Summary: Stardock is in the final stages of development for their sequel to the surprise hit Galactic Civilizations. Jakub takes the newly-3D franchise for a spin - goofy humor, alien conquests and starbases all!
Fittingly enough, Galactic Civilizations II: The Dread Lords is aiming to follow up on its predecessor the way Master of Orion 2 followed the original. The game is more complex, more attractive and with a bigger selection of, well, everything. The tech tree is more intricate, ships can now be customized, planets can be set to specialized production and new concepts like fleets have been added.
GalCiv 2’s tech tree is significantly expanded, with several consequences. The various races can and do tend to specialize now in one tree or another; preferring culture, production, diplomacy, and weapons based on their character. Consequently, disparities in combat power or the ability to repel foreign cultural influence can be fairly significant. On the other hand, the greater number of techs is adding granularity to the tech tree. For example, the ships you produce are no longer “Garbage, Garbage Mk II, Garbage Mk III – oooh! Dreadnoughts, now I can rule the world!” It’s quite possible to rush to a large hull size only to find that you do not have the weapons, armor or shields to arm them properly, or that your planets are so poorly developed economically they cannot muster the industrial might to produce these behemoths.
The races themselves have been given more significant bonuses that help to distinguish them from one another. It’s no longer a matter of mere moral alignment – good and evil – with some research or economy bonuses tacked on. No, the opponents in the game have a larger selection of bonuses and penalties. Take the Yor Collective, for example. The robotic beings were merely the quasi-evil semi-villains of the first GalCiv. Now, they benefit from a massive bonus to their loyalty, meaning that cultural subversion of their planets is remarkably difficult. All the races have gotten such treatment, being customized to one degree or another. The types of bonuses range from loyalty, various production categories, morale, espionage, research, combat attributes and so on.
For all the changes though, this is still clearly a GalCiv title. The slightly off-kilter humor is still there. Take, for example, the news announcement when you research Xeno Farming, “Old McDonald had a farm, Eyey-O, and on this farm he had a Kthizak Eyey Oh HELP AAUU it’s gnawing off my…” Clearly, Xeno Farming is an early technology.
These visual modifications, as well as the actual parts like weapons, shield systems and engines, are attached to a number of mounting points on the vehicles. Generally, on all but the smallest ships, these points are abundant, and in all cases they cover a thorough area of the ship.
The player can now combine ships into fleets. A fleet is essentially a stack of ships, moving together for mutual protection. If, in a time of war, you wish to easily move transports or constructors to the front, a fleet is the most convenient way of doing so. Balance and reasonable size are maintained by the player’s logistics limit, which can be increased through various technologies.
The ability to customize planets is greatly welcome. A planet’s habitability number no longer implies exclusively what its potential population will be, but how many improvements can be built on it. A world rated 15 has as many habitable tiles that can be used for development, placing the kinds of planetary improvements we saw in the earlier GalCiv. Thanks to this new feature, you can make an industrial world, a research planet, or one focused on culture. Galactic Civilizations 1 had its customizability limited to building one-of-a-kind improvements on a world, like “Industrial Capital”.
All in all, GalCiv 2 is shaping up to be a very worthy successor to the original, elaborating on the areas that could have used more depth, without affecting the core gameplay.
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