Master of Orion Trailer Gives First Look At Combat

Master of Orion [official site], a remake of the 4X game which came out in 1993, was announced by World of Tanks developers Wargaming.net at this year’s E3 with a very short teaser. Now they’ve released the first video of the game in action. If you’d like to see two very awkward robots talk you through what’s coming in the new game, the video’s below.

If you’d like to tolerate the robots and their grating voices for long enough to glean some information from the video, you can still watch it here as I did.

Still, there’s a good amount of game footage there to have a gander at, although it’s mostly conventional 4X fair. The video introduces a couple of races: the peace-loving Psilon Quanta (yay) and the conquest-focused Sakkra (boo). We see the Sakkra fend off some pirates and a ‘Space Monster’, giving us a quick glimpse into how the combat system works. It seems fairly simple, though that bit with nukes and biological weapons is intriguing. The art style looks lovely: it’s hard for things set in space to not be pretty, and those planets are gorgeous.

It’ll be interesting to see how the once-beloved MoO fairs with Endless Space 2 also on the horizon. On the one hand, Endless Space devs Amplitude studios have a proven track record of delivering innovative, beautifully designed games with sexy UIs and fascinatingly varied races. On the other hand, Master of Orion has Space Dragons.

I’ve not played the original or either of its sequels, but Master of Orion 2 is on our list of the 50 best strategy games of all time, so it’s probably up to snuff.

63 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    MOO remake, you say.

    I guess the steaks have been raised.

  2. dubyabyeats says:

    Never played the originals Matthew? You’ll just have to brisket new MOO then.

    • dontnormally says:

      Also, on that tip… it is a remake of Master of Orion 2, specifically. That came out in 1996, not 1993.

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      If you were to play Master of Orion for historical purposes, which would be the most MoO-ey game to play?

      • dontnormally says:

        MoO2 is the genre-maker that most remember fondly.

        MoO is an interesting beast – it is played mostly via abstraction. Balanced slider-bars make up each planet’s focus (research, growth, defense production, ship production).

        The combat in both plays out a bit like HoMM but with spaceships.

      • Fimbul says:

        Yeah, MoOII is still superior, it had it’s weaknesses too, but great tactical combat, simple but great ship designer, everything looks completely rounded, i love the tech tree where you have to choose (mostly one out of three) etc…

      • HuvaaKoodia says:

        You should try them both if at all possible.

        The major distiction, as dontnormally points out, is that MOO1 focuses on macro management at an abstract level, while MOO2 has more micro management both in colony administration and tactical battles.

        Personally I prefer the first one for the lack of micro alone. The, now retro, graphical style also hold up better than the one used in the sequel.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Yes, agreed; I found MoO1 the far stronger game after the ravages of time.

          It’s also shorter to get through a play of, which is a desirable attribute for finding out what all the fuss was about.

        • Reapy says:

          Just wanted to +1 that moo 1 was the one I enjoyed more due to lack of micro, as was said. Have not played either in years though.

        • Sandepande says:

          MOO2 is just a tad too fiddly, MOO has just enough complexity and decision-making. And I like the semi-random tech tree, which forces you to conduct diplomacy and/or espionage. I found it more interesting, due to the slight mystery of what I’m going to get, than MOO2’s one-out-of-three.

      • RobertB says:

        If you want the historical flavor, I would say play MoO2, but there’s really no reason to play an old space 4X that isn’t Sword of the Stars I. That game is basically MoO perfected.

      • vlonk says:

        You really should give MoO1 and MoO2 a chance. Both have their strengths in different areas. If you touch MoO1 getting some infos first is a must. Each race has heavy modifiers to diplomacy and research which is not reflected in the information presented in the game.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Well its presented in the manual…remember when games had manuals…

  3. RobertB says:

    That combat is a placeholder right? Unless I missed the real combat footage, it appeared to be autoresolve with little dots swirling around each other.

    • dontnormally says:

      I’m into some (even heavy) automation being available but the combat is incomprehensible. Do we make any decisions…?

      • dontnormally says:

        edit: this is the auto-resolve combat. Tactical is still in the works.

  4. XhomeB says:

    The map looks really nice, I like the detailed and neatly animated models… The robots kind of cracked me up and made me uncomfortable at the same time.
    But tell me they were merely auto-resolving fights and it’s still a WIP, because it looked bloody terrible.

  5. vlonk says:

    I cannot… stand… the voice… … … work… on this trailer.

    • dontnormally says:

      Agreed. For a moment it’d be fine, but over the course of a whole video it is quite grating.

      • grodit says:

        yeah, that stuff was bugging me out instantly

        • GWOP says:

          If you want your character to do odd pauses, go all the way and hire the king of odd pauses Christopher Walken.

      • PsychoWedge says:

        well, it’s a joke to the effect that what they say is badly constructed from audio snippets like in a sat nav. because they’re robots!! the question is, why could anybody build robots and have a galactic civilization but not make acceptable artificial speak. also it’s funny for 15 seconds and then it gets really annoying, I agree. xD

    • BTAxis says:

      It didn’t bother me, to be honest.

    • JackMultiple says:

      Thank you for noticing, “uh… Clem”!

  6. Fimbul says:

    I’m really concerned about this “reboot”. It looks like a comic parody of my beloved MoOII.
    It must be a bad joke:
    -Starlanes in MoO!? some wormeholes ok, but starlanes are just cheap imo (i know MoO3 had, but who counts 3)
    – Colony UI is a loveless mess
    – the GNN robots are just bad, pseudo-robotic voices like in the early 90s
    – additional Micro Management, every planet needs to explored manually!?
    – i really hope they just didn’t finish the tactical combat part, because it was one of the great key features of MoOII together with a simple but great Ship designer. But the Spacemonster and the Ship again look just loveless.

  7. LionsPhil says:

    Is that Michael Dorn of “I Am Weasel” fame at ~28 seconds?

    • Jay Load says:

      Michael Dorn of I am weasel fame?!?!?

      I think you’ll find he’s much more famous for his work on Disney’s Gargoyles! Kids these days….

      • PsychoWedge says:

        What are you talking about? He’s world famous for his role in Dune!

        • Premium User Badge

          Phasma Felis says:

          I can’t believe you jackasses are just ignoring his triumphant film debut, opposite Sylvester Stallone, as “Apollo Creed’s bodyguard (uncredited)”.

          • Blad the impaler says:

            You guys are the best.

          • Bugamn says:

            Are you in the wrong site? Here he is famous for his role in Emperor: Battle for Dune!

          • Bugamn says:

            Oh, PsychoWedge already mentioned that one. I thought that he was referencing the movie.
            I await my punishment.

          • MrPyro says:

            I mostly know him from when he was Beckett’s psychologist on Castle.

  8. Zenicetus says:

    I think it was mistake to show auto-resolve combat (assuming that’s what it was), especially when it looks so bad.

    If they needed an early teaser before tactical combat was ready to show, they could have just gone with the race introductions. And lose those robot voices.

  9. daphne says:

    That MOO2 is on the list of top 50 strategy games is a good indication that RPS hasn’t played the original, either. MOO2 is a sequel to MOO in name and flavor only: mechanically it inherits from Master of Magic.

  10. younzo says:

    One word : Stellaris.

    All resistance will be futile (hopefully !)

    • vlonk says:

      TIL indeed! Thx Younzo, I completely missed that announcement somehow. Paradox is on a roll lately, lets hope for the best.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I’m keeping an eye on that one, although I fear it will be more management-intensive than I’d like in a space 4X. We’ll see.

      My big hopes are pinned on Endless Space 2, if Amplitude can learn enough from their previous games to build in the right balance of depth + fun and engaging gameplay. I think there’s room for a medium-weight contender like that…. something between what Paradox is probably aiming for, and what looks like a much more lightweight game with this new Master of Orion.

    • younzo says:

      @vlonk : you are welcome !

      @Zeneticus : I briefly tried Endless Space but I don’t know … felt too ‘abstract’ to me. Might give a shot to the sequel though.
      On the management-intensive side, I’m not sure what you mean exactly but I think that Stellaris will be more focused on macro-management instead of micro (ie : governors, only one head of science, etc …).

    • Joshua Northey says:

      I have enough love in my heart for space 4x, amplitude, and paradox to hope that both games are wildly successful. It doesn’t have to be a competition. I hope this one is great too.

  11. Whelp says:

    The combat looks shit.

  12. stevev45 says:

    Why would you even show the combat in a trailer when it looks that bad?

  13. stevev45 says:

    I guess this quote explains why the combat is so bad. Too bad, I was hoping I would be part of their target audience.

    “I think that was a mistake made by some of these [later 4X] games,” he said. “They thought that was a key feature that was going to bring a lot of people in. [But] you can only focus on so many things. If you focus on everything, it becomes too complex. It’s unmanageable. Unwieldy. If you do a deep-dive on only a few things, they have to relate directly to what the player is doing. So while there are a lot of players that played tactical battles, there’s not that many. It’s about 10% of the players. So if you deep dive on that, you’re wasting a lot of resources [that could have gone] to something that’s really more important to the gameplay.”

    link to pcgamer.com

    • Zenicetus says:

      Uh oh… so the vibe I’m getting off that pcgamer interview is that there is no other combat mode than what they’re showing here? This is it?

      Well, good luck with that in the current space 4X market. If you’re going to show auto-resolve battles, then they need to look at least as good as what current games like Endless Space and GalCiv are showing during combat. Nostalgia for an old classic in the genre will only carry you so far.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Or the price-point can be lower, or the rest of the game can be better. There is no “one” recipe for success. Endless Space 1 was a no buy for tons of people simply because their wasn’t tactical enough combat, it was still an extremely successful game for the developer.

        Not every game aspires to be or has to be Cities Skylines or whatever.

        • Zenicetus says:

          I agree that resources spent on good tactical combat are resources that don’t go into the strategic layer that we spend the most time on. It’s why current games like GalCiv3 and Endless Space are basically auto-resolve with a few minor player options to influence the battle.

          However, this project is leaning heavily on nostalgia for the old game, and the MOO series was one of the few space 4X games to ever include any kind of tactical space combat, however minimal. If that’s the marketing angle, it will be interesting to see if they can get away with downplaying that side of the game.

    • froz says:

      Ok, can someone show me all those recent 4x space games that were overspending their budget on combat mechanics? I don’t recall any interesting space combat mechanics in recent games at all. Actually, I don’t recall any good turn-based combat in any 4x game other then MOO2… It’s either eyecandy with little control from player or uninteresting real-time battle.

      For me the battles was a very big part of MMO2. As everything in that game, they strike a great balance between overcomplicated and too simple.

      • saturday says:

        Well couldn’t be called recent by any stretch but Space Empires 5 had very good space combat . Real time with pause , detailed custom behaviours that can be preset , fighters , drones etc etc. Just a shame so much mirco managment in the main game. Oh and use Cpt Kwoks overhaul mod. Theres a game that could use a reboot if the gitbags who bought the ip from the creator would sell it after sitting on it for years.

        This version of MOO looks a bit bland and it’s wargaming a company who specialize in mediocrity. I hope i’m proven wrong in this but I have GC3 and Star Ruler 2 for my fix until Distant Universe gets a sequel.

    • EhexT says:

      If they’re not going to have combat, then they’re directly competing with all the other boring 4X games that don’t have combat, like Endless Space and Gal Civ. If they had proper tactical combat they’d be competing with…basically nobody. But hey, doing rock paper scissors autoresolve and dressing it up with meaningless visuals (like Endless Space or Gal Civ) is a lot easier.

  14. stevev45 says:

    He said int he comments that there will be be tactical combat.

    But he went out of his way to say they aren’t focusing on it.

    • Zenicetus says:

      So they’re including tactical combat, and at the same time they’re not really focusing on it? How does that work, considering what it takes to make a good tactical combat system?

      I guess we’ll see eventually. But this doesn’t sound promising.

  15. Kaeoschassis says:

    Nah. The more I think about this, the more I think we’re never going to see a good remake of either Master of Orion or Master of Magic. Too much of what made them great (ESPECIALLY how awfully unbalanced the damned things were) just will never make it into a game these days. And I mean, they’re still THERE. You can still play them. I frequently do.
    As somebody who’s been yelling for remakes of both of those classics for ages, I’m starting to wonder why I do.

  16. Potocobe says:

    Because, you want sharper graphics and an updated modern UI. Since that is all you want, no one wants to do it (the bastards). The only HD remake I have seen that was worth a damn is Space Rangers 2. What did they do? Updated the graphics a bit. What else did it need? Moo2 needs a better, more mouse friendly UI that understands everyone on earth has a mousewheel and higher res textures because you can. That’s it. Change nothing else.

    • Ed Burst says:

      I’d add to MoO2 HD:

      Improve the balance between weapons and technologies (make these optional for the nostalgic). Add some new racial modifiers and galaxy setup options for more variety. Add some more random events. Add some more automation options for less micro-management. Make auto-resolved battles more accurately represent what would actually happen, now that we have the processing power.

      At one point I thought about having a kickstarter to raise money for a MoO2 update but then it turned out someone else was using the IP.

    • Fimbul says:

      I’m all for MoO2 HD too! Keep the love in the game.

      MoO “remake” looks kind of bad mix between Endless Space (UI sort of), Galactic Civilisation (tech tree) and bad MoO2 (Colony, Ships).

  17. NephilimNexus says:

    The boner I got when I saw “Master of Orion” was only exceeded by the testicle-receding, nightmare inducing horror of the words “Wargaming.net” right after it.

    That’s like hiring Michael Bay to do a remake of “Gone with the Wind.”

    Excuse me, must vomit.

  18. socrate says:

    why do the psilons look like grey?they even have saucer…ffs

    Psilons in MoO2 looked great compared to the wierd hape like 4 arm big head with hair one of MoO1

    overall this doesn’t look great look more like a way to cash in on a name more then anything else…then again seen how every use of name like that were highly profitable…just not game that were for me…just really bad dumbed down version for player that want a game to reward them for every single step they make in life.

    Also that robot voice….pure suicide.