T-minus 22 Days: Galactic Civilizations 3 Gets Release Date

If I’m going to blast off into the far reaches of the galaxy, I’d probably rather the technology be perfected first. There’s a lot to be said for going up in a multi-billion dollar fireball and raining ashes over the Pacific, but perhaps that’s not for everyone. By the same token, you might not be willing to attempt galactic conquest while a game’s on Steam Early Access.

If so, good news: Galactic Civilizations III now has a launch date for blasting out of Early Access and becoming a proper fancy full video game, whatever that is. Start a countdown: t-minus 22 days. Or May 14th, if you find that easier to understand; you probably do.

Do I need to explain Galactic Civilizations to you? Maybe. I don’t know. It’s a turn-based strategy game about trying to conquer a corner of the galaxy, competing economically, diplomatically, and militarily with other spacefolk. You research things, pick your own path to victory… you know: it’s a 4X game. You get to design your own race and spaceships too. Jeez, leave me alone, go watch lead designer Paul Boyer playing the latest beta build:

Developers Stardock first launched their 4X strategy game on Early Access back in March 2014, in alpha form through a ‘Founder’s Elite Edition’ that cost a steep £75.99/$99.99 but also included all future expansions and DLC. It entered beta last August, letting folks buy the game for a more reasonable price of £29.99/$49.99.


  1. MiniMatt says:

    Quick scan of the video does little to assuage earlier fear that it seems remarkably unchanged from GalCiv2. Down right identical in many screens.

    One I’ll keep a beady eye on, but I’m not feeling the urge to throw money at them on launch day just yet.

    • Graves says:

      I thought that at first too, but it actually has iterated on a few things. There is a ideology system akin to Civ V, for example, that allows you buy perks based on whether you are pragmatic, benevolent, or, well, evil (It has a more serious name, but I forget what it is so I might as well say what we are all thinking). Research is a little different, with specialization techs where you pick one of three techs to specialize your nation somewhat. Resources now can provide you with powerful ship items, like weapons that do damage better than your tier should allow, but you are limited by how many starbases you have mining. Ship construction is now based out of starbase-esque shipyards, which are served by up to 5 of the surrounding planets. Supposedly factions are supposed to play more asymmetrically from each other, though I have only played human so far so I can’t confirm that.

      There may be more differences, too, but honestly I’ve only spent a few hours with the game myself. That said, I went into it thinking exactly the same as you, that it looked like it was going to be GalCiv II with a new coat of bed. Instead, it feels sort of like an actual sequel should be- a solid, familiar core, with iterated changes and new features aiming to enhance what people previously enjoyed rather than make sweeping changes. I can’t tell you its worth picking up, yet- like I said, I’ve only put a few hours into it. But I think there are enough changes to keep it feeling fresh, even if the core of the game is the same.

      • MiniMatt says:

        Fair enough, sounds like worthwhile intel, thanks Graves :) I shall ensure my beady eye is extra specially beady :)

  2. Subucula Tertia says:

    I liked GalCiv 2 (and didn’t like the fantasy 4x they made), but by golly, Stardock need to work on their UI design.

    • trashmyego says:

      The fantasy 4x they made and released a hundred different times with missing content and bugs galore as the nickle and dimed their way through development to an extremely mediocre final product. It’s sad since I absolutely adored Sins of a Solar Empire and enjoyed the Galactic Civ games (after numerous bug fixes). I’ll never again purchase a game from Stardock in good faith, it’ll be done expecting the worst after waiting… and will probably involve a drastic steam sale.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I think Elemental actually ended up being a pretty cool and interesting game, but yes there were a lot of mis-steps along the way and it is still slightly short of its potential. But the game as is even without any DLC/expansions is pretty neat.

      • Darloth says:

        If you loved Sins, it’s probably worth having a look at Star Ruler 2 – it has the same real-time 4x approach (as did Stardrive 1, actually) but with a lot more of a 4x slant than Sins’ RTS leanings – still some of both, of course.

        It also takes several bold steps to try new ideas in the 4x genre, and actively encourages wide empires with capitol planets like Trantor or Coruscant supported by many smaller, often non-self-sustaining worlds I liken to Bespin or Tatooine. You may like these ideas, or you may lot – but I liked it, so I think it’s worth suggesting.

    • Colwolf77 says:

      I realise the importance of good game mechanics and a solid foundation on which to build a game and I’m sure Galciv 3 has a great one but I just can’t get over the sub standard UI and visuals. It wouldn’t be as noticeable if there weren’t any other strong 4x competitors out there – Stardrive 2 and Endless Space spring to mind. They aren’t without their faults but they know how to pull off huge space battles, polished UI and just the general epicness of commanding a galactic empire.
      This game looks so flat and dull, it wouldn’t matter how good the AI is if you had to spend huge amounts of time looking at something this ugly.

  3. Xyvik says:

    I’m honestly not looking for that much more to GalCiv 3 than what was in GalCiv 2. The thing that intrigues me the most is the grabbing-ahold of 64 bit processors (you know, the ones that have been around for almost 12 years now). I think the vastly larger universes will make it feel fresh, but I’m not sure about it just yet

  4. BTAxis says:

    Having bounced off GalCiv 2 on more than one occasion I wasn’t too enthusiastic about the sequel, and over time it’s become clear that GalCiv 3 is GalCiv 2 2. It’s probably going to be a good game anyway, especially after patches/updates/expansions, just… not for me.

  5. Joshua Northey says:

    It seems fine, not a huge departure from the last game, but that is ok. It is too bad they didn’t further streamline/fix the starbase construction mechanics. Sadly a well played game is too often “Starbase Construction manager” rather than “galactic emperor”.

    The economy sliders are also still a little unnecessarily complicated You build structures that give you (mil/econ/research) points, but then set an overall split of are you 40/40/20 or 33/33/34 or whatever. Seems a little odd like you are making the same decision twice. Maybe it makes the AI easier to program?

  6. Stevostin says:

    This one I am gonna skip purely because Gal Civ II was a huge time sink for me. Too nice, to catchy, to dangerous for my real life. It felt like civilisation but even more threatening.

  7. teije says:

    I played the heck out of GCII and its a fine game. However, think I’ll skip this one for now, maybe pick it up on sale in a year. Doesn’t look radically different enough to pay full price for.

  8. slerbal says:

    Gosh, if the comments on this story are at all representative then it doesn’t look like GalCiv 3 will be setting the world on fire. Got to admit it just hasn’t grabbed me either.

  9. Diatribe says:

    What I want from Gal Civ is basically Space Empires with good AI. I know that’s not going to happen, so this game will undoubtedly disappoint me.

  10. SlimShanks says:

    Can we ever have enough 4X games? Gal Civ 2 is my favourite, but Sword of the Stars 2 is close behind and Endless Space is stunning in terms of video/audio.

    • Steve Catens says:

      I played the heck out of Gal Civ 2. And Alpha Centauri. And Civs 2 and 4. And MoO2. But in recent years I have just struggled with every 4x game I’ve tried to play, from Civ 5, to Stardock’s fantasy 4x disaster, to Star Ruler, Star Drive, and most recently the much lauded Endless Space and Endless Legend. Just bounced right off them all, despite multiple attempts. I still play a ton of strategy games though, and I’ve gotten a huge amount of mileage out of the Paradox style games.

      4x just feels to me like the same thing over and over again, too many familiar notes with minor variations and just not enough depth. I think 4x works as a good entry level strategy template, but it’s time for me to move on now. I think I’ve just reached the limit of how much the 4x as a subgenre, has to offer me.

      So yes, I think there can be too many. As a strategy enthusiast I find myself more drawn to deeper grand strategy titles, and rich, meticulously designed tactical systems now.