Pandora: First Contact is a science fiction 4X turn-based strategy game on a planetary scale. Our Earth has been exhausted and colonial attempts on other planetary bodies have been in vain. Finally, after decades of exploration, an interstellar probe has brought promise of a new world many light-years away.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (292 reviews)
Release Date: Nov 14, 2013

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Includes 2 items: Pandora: Eclipse of Nashira, Pandora: First Contact

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Recommended By Curators

"Duncan, Sjin, Lewis and Parv revelled in Pandora's civ-like strategy. It's 4X turn based strategy on a galactic scale."
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Recent updates View all (11)

May 17

Eclipse of Nashira Beta r5714 Released

Opt-in to the beta version by right-clicking on Pandora in your Steam library, choosing Properties and selecting the beta under the Betas tab.

* Added better support for teams in AI's diplomatic behavior.
* Added a new algorithm for the AI to always try to land troops outside the vision of the enemy.
* Added mechanism for AI to process multiple loops for it's unit moving sub-agents so it can give a new command to a unit that has already moved but is left with movement points after all units have moved.

* AI will now allocate its population differently when it is at war or when it is preparing for war.
* AI will no longer sign science treaties with those who are above average in research.
* Moves of human factions are now prioritized over moves of alien factions.
* AI will now prioritize enemy units in their territory as more important target.
* Allowed AI to use all unused ships for exploring.
* AI will now use a certain amount of artillery units in their offenses.
* AI will now use mineral sources with less than two minerals only if there's almost no other minerals available.
* AI will no longer build watercraft when it is at war with someone who only has cities with no access to water.
* When playing as Togra University the AI will now make use of Zak0r's upgrade strategy.
* AI decision when to make peace is now more in line with its decision when to declare war.
* When refitting the AI will now stick to the same weapon type to stay cost-efficient.
* AI will now always prioritize refitting their units over purchasing other things.
* If the AI is at war with someone and doesn't know any cities of that someone, but it has seen the border, it'll prioritize exploring there.
* Made sure that AI always uses their artillery units before its other units.
* When at war with another faction, the AI will be much less likely to attack native wildlife.
* AI will now rather upgrade its formers to amphibious than using harvest.
* AI is now more sensitive about whether it should perform a rush or prepare to defend against one.
* AI will now try to avoid getting its transports spotted by its enemies.
* AI will now value forests more for fighting pollution before it has Pandora Construction.
* AI will now prefer tiles that are most suitable for their units when approaching an enemy city.
* AI will no longer retreat heavily injured units to a city under the effect of an ion storm.
* Increased maximum amount of playable factions via advanced setup in a game from 9 to 13. Only makes sense with a mod that adds new factions.
* Improved AI behavior in city defense.
* AI will no longer try to heal units other than the necessary defenders in a city that is under siege by artillery units.
* The percentage of trade and research pact income as well as the Ambassadors parasitic trait now dynamically adjust to a players share of global population. On average the treaties will be about 35% less powerful.
* AI will now consider food less important when looking for city locations.
* AI will now consider minerals more important when looking for city locations.
* AI border expansion will now consider if additional food tiles are needed or not.
* AI will offer friendly deals less frequently in order to not annoy the player. The frequency is about 10%.
* AI will no longer declare war on factions it hasn't scouted yet.
* AI artillery units now prefer the device that allows them to attack multiple times a turn over other modules.
* Population lost by using the "Raze" button will now include migration from takeover.
* AI will now use a more dynamic defender count.
* Lowered number of scouting units for the AI once it has a contact to not be caught off-guard with a significant amount of troops away from home.
* AI will no longer waste precious scans on hives.
* AI will no longer try to surround cities with too complicated surrounding geography like canals or peninsulas that make surrounding really hard and take long.
* When needed, the AI will now switch between first tier automatic and first tier missile weapons since this doesn't cost anything.
* AI is now much less likely to sign or request open borders treaties.
* Added more diversity to AI unit-designs to make it harder to hardcounter them.
* Improved AI spy handling by allowing them to preposition for an operation next turn instead of just going straight ahead and risk ending up with no movement left.
* During peace the AI will now try to position unused units in the way of incoming spies.
* AI shall no longer attack aliens or sieging units when the success chance is 100% but the attacking unit might die in the process.
* AI now does a much better job considering pollution when calculating its worker distribution.
* AI is now much more likely to backstab its neighbor when he is at war.
* AI spies will no longer steal research when the AI has all technologies.
* AI will now reduce its food production in order to fight overpopulation once it does not find any more spaces to colonize.
* AI will now rather expand than produce buildings or advancements that do not combat unhappyness when it is unhappy.
* AI will now always run the highest tax rate when there are no technologies left to research.
* AI is now aware of circumstances where certain buildings and advancements are so useful that it should get them even if it would want to build military.
* AI will now use formers as a last-resort defense.
* Increased Agent production cost by 33 % and reduced movement by 25 %.
* Success chance for infiltration missions is now directly deduced from infiltration attack/defense power and can't reach a 100%.
* Different infiltration missions now provide a bonus or penalty to the infiltration attack power based on their difficulty.
* Agents now lose health when performing an operation.
* Agents can now complete or fail their mission independently of dying. The chance to lose an agent is now equal to half of the operation failure.
* Adjusted advancements, buildings and devices that provide an infiltration attack or defense power bonus.

* Fixed a bug that prevented AI from realizing it cannot heal in water fungus.
* Fixed game pace not affecting the duration of temporary tile modifications like the ion storm cast by the Messari.
* Fixed an issue where AI units could get stuck when they targeted something they could not see.
* Fixed AI not using as many units for defending as it should.
* Fixed AI artillery and sniper units not always attacking targets when they should.
* Fixed a bug that under certain circumstances led to miscalculation on city growth when using the growth project.
* Fixed AI not caring about their new cities for the turn they are founded.
* Fixed a bug that swallowed the majority of diplomacy messages sent to the player by the AI.
* Fixed Ambassadors leeching from pacts not actually being added to their income.
* Fixed an issue causing AI land units to try and pillage improvements inside lakes.
* Fixed waterborne artillery units of the AI not acquiring targets further inland.
* Fixed an issue where morale was not properly applied to credit income from non-tax sources like gold deposits.
* Fixed an exploit that allowed you to interrupt AI formers by stepping a unit onto them when you had open borders.
* Fixed the algorithm that determines whether a tile is a chokepoint.
* Fixed an issue where automated formers would always consider aliens always as hostile.
* Fixed Terra Salvum's Ecologic trait not working on water fungus.
* Fixed purchasing from the economy panel not always working.
* Fixed water fungus not appearing in territory hints.
* Fixed issues with Steam overlay on Linux.

5 comments Read more

February 14

Eclipse of Nashira Beta r5458 Released

Opt-in to the beta version by right-clicking on Pandora in your Steam library, choosing Properties and selecting the beta under the Betas tab.

* Added number of turns each pact has been in effect to the diplomacy screen.
* Added custom mouse cursor graphic.
* Added video setting for choosing the title screen.
* Added support for unicode characters up to and including the Cyrillic script (0x4FF), allowing those characters to work correctly with the Plain (DejaVu Sans) font as well as any other custom unicode font that has the corresponding glyphs.
* Added AI ability to dynamically alter their tax-rate.
* Added ability to raze cities to the AI if their morale gets too bad.
* Added two sets of new icons for farmers, miners, workers and scientists that gain higher yields than normal.
* Added option in Pandora.xml to switch between the two sets of new icons.
* Added a mechanism for the AI to check how usefull a war will be and make its decision to go to war dependand on that.

* Moved Planetary Market to one subtier earlier in the research tree.
* Improved mouse wheel scrolling of GUI components.
* Made terrain-colors on the minimap much darker to make it easier to tell it apart from cities and units.
* AI now is more aggressive about dealing with aliens.
* AI now chooses technologies to research in a similar fashion of how experienced players choose technologies.
* AI now will, in average, commit more scientists to research.
* AI now considers pollution when assigning population to jobs.
* AI now will expand much slower and focus more on improving its existing cities instead.
* AI now considers quality more important than quantity when it comes to building units.
* AI will now prefer late-game-devices over early-game-devices.
* AI now has an emergency behaviour to resolve economical crisis.
* Reworked how AI determines it's tile-improvements. It should now be much closer to what an experienced player chooses.
* AI will be more careful with its units when exploring.
* AI now will heal wounded units before sending them to attack.
* AI now considers more sophisticated criteria when choosing locations to expand to.
* AI now considers more sophisticated criteria when choosing tiles to expand it's existing cities borders to.
* AI no longer builds new formers as long as enemies are within the area of their city.
* Improved AI behavior when it comes to avoiding the loss of formers.
* AI now can perform several diplomatic actions within one turn.
* AI now will gradually lower their diplomatic relations to whoever is closest to victory.
* AI will no longer grant you gifts all the time just because they like you.
* AI players are now more difficult to convince to declare war on others.
* AI now will prioritize devices that best fit the unit-type.
* AI now will consider the tier of unit-components except of the device when evaluating which unit to build.
* AI now can and will use fungus once it has the two advancements boosting its yield.
* AI will now allocated more minerals into boosting its newly found cities.
* AI will now lower their standing to someone capturing a city depending on that cities importance for its previous owner.
* AI now takes device and unit-type into consideration, when deciding which units to use as defenders.
* AI no longer considers distance when picking defenders for its cities.
* AI no longer voluntarily gifts away its credits.
* AI will now use bombardment and nukes primarily to kill transports and disrupt healing in besieged cities.
* AI will now be much more carefull about where to use blackholes.
* AI will now rather save a WMD for better use than to risk overnuking a target.
* Depending on their aggression-level AIs now may consider making more units as a means of expansion rather than building colonizers.
* AI will now rather pillage tile-improvements instead of retreating if it considers the defenses of a city too strong.
* Improved AI behavior when confronted with long-range-units.
* AI will now be more careful about where to colonize.
* AI will now keep units inside their cities if they are not needed otherwise.
* AI will now consider WMD-buildings more valuable.
* AI now is much more likely to build naval units in coastal cities.
* AI will no longer value research once it has enough science for a research-victory.

* Fixed a crash that could occur when loading a save game in a specific state.
* Fixed operations not replacing durations when deployed on territories.
* Fixed Scites and Carcharodons turning aggressive before Xenomorphs.
* Fixed water suburbs and water purifiers costing 2 credits instead of 3.
* Fixed Fungus Mutagenesis and Fungal Hormones not providing bonuses for water fungus.
* Fixed army panel sometimes showing units that are no longer in the territory.
* Fixed mouse wheel sometimes not scrolling drop lists.
* Fixed errors in German translation-files.
* Fixed AI not building advancements unlocked by killing sea-monsters.
* Fixed a rare case where the AI would waste some of it's mineral income each turn.
* Fixed an issue where paying tribute was considered the same as denying to pay.
* Fixed AI ships acquiring targets near unreachable inland-lakes.
* Fixed AI upgrading units into options that aren't even actually better.
* Fixed an exploit where you could reduce the amount of credits an AI asks for during negotiations by spending them before stating you are willing to pay.
* Fixed AI ignoring how you react to a tribute-offer. Standing will now properly change.

4 comments Read more

Includes Free Add-on: Return of the Messari

The ancient Messari return to Pandora with all their might, deploying portals and terrifying ion storms. From these portals come forces never before seen by mankind, and an infestation spreads across Pandora. The strongest factions are the ones that have to fear them most, but they will spare no one.

About This Game

Pandora: First Contact is a science fiction 4X turn-based strategy game on a planetary scale.

In the future, factions have risen up from opportunities and ideologies independent of governments. Private corporations and religious movements have started wars over greed, ideology and power. Many have died and many lands lay in ruin. Planet Earth has been exhausted and colonial attempts on other planetary bodies have been in vain.

Finally, after decades of exploration, an interstellar probe has brought promise of a new world many light-years away. The most powerful factions have gathered their best men and women to send on a long journey to Pandora.

Far from desolate, the earth-like planet has been found to host a plethora of indigenous life forms. While the gigantic monstrosities inland and at the oceans seem relatively calm, human-sized bugs and fungus are threatening to stop mankind's expansion.

As the various factions strive to take control, each will research and develop numerous new technologies, discovering new weapons and industry, whilst opening trade agreements and forging alliances with other factions to gain a foothold. As they spread, they will discover ancient ruins from alien civilizations that will grant them advantages over their rivals.

Key Features

  • Explore a new world harboring a variety of eco-regions, from the frozen ice lands of the north, to vast deserts and lush tropical forests in the south.
  • Survive encounters with the planet's dangerous wild life. Deadly swarms walk the lands and agile predators fly in the skies. There is even talk of a giant creature in the oceans.
  • Live in harmony with nature or use it to further your cause. The indigenous life will react to your actions and treat you accordingly.
  • Discover ruins and artifacts, the relics of an ancient alien civilization long forgotten that can give you an edge against the planet life and other rivaling factions.
  • Found new cities to expand the borders of your empire. Manage cities by adjusting the tax rate, choosing production and assigning colonists to jobs.
  • Operate a fully globalized and pooled resource and growth system. Specialize one city to harvest minerals while churning out units in another.
  • Adapt your empire to pressing demand. Your colonists will migrate between cities based on factors such as pollution and living space.
  • Shape the landscape with terraforming, construct farms, mines, forts, and other improvements to increase the productivity of your colonies or to fortify positions.
  • Progress through a vast randomized research tree spanning dozens of technologies providing operations, buildings, units, weapons, and more.
  • Negotiate trade and research pacts with other factions for mutual benefits. Forge alliances to stand united against common foes.
  • Design your own units by choosing from a range of different classes, armors, weapons, and devices to maximize the strength of your forces.
  • Command vast armies across the battlefield against enemy factions, making use of the variety of terrain types to gain an advantage.
  • Unleash hell on your opponents with powerful military operations, ranging from drop pods behind enemy lines to black hole generators eradicating entire landscapes.
  • Prove yourself in multiplayer with friends or strangers and discover entirely new strategies.
  • Customize your experience through easily moddable XML data and well-known image and audio formats.

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows XP SP2 / Vista
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 256 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce 6600 series / ATI Radeon 9500 series)
    • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 512 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 series / ATI Radeon HD 4870 series)
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.7
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 256 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce 6600 series / ATI Radeon 9500 series)
    • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.8
    • Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 512 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 series / ATI Radeon HD 4870 series)
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
    • OS: Linux
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 256 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce 6600 series / ATI Radeon 9500 series)
    • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
    • OS: Linux
    • Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 512 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 series / ATI Radeon HD 4870 series)
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
Helpful customer reviews
53 of 62 people (85%) found this review helpful
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 17
I will preface this by saying that the game has promise. However, that promise does not compensate for Pandora's failings.

1. The game world is beautiful and interesting to look at.
2. There is a randomized tech tree that jumbles up the techs. This allows replayability as no two games will have the same tech trees.

1. Because the tech tree is randomized, the randomness could seriously gimp a game as there are a lot of inferior techs in Pandora. Sometimes the player will have a lot of great techs on the way up the tree until the tech they are trying to attain. However, sometimes that same tech will have completely inferior precursors. It's all luck... which can screw with gameplay.
2. Native life: This ruins the game. First, even though a player may have alien life aggression set to very rarely, built the Xenobiology project (-25% alien aggression), did not attack one of the aliens at all, and are the Gaian faction (even more alien aggression reduction), random event of increased alien aggression overrides it all and they will attack. It's completely ludicrous and needs to be removed from the game.
3. The AI is oversimplistic. Essentially, military power = godhood. That's the only thing they look at. If the player has more power than the AI, then they're friendly. If the player has less, then they become more demanding. This functions mainly with the military and faith-based faction which are far mor warmongering. However, it's still within the rest of the factions' coding and if the player loses a lot of military power from, lets say the ludicrous alien swarm random event, then even the most peaceful factions (Gaian) will start demanding or declaring war. It's bad game design.
4. The spying in this game is completely broken. First, there's no inherent city defense against spy units. So, a player has to actively keep military units in either chokepoints or totally around a city to prevent spies from even touching the city. Second, they are extremely overpowered in what they can do. Steal or destroy a majority if not all of a faction's credits and research, cause massive unrest, destroy buildings and production, and even set off nukes. The only contributing factor is the percentage chance the spy will succeed in the specific sabotage which is dictated by their veterancy. It's completely broken.
5. From what I've read, everything I listed above will not be fixed by the devs as the devs have already moved on to other projects. So sad as if the problems would be fixed, then the game would be a lot better.

It's a mess and I would avoid it in it's current form.
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27 of 33 people (82%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
269.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 10
I have been playing 4x strategy games for 23 years. I remember installing Civ 1 and gluing myself to the screen. My parents would threaten me with "No civ!" from time to time and boy that worked. I went on to play and enjoy every other version of the game, extensively, despite the changes that frustrated many.

Alpha Centauri was my jam. I probably had thousands of hours played, and I STILL have it installed and still play it; in my opinion it was the best in terms of immersion and strategy. I would LOVE to see steam carry it, it would sell very well and I would have people to play with multiplayer again.

ANY WAY, this game is the modern sequel to Alpha Centauri in spirit; If you haven't played Alpha Centauri, I apologize for the reference, you should go look it up and get your hands on it. It's brutal, immersive, and has endless playability, as is Pandora. The game is not perfect, and is still being devved and updated (I trolled their forums a bit and their devs actively respond to questions and comments), but is still beautiful and brutal at the same time.

Strategy wise, it is incredibly complicated however you can start out simply till you learn the ropes. Customizable units means that you can get intel on what your oponents are using (with your nifty satellite recon operations, which are very useful), OR you can out tech everyone and have mega upgraded units that are good against everything and nearly immortal. The latter is much more difficult and expensive. It is easy to learn but hard to master, I still find myself changing my strategy mid game; discovering a new technology could change the tide of battle very easily. Getting intel that an enemy fleet is about to hit your mainland when your army is off fighting on another continent? No problem, you can research drop pods to recall your troops back to the mainland, and watch them drop from orbit to obliterate your foes on the beach.

Mid and late game can be VERY VERY HARD if you don't know what you are doing, which is something they are working to patch. The eclipse isn't so bad, but the messari invasion can be very frustrating. Here's the thing though, if you stick through it, it will make you a better 4x player. Every game you lose you will learn something from... And YES, you will lose at first. I recommend starting on very easy and low aliens until you get the hang of it. Learn to skip techs that you know you do not need based on what your armies and infrastructure need. It will take a few playthroughs to get the hang of this... The random tech tree was odd at first, but I ended up liking it very much, it gives a very unique feel to every single game in terms of the strategic decisions you make.

It is a very immersive environment, beautifully however simply rendered. Watching leviathans in the water waver, surfacing a bit and then going back down to a silhouette. The combat could be done a bit better in terms of animation, but it is not too lacking, and I can't be quite that picky as simplicity is beauty. This is a game I play on a 7 year old desktop, and it still looks good and lags just a tiny bit late game. I love watching the world darken for the eclipse, and then re emerge to light afterwards. Clouds of ash and infestation encircle the world and darken it a bit again for the messari invasion. Late game is my favorite... Dropping nukes on people, turtling then dropping massive surprise armies on people's continents, and if you are lucky enough to survive late enough and tech up well, you can SUMMON TACTICAL BLACK HOLES!!! Alternatively, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ enemies off whom have out teched you will result in a very depressing loss via having your cities obliterated by enemy black holes. Such is life in Pandora.


It could use more music tracks and animations for leaders, and I'm sure they could afford like... Sir Patrick Stewart to do some voice overs for them.

Espionage is OP and defending against it can be frustrating. Surround your cities, and keep an eye on the events log to see when they are spotted. Espionage is getting re worked in a patch at some point, so I have heard.

Unit stack can be crippling. Being a veteran to 4x will help with this, but you can go half a game successfully and then have a very tragic loss via an insurmountable wall of enemies. In Pandora's defense, this is counterable by having good intel and making sure your armies are diverse enough. Also, orbital bombardment via satellite and artillery units are good counters to this.

The AI is dumb in the water. They will leave unit stacks in the water while moving troops, and this leaves them very vulnerable. Much similar to Civ 5.

Diplomacy could be more diverse and useful.

The AI likes to plant cities in your territory if you don't fill gaps between your cities. This is VERY frustrating, but again hopefully getting patched.

The Messari invasion will kill you until you learn to prepare for it. This, again, is getting patched (they need to either make it later or have a difficulty setting specifically for it). Preparing for it mean covering your territory, and having a diverse (and not small) army and enough production to continually resupply yourself with troops.

This is way too long of a review I need to stop typing. 9/10!
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16 of 20 people (80%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
236.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 25
This is a solid game in its niche marked of 4x games, and more specifically, 4x games with space age human colonization. With its only direct competitor being the blatant AAA cash-in Civ: Beyond Earth, it is clear that this dev does not have much to compete against.

Let's start with the bad, because everyone else starts with the good, and I'm a unique and interesting individual, as well as a special snowflake, so I go out of my way to be different in ways that try to be clever but miss the mark entirely.

-Lack of diversity and depth
This has been said since the beginning, and it still applies. Units lack variety, game mechanics are simplistic, factions are flaccid copies of their Alpha Centauri counterparts, and buildings have few functions. The game replaces real depth and variety with gimmicks like the Messari Invasion and the Nashira Eclipse (both paid-for DLC, of course), which get old and tired quickly.

There are only a few types of military unit: Infantry, Scout Vehicle, Tank, Mech, Helicopter, Boat, and Artillery. All factions have the exact same units, with the exception of the Messari, who have their own units, and the aliens, who also have their own units. Units all have a linear upgrade path of three tiers, corresponding with the three epochs of the tech tree. These units have Attack, Defense, Rank, Movement, and Health stats. These stats are boosted by a linear path of weapon and armor equipment, as well as gadgets, which are not linear and each grant unique abilities to the unit. The narrow scope and linear progression limit gameplay options and make unit customization a chore rather than the fun and interesting experience it should be. It also makes war less interesting. There is also little reason to have any meaningful combined arms force. There is no bonus or strategic incentive to have a variety of different types of units. This means, in theory, if you have an army of only scout vehicles against an army of helicopters, infantry, tanks, and artillery, you will win given you have the numbers, which is not at all realistic or interesting.

There are three kinds of combat: direct attack, artillery strike, and orbital strike. You will have no meaningful use of air force (since the only air unit in the game functions the same as the ground units), unit supply/logistics, morale, or other such thing that would add depth and realism to warfare.

There seems to be absolutely no effort on the part of the developers to add real depth to the game as they clearly favor gimmicks that sound cool and people will buy just because they sound cool.

-Limited Diplomacy
Diplomacy is very limited in this game. It very much comes down to agreeing not to attack each other, attacking each other, and open borders. Anything else is too hard to achieve or too useless to mention. People will complain that the AI puts too much emphasis on another faction's military power, but I have no problem with this, as it adds a competitive edge to the game as well as gives it some semblance of realism (let's be honest; when you have an ideology different from everyone else's and a ♥♥♥♥ poor military, even the Gaians would want to gobble you up.) However, I do agree that it is too simplistic in this regard. You get no sense of geopolitics, where the different factions would take into account supply and demand for resources, the layout of the land, etc. What you get is a sense that you're surrounded by countries each led by a schoolyard bully, and the only way to win is by being the biggest bully in the playground.

-Lack of mod tools/support
The devs champoined their use of the .xml format in making the game more customizable, but anyone who has attempted to mod this game will quickly discover that there is only so much you can do with them. You can change stats, you can add new techs, and other small things. But there is no way to change the UI, there is no way to make meshes/models for new units unless you have programming knowledge and patience for navigating the xml's mess of verticy coordinates, or other actually useful things if you're serious about modding. This game is not friendly to modding to any significant extent.

-Blatant cash milking
As mentioned above, depth is replaced by gimmicks. These gimmicks come in the form of DLC that you pay for. They add nothing of substance to the game. The weak espionage system introduced in the latest expansion is also little more than a gimmick.

-Solid mechanics
The game suffers from few bugs, and there is no game-breaking mechanic to make this unplayable. It's not the most fun, but it's not completely unplayable.

-Well designed atmosphere
The music, sound effects, art style, the factions, the alien life, all flow together fairly well. At first glance, it can actually be impressive. And even when that inevitable point in time comes when you get bored with it and it becomes old (because it does get old), it's at least not intolerable.

-Comprehensive UI
Unlike other games (*cough* Beyond Earth), this UI is informative and not invasive. Nothing is hidden from you. However, there is an issue with the game encyclopedia being limited to things that you've already discovered, which is frustrating for anyone who's done more than three playthroughs.

This game's selling point is that it's the spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri. It very much uses the reputation of Alpha Centauri as a crutch to keep it standing, rather than standing on its own merit, which is actually quite mediocre. And of course, the devs don't plan on doing anything about this. Aside from the devs' love of gimmicky DLC, they also love to handle a bunch of projects at the same time, ensuring that none of them get the TLC they need to be worth any significant amount of time or effort. After all, why stick to a game to make improvements and developments when you can crank out half-baked cool ideas and make more sales?
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
15.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 6
Short review:

Compared to Civ:BE since that's the closest analog: I was looking for a game with more "feel". I wanted to land on a planet that felt alien, that had many and monstrous aliens. I wanted to have hordes of infantry trying to hold back mountain-sized behemoths and leviathans swallowing my ships in one gulp. This game has that feel. The world is alien. The gameplay is different enough that it will take a little bit of time to optimize your play compared to the more traditional Civ:BE. If I had to choose between the two, right now I'd pick this one. Immersion > least while aliens (and Aliens) have a significant presence.

There are some cons though; spies are cheap and can be pretty powerful (you can easilly scout an enemy's ENTIRE empire with one easy to do scout mission to one city anywhere in the world?). There is no traditional manual: yes, there's a book full of backstory, but there are no. rules. anywhere. There isn't even a decent wiki and compared to other 4x games out there hard info is difficult to find, so optimizing your play will be difficult

Overall, if you need the 4x on a distant planet game, I would tip my hat to this one.
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5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
584.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 23
Not amazing, but recommended. If you enjoy the civ games and are looking for something different, go for it! Lots of aspects are straight rip offs, but game play strategy can wind up working out very different.

The way cities share reasources, they can be very focused and maximize output
Customization of units is seriously cool
Complete teraforming control with tech tree
random tech tree

AI is seriously bad... helps while learning but once figured out their weaknesses are very easy to exploit. Most annoying part is the preference to build lots of weak units rather than strong ones. Agressive factions seem to always beat passive ones AI on AI.
Certainly not as polished as Sid game
Lack of game information
Diplomacy is lacking
Agents just end up being super annoying. Can totally be abused too.

Plenty to be said about it, but for 30$ or less, good fun
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
40.2 hrs on record
Posted: April 19
As of now this game is gameplay wise better than beyond earth due to more extensive economy, research tree is easy to master instead of a resears circle or how i call it "bubble". Lore is actually apparent in this game due to you can actually find it when you look through some tabs there will be a tab that says "Story." This game doesnt leave you hanging and having to guess what each faction leader did in thier life or how the faction came to be. Pandora first contact lore in a nutshell, it is an alternate version of history where humanity was more enticed with space travel and drained earth of its natural resources. After searching through nooks and crannies of space they found a planet that they called pandora and sent colony ships to it. they get there on December 2107 AD and that is pretty much where the game begins. Players are not the only threat as the natural aliens will try to kill you after you A. kill aliens B. do rapid expansion and pollute. C. they will turn agressive on their own terms. Then there is and alien invasion that will come when you explore a random ruin so it is impossible to know which ruin will summon the invasion "space russian roulette!" Over all it is a good experience that is fun. Think of this game as Beyond Earth executed better not perfect though as i do have minor gripes.

My minor gripes with this game. Diplomacy is lacking though seeing as how you cant directly trade resources to people and such. a diplomatic victory is pretty much non existent seeing as how military force/ war drives the game forward. Science is just a factor to keep your cities happy, lower pollution, and keep a higher production and pump out more military units. Speaking of military units you have to have a large military on standby so it can flex its various muscles so it keeps people away. AI needs some improvement but good thing that is coming so they are still making this game better and improving the experience. I will give away one faction to be careful around which is pretty much a religous extremist group who is always hated by other factions because it keeps declaring war on everything. That large military i mentioned you need it so that AI wont attack you. Im not the most religious person on this planet but isnt that faction's AI making referance to the mentality of convert or die? At least toning down its agression would be nice because it is always the first one to die. I wonder why?

I give this game a 9/10 for better execution of concept than what Beyond earth did. I cant wait to see more improvements in the future.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
40.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 8
This is a fantastic space-age planet-basesd 4X game. It nails so many concepts that other games in the genre (especially CIV:BE) miss. Specifically:
- Economic system is extremely tight, no artificial limiting commodity (health / happiness) to expansion - just that you share food and mined resources between colonies. In fact you are encouraged to expand by the housing limits and migration system (which is also an amazing way to deal wtih conquered cities as their population flees your iron fist...)
- Combat is great - no limits to #of units/hex - except that if you overconcentrate, you'll get nuked from the skies! Many diverse tactics work in different situations (air, sea and land power all useful - especially those death mechs!)
- Unit customization is amazing - intuitive, yet complex and rewarding - specific reasons to use various different unit types, and accessories that can do everything from reduce costs, to eliminate counterattacks, to multiple attacks per turn. All extremely well balanced by cost / production system.
- Unit levelling / training extremely well done - with an "operation" to train up newbie units being a must early game!
- Alien units are very interesting and the invader attack dynamic is very cool - especially on larger maps with multiple incursion points. It's a serious challenge just to colonize new areas until mid-game. And the oceans remain very dangerous even into late game.
- Factions are unique and each requires a different play style and leads to very different economic development paths. (tree huggers build forests and live in harmony with local vegetation, whereas corporate guys burn up everything in sight!)

It does have its drawbacks however:
- Diplomacy is a bit weak and one faction is bascially impossible to deal with (religious fanatics)
- Winning conditions are fairly arbitrary - 75% of research, conquest or building up enough cash to buy the rest of the economy - strange choices leads to an extremely.
- End game plays out way too similarly, independent of what faction you chose - I tried to "play nice" with the tree huggers, only to face an endless 2-front war for most of the game. (and their penalty to attack is extremely annoying in the early-game / first couple wars)

Overall this is an excellent addition to the 4X genre and a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri. I'm not even a die-hard fan of SMAC, but I absolutely love this game's diverse ecnomic and combat / conquest mechanics. So much fun to see your unit creations at work - particularly when you get the rare opportunity to upgrade your crack unit with the latest technology - creating a monster to unleash on your foes.

Definitely worth $30 and certainly the $15-ish that I paid on sale. Just bought the DLC and looking forward to trying out the new faction and espionage system!
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
15.1 hrs on record
Posted: April 6
This game is still Beta and so is the paid DLC. There are too many bugs to list, and the game itself is unfun. Slitherine should have fixed the original before they decided to add paid DLC which does nothing to make the game more playable.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
15.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 29, 2014
Wow. I just played through my first game of this(With the DLC). Even though I had my ♥♥♥ handed to me on easy, I had ALOT of fun. I played on the largest map possible and as the Bill Nye Faction(Science dudes). So here are my thoughts:

+awesome events during the course of the game which may have been part of the dlc I'm not sure. I didn't play vanilla.
By the end I really felt I had played through a story campagin with all the different phases.

+research is well done. To me it has a galactic civ kinda feel to it.

+The end game war were satisfyingly EPIC

+Can't really say to much for diplomacy. I just ignored everyone until they decided to war with me.

+Also pretty cool that you can customize the units.(I want these guys to be good at ant-armour vs being anti-infantry )

+Music is freak'n great. In fact I just let the main menu sit on my monitor for a few minutes so I could listen to the music and view the backdrop (really gives the sci-fi feel).

My friends compare this game to Civ Beyond Earth, but I havent played that so not sure how it compares. All I can say is that I had a lot of fun playing this.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
22.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 5, 2014
It is difficult not to compare this game with "Civilization: Beyond the Earth", so I will not even try. So I just recommend to perceive this game as a "better Civilization from less well-known developer."

This game is much more logical. Its economy is more advanced and deep. This game allows you to take a much more strategic and tactical decisions, which are generally have much greater impact on gameplay. Even interface is much better and practical (although the graphic style I do not quite like).

Excellent buy. One of the best games that I bought in the past few years.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
99.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 22
This game has a lot of potential but is almost completely ruined by the espionage units.

Being able to defend your border from espionage is singe most important factor to this game. You can have the largest empire, but if you have multiple neighbors and no natural choke points you're a goner. You either build a wall of units surrounding your empire or get nickled and dimed to death from an endless stream over powered spies that can travel from out sight to your cities in one move.

On the flip side, if the terrain favors you, you can take out an empire with two spies. Just send them in every turn and take their research. Over time you will overwhelm them with superior technology. Hell, letting an enemy take one of your cities just to get an easy espionage target is a game winner.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 29
Even though it has a less smaller budget and a smaller scale this game is still far better than Civ Beyond Earth currently is. At least I had a lot more fun with this don't get fooled by my playtime I had this game long before it was on Steam. So I spend a lot more hours on this. I found the AI actually pretty aggressive even on the lower levels not sure if it is because they are cheating or I am just too bad. Presentation is good, music is alright the only point where CivBE probably edges this one out.
However, I found that the latter add-ons made the game slightly more annoying as the alien aggression either concentrates on you or one of your AI players and they are pretty incapable of handling it.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
44.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 31, 2014
Pandora is a re-imaging of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. During my first hour of play I think I came across about a dozen "Wow, it's exactly like Alpha Centauri" moments. While it competently replicates most of SMAC's nuts and bolts, the game does fall short in terms of grabbing on to that classic's immersion factor. I found that whereas with SMAC, a lot of my enjoyment was connected to grand strategic role playing, Pandora was at its best when I played it more as a board game ignoring the cookie cutter nature of the AI opponents and just concentrating on the 4X dynamics. You can have lots of fun with it but I doubt it will stand the test of time ala SMAC. For 4X devotees especially of a SciFi persuasion, I'd say it's a good purchase at a $20 or less price point.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2014
So lets get this out of the way: Yes, it is very similar to Beyond Eath. Yes, you should get it. No, it isn't just a cheap knockoff.
Some of you might think I am comparing apples to oranges here, but this game tops Beyond Earth in nearly every category.
This is a good game that will unfortunately not get the publicity it deserves.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
24.8 hrs on record
Posted: April 6
Enemy's destroyed my farms and mines then said how poorly I treat my workers, whenever I tried to make more they destroyed the Formers and still blamed me 10/10
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
4.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2014
The Civ: BE we deserved.
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
4.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 14
This Civilization clone in space (for all who don't know this is Pre-Beyond Earth)
I find this game highly confusing in comparison to Civilizaion V form the HUD.
Though many good ideas where put in this game I'm not seeing my self playing it anytime soon if ever again.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
20.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2014
good game
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 31, 2014
First try to colonize Pandora. Died after the invasion of the Xenos! Will play again .. 11/10
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266 of 281 people (95%) found this review helpful
37.0 hrs on record
Posted: May 31, 2014
To all turn-based strategy, 4x lovers (such as myself), I highly recommend this game. It's the best thing out before the release of Sid Meier's: Beyond Earth.

Anyone who is wondering what this game is like, I'll give you a brief idea on what it is like by saying that it feels like Civilization V with a few major differences, such as:

1. Random tech trees for each faction - you also discover new technologies after every era you pass through, to give a sense of wonder of the future

2. Unit stacks - infinite number of units per tile; like Civilization IV's stacks of death. The game has actually balanced it so that attacking with stacks is less beneficial; bombardments hurt all units within a stack, flanking (putting units next to each other in separate tiles) gives an attack/defensive bonus.

3. Customisable units - yes, you have a unit workshop and can fit different weapons/bonuses/abilities on them. There are a lot of different chassis to research (e.g. infantry, fast-attack vehicle, tank, watercraft, and more).

4. Planet wildlife - at the beginning of the game, they are not hostile. However, the wildlife can get more and more aggressive if factions fight against them, or produce a lot of pollution. They may then become the equivalant of barbarians, or even worse (if aggressive enough, they can launch a full-scale invasion on humans, threatening everyone. It could prove to be a good tactic, for militaristic players, to annoy the local wildlife so that peaceful players are threatened with annihilation). There are multiple types of wildlife, ranging from practically harmless little xenomorph drones to gigantic aquatic monstrosities.

5. City management - it works something like this; morale (happiness) is local, rather than national. Local morale has an affect on local growth, and local growth depends on whether or not you have enough food stockpiled (food pool is national). Growth is also affected by habitable space; if you don't have enough space, migration to other cities (ones which have more habitable space) will occur. Production requires minerals (also stockpiled nationally). If you run out of minerals, production will be hindered but not stopped completely. Science is gathered normally (1 scientist = +1 science). There are buildings, natural resources and tile improvements which produce percentage increases and/or a small increase in that stat. You can also move your citizen's roles (there are four roles; farmer (food resource collector), miner (mineral resource collector), worker (city producer) and scientist (science producer)) around manually, and they will automatically go to the highest yielding tile. There are other factors as well (such as wars, pollution etc), but that's just the gist of it.

6. Alien invasion - around turn 200 (normal pace), an alien force (size depends on how difficult you set difficulty level/alien aggression level) invades the planet and the world has to rally together to fight them off. It's a nice twist and a breath of fresh air, especially if the local wildlife is almost extinct by that time or if you have been playing a peaceful game up until that time.

In addition, the game's presentation is very nice (introduction video, graphics, artwork, quote voice overs), soundtrack is great, UI is intuitive and smooth, optimisation is smooth as well; never lags or crashes (runs a lot better than Civilization V). The game is, amazingly, roughly 500MB, so it's a very fast download.

What can I say which is bad about the game? Well, currently, the game has more focus on combat than Civilization. The game still needs, in my opinion, to add more content which aligns the player to a more non-combat style of gameplay (e.g. something similar to culture with wonders). There are multiple victory conditions other than conquest, such as economic and research victories, but it'd be nice to have more. There is also no indication of how far ahead you are when compared with your opponents, until the last few turns before your, or your opponent's, imminent victory, warning the player.

The good news is that the developers have pledged to add more content to Pandora: First Contact, maybe in the form of expansions, if it proves to be successful. So far I think the game has been successful, hence the Steam release (the game was released months before Steam).

EDIT (7th August 2014): Just as I said before, they have continued updating the game to make it better and they have recently announced the first expansion pack, "Pandora: Eclipse of Nashira", to the game which adds espionage, better diplomacy, better aquatic gameplay (sea tile improvements etc), new factions and more.

For people hoping this to be the next Alpha Centauri, I wouldn't get your hopes too high. The game is good, and it is very similar to AC in some respects, but it's not exactly the same (e.g. no mind worms). Judge it for what it is. I played a lot of AC back in the day, and I thoroughly enjoy this game for what it is.

If you're still not convinced, or somewhat unsure whether or not to pay for the full price of £22 or $36, just wait for the eventual sale. I'd definitely call you mad for not getting it then.
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