Space Empires V is the latest edition in the Space Empires series. This new chapter completely updates the UI and takes the player into a real-time rendered 3D universe. Watch space battles played out in glorious detail and realistic effects. Expand, Explore, Exploit, and Exterminate in a huge living breathing galaxy.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (94 reviews)
Release Date: Oct 16, 2006
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About This Game

Space Empires V is the latest edition in the Space Empires series. This new chapter completely updates the UI and takes the player into a real-time rendered 3D universe. Watch space battles played out in glorious detail and realistic effects. Expand, Explore, Exploit, and Exterminate in a huge living breathing galaxy. New features abound with political alliances between multiple empires, a top-down ship design system, a hexagonal movement grid, and many more. Due to player demand, the game is completely 'moddable' and even adds a scriptable AI system to the mix. Space Empires V boldly takes the next step in the genre of space strategy
  • 24 bit 3D real-time rendered graphics.
  • Detailed Tactical Combat (and a combat simulator to test your designs!).
  • New vehicle types and sizes: Ships, Bases, Freighters, Fighters, Mines, Satellites, Troops, Drones, and Weapons Platforms.
  • Ability to completely design and customize all of your vehicles.
  • Large Galaxy: 100 solar systems with 15 planets each.
  • Huge Technology Tree: Thousands of tech levels with hundreds of components and facilities.
  • Completely customizable game graphics: Create your own planets, stars, vehicles, etc.
  • Completely customizable AI players: Create your own AI players with unique traits, styles, and speech.
  • 14 unique races to play or customize (or just create your own!)
  • Randomly generated map for every game (or load an existing map).
  • Complete game customization allowed by players ("mods").

System Requirements

    Minimum System Requirements: Pentium 500MHz or better class machine, Windows XP, 64 megabytes RAM or better, 1024x768 or better screen resolution, 16 bit color display or better, DirectX 7.0 (or better), A video card with 3D acceleration, 500 megs hard drive space, A sound card capable of supporting MP3 and DirectSound playback. Sound card must be DirectX 7.0 (or better) compatible.
Helpful customer reviews
34 of 58 people (59%) found this review helpful
65.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 27
Unfortunately, ever since I upgraded to a 64-bit OS, this game has become literally unplayable, with frequent crashing and inexcusably severe lag. In its heyday it was a gem of the 4x genre, but sadly, it hasn't received the support it really needed to stay relevant.
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10 of 13 people (77%) found this review helpful
107.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 17
I loved it, destroyed an empires homeworld by creating a warp point to their homeworld then making a black hole. Limitless fun.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
287.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 7
Can't reccomend highly enough. Once you get past learning how to use the UI and some of the more subtle features, it's a great strategy game. Whilst fairly unbalanced, it allows for a lot of customisation, which in turn leads to an almost RPG like element of deciding what kind of society you'll be, what kind of technology you'll discover and what kind of ships you'll build.

The tech tree is not as linear as something like Civ V or Gal Civ II and has a lot more in terms of options, but it's not as smooth a game to run, or optimised for multiplayer; turns on hotseat take a while to load, but it's a lot of fun to play with a friend. Seeing as one of the only things holding this back is it's optimisation and the fact it's old, I can't help but feel a space empires VI would be as groundbreaking as Civ or maybe even AoE II.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
30.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 27
Compatability problems aside, As Im sure many people have started reviews with that as their core focus they fail to actually see the game for what it is behind the crashes that litter their modern computers (That this game has not been patched for)

This game is amazing, In essence, Design and execution, It has good depth and just that little thing that keeps you coming back, Its a long burn of a game, No quick explosion and then over, Games take 10s of hours at least but thats what makes them so memorable, and it makes small things that much bigger.
If youre a stratagy fan looking for something complex, Challenging and fun, Youre in the right place
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
22.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 28
This is a good old turn based 4X. You design your empire and then try to conquer a galaxy (or win through diplomacy/culture; if you're of that persuasion...) Lots of tech development, and ship design. Gameplay is quite excellent in terms of grand strategy, with customisable interfaces and various options for automation (ai ‘governor’ control etc), but I was not hugely impressed with the controls and scripts for tactical combat; it leaves some features to be desired. There may be some mods available which could improve this aspect of the game. Overall, quite a fun and interesting game, I find the dynamics of the gameplay and strategies to be thought provoking. It offers opportunities for a slightly deeper level of interaction than many other 4X games. This is not a game for players who like fast paced, easy to understand gameplay: it takes time, practice and conceit to develop one’s own personal strategy (of which there are many possibilities).
I usually play this game with the Crimson Concept mod, which can be found (free) here: www.spaceempires.net/downloads-details-922-Crimson_Concept_Mod_v9.0.html#dldetails
I've tried the game without this mod, it was not as interesting...

Lots of people on Steam have commented on it lagging/being unplayable: i noticed that the game lags if the resolution colour bit setting is high; i switched it from x32 to x16 and it runs better now. I guess the graphics in this game are not designed for modern hardware etc.

If you have the game: check out www.spaceempires.net there is a community of players and developers, and a massive library of mods and other content to explore.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
69.2 hrs on record
Posted: September 30
You will lose some hours playing this game! this game isn't for the casual R.T.S. players either so dont expect to play your first time and think its going to be a stroll in the park. but the experience is always enjoyable and fun and most importantly its always different each play through. 8/10
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
172.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 27
While for the longest time I was plagued by crashes or otherwise bad performance I still adore this game. A long and relatively complex game that allows you to design your empire down to what's on your mines and fighters. I love that it gives me so much control over everything, I'm not stuck with "Your race has slow but powerful ships designed for bombardment warefare" or some such. Instead My ships are whatever I want them to be at the time. Plus, the game lets you go so far as destroying and creating planets, like seriously what more could you ask for in a 4x game?
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
56.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 28
Good game, I just wish it ran better on Windows 7
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
47.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 16
This is a great game, it would be even better if it didn't freeze or crash all the time
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
150.0 hrs on record
Posted: August 23
Blindingly addictive, albeit with moments of glitchyness. The enemy AI can sometimes choose strategies that cause its own civilisation to stagnate (remind you of anyone?) & some visual errors can lead to crashes. Save often!
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
19.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 1
Sketchy space game is best space game.
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78 of 81 people (96%) found this review helpful
64.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 27, 2013
Space Empires V, like its predecessor, is a brilliant turn-based strategy game. Research is deep and complex. The AI, with mods, runs well. Ship design has interesting nuances and micromanagement isn't overwhelming even in the late game. Diplomacy is good enough and resource management isn't that easy but isn't overly complex, either. The modding community has created some absolute masterpieces for this game, as well.

Of course, then, there must be a caveat. SE:V is one of the buggiest games to exist in recent memory. It was designed to run with DX7.1 and DX8 on Windows XP machines. As technology marches ever onwards, getting SE:V to actually install and work even remotely properly has been a source of constant headaches. Provided you're willing to go through the slog of troubleshooting cryptic error messages, forum heresay, and troubleshooting myths from people who are taking potshots in the dark, SE:V is a game that I wholeheartedly recommend. Otherwise, stay away.
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57 of 58 people (98%) found this review helpful
393.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 4, 2013
Space Empires V is an unpollished diamond. You just know that if it had a reasonable length of time in development to remove all the bugs and add a proper multiplayer experience, then it would have been unsurpassed in the 4X genre. What saved this game in my view is just how easy it is to mod. All parameters are contained in .txt files so you can alter anything. Adding mods is incredibly simple(no installers, just download mod folder into a folder in the game). Personally I play with the balance mod(makes intelligence probability based, balances the game, makes AI terrifying) and have tweaked things like the battle timer for ground battles.

I guess I will begin with the really bad things in the game:

-Bugs: At this point many of the bugs that made the game unplayable were removed over a period 3 years after release but many remain. Issues with coding cause intense lag during big battles and, in my case, for every single ground battle. The alliance system just doesn't work which is a giant shame as it had huge potential

-AI: The AI in the normal game is simply terrible although this issue is fixed with the mods. The AI will create big fleets to kill you, lay mines in strategic areas and alter its designs to counter yours. It can be terrifying at times.

-Multiplayer: Multiplayer has never worked properly in this series. Everything is done through a play by web system using simultaneous turns and removing tactical combat. Connecting is difficult and just feels underdeveloped and old. It was so much easier to play a multiplayer game of Master of Orion 2 on Hamachi than playing this.

-The UI: It is difficult to know what to do and it put me off when I first started the game. It takes a long time getting used to and even if you know all the hotkeys and how to access what you want to know, it still takes ages. My biggest gripe is trying to know which ships still haven't moved as the game doesn't filter out fast units in a fleet when you push space.

-Ground combat: It is just not any good. You don't have to think about tactics at all unlike space battles. All you do is sit and watch cockroaches kill one another. Fighters are also a must as the ai will automatically start running away to the edge of the map once it is being beaten and this is very frustrating. Your guys are so slow that they probably wont reach them before the timer runs out. At that point combat ends until the next turn where a new militia will pop up from the city. For this reason I doubled the timer for ground combat.

-Late game slowness: This is typical of the genre where micromanaging increases exponentially as the game progresses and you get more plantes & units. Ministers which control your units for you and can be assigned very specific tasks get rid of the need to micromanage so much but an issue remains. Unlike civ v, all the units with assigned commands do not automatically move at the end of the turn. They instead move one by one at the start of the next. Late game it means that I have to sit and watch the game play itself for 5 minutes or so.


Now for the good:

-Scope: The size of this game is just incredible. A single match on a small map will take weeks and have you go from a newborn space race to god like beings which are able to do anything to star systems. You can blow up enemy planets and mine the remains or use them to create new ones. Destroy stars, create new ones, alter the very map by manipulating wormholes and create dyson spheres.

-Tech tree: The tech tree is enormous. There are dozens upon dozens of areas of research, each exponentially increasing the possibilities available. Each new tech can also be upgraded multiple times improving the same designs and many techs can be combined to make fun new strategies. I personally love researching boarding parties, tractor beams and cloacking. Then making a ship to secretly attack support units and take them over. You can make warheads and place them on ships to ram bigger ships or place them on drones and swarm a planet. Getting far into the research tree, making a deathstar, fitting it with a wave motion gun and sending it out to wreak havock is immensely satisfying. There are also specific techs that you get from colonizing ancient planets and race specific ones like organic manipulation or temporal manipulation.

-Diplomacy: I really hate the lack of diplomatic options you get in other games as they are very basic. Here you can set any term that you could possibly imagine. You can set how much each race will passively trade, can make treaties banning research of certain techs, you can prevent an ally from even doing any research, set whether or not there will be migration between the two races, impose tarrifs on the trade, share medical or resupply depots, ANYTHING!!!. I absolutely love it. You can even trade information on enemy ship designs and battle replay to help allies prepare.

-Intelligence: Espionage is another thing lacking in most game as they tend to simply give you random benefits. Here you can specify what kind of espionage activities you want to conduct or whether you want to carry out sabotages. It is quite feasible to use intelligence to cripple a planet before sending a fleet to attack.

-Customization: When you start the game, you can customize everything about your race. What kind of race are they? What type of planet do they inhabit? What atmosphere do they breathe? What type of culture do they have? All these things will have an impact on how you play and the customization extends throughout the game. Every ship you make is designed by you individually by adding components to preset sizes and dictating their strategy. The game even gives you a simulator to try out new designs. This works really well in my opinion. It is a lot of fun to get new ship designs from an ally who was just beaten by a new enemy and then altering your design using the simulator to check how well they will fare against the enemy. The simulator really does add a new level of gameplay that puts enphasis on tactics and good designs to prepare agaomst threats. It also makes good intelligence even more important.

-Space battles: Another great thing in this game. Battles can be massive in size and all play out in real time. Ships in fleets will fly in formation and battle using strategies set out by you before hand(you can also manually control them in tactical view). Damaged ships will fly slower and have damaged weapons, missiles will fly out and point defence turrets will attempt to shoot them down before they get too close. There is a surprising level of depth to the battles which are decided mostly on how well you prepared for them.

This is a game really worth buying for people who enjoy the genre although expect some hippucs. If you have a friend of a brother to play hotseat while you work then all the better.
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26 of 27 people (96%) found this review helpful
333.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 2, 2013
This is likely the best space 4x game out there. It's a shame it hasn't gotten more support, because you occasionally encounter some frustrating bugs and oversights (like if a planet with multiple populations rebels against you, it forms a new race with stats identical to your base race, and erases all other sentient species from the planet).
It gives you what you want. Ship design, the ability to make your own society, lots of interesting research, good espionage, an organized and customizable interface, and cool battles (with lots of tactical options, even if missiles+outrunning the enemy seems a bit overpowered).
The diplomacy can be frustrating, due to there being a turn delay and also you not knowing what conditions the AI wants. So anything more complicated than an open borders treaty might be impossible to implement.

I strongly recommend getting Captain Kwok's balance mod. This will make the AI more intelligent and challenging, as well as give you a chance to engage in more fleet actions.
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23 of 28 people (82%) found this review helpful
222.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 13, 2013
This game is incredibly complex -- in a good way, except for the fact that its just too complex for the AI to get a decent grasp on. It's also made to be modded, and frankly, is really best played with the "Balance Mod", which basically turns it into a game of Space Empires IV, with cooler graphics. The default game is unbalanced to the point of being effectively broken -- find, and install the Balance Mod, if you get the game.

Due to the complexity of the game, single player is kind of easy, unless you give the AI outrageous bonuses to production, etc. The AI just can't manage the game as well as a player can (although the Balance Mod AI is certainly superior the the default AI).

Multiplayer, via PBEM, is the ultimate MP space conquest experience. I'm not kidding. There is NO equal. I have played just about every space conquest game in existance, and NOTHING beats SE4/SE5 when it comes to mutliplayer. I say Play-by-Email (or cloud drive, these days, is an amazing option), because you want people to spend 15-30min on their turn, and run the turns simultaneously, to really get the best experience.

Space Empires is, and always has been, the computer equivalent of a board game called "Starfire: Empires" (or "Starfire: New Empires", for the second edition). This game was/is outstanding, if you're into epic galactic conquest with your friends. Space Empires IV/V do not disappoint, if you are willing to muscle through the poor UI design issues that give the game its steep learning curve. The fleet AI interface is particularly well hidden, and tough to grasp, but the nuances of the game, particularly of the tech tree, are unending -- and worth the time.
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18 of 26 people (69%) found this review helpful
66.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 10
old...very old.. yet it has a limitless technology system, and a ♥♥♥♥ing massive tech tree. You design your ship layouts. The tiniest of drones to the most massive of Baseships.
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
78.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 16, 2013
Great game, very addicting!
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24 of 44 people (55%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 27
I was pretty excited to see Space Empires 5 here after I got SE4 from sale on gog.com - But I was utterly and completely disappointed with this game. The new resolution messed up the UI badly and the icons that were previously very visible are now very hard to make out. Even if you get used to it, you'll find out that the game is in that regard fundamentally the same as the previous part and loads of the new stuff I've seen is largely superficial or outright stupid.

-Parts placement: In SE4, you just added components to the ships, here you have a 2D-View of your ship with lots of slots to put your parts on. It's utterly redundant though, as the placement doesn't seem to do anything (surround your crew quaters with engines? why not!) Additionally, there are three decks for these slots and the new view makes it hard to see what you got on your ship already.

-Race Creation: They put in new options for race creation. Mostly, it's cosmetic and allows you to e.g. describe the physical make-up of your species and can choose the ship designs independently from each other (unlike SE4). The new social structure your empire has ultimately added just a little bonus to various aspect. Instead of making each government unique and stuff, you just have a sliding scale of peaceful/research bonuses vs. war/combat bonuses (for some reason Anarchy is on the far end of peaceful gameplay and Hivemind is for aggressive play, everything in the middle is when you are indifferent). Oh and you can of course give your leader the title "Grand Emperor Führer Overlord" if you are in a peaceful democracy, because that totally makes sense and all.

-Research: Oh god. In SE4, you just picked all areas in which you research and then the game allocated all your research points automagically. Either split evenly or one after another. The new system requires you to allocate the points with sliders which is incredibly cumbersome and you can't just enter the amount you want with a keyboard either. The option to automatically (re)allocate points is missing entirely. This is furthermore worsened by the fact that the Research tree was broadened to include stuff that no player would ever research unless he knew the techtree. I mean if you research Energy Beam Weapons, you know you can laz0r your enemies harder afterwards. But please tell me why you would research Ethics in a game like that? Would you have known that it protects you from espionage actions? Also, gaining new ship hulls is now a crawl, while you could get the base ships (Death Star-Sized warships) within 7 research steps in SE4, you now need five times as much, because each shiphull size is now it's own research field.

I could elaborate on every aspect this game has to offer now, but given the amount of content it predessor already had, this could probably fill a book.

What I noticed about this game is that loading between turns and other stuff (e.g. generating the maps) is much longer and low-end machines might perform rather slow, a problem SEIV doesn't have.

Ultimately, if you like 4x Strategy games and this game seems really interesting to you, get SE4. There is no reason to choose this game over the prequel.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
56.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 29, 2011
Once you get past the Steam install problems, this is the deepest most engaging 4x game of it's type.

If I hadn't had it installed already from retail though, I wouldn't have gotten the steam version working, so it could use some work.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Posted: August 17, 2012
As a huge 4X fan this one has to be one of the best there is. It may not look like much when compared to others, but the sheer amount of options and things you can do in this game makes it well worth your time. It hold up great today despite being several years old.
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