Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.
Published on May 11, 2021 By Frogboy In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

Galactic Civilizations is a 4X space strategy game set in the future right after humans have launched their first colony ship into space.  The popular franchise is well known for combining good AI, free-form ship movement, and a ship designer.

The current edition, Galactic Civilizations III, was released in 2015 to much praise from both gamers and reviewers with particular emphasis on its high replay value, extensive technology tree and clever computer opponents.

Now, 6 years later, Stardock returns with Galactic Civilizations IV.

  • Title: Galactic Civilizations IV
  • Developer: Stardock Entertainment
  • Platform: Microsoft Windows 10
  • Early Access: Summer 2021 (Alpha version)
  • Release Date: TBD
  • Homepage:

A Recap

Galactic Civilizations is a strategy game of the 4X genre.  4X stands for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate.  Other games in this genre include Master of Orion, Civilization, Endless Legend, Alpha Centauri. There is no hard and fast rule on what makes a game a 4X game other than that the games typically involve those 4 elements.

At the start of the game, players have Earth – assuming they choose to play as the humans. The first colony ship has just launched and a sea of stars awaits them.  Over the course of the game, players will encounter other civilizations and soon run out of unclaimed planets to colonize. Players research new technologies, fight wars, trade goods, engage in diplomacy, improve their worlds, and ultimately win either through conquest, uniting with the other civilizations, or technological ascension.

Galactic Civilizations' best known features include its ship designer, which allows players to create and share starships of their own design, its open universe map, its attention to good computer AI, and use of star bases to spread influence and improve planets.

What’s new in Galactic Civilizations IV

GalCiv IV aims to take the best elements from GalCiv III and take it to the next level.  Below are some highlights:

An Empire of Empires

Previous GalCiv games involved an AI for each computer opponent.  In GalCiv IV, each civilization is made up of hundreds of characters each controlled by an AI. These characters have their own strengths, weaknesses, and backstories. They carry out the player’s orders, but they also have their own agendas and can be influenced by things like opposing civilizations, their own greed and ambitions, or the current state of the galaxy.

A Maps of Maps

GalCiv is well known for its free-form maps. The player selects a map size and ships can move in any direction hex by hex.  GalCiv IV takes this concept and builds on it by having a given “map” be a sector, which is then connected to other sectors. Early on, players can only travel between sectors through specific pathways calls subspace streams. Later, players gain the ability to travel directly through subspace. This change means that the exploration and expansion periods of the game continue throughout the game rather than being only at the start of the game and allows for much bigger playing fields for the civilizations.

A Story of Stories

Earlier entries in the series included a single campaign story and then a separate sandbox mode.  In Galactic Civilizations IV, the campaign is gone. In its place is a vastly larger epic that could never be contained in a hundred playthroughs, let alone a single one. These stories, now called missions, originate from the characters and events occurring through a given playthrough.  The result being that each game is designed to feel like an epic story.

The Evolution of Space Strategy Games

These major changes are only the start of what amounts to a major reimagining of not just Galactic Civilizations, but the nature of 4X games entirely.  As computers have gotten more powerful, games such as Galactic Civilizations have the opportunity to depart from the board-game like nature of their ancestors.  Galactic Civilizations IV is essentially an AI-driven simulator with a turn-based strategy surface. 

Traditionally, strategy games have been designed in terms of equal or near equal allies and opponents.  But nations are made up of states. States are made up of counties. Counties are made up of cities and so forth.  Galactic Civilizations IV aims to give users the sense that they really are the leader of an interstellar government with people who may have their own agendas and merely require the opportunity to act on it.

With Galactic Civilizations IV, Stardock looks to greatly increase the immersion of the game by having each game be its own epic story.  The player’s galactic sandbox is so different from game to game now that each game is best described as its own campaign.


Comments (Page 1)
2 Pages1 2 
on May 11, 2021

But I wanted GC3 with new graphics.Just kidding.

on May 11, 2021

Excellent to see the new version in progress. I have enjoyed GC since version 1.

I also have great hopes that the sector to sector mapping mechanism will allow for bigger maps and meaningful exploration later in the game- that part of the 4E is always fun, but had been limited in GC3, mostly to early stages. Once you "found" another civ, exploring "past" them was less helpful as they could usually get to resources (planets, asteroids, etc) before you could.


on May 11, 2021

Excellent news!!! Love what’s being presented so far and am really looking forward to the alpha!! 👍🏻

on May 13, 2021

Not sure what to say, still playing galactic civilizations 3. Closest thing I’ve seen to what sounds like your talking about is medieval total war. The interacting sounds good. I’ve always felt the game could use more story. I hope we keep the same number of factions going into the next game. I was ok with ones dying. I wasn’t ok with what felt like being cheated on the number of factions, but that even fixed itself. 
what did hurt the game for a long time was a clunky interface. People are expecting the same versatility as the previous game. It’s like the planet list was supposed to replace every chart galactic civilizations two had. I mean in the beginning all there was a planet list, not all they have on the list now. No buttons. What I’m trying to say hopefully you guys make sure that 4 is as playable as three this time around. Now I know in the beta stage rag on the interface. Last time I assumed it was going to be fixed by the time the game came out. 

on May 13, 2021

Good riddance to campaigns! My favorite 4X games are ones where I still remember the stories and events from my sandbox playthroughs. For example, I once had an epic ongoing battle with the Yithril faction in Fallen Enchantress that was so frustrating and lengthy that when I finally conquered their capitol city I renamed it Yithril's Tears out of spite! That was a story that developed organically out of seeming thin air but I'll remember it forever.

on May 13, 2021

Great to see GC4 will be a thing and the changes sound great so far!

I love the added focus on the people of your empire. A little bit of Crusader Kings in GalCiv sounds awesome!

The new mapping system sounds like it could create some truely humongous maps! Very interesting.

Looking forward to reading more.

on May 13, 2021

I liked the campaigns - or more specifically, the stories the campaigns were designed around. The campaigns were always a bit awkward to play and each mission could have some easily exploitable thing to make it easier or weird mechanics that would complicate everything. I spent a lot of time mucking around with the GC2 campaigns (and found the fix for Dread Lords Apocalypse mission not completing when the campaign was added to TA). GC3's campaigns work better I think, but overall I think moving the story stuff into regular gameplay sounds like a significant improvement.

on May 29, 2021

One element that I always thought was conspicuously absent in GalCiv space battles/warfare, was the ability to board and capture ships or conversely, defending ones' own ships by repelling alien "boarders". Once captured, ships and their tech, could be studied, adopted pr sold to raise cash for other things. This option could be turned on or off at the beginning of the game for those not interested in the tactical level of combat. But I for one would relish this feature. Anyone else?  

on May 29, 2021

I would enjoy the capture of ships that would add a new element.

on May 30, 2021

I look forward to hearing about this, but I was really excited about the pre-game hype for MOO3 as well.  We all know how that went.  The easiest way to win that was hitting Next Turn due to the multi-AI scheme.  I really hope that these extra AI characters don't turn this game into another passive or fighting my own people simulation. MOO3 was sheer misery to play.

on May 30, 2021

MOO3 was the reason I got GC (they were released around the same time).  Yeah, I was hyped up about MOO3, and it was a waste of the few small hours I put into it.  I doubt very much that you have anything to worry about with GC4.


on May 30, 2021

Same here. MOO3 was my second most crushing disappointment in gaming (Ultima 9 being #1). I read somewhere online that GC1 was pretty good and a good alternative to MOO3, so I went and bought that. Never looked back.

MOO 1 and 2 are some of most my favorite games ever, so that would've been a tough act to follow even if MOO3 was actually good (it wasn't). MOO3 didn't even feel like an actual game lol

on May 31, 2021

"Galactic Civilizations IV is essentially an AI-driven simulator with a turn-based strategy surface. "  As AdamMG and Procellous said, MOO1 was really good, MOO2 was fantastic, and MOO3.... was essentially an AI-driven simulator with a turn-based strategy surface.  It was awful.  A birthday present from my parents, so proud they knew what game to get... and the only game I have ever returned to the store.  There was no *game*... you just watched the AI do things.  Nowadays i have a dozen games on my phone that do that.  I do *not* want GalCiv to turn into that, *please*!!!

on May 31, 2021

When space monsters win a battle, they lay eggs and use the hull of the old ship for nutrients and hatches a new space monster.  The miracle of life.

on Jun 01, 2021


When space monsters win a battle, they lay eggs and use the hull of the old ship for nutrients and hatches a new space monster.  The miracle of life.
bwa ha ha ha...   

Now make them grow faster so they are a true and nasty threat....

2 Pages1 2