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  1. #1
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    So what's the 4X crowd playing these days?

    There's been some interesting looking releases in the 4X genre this last year or so. Has anyone found their new favorite 4X game or are we still playing old classics? Or still lost in Crusader Kings perhaps?

    I'm currently messing about with Civ IV (I bounced off of Civ V) I'm thinking of getting into something new as Civ has gotten stale. Thought maybe I'd get some ideas. I'm not big on fantasy themed games but as long as the difficulty is there and interesting tactical choices to be made then the theme is not important.

    I tried Warlock but found it too easy, I understand there is DLC to make it harder but I'm not sold. Fallen Enchantress looks lovely but I hear the AI is a useless pushover.

    I love sci-fi stuff so there is that Pandora-First Contact. Anyone try it? Last I heard it was in an state that badly needed patches but that was some time ago.
    Last edited by crazy horse; 12-03-2014 at 11:43 AM.

  2. #2
    Activated Node tedesco's Avatar
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    Distant Worlds

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    Network Hub BTAxis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tedesco View Post
    Distant Worlds
    Distant Worlds is pretty good, but you have to be willing to forgive a lot of inconvenience especially when it comes to the UI. The price point is also a problem as you need to buy every expansion if you want the latest version of the game. However, the next installment will be an all-inclusive standalone release, so it might be a good idea to wait for that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crazy horse View Post
    There's been some interesting looking releases in the 4X genre this last year or so. Has anyone found their new favorite 4X game or are we still playing old classics? Or still lost in Crusader Kings perhaps?

    I'm currently messing about with Civ IV (I bounced off of Civ V) I'm thinking of getting into something new as Civ has gotten stale. Thought maybe I'd get some ideas. I'm not big on fantasy themed games but as long as the difficulty is there and interesting tactical choices to be made then the theme is not important.
    If you're into Civ IV the Fall From Heaven mod reworks it hugely, though adds in that fantasy element.

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    Distant Worlds looks like it's worth a buy. Shame it's not on Steam. Would I want all three expansions? Are there major patch improvements in all three?

    I messed a bit around with Fall From Heaven, it was a bit hard to get into with the arcane rules and lack of documentation.

  6. #6
    Network Hub BTAxis's Avatar
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    Spacesector has done reviews of Distant Worlds, the latest being here:
    http://www.spacesector.com/blog/2013...hadows-review/

    Personally I would recommend the latest expansion because it allows you to start without any FTL flight, which I find quite fun. I haven't tried playing as a pirate.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    If you want a sci-fi 4x game with good AI, there is no answer other than Galactic Civilizations 2. The AI in that game (depending on the difficulty setting) will cheat just enough to be an immense challenge but not enough that you notice it is cheating, which is truly the perfect amount. And they are pretty good at playing roles, to the point that there is a WONDERFUL article on a match where the AI ended up helping the player win just to screw over its allies (it is a bit more complex, but emergent behavior). It is getting fairly old, but the artstyle ages well (and the genre hasn't really changed much...)

    If you want something newer: I gave Endless Space on the order of 12 hours of play time, and I really like it. It has a lot of advances with respect to automation and simplification by placing most of the burden on developing your governors/hero units, not your planets (the planets develop themselves). So you feel like you are actually ruling an empire, rather than acting as Mayor of Super Space Land. I also really like the combat system as it has the right mixture of user input and automation. After about 12 hours of playing (which Steam did not detect...) I was still enjoying the battles, which is a pretty stark contrast to any other 4x/grand strategy game where you can have more input beyond "get lots of units and smash them together", which is nice. I am very much looking forward to Endless Fantasy by the same devs.
    The AI isn't all that great and I think the pacing has some issues (it takes a while to get going and you can get screwed horribly by the world's seed), but once you get going it is quite fun.

    From what I have seen, Star Ruler takes that up a few notches by being all about automating your empire. From the videos I have seen, I would compare it to AI Wars in a lot of ways, just with more of an emphasis on development and what not. Can't comment personally though since I never played it (I keep going back to GalCiv 2...)
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    If you want a sci-fi 4x game with good AI, there is no answer other than Galactic Civilizations 2. The AI in that game (depending on the difficulty setting) will cheat just enough to be an immense challenge but not enough that you notice it is cheating, which is truly the perfect amount. And they are pretty good at playing roles, to the point that there is a WONDERFUL article on a match where the AI ended up helping the player win just to screw over its allies (it is a bit more complex, but emergent behavior). It is getting fairly old, but the artstyle ages well (and the genre hasn't really changed much...)

    If you want something newer: I gave Endless Space on the order of 12 hours of play time, and I really like it. It has a lot of advances with respect to automation and simplification by placing most of the burden on developing your governors/hero units, not your planets (the planets develop themselves). So you feel like you are actually ruling an empire, rather than acting as Mayor of Super Space Land. I also really like the combat system as it has the right mixture of user input and automation. After about 12 hours of playing (which Steam did not detect...) I was still enjoying the battles, which is a pretty stark contrast to any other 4x/grand strategy game where you can have more input beyond "get lots of units and smash them together", which is nice. I am very much looking forward to Endless Fantasy by the same devs.
    The AI isn't all that great and I think the pacing has some issues (it takes a while to get going and you can get screwed horribly by the world's seed), but once you get going it is quite fun.

    From what I have seen, Star Ruler takes that up a few notches by being all about automating your empire. From the videos I have seen, I would compare it to AI Wars in a lot of ways, just with more of an emphasis on development and what not. Can't comment personally though since I never played it (I keep going back to GalCiv 2...)

    It's been ages since I played GalCiv2, had forgotten about it. I really should return to it. Is there any specific mode you feel demonstrates the game at its best?

    Never heard of Endless Space but it looks very nice. It's a battle between Endless Space and Distant Worlds for being my next buy then. Must put on thinking cap and hunt for reviews. Looks like I'm making interesting tactical decisions already, hooray.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazy horse View Post
    It's been ages since I played GalCiv2, had forgotten about it. I really should return to it. Is there any specific mode you feel demonstrates the game at its best?

    Never heard of Endless Space but it looks very nice. It's a battle between Endless Space and Distant Worlds for being my next buy then. Must put on thinking cap and hunt for reviews. Looks like I'm making interesting tactical decisions already, hooray.
    Honestly, I was not aware GalCiv 2 even HAD modes, which says something. I know there was a campaign I never played and I guess there are probably some scenarios, but I just boot in, new game, pick a galaxy design I like, set to lots of stars, lots of planets, and lots of people, then get started.

    Beyond that, you have your standard Military Victory, Tech/Research Victory, and Diplomatic/Cultural victory. But pretty much everything but research boils down to owning a significant portion of the galaxy, and it just varies as to how you do that. A Diplomatic Victory may essentially be the result of murdering the hell out of everyone who didn't side with you.


    Quote Originally Posted by Granath View Post
    Yes there is. It's called Distant Worlds and, unlike Gal Civ 2, it actually has a soul and is fun! When I want to play a spreadsheet and unlock great techs like "Laser 1, Laser 2, Laser 3", I'll play Gal Civ 2. Or just doodle in Excel.
    Whereas I would say that if you want to play something with 90's era graphics, ninety million expensive expansion packs, and a reliance on a digital distribution store built around fucking over customers (Matrix Games and their "extended download" service), you can give DIstant Worlds a shot :p

    The way I see it, GalCiv 2 simplifies things. Rather than have ninety million flavor texts, they keep the stuff where you need to understand the rock-paper-scissors mechanics simple. Instead of having twenty different flavor names for a depleted uranium cannon, they just add numbers. And you know the cannon is stopped by armor but good against shields (note: I may be mixing names up with Space Empires, which is fun but not consistent enough).
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    Network Hub BTAxis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Whereas I would say that if you want to play something with 90's era graphics, ninety million expensive expansion packs, and a reliance on a digital distribution store built around fucking over customers (Matrix Games and their "extended download" service), you can give DIstant Worlds a shot :p
    All of this is true, and as I've mentioned earlier Distant Worlds suffers from typical Matrix interface snafu as well. But that only makes it all the more remarkable that Distant Worlds is fun, whereas GalCiv 2 is not. Despite Stardock's obviously superior production values, their game just fails to entertain.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BTAxis View Post
    All of this is true, and as I've mentioned earlier Distant Worlds suffers from typical Matrix interface snafu as well. But that only makes it all the more remarkable that Distant Worlds is fun, whereas GalCiv 2 is not. Despite Stardock's obviously superior production values, their game just fails to entertain.
    Well, so far all that has been posted here is "It has a shitty UI, it looks kind of poo-poo, the publishers are assholes" but not anything on WHY it is fun. Which is kind of important since "fun" is pretty subjective.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    If you want a sci-fi 4x game with good AI, there is no answer other than Galactic Civilizations 2.
    Yes there is. It's called Distant Worlds and, unlike Gal Civ 2, it actually has a soul and is fun! When I want to play a spreadsheet and unlock great techs like "Laser 1, Laser 2, Laser 3", I'll play Gal Civ 2. Or just doodle in Excel.

  13. #13
    I go between Pandora, Elemental:FE-Legendary Heroes, Heroes(oMM) III (sometimes II), Age of Wonders 1, and Tribes of the East.
    My finger is itching on the buy button for Endless Space; and I'm ready and waiting for AoW III to take the crown.

    Re: Pandora - >here's a good thread of reviews.


    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    It has a lot of advances with respect to automation and simplification by placing most of the burden on developing your governors/hero units, not your planets (the planets develop themselves). So you feel like you are actually ruling an empire, rather than acting as Mayor of Super Space Land.
    I'm just about sold, as usually my main issue with space-strategy games is the gamey-ness of the experience: like I'm some semi-omnipotent computer attempting to take over the galaxy, instead of a personal ruler/avatar.

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    I still go back to Sword of the Stars 1 Complete and Master of Orion 2 time to time. Never took the time yet to learn the newer games.

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    Actually concerning Distant Worlds, didn't they plan a Universe Edition or something, that'd include the basegame and expansions for a more reasonable price? Or did I get that wrong?

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tikey's Avatar
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    I've had tons of fun with GalCiv 2.
    Like that one time rushing to destroy the Dread Lords just the last turn before ascending (and thus winning the game). Fun and exhilarating.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Personally I enjoyed Gal Civ 2 in its day, but find it simply doesn't hold my attention anymore for some reason. There's something very dry about it, but that's purely a personal thing. The design is very solid and the AI is as well.

    I've not played Distant Worlds as much as I'd like, but have enjoyed what I've seen of it.

    All that said, for 4X my go to game is still Sword of the Stars 1. The AI is solid, the differences between races feel really substantial, and I adore the 3D map. That said, it's definitely lighter on the empire management and heavier on the combat and ship design than other similar games, so it fills a very specific niche.

    The other game that's sort of in this category that I really enjoy is AI War, but a game that's about conquering as little of the map as possible to be able to win is not exactly a typical 4X title.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Ah well, I tried.

    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    The other game that's sort of in this category that I really enjoy is AI War, but a game that's about conquering as little of the map as possible to be able to win is not exactly a typical 4X title.
    I tried to get into AI War but it was always just too frantic for me. And it is an Arcen game which means that most of the "fun" comes from reading the wiki and figuring out how things have changed drastically since the manual first existed.

    Well, that and it "suffers" from my issues with Supreme Commander. The scale is just too large so I don't feel like I matter (even though I am in charge of everything), if that makes sense. Which is weird since I loved Total Annihilation and most of my 4x games rapidly devolve into just sending giant fleets at the enemy anyway.

    Ah well, maybe next time I give AI War a shot I'll stick to it.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    I'm playing Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri from GOG. Simply because I've never really played it before. No mystery here. A very fine game, although factions start getting very similar after several playthroughs. I guess it takes multiplayer to really highlight the differences and weaknesses.

    The most variety I had in this game is when I deliberately challenged myself. Taking Miriam and playing pure military strategy plays very different than the usual builder the game is centered around. Morgan requires you to learn the usage of Probe teams and diplomacy. You really have to care about Integrity rating, because no one will want to sign trade pacts with you.

    Currently I'm able to outplay the AI with any faction on Librarian level... mostly without using Free Market (which has high demands). I'm reluctant to try higher difficulties, because to my understanding they just get more cheat money and stuff. I don't utilize Industrial Automation - I realize it's Powerful, but AI has no clue about it.

    Is it just me, or after certain point only Forests and Boreholes matter as far as terraforming is concerned ? I can't seem to get much value out of condensers, echelon mirrors and soil enrichers. Oh yeah, and tide harnesses. Sea colonies are cash cows once restrictions come off. Also, it's a bit disheartening that even this fine game suffers from ICS.

    But overall, I like it very much. If nothing else, it's oozing atmosphere.
    pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    I'm playing Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri from GOG. Simply because I've never really played it before. No mystery here.
    I envy you. It's an incredible game. The only strategy game where I cared anything about the faction differences beyond the hard numbers and aesthetics. I like to fire up a campaign every few years so it feels fresh. It does ooze atmosphere, particularly in the tech screens and wonder clips. I recently read a Frank Herbert novel, The Jesus Incident, which apparently was a "major source of inspiration" for the game theme. Book was not quite as good as Dune which itself was not all that great but it was entertaining to see the references from AC.

    I prefer to play the factions thematically due to the weak AI. Yang gets played as a megalomaniac nerve-stapler while Deidre is played as a megalomaniac tree-hugger and so on.

    You might get some mileage out of the expansion. It adds some neat races. I can't quite recall but I believe there was a cult faction that could spam mindworms hordes and turn the planet into fungus heaven. That was worth it alone.

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