As a companion piece to my “Most Anticipated 4X Games” article I wrote last weekend, I figured I’d also highlight the expansions to existing 4X games that I know about and talk about them a bit. First, to be clear, I only can confidently list a few expansions, but there are also a few that I can speculate on. Without further ado, here’s my official list:
- Endless Space 2: Umbral Choir (likely to be titled Penumbra)
- Unnamed Galactic Civilizations 3 Expansion
- Civilization 6: Gathering Storm
- Another expansion that I’m not legally allowed to talk about
And then, there are the expansions that we can guess will come, despite not being officially announced at all:
- Stellaris: Please god let it be diplomacy updates
- Stars in Shadow: Please god let it include diplomacy updates, too
I’m sure there’s likely other expansions being planned or worked on, but those are the only two I feel moderately confident that we’ll see or hear of sometime in 2019 – maybe even sooner.
First up, Endless Space 2: Penumbra (Penumbra for short) will be adding the community-created Umbral Choir (click the link to see where all the voting has taken it), which is a unique take on the classic “espionage faction”. They’re gaseous, secretive entities that will be taking full advantage of Penumbra’s other new feature: hacking.
Hacking is Amplitude’s new take on espionage. It involves setting up hacks by connecting your planets to various targets through the new hacking interface. Once your hacks reach their intended target, there’s a lot of actions you can take, like planting a sleeper unit, creating a backdoor to launch future hacks from, influencing minor faction relations, and much more. For those with the time, here’s an hour-long video showcasing this new feature pretty extensively:
There’s not much more I can say than what I already have, despite having played the beta version of the expansion quite a bit. As soon as I’m able to open up about, however, I’ll be sure to give you all the information that I can and most certainly provide a short Let’s Play for it. Stay tuned!
Sometime early next year, we’ll be seeing the next – and likely the last – expansion for Galactic Civilizations 3. Information is just now starting to come out about it and I’ve been given permission by Brad Wardell to share what the main features will be.
First, let’s review the major features that are coming:
- Cargo Ships
- At least two new factions (featured above!)
So you’re probably asking, “well, what the hell are those things?”. I’ll do my best to answer based on the limited information that I have.
First, Hypergates are basically space roads. When your ships enter these gate lines, their hyperdrive gets a big boost. I’m unsure how difficult they will be to build or how resource intensive they will be, but it definitely sounds like they’ll be key strategic structures used to quickly move your forces – but beware, don’t put them somewhere that your enemies can take advantage of them!
Cargo ships will be ships capable of moving production from your more established planets to your newer, or less developed, colonies, thus getting them up and running much sooner. Be careful that they aren’t intercepted by pirates or enemy factions, though!
Artifacts, on the other hand, are powerful items that are present on some planets that will allow the owner to do unique and possibly-game or situation-changing things. There’s no word yet on what kind of things those artifacts will allow you to do, but the idea sounds great, as items like that would certainly create a lot of tension between empires. I know I will be invading planets for them…
That’s the extent of my knowledge of the upcoming Galactic Civilizations 3 expansion. Brad Wardell was kind enough to allow me to share this much and I imagine that he’ll have much more to say about it early next year.
Lastly, we have Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. I’ve personally had a really hard time getting into the sixth iteration of Civilization. Considering that between Civilization and Master of Orion, I became hooked almost immediately on the 4X genre, it’s strange to me that the last two iterations haven’t really hooked me. Granted, I still have close to 100 hours with Civ V, but it just wasn’t as great or as exciting to me as Civ 4.
That being said, I can objectively say that “Rise and Fall”, the first expansion for Civilization 6, made the game much more interesting for me. Still, I think I have 40 hours with the game before I put it down. I think it says a lot about the genre that the Civilization formula just isn’t dynamic or asymmetric enough for me right now, whereas games like Endless Legend, Endless Space 2, and Galactic Civilizations 3 have offered more in that regard and it’s hard to go back to Civ as a result.
Instead of rewording the announced features, I’ll just paste the announcement from Steam:
- Environmental effects: Volcanoes, storms (blizzards, sandstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes), climate change, floods, and droughts.
- Power and consumable resources: Strategic resources play an additional role in Gathering Storm. These resources are now consumed in power plants to generate electricity for your cities. Initially, you’ll be powering your most advanced buildings by burning carbon-based resources like Coal and Oil, but renewable energy sources also unlock as you progress to current-day technologies. Your choices about resource usage will directly affect the world’s temperature and can cause melting ice caps and rising sea levels.
- Engineering projects: Shape the world around your empire to overcome unfavorable land conditions by making improvements like canals, dams, tunnels and railroads. When settling cities, consider the flood risk to coastal lowland areas, but keep in mind that in the late-game, new technologies like Flood Barriers can be used to protect these tiles.
- World Congress: Make your voice heard among the other leaders of the world. Earn Diplomatic Favor through Alliances, influencing city-states, competing in World Games, and more. Use Diplomatic Favor to extract promises from other leaders, vote on Resolutions, call a Special Session to address an emergency, and increase the weight of your votes in your quest to achieve the new Diplomatic Victory.
- 21st Century technologies & civics: A new era has been added to the Technology and Civics trees. Combat new environmental effects with speculative ideas such as relocating your population out to seasteads and developing technologies to recapture carbon emissions.
- New leaders and civs: Nine new leaders from eight new civilizations are introduced. Each brings unique bonuses and gameplay, as well as a total of nine unique units, four unique buildings, three unique improvements, two unique districts, and one unique governor.
- New scenarios:
- The Black Death: The Black Death ravaged Europe and western Asia in the mid-14th century, killing a greater share of the population than any other event in world history. The pandemic killed millions, ruined economies, upended political dynasties and transformed the face of the Western world. Your task is to lead your nation through the calamity: keep your population alive, your economy strong, and your faith unshaken amidst a world of terror and desperation.
- War Machine: At the outset of WWI, the German Imperial Army had a daring plan: invade neutral Belgium and then rush the French heartland before they could mobilize to resist. If successful, the German forces would capture Paris within a month and end their resistance forever. In counter, the French command prepared Plan 17, an all-out onslaught designed to meet and stop a German offensive. When war was declared, both armies swung into motion and set up one of the most incredible and shocking military campaigns in world history. In this scenario, players take the side of one of these two great powers at this same precipice. As Germany, your task is to capture Paris. As France, your task is to prevent its capture. The clock is ticking, and the enemy is moving. Advance!
- More new content: Seven new world wonders, seven natural wonders, 18 new units, 15 new improvements, 9 new buildings, 5 new districts, 2 new city sets, 9 new techs, and 10 new civics have been added.
- One of the new wonders is the Panama Canal, which was mentioned in the announcement.
- Another new wonder is the Golden Gate Bridge which is unmistakably seen in one of the released screenshots:
- Improved gameplay systems: The Espionage system has been enhanced with new options, the Culture and Science Victories have been updated, new Historic Moments have been added, and additional improvements have been made to other existing systems. In addition, Warmonger score has been replaced with Grievances.
Coupled with the video footage they’ve provided, it really sounds like Gathering Storm will finally shape Civilization 6 in to a game that breaks the mold enough to keep me engaged. I’m really looking forward to it!
To wrap up, I can speculate that the next Stellaris expansion, likely to release in late 2019, will feature the promised overhaul of federation mechanics and likely some diplomacy improvements. I sure hope so, as Stellaris has really shaped into a game that I can enjoy. However, the diplomacy has always felt lackluster in comparison to their other main games.
If Paradox can manage to introduce Europa Universalis IV-like diplomacy depth and improve the federation system to feel more dynamic and organic, Stellaris may finally meet its full potential. That’s incredibly exciting for any 4X or grand strategy fan.
Lastly, there’s been some talk in the Stars in Shadow forums that there’s another DLC on the horizon for that great game. SiS made my top 10 4X list because of how accessible, aesthetically pleasing, strategic, and fun it is. Not to mention that game length can be tailored to the player, but I enjoy it most in short burst 3-4 hour games. I’ve explained more HERE, if you’re interested.
But Jim Francis, aka Arioch, has made passive mention of DLC that would focus on terraforming planets and a new race that would take advantage of the new system (possibly aquatic). Clearly nothing has been officially released, or this wouldn’t be speculation, but I have a strong feeling we’ll see it in the first half of 2019.
However, considering that one of my biggest complaints about the base game was its diplomacy, I really hope that they continue to flesh it out and make it a better system. Looks like they’re already doing that in the form of free updates, but if it’s necessary to add more in conjunction with DLC (the Paradox model, so to speak), then I’ll just be happy to have it working better.
For those that haven’t played Stars in Shadow, you’re missing out on a really great 4X experience. Most importantly, those that miss turn-based tactical combat from space 4X games of yesteryear, SiS has it and it’s pretty well implemented. For the price, I can’t recommend SiS enough and wish more people were playing it.
If more information starts coming out about any of these, I’ll be sure to update ya’ll. In the meantime, I can’t wait for more 4X content, both in the form of solid expansions and the games I listed in my “Most Anticipated 4X Games” article.
Have I missed any? Are there expansions to existing 4X games that are in the works that I don’t know about? Please let me know in the comments below! I’m always (obsessively) interested in learning about more entries in my favorite genre.
Until next time, keep eXploring!