Galactic Civilizations III is the largest strategy sandbox ever made. Start with a single world and expand across the galaxy through diplomacy, trade, cultural hegemony or military conquest in this single-player or multiplayer 4X strategy game. How will you rule your galaxy?
User reviews: Mostly Positive (1,159 reviews)
Release Date: May 14, 2015

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Recommended By Curators

"More of a refresh than expected, but still hands down the best modern way to conquer unknown space."
Read the full review here.

Recent updates View all (39)

May 27

Galactic Civilizations III v1.02 Opt-in Available

The second patch for Galactic Civilizations III is now available as an opt-in. This patch adjusts the balance, improves AI priorities, fixes bugs, updates the UI, and speeds up performance.

Read the full patch notes here:

To opt into the patch, do the following:

  1. Open your Steam client
  2. Right-click Galactic Civilizations III, select Properties
  3. Select the Betas tab
  4. In the drop-down menu, choose “Opt-in”
  5. Close the properties window
  6. Your game should patch automatically
Thanks for your support, and happy conquering!

4 comments Read more

May 21

Galactic Civilizations III v1.01 Available

The first post-launch patch for Galactic Civilizations III is live, bringing custom faction support to multiplayer, adding several Steam achievements, and fixing high-priority bugs.

The upcoming 1.1 patch, due out in the coming weeks, will add Steam Workshop support among other things.

Read the full patch notes here:

Thanks for your support, and happy conquering!

13 comments Read more

Reviews

“The new gold standard in 4X space strategy”
9/10 – GameWatcher

“Such a wealth of victory conditions and customization options that the experience feels new with every playthrough.”
8.6/10 – IGN

“A mix of familiar mechanics and new ideas that can keep both fans and newcomers occupied for a frighteningly long period of time.”
9/10 – Softpedia

Design your own ships!

About This Game

Galactic Civilizations III is the largest strategy sandbox ever made. Start with a single world and expand across the galaxy through diplomacy, trade, cultural hegemony or military conquest in this single-player or multiplayer 4X strategy game. How will you rule your galaxy?

CORE FEATURES:

  • Never the same game twice: Play in the ultimate sandbox where each game has a unique map, unique worlds and new challenges to face.
  • Multiple paths to victory: Win through military conquest, cultural domination, technological ascension or political alliance.
  • Story-based campaign: Galactic Civilizations III includes a campaign that brings players up to date on the 20-year story arc behind the rise of humanity in the 23rd century.
  • Massive technology tree: Research a technology tree with immense breadth and depth. Player choices determine the capabilities of their civilization.
  • Custom ship design: Players have total control over how their starships function as well as how they look. Any ship you’ve ever imagined can be created or downloaded.

NEW TO GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS III:

  • Massive scale: The new, 64-bit, multi-core engine increases the number of possible opponents from 16 to 128 with a similar explosion in maximum map sizes.
  • Ideology: Player actions advance their empires down the path of various ideologies, which unlock unique abilities, planetary improvements, and other bonuses.
  • Multiplayer: For the first time, Galactic Civilizations is a multiplayer game with full support for custom civilizations, saved multiplayer games and much more.
  • Unique technology trees: Players can play as any of the eight major galactic powers (or design their own), each with their own unique technology tree, ships, colony improvements and abilities.
  • Faction Creator: To encourage massive gameplay, the game includes a faction creator that allows players to create a civilization with its own look, ships, technologies and even options for how the AI will use them.
  • New Battle System: Players assign their ships specific roles to play in combat. You can now view fleet battles in a cinematic style to see your designs in action.
  • New Colony Manager: The location of a planetary improvement now matters. Adjacency bonuses and planetary resources make a major impact on what a planet is strong (or weak) at accomplishing.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: 64-bit Windows 8.1 / 8 / 7
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD K10 Dual-Core
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB DirectX 10.1 Video Card (AMD Radeon HD5x00 Series / Nvidia GeForce 500 Series / Intel HD 4000 or later)
    • DirectX: Version 10
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 12 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
    Recommended:
    • Processor: 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 Processor or Equivalent
    • Memory: 6 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1 GB DirectX 10.1 Video Card
    • Hard Drive: 15 GB available space
Helpful customer reviews
135 of 187 people (72%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
27.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 20
As of the 1.0.1, the short version is: watch for updates and wait a little before you decide whether to buy this.

And the long version:

Pros:
  • The general principle of play is sound. It's often indistinguishable from Civilization V, but that's not a bad thing (unless you're paid to judge works on uniqueness.)
  • The depth added by designing our own combat units is interesting and allows for more freedom than other similar games when planning strategy. For example, rather than stumble about blindly or use up mass allowances on combat vessels, you might take a page from modern AEW&C. Or perhaps develop a raider doctrine with long-range, independent vessels capable of hunting alone. Or combine the two and create hunter-killer teams. There's huge potential to evade some of the worst aspects of min-max play in just this one concept.
  • Spaceships!

Cons:
  • Rather buggy for a game priced in the AAA range. Not that AAA titles are bug-free at first release, but that doesn't make it less annoying to pay more to buy less quality earlier. The ship designer in particular is a bug-ridden mess. And that's not a small problem for a game with few other reasons to play it over similar titles.
  • The ship designer user experience--bugs withstanding--would have been reasonable ten years ago. Not today; especially with other, cheaper, vehicle building games out there such as Kerbal Space Program. It's so out of line with modern user experience it feels like Stardock is laughing at us. I've little hope this will improve much, as perusing the early access forums reveals players were pointing out some of the current problems long ago.
  • At times, it feels like Civilization V with a different skin; same pleasures, same annoyances. From the direction early game faction scouts and settlers drive play to the over-engineered leader "discussion/diplomacy" screens containing dialogue even less relevant than a response from Eliza, it can feel an awful lot like an outside contractor team revamped Civilization V without understanding it--and therefore not knowing how to qualitatively improve it.
  • The user interface glitter and glam leaves the impression the team wanted to match Civilization V dollar for dollar, but ran out of time or money. And that is a shame, because so many great games have shown us glitter, sprinkles, and twirly umbrellas in the user interface don't fundamentally improve the play experience and here that money and time was clearly needed elsewhere, e.g., the help system.
  • The help system. Or lack thereof. A few tutorials that start strong and fizzle out. Little to nothing in-game and no real manual to speak of. This is a game much like chess, where mechanics are made up solely to balance one another and so one's intuition and life experience have nothing to contribute (and folks who paid even slight attention in physics or astrophysics 101 are going to be at a disadvantage.) So direct explanation of mechanics of play is essential, and almost entirely missing. Again, for cheaper titles with established forums and wikis, this is palatable. Not so for a title priced in this range.
  • And, the big problem. The play simply does not balance when playing the largest map sizes. And the largest map sizes are presented as a significant differentiator from other like-minded titles.

I hope Stardock builds upon this in the coming months with updates; it's a game I'd love to love. There's a mountain of potential here if they find the budget and courage to come at some of the genre's problems and their solutions with fresh eyes. But, today it's not in the same league as other titles in the same price range nor is does it have the unique personality or creativity of its cheaper, indie brethren.

[Updates]
I've played around with this a little more. Few more things I've noticed:
  • The opponent AI feels inferior to Civilization V, or even to Eliza. I feel as if I've I've as much chance of calling a random die roll as guessing what an AI-controlled opponent will say or do. Not to mention to the glaring inconsistencies, e.g., declaring war one turn and telling you they'll probably declare war on you the next. There's no sense of connection or rationality.
  • The battle mechanic, or lack of one, is uninteresting, even pointless. You move your ships onto enemy ships (or vice versa) and a seemingly straight calculation is performed to determine the winner. I've tried saving and loading a dozen times before a few close battles and saw zero variation in outcome. Moreover, you have no input on battle tactics other than selecting as part of ship design what role a ship will play, i.e., you fix ship roles before construction. But that's not a real problem: roles are too simplistic to have any profound effect. You cannot call a retreat, ships gain no experience and have nothing to differentiate them from one another. Very like chess, very unlike other modern, deep 4X titles.

After a little more play; the feel is even more cardboard, generic, soulless. There's nothing to differentiate it from deeper, more accomplished titles except the concept of a ship designer; and that sabotaged by a poor implementation in comparison to its competitors.
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30 of 45 people (67%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
27.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 21
Lacks so much of what you expect in a modern 4x game. The UI is lackluster, dialogues don't even mention what race is contacting you. You can't check other info before making decisions.

Consequences seem to have little affect, even being at war feels unexciting. Special resources seem massively overpowered, and you can rule the game using experimental weapons so much more powerful than conventional weapons. The manufacturing pace feels out of balance. Killing a shipyard mid game and have it respawn the next turn.

The game is buggy - I made ship designs in a previous game that required large hull research, in a new game I could build these even though they were overweight if I tried to design it afresh. I've been able to build ships that require special resources with no limit, going endlessly into negative special resources.

The game crashed to desktop, frequently, without any real reason.

The battle sequences are completely pointless, take forever and look terrible (especially the way the ships slide sideways and backwards awkwardly). Nobody will ever bother to watch one out, a waste of the developers time.

All in all the game does what you expect. It's a 4x game with nothing very wrong. Just, everything is sub-par. What you'd expect from a 15 yr old game. Every 4x game I've played in the last 5+ years is better. I expected so much more.
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22 of 35 people (63%) found this review helpful
25.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 21
I've played some good games, and I've played some incredibly disappointing games. This is somehow both. This is also the first review I've ever felt inclined to write.
This game is like Civilization, Eve Online and the board game Twilight Imperium all rolled into one. Sounds like an awesome game. But a lot of the features feel largely incomplete. There are a lot of balance issues, and things like tourism and other money making things seem like they haven't really been fleshed out. Money seems almost superfluous. All great ideas, but even a rudimentary economy needs more attention than these have been given.
Early on in a level, my capital and starting planet have some level of importance. I care about what structures I build. But as the game winds on, planets and resources and even my territory and units just seem so pointless.

Maybe it's the lackluster battles involving an oddly large amount of micromanagement to prepare for, but no real control.

Maybe it's the constant spelling and grammar errors. Like, I'm the kind of person that notices spelling and grammar errors in basically every game I've ever played for the past 20 years. But this was insane.

And the stakes just seem so low when the game feels so unfinished. Awesome concept, and there is definitely a game somewhere in there! But this is not a finished game. This is what we come to expect from these pre-released games. Everyone buys into it, and they try to make these deadlines, but they've mostly moved on to the next project.

Again, I look forward to future updates, and I will keep my eye on this game. But as it stands, I don't feel it was worth my money, and it does not feel like the "V1.0" that the reputable companies of yesteryear would have produced. Hopefully that changes, because there are some really great games out there that rely on pre release funding, and if you don't finish your game, you bring the whole medium down a peg.
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24 of 39 people (62%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
22.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 22
Would be a great game if it didn't crash every 5-20 turns. At one point I would open the game, play for 2 turns and it would crash, after restarting 5 times I gave up and didn't play for a few days. Now it lasts about 20 turns. Another review indicated that it happens if you try to do anything during the wait for turns, however, for me it just randomly crashes. And while it is software and waiting a few days shouldn't have any effect (not like it's an overheated computer or something waiting to cool down) it randomly started lasting longer after waiting. Makes me feel like it's saying "Oh, hey you've been playing too much, go do something else."

I've resorted to setting the autosave feature to save every single turn, which keeps me from losing anything (aside from any major actions I take on a turn which I then have to redo), but I still have to go through the whole relaunching and loading the game and have to put up with even longer time between turns with the saving.

Overall, I like the game itself, it's a good addition to the series. But it would be nice if I could actually make it through a game. You can see I've put in 22 hours in the past 2 weeks and I've yet to finish a game, conquer a single empire, or even find all the civilizations on a large map. I'm about to shelf this game and give up on the $50 I spent until it's patched up some.
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16 of 26 people (62%) found this review helpful
31.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 22
Very much still a beta. After around 7 attempts to play a game with friends, we still haven't managed to finish a single game.

The game looks fun, but check back in 6 months to see if it's worthy of being a release version.
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7 of 10 people (70%) found this review helpful
52.0 hrs on record
Posted: May 27
I have purchased every Gal Civ title and expansion since the original. I find Gal Civ 3 was released about 3-6 months premature IMO. A lot of small bugs and I find the AI lackluster in many fields such as diplomacy, combat and economics. Overall it is still an excellent 4x.
I hope they bring back the races from Gal Civ 2 that were omitted and improve the AI.
Overall I give it 8/10. I could care less about the battle animations as I never watch them. This is 4x strategy and it is all about the AI getting it right.
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13 of 22 people (59%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
34.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 25
I really want to like this game, because it has everything I ever wanted in a 4x MoO clone. On top of that it looks good, is modable and has a great community of players.

But (at least at this time) this game is a single endeavor of frustration for me.

The AI is of palpable incompetence. Due to focus on expansion I had next to no military fleets and a "Godlike" Drengi race declared war on me (finally!) and then did not attack me for 20 turns. Even then their attacks amounted only to some unorganized probing attacks, while they wasted their time churning up a minor race at the other end of the map. That is not "Godlike", but rather stupid.

The diplomacy is hit and miss. I have seen worse and you can work out some nice deals with neighbors. However, as soon as you even start to build enough ships to defend just your core worlds (and not every nook and cranny of your empire) they get worried about your militarism and even the best relations decline rapidly.

The worst? Bugs, crashes, crippling gameplay issues that bleed all the fun totally dry.

Right now I am +15 hours into building an empire. Am allied with two minor and a major race and at war with two majors and a minor. I do have roughly 20 starbases deployed. Whenever I now hit "TURN" for the next turn, a battle between two Drengi fleets and two of my scouts happens. Which always ends with the scouts getting destroyed. Right when that happens, my game crashes. Regardless if I chose "Quick Battle" or decided to watch it.

So I load the last save. Which was done JUST before hitting "TURN". And I have to "Upgrade Starbase" again for half a dozen Starbases where I just had said "Pass" to refuse the updating as I am waiting for a more worthwhile update later on. So after clicking through that AGAIN and hitting "TURN", the battles take place again and the game crashes yet again.

When I destroy the two Scouts myself, another space battle (a minor against one of my Survey ships) takes place and results in yet another crash.

So .... looks like the +15 hours I poured into that "Empire" are lost. Do I want to start over yet again? Not until these crippling bugs are ironed out.

Stardock has not done itself a favor selling a beta as a "full" game. I do mind paying for a full price game and then having to play guinea pig for blatant and show stopping bugs.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
7.0 hrs on record
Posted: May 27
A fun game with loads of content and stunning graphics, but I would not recommend running this on a PC with anything less than a 6GB RAM, a 2.3 GH processor, and a dedicated gpu. I need to upgrade if I want to enjoy this damn hog without frame-rate issues! Play Endless Space if you don't meet the recommended system requirements for this game.
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
163.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 27
A promising game which currently can be viewed as a playable public beta. Recommended only if you want to start learning the game mechanics, and explore possible tactics and strategies, while waiting for all the features to become fully implemented, and if you can stand the various bugs and unfinished balancing of the game. It'll take some time to master all the aspects of this game, so playing it now can be considered as preparation for the gold version in the near future. The developers listen to feedback, so posting in the Gameplay Feedback forum is recommended.
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
15.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 27
Decent Space Strategy that has great potential but still lacks some polish to truly shine. Definitely worth a try if you like strategy games though.

+ Ship Designer
+ Huge Tech Tree
+ Enough Flavor Text to give the game life
+ Supports massive maps
+ Quite easy to get into but doesn't lack depth either

- Some strange AI behavior (like the enemy launching all ships protecting a planet and leaving them sitting one by one just as you are about to attack or the opponent self-destructing in the second Campaign map)
- Resource loading isn't very smooth, quickly scrolling over the map while zoomed in is quite choppy
(have the game on SSD but possible that 8GB RAM and 2GB graphics memory isn't enough to smoothly run this game)
- Campaign is little more than a tutorial scenario (could be intended though)
- Minor problems with the UI, some elements are hard to see (like selected Ideologies and researched Technologies)
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6 of 9 people (67%) found this review helpful
61.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 26
An addictive but rather unstable game, crashes are frequent and temporary freeze ups even more so but the game will keep you restarting it over and over again...just save frequently even in the same turn don't rely on the autosave.
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16 of 29 people (55%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
14.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 22
i dont write reviews for games but this game is so poorly implemented at launch i needed to warn people away from it.
i do not understand how a complany in this day and age can launch a game that is so unplayable - if this was still beta I might accept the awful loading time, constant freezing whenever zooming in or out or if changing screens..As a fully priced game its just disgusting - if this was any other shop brought commodity I'd return it to the store unfortunately cant do that once weve payed our money theres no refunds for an awful slow. laggy game that is unplayable from day 1.
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5 of 8 people (63%) found this review helpful
34.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 27
Wonderful Game. It's only going to get better as patches come out.

The only problem is that some of the mechanics are a bit opaque. I really wish there was a 200-page manual explaining how all the little things work.
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8 of 14 people (57%) found this review helpful
78.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 21
When it works without crashing, it's a great game. Very similar to GalCiv 2 but with more bells and whistles, so fans of the previous games won't be disappointed.

Unfortunately, the early versions seem to be having problems with random crashes which don't appear to be avoidable when you reload an auto-save file. The crash might not always happen at the exact same time, but you seem to get to a point where having one becomes close to unavoidable. The fact that it doesn't always happen at the same time is disconcerting because it could mean it will take a while for the devs to pin down the exact cause.

Very good game, but I'd recommend waiting until a few patches have been released (the first one didn't fix this).
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8 of 14 people (57%) found this review helpful
16.6 hrs on record
Posted: May 24
This game is so far from complete it is ridiculous. I recommend to anyone considering the game, please wait until at least the first DLC is released or until modders have had a chance to fully development at least a few major mods.
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11 of 20 people (55%) found this review helpful
16.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
Typical Stardock, they will fix it eventually, but tired of paying to play unstable games. Wait until it goes on sale and they patch a few more bugs.
Large maps are unplayable due to internal bugs that cause crashes, even in the saved games.
Bottom line: not ready for release, but they published it anyway.
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11 of 20 people (55%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
117.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 24
This is hard for me to write - I am a big fan of Stardock in general and the GC franchise in particular. I have literally thousands of hours clocked in GC1 & 2, and feel I have given GC3 a good chance.

Somewhere in there is a great game, but it is going to need a lot of help getting out. The problems are too numerous to list in total, so I'll just point out the worst examples:

1. If there is a textbook telling designers how not to create a UI, then GC3 UI designers have followed it to the letter - constant moving from one side of the screen to the other with the mouse, as buttons / clickable options just seem to be randomly placed. Very limited keyboard shortcuts. Completely unsortable lists of ships / planets / starbases etc. You can't even change what a planet / shipyard is producing from these lists (like you could in GC2). The whole thing is a recipe for carpal tunnel!

2. Micro-management hell. The production wheel is a nightmare - setting anything to 100% is a game in itself, trying to drag the pointer on to the one pixel on the screen that does so. You can't progress to the next turn until every planet / ship has a valid order (even if that is just do nothing). Really useful when an AI surrenders to you and dumps you with 800+ ships. Yeah, thanks for that - quit game!

3. Diplomacy is so broken, it is beyond hilarious. As an example of what you can do... I just started a Suicidal difficulty game, gigantic galaxy, all stock AIs on "Godlike" intelligence. I researched Universal Translator, then set 100% economy and built nothing. No ships, no planetary improvements, nothing. By turn 35 I had 182 planets, 54 starbases, and was earning 14000bc per turn - yep, the godlike AI just gave me everything they had as soon as they met me.

Time to move on - hopefully Stardock will fix this game, but I'm not sure I'll be back to check or not.
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13 of 24 people (54%) found this review helpful
34.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
Huge let down. They played it "safe" and made a less interesting, slightly more pretty gal civ 2. Many of the features of gal civ 2 are absent and most everything else is exactly the same. Fleet battles look horrible and are a joke. They are exactly the same as in gal civ 2. The ships aimlessly float toward eachother and then off in all directions. Invasions? No different than before. Just one screen and thats it. Overall the game is heavy on hardware for no apparent reason, boring, without soul or nearly any entertaining qualities at all. Sad I wasted money on this garbage.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
21.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 26
Oh Stardock, how I love you.
This is almost the definition of a good sequel: The old classic game with practically objectively good upgrades.
My only issues are ones I'm suspecting and hoping will be fixed soon:
1) The tech tree feels slightly simplified from GC2 - But maybe it just looks that way because of the great interface update.
2) Morale feels far more useless. With no tax - morale axis, there's no use optimizing for >100% morale, which makes life more fiddly for me.
3) United Planets interface seems broken to me. I only see some of the races and can't move the screen. I also miss things like voteshare graphs and easy-to-read indication of who voted what.
4) A few things I can't tell if I'm doing right: Stuff like government types - I've no idea if it's automatic or I'm bad at finding the right menu. A couple building effects are too similar and I feel finding the optimum setup is more of a maths exam than anything.
5) Might've missed the option, but disabling pirates would be a bunch of fun for me.

However, amongst the sea of great interface upgrades, interesting tech specialization, new weird galactic stuff, unique planet qualities, easier setup, well designed everything, adaptive ship blueprints, sweet designs, cool art, ever better gameplay, bigger maps, better morale system (though it annoys me that 'Pragmatic' is sometimes not the pragmatic choice). This game rekindles the endless hours of love I had for GC2
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
57.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 26
After peaking in to the beta from time to time and then taking a brief look at the campaign, I decided to get a real feel for the game by creating a random map labeled "Insane" in size and populating it with all of the major races and several of the minor races, too. A bit over 50 hours of Normal gameplay later, my Terrans won a technological victory by completing the Ascension gate. Why does this matter to you? It was INSANE! (Said so when I set up the game.) And it was a helluva tutorial.

The game is a solid evolution from its predecessors rather than a revolution. I experienced no obvious bugs. All in all, with its insanely sized maps and very friendly UI and empire-management tools, Galactic Civilizations III seems to set the new standard for 4X space empire-building games. There are certainly opportunities to be had by deepening portions of the game through expansions, which Stardock no doubt will do. But the game is fun enough as-is that I encourage you to jump into the experience now if you like the genre. At least, that's my opinion from playing my introductory, 50-hour tutorial game.
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