Galactic Civilizations is a space-based 4X strategy game set in the 24th century starting when humans have discovered a faster-than-light travel called Hyperdrive. Humans and aliens compete for domination of our galaxy.
The player begins with only their home planet and must research new technologies, explore the known galaxy, colonize new worlds while keeping their people at home happy. At the same time, players engage in trade, diplomacy, intrigue and war with alien civilizations.
New in Galactic Civilizations IV
Building on the strengths of the previous entry in the series, Galactic Civilizations IV includes the biggest changes ever made to the series. These new features include:
Galactic Civilizations IV introduces star sectors. Each sector is akin to a map in Galactic Civilizations III. Most of these sectors are similar to tiny to large GalCiv III maps that represented a section of the overall galaxy that the player was trying to conquer. Now, there can be anywhere from one to dozens of star sectors to explore.
Game elements such as population, diplomats, leaders, generals, etc. have been abstracted with Leader characters. Each of these characters has their own set of attributes, strengths and weaknesses and relationship with the player. Leader characters give the player a lot more flexibility and agency in how they run their civilization
Policies allow a player to shift priorities as they play by choosing between different buffs and focuses.
4X games are notorious for knowing you’re going to win long before you actually win. The Prestige counter - combined with the new Galactic Achievements feature - allows the player to move the game to the endgame quickly.
GalCiv IV introduces a new resource called “Control” that allows players to perform direct actions on the game. These actions can have consequences, but allow players more direct ways to intervene.
A big issue in 4X games is the micro-management in the late game. In every GalCiv playthrough, later in the game the player might have dozens of planets to manage (just like in other 4X games where you might have dozens of cities or stars or whatever). GalCiv IV has core worlds, which are high quality worlds that matter. Those are fed by colonies, which require no management. So late game, the player might have 50 worlds in their civilization, but only 9 of them are core worlds.
Because populations are now abstracted into leader characters (as in, instead of having a population of 5 on a planet you now have 5 citizen characters), it means that when you conquer a planet (or assimilate it, or trade for it, or simply get immigration) you can end up with alien characters on your worlds.
Different species have different strengths and weaknesses, as well as different levels of xenophobia (i.e. living on planets with other species) that allow players more control and flexibility and challenge for dealing with their worlds.
Battles (and invasions) are no longer always over in a single turn. An invasion might take several turns to occur. Transports are only required for core worlds, whereas colonies can be taken by any ship with weapons. Battles can also take place across multiple tiles, allowing for ships with extreme range weapons to soften up targets from multiple tiles away.
We eliminated “the campaign” and instead took the content and made it so that every game can feel like a campaign with “missions,” which are story driven quests based on who you are playing as, who you are playing against, and what characters are in your civilization.
Gone is the old “good” vs. “neutral” vs. “evil”. Now there are 7 categories of ideology, each with two trees. The choices players face are no longer “I’m a good person vs. I’m a terrible being," but instead are things like cooperation vs. creativity, or innovation vs. tradition, or compassion vs. pragmatism.
New Economic System
In the new system, resources are brought in from the worlds themselves and then multiplied (as a %) by the population who are empowered (again by a %) by the improvements on the planet. The approval rating on a planet directly affects production (which makes approval matter a lot) with new elements such as crime (which affects planetary income) and pollution (which affects food production) as additional potential casualties of player decisions. Finally, approval is now extremely nuanced and explained in great detail.