-management. Instead of directly administering every world you colonise, a handful of planets will be designated ‘core’ worlds, whereas everything else will be ‘colonies’, whose only function is to harvest and ship raw resources to their designated core world.

In a Crusader Kings-style twist, characters now take centre stage in how you manage your empire – a bigger galaxy means you’ll need to appoint local governors to oversee your growing empire, and these governors will run various operations on your behalf, with the player only exercising direct influence over the core worlds.

By the sounds of things, nearly every game system has been revised if not completely re-done for the fourth game. Space combat can involve multiple fleets, across multiple turns, planetary invasions have been re-done, and there are countless other new elements on the management side, as well as ‘executive orders’ and embedded narrative missions to replace the old campaign format.

We were given a full briefing as to what to expect with the new game, but there’s way too much to process in just one report. If you were excited by how Distant Worlds 2 is trying to update itself for the modern age, then you’ll have plenty of reasons to be excited about this as well.

Galactic Civilization IV is due for release sometime in 2022, but the initial early access is scheduled for June 2021, and you can sign up for it here.