4X eXtravaganza - eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate

Wanted to get a thread going on 4X games specifically. What’s your favorite(s), why? What 4X games are you specifically looking forward to?

Right now I think my favorite is probably Stellaris. Its got its issues but I think it walks a good line between emergent narrative storytelling and actually having a level of balance as you play. Yes there are inherent worse trait options but you can suss them out after a few games and then pick them for story reasons or as a hard mode (Barbaric Despoiler). I’m pretty hype for the new Federations expansion to overhaul that part of the game and add even more narrative with the species origin feature.

I am really looking forward to Humankind coming out from Amplitude via Sega. The core mechanic of choosing different civs in different eras for bonuses and rising and falling them overtime for your meta-civ’s legacy points really seems like it will address the “end of history” issues that I feel like the Civ games are stuck in a rut on. Also I’d just really love for some solid competition in the historical 4x subgenre to also push Firaxis to improve as well. I like Civ 6 a bunch but I rarely get a narrative out of playing because the way most bonus and luxury resources are functionally the same.

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I’m a huge fan of Amplitude’s games so I’m really looking forward to Humankind.

I’ve always loved 4X games, but around Civ V or so, I kind of got bored with the Firaxis formula so I never got Civ VI. Instead, I bought Endless Legends and Endless Space 2, both by Amplitude, and have loved them. I love how asymmetric the factions are. While Civ has some perks that are different between civilizations, the races in Endless Space and Endless Legends are incredibly different from each other. Having watched videos of Stellaris, the Endless games seem on par with that if not more asymmetrical.

I’ve talked with other forumites about Endless Space 2 vs Stellaris before. Both games seem great, but seem to focus on different things. The Endless games, whether Legends or Space 2, don’t have the grand scope or massive armies that Stellaris has. If people want a 4X game where you have two HUGE space empires fighting against each other, Stellaris is probably the game for them.

What I really love about the Endless games, and what seems unique to all the Amplitude 4X games, is the focus on story. In both Endless Legends and Endless Space 2, each race has its own story quest, and if you complete it, you win the game. Sure, there are victory conditions like in Civ games, economic victories, military victories, cultural victories, scientific victories, etc, but the Amplitude 4X games really encourage you to roleplay as your race, something that I haven’t found is as emphasized in Stellaris or the Firaxis games. Alpha Centauri probably had the most roleplaying as your faction out of all the Firaxis games I’ve ever played, but they’ve moved away from that.

One thing I’ve realized about myself over the years is that I come at things wanting a good story. It doesn’t matter what form of medium it is, books, movies, games, etc, the story is more important to me than the visuals or anything else. Most first person shooters bore the heck out of me, especially if they’re primarily multiplayer because they have no real story. I love roleplaying games although I don’t really have much time for them anymore. I’ll happily play a mediocre action game if the story is good. The current game I’m playing, Nier, which I don’t really want to get into again, is both fun to play and the story is amazing.

When I used to play Civ, in my own head, I would roleplay as the leader of that civilization, almost narrating my own decisions to myself. The Amplitude 4X games takes my love of story and roleplaying and makes it the focus of their games, something that no other 4X game really did before. Their games might not be for everyone, but if you like a more narrative approach to your 4X games, give Endless Legends and Endless Space 2 a try.

In Endless Legends, the planet that you’re on is literally dying. As the game progresses, it switches between summer and winter seasons, and the gameplay is affected by that. You need to take what the season is into account when you’re playing. As the game progresses, summer gets shorter and shorter and winter gets longer and longer. You need to factor that into your science research, how you set up your cities, etc. It’s a gaming experience that I’ve never had with another 4X game.

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Pretty sure I have a copy of Endless Legends I got for free for steam I need to play still.

I do need to get over to check out Endless Space 1 & 2 as well. The asymmetry of Alpha Centauri and the strong flavor of its leaders and factions was something I severely missed in Civ: Beyond Earth.

I would recommend Civ 6 when you see it on a sale and feel like a YOLO. It is in many ways an improvement over Civ 5. It starts out of the box vanilla with a lot of the Civ 5 expansion features and both 6 expansions add a lot in (specifically Gathering Storm). I really like the city district and wonders being map tile features which means you have a cost benefit choice for every tile whether to use a normal improvement or plop a wonder/city tile and lose access to that tile. The weather and climate systems in Gathering Storm really help to emphasize different terrain and locations.

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I’ve never played Endless Space 1, but from everything I’ve read, you can skip it and just go straight to Endless Space 2. It was Amplitude’s first 4X game, and while not bad, there are some weird things about it.

Civ: Beyond Earth was when I jumped the Firaxis ship to Amplitude. I SO wanted a sequel to Alpha Centauri, or just an updated version. The reviews of Beyond Earth were not kind, and after putting over 150 hours into Civ V, I was ready for Endless Legend’s new approach.

While Endless Legend isn’t exactly like this, the map is broken up into various provinces, for lack of a better word. You can only have one city per province, so it matters where you decide to plop down your city because those are the resources you’re going to have access to. Sure, later on in the game you can add districts to your city to claim other resources and you can build satellite buildings to harvest special resources, but only being allowed to build one city per province or zone really changes how you decide to build your civilization.

Speaking of Humankind, this was just released today:

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Nice trailer. I like the city district sprawl and upgrade over time they show briefly.

Also I thought Civ 6 had the best tile art system yet for making things look natural but this even surpasses that.

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So those avatars at the end of the trailer are apparently generated and change over time based on the Civs your meta-civ is picking up as you go. Cool idea.

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Be interested in trying Humankind.

I’m a big fan of Stellaris over Endless Space for similar reasons Deckard laid out. I like being able to command large space armadas and Endless Space just doesn’t deal in that scale. However, I do like what they did in Endless Legend and it’s one of my favorite fantasy-based 4Xs. Having one group essentially be Rubric Marines was really interesting.

Never got into Civ 6, Civ Beyond Earth, while it has issues feels like it could be a more competitive version of Civ 5 where you didn’t have to deal with imbalanced factions due to historical reasons.

I also highly recommend Hearts of Iron IV if you want an incredibly detailed World War II experience.

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Hearts of Iron series always dips a little too far into the wargame simulationist bent for me to ever be like, yes this is how I want to enjoy my saturday.

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ooof I was expecting more from Humankind than just another Civ clone…

Unfortunately, the video didn’t really do a good job at showcasing what’s probably the most innovative mechanic about Humankind.

In Humankind, you’re not just one civilization, you get to pick a different civilization, or keep the same one, every time you enter a different age. You can kind of see this in the video where there are different building styles. If you look closely, you’ll see that there’s a mixture of Mediterranean buildings, Chinese buildings, and even the Kremlin is there. That’s not just cosmetic. It looks like at various points in the game, the player switched from some kind of Phoenician (maybe) civ, to Chinese, to Russian. With those switches comes all different kinds of buildings, units, technology etc.

Humankind is actually a lot more different from Civ than that video shows.

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This is what I thought CIV VI would do when they talked about having different ages. I think it’s a really great idea on paper. For me at least, the most fun part of 4X games are the early and mid game. In the late game, there is just too much stuff to manage, and most games tend to get bogged down.

One solution is to simply zoom the game out as it progresses. You start out at individual level, then squad level, then fleet level, and so on. Some games have tried this, but few have pulled it over very elegantly.

The other solution, is ages, which I also like. You can see it in board games like Amun-Re. Just effectively restart the game a few times along the way. Now you only ever play early and mid-games, you just play several of them. The ending point of the previous game just becomes the start of the next one. A lot like a Legacy game. Instead of one big 4X you play 4 or 5 games, but each one only gets to the midgame before it ends and the next one starts.

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Have you ever played the Colonists board game?

It basically does exactly what you want. I haven’t played it myself, so I can’t say how good it is, but essentially you play through four eras, with technology advancing each time and your colony becoming more and more advanced and modern. You can play just one Era, or play through all four for a super long game, or just start at a later era. The idea sounds really cool and it’s on my list of things to try out.

Is this though? I don’t really find the argument that you can “change your civ at different ages” any different than the various civics mechanics that have popped up in the Civ series at all.

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Got a steam email today that Stellaris original is on sale for $10.

yep, currently federations is outselling doom eternal on the steam top sellers chart

I’m planning to buy Doom Eternal, but right now the price is too damn high.

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I was feeling the Stellaris itch this past weekend but started playing Surviving Mars because I didn’t want to spend full price on the Mega Corp Stellaris expansion.

Paradox always discounts their expansions when a new one is out.

Now it’s time for Stellaris!

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there are so many updates to Stellaris, it’s hard to decide what to get, but I loved the base game a few years ago when I played a lot of it. Wish I knew what was worth it.

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