Started playing GalCiv3 with great euphoria as I remembered the #2 and #1 titles.
Having GC3 to be released on 64bit was a point I totally support, Stardock is known for their pragmatic and conservative company policy and therefore they earned a lot of credits to buy the founders edition.
Testing arround was a great fun, same as to give response about the impressions since the devs seemed to be willing to include founders in the game's development process. Well, what should I say....I should have rememberd titles like 'Offworld Trading', 'Elemental series', which they are currently into and they all didn't catch up what customers want to get included in their games. Stardock is still a brand which I rate quite high on quality...but on the other side, they aren't really into new inventions.
GalCiv3 is solid and supports all major aspects of an 4X game, but playing it at the current state is somehow...well...'boring'. It seems like a missing dev-pattern to me to bring some new ideas which many many other (indie-)companys brought up in the last few months. GC3 looks and feels more like a 64bit portation of GalCiv2. Yeah, they included some stunning graphics and also multiplayer from scratch.
Lets look at the current negative state:
- AI is expanding real fast into all directions from the very first start and grabs every single planet they'll find
- human players are forced into this catch-as-catch-can race, otherwise you get outnumbered
- AI is not recognizing zones of influence but declares war as soon you cross their influence zones
- after 'borders' are settled the rest of the game is just building up starbases with millions of builder-ships
- building your own custom ship designs is fun...but if you spend hours to finish ONE design you recognize you'll need thousends of them in the game. besides...you have to design them for every single race as you can't make cross-use of your own custom designs. addidtionally they allowed to use design parts of other races...but then you can't make use of your designs in the game any more. so...for me this part seems totally broken. even the game itselve brings up new designs for ALL your availible ships every single time you get a new tech...so designing yourself is totally unattractive.
- wars are kind of boring and weird as you even didn't get any information why you won or lost as it is completely automated. ok, after latest patch they came up with some graphics to follow the fight, but it's not backed by any statistics or information. you just watch some spaceships shoot each other, no interaction. at least better then before, but...it needs a lot of polishing.
- all races feel like one race...no different tech-tree, no specialization about enviroments...I mean, do your really believe that in the whole universe all beeings do live on earth-like planets? come on! ok, then they came up with special planets you could only colonize when you reach a certain tech. well, that time you reach that tech the whole universe is allready completely divided and those 'extreme worlds' don't make sense any longer. then I thought to be clever and did a setup with 90% extreme worlds and only 10% habitable worlds...but I got the next shock. those extreme worlds are only a part of the habitable worlds. so, if you do 90/10 setup you get only 10% of ALL worlds habitable and a very very little percentage of them are those extreme worlds. in my eyes the next broken or unfinished idea.
All in all the game is playable, the devs do care about stability and implementing all spoken parts. Stardock will surely bring up a stable and solid game, but at the current there are too many unfinished ideas and also too few new inventions to make this a very unique game. Probably they cutted out too many ideas for later DLC funds raising, I don't know.
For me the gameplay is boring and I abstained to sink much more of my time in it. The game seems to be on sale every week now, while many people payed a lot more money only a few weeks before. There is a chance that it may need much longer to finish then expected. To make it clear, Stardock will surely finish it, no doubt. But at the currrent I changed it from playable to waiting in my Steam game library.
My rating changed over from '+++' into '--' at the moment, but I will reconsider with new patches and game changes.
*** Beta 5 patch ***
Hey, the beta 5 patch is out.
Brought in the last 2 factions and some 11 minor factions, which seem to be like other factions except the power to found colonies. They fixed some stability issues...and created new ones. :P Well, ok, it's still beta, so hey...this is ok.
Now you are also able to customize your faction by choosing different race/leader/background pictures and/or videos. Plug in some traits you like, add some information (I guess you may use them for multiplayer, so others will be able to read your lines.) You could even copy the allready established faction and produce a split out of them. Looks and feels quite nice and interesting.
They offer 2 new much bigger map sizes. Unfortunately you are not able to get a total overview, as it's size is bigger then your availible view. First thing I got confused about, you are able to rotate your view...unfortunately the map in upper right corner doesn't. So...you follow your ships movement...then look on your map and get certainly confused about. Can't remember if it was other way before...
Upgrading ships...still much much cheaper then building them, so there could be a economic exploit. By upgrading you are offered plenty copys of pretty the same ship...must be an error.
Started my first testing round by creating my very own faction. Since GC3 offers a selection of pictures for it...I really guess you may use your costom faction in multiplayer. Will test it the other day. Picked the largest availible map, checked in all availible competitor races and hit go. Ok...after a few turns...I checked back to main menue. Those exotic planets are still only part of the chosen habitable planets numer. So I changed to more habitables as I haven't been able to find any average planet before. Second try brought up more planets. Since I checked abundant number of excotics, most of them are not colonizable without required tech. This seems fine to me, as it may be the needed option to slow down the horrible grab-colonies-race. Due to the dimensions of the map, it took a while till I found my first alien race. It was one of those minor factions and I started trading tech and other stuff with them. Small time afterwards I stumbled over the Yor, which outnumbered my own empire by arround 2000%. The next turn they declared war on me. One turn later they offered me a gift (?) while we still have been at war. Still wondering about I hit the accept butten, then the game crashed to desktop. Side-information: all enemys have been set to easy. So getting outnumbered by such high numbers tells me, that AI is still grabbing for every single planet they can lay fingers on.
Beta 5 brought some interesting features about custom factions, support of mods and some minor features. It didn't change major aspects of the game, but offered some alterations for players.
Since there are still a lot of points on the wishlist and they still fight with stability issues I do not change the overall rating of my review, anyhow improvement is viewable. Crossing fingers about!