Stardock’s turn-based interstellar 4X strategy Galactic Civilizations 4 has launched out of early access exclusively on the Epic Games Store today. It adds far bigger maps than Galactic Civilizations 3, along with the opportunity to bring more worlds into your dastardly empire or benevolent federation than before. All the familiar civilizations are back, except for the mantis-like Thalan, and there are some newbies like the Festron Hunt: crab monsters that eat other races and sound a bit like Neal Asher's Prador. Maps are now broken into discrete chunks called Star Sectors too, linked by subspace streams that have to be discovered and researched so they can be navigated.
Stardock have changed victory conditions to make the late game less of a foregone conclusion, with Galactic Achievements challenges that earn prestige points necessary for a win, to cut down on grinding and put the emphasis back on story. Citizens, introduced in Galactic Civilizations 3, are also being buffed up with their own approval ratings and can even secede to form their own rival empires if they hate you enough. The new Core Worlds system stops you having to micromanage your less-good colonies by feeding the output of those into core planets, so there are fewer worlds to directly oversee even if you’ve colonised loads.
Galactic Civilizations 4 was announced just shy of a year ago, with a fairly lengthy early access period typical for Stardock games, which involved monthly updates. The series has been kicking about in some form for nearly thirty years now, although it’s been almost seven since Galactic Civilizations 3 launched. Adam (RPS in Peace) said in his his Galactic Civilizations 3 review that it was a “fantastic update to one of the best 4X games in existence”. “The game's ship designer is wonderful,” he added. “If you're so inclined, you could spend hours fussing over the aesthetics of every vessel, creating a customised fleet for every customised race you produce.”
Expect plenty of DLC and expansions for GalCiv 4 in the years to come if its predecessors are owt to go by. If you’ve never played any of the series and fancy having a crack at the earlier game to see what you might be in for with Galactic Civilizations 4 then you can download GalCiv 3 as part of Microsoft’s Game Pass for PC.