Spaceborn mega-RTS Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion has just released its 1.1 patch. The update adds a massive amount of changes, including over forty new maps. No that was not a typo, I really meant forty, four-zero. Given the average length of a Sins game, I estimate the time it would take you to learn all these new maps as slightly longer than than the lifespan of the universe.
Many of the new maps are balanced for competitive play, meaning that resources and starting locations are mirrored, making sure no-one has an unfair advantage. Perhaps Sins is attempting to become the world's slowest e-sport? I can imagine it as the test match cricket of the internet world, where tournaments take two weeks to complete and the audience spends most of their time having a nice picnic.
There's also big changes to the role of corvettes, who had previously found themselves as a ship without a role. Now they're immune to many of the nasty effects that the enormous Titan class ships can deploy, turning them into the game's designated giant killers. Now instead of responding to a Titan with one of your own, you'll be able to send a fleet of plucky corvettes to pop a torpedo down its exhaust pipe, making guarding your biggest vessels far more important.
You can find the full patch notes on the Sins of a Solar Empire forums. If you don't yet own the game, you can find out why you should in our Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion review.
While many were hopeful that diplomacy would finally end the war, differing opinions on what should be done, along with the depleted power of the controlling factions, has led to a splintering of the groups involved.
The loyalist members of the Trader Emergency Coalition adopt a policy of isolation, focusing on enhanced defenses to ride out the rest of the war. Those who rebel against the coalition take on a purely militant view, coming to the opinion that the only way to bring peace is by ultimately crushing all who oppose them - especially xenos.
Take the battle for galactic supremacy to its ultimate level in Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion a standalone RT4X game that combines the tactics of real-time strategy with the depth of the 4X genre (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate).
Too ruggedly professional to die, 2008 sleeper hit Sins of a Solar Empire has returned. Titled Rebellion, this third expansion comes in a new, expandalone format, and adds just about everything except actual rebellion. Silly developers!
Sins has aged well, partly because its only competitor, Sword of the Stars II, flopped harder than a snake slipping off a diving board, but also because its appeal is still intact. As you develop your empire, swinging from planet to planet, tumbling down the tech tree, stringing together fleets and levelling up your capital ships, the game simply gives you a bit too much to think about.
It’s uncanny. As a beginner, you’ll have your hands (and head) full developing trade routes and continuing the electric push of your culture across the solar system, perhaps with one eye on your prize fleet, making sure it’s still winning some 20-minute pitched battle. But experts will be kept just as busy micromanaging the powers on individual ships, perhaps leaping home to oversee the construction of a Maginot Line-like array of turrets, before snapping up the diplomacy menu to offer a job, a ceasefire, a demand, then back to the fight.
Sins’ sweet spot is that it always threatens to overwhelm, but rarely does. This isn’t the riptide real-time strategy of StarCraft II. It’s more sedate than that. But the game simply has so much going on, its every element rewarding not just attention but obsession, that you’re able to sink into it like a hot bath. Want to fling armadas around as if they were plastic toys? You’ll have a great time. Want to orchestrate your fleets like an interplanetary Rommel? You’ll see the rewards instantly.
Which brings us to what Rebellion adds. Perhaps most notably, it still doesn’t add a singleplayer campaign, leaving you to fool around either online or in the excellently robust skirmish mode. Which is fine. There’s also a whole new suite of tutorials, which prepare you for everything – except how to deal with this much content.
Sins’ three relatively asymmetrical races have been further rent into Rebel and Loyalist variants, each of which holds a new teasing selection of powerful abilities and a unique Titan. We’ll get to those. Loyalist TEC, for example, are a turtle’s dream, with one tech that increases experience gained fighting in their own space and another that lowers the cost of the horrible Novalith Cannon (which lets them slam-dunk nukes into distant gravity wells). Meanwhile, the nomadic Vasari Loyalists gain the power to summon NPC vagabonds and devour planets like so many Mars Bars.
There are new corvettes and capital ships for each faction, too, but the Titans are the stars of the show. Monstrously expensive and perfectly suited to a long-form game like Sins, it’s likely the fiercest fighting these behemoths will see will be attacks by wary players on their sprawling dockyard before they’re completed.
As with everything else in the game, however, they strike a thoughtful balance. Completing a Titan is by no means a ‘win’ button, but the automated report that another player has finished one still instils a gentle dread.
Outside of the lack of a singleplayer campaign, about the only criticism that could be levelled at Rebellion is that it’s not much of a looker anymore. But you know what? When you jump some 50 ships on top of an enemy fleet, announcing your presence in a flutter of missiles and hot burps of laser fire, you just can’t tear your eyes away.
The Rebellion expansion for the splendid Sins of a Solar Empire is due out in a few weeks, but first there's another beta phase to go first. As the above trailer mentions, it's live now for pre-order customers on Steam, which will give fans an early look at Rebellion's visual updates, new factions and Titan class battleships. It's due out on June 12, find out more on the official Sins of a Solar Empire site and see those Titans tearing it up in deep space in these Rebellion screenshots.
That's a new trailer for Stardock's upcoming expansion to Sins of a Solar Empire. It'll bring jumbo-sized Titan ships and new faction choices to the outstanding 4X space strategy game. It'll also provide a much-needed graphical update to the four year-old title.
There are three reasons why I still boot up Sins of a Solar Empire: I get a dizzy thrill every time I zoom from an extreme close-up to a map overview (I call it the Supreme Commander effect), and I enjoy playing co-op in a universe so vast that I hardly ever encounter other human players. Also, I like telling people I've been playing "Sins of a Solar Empire" because it makes me feel cool.
In Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity, you are the leader of a civilization embroiled in a galactic war, fighting for the survival of your entire race against relentless foes. Your success will depend entirely on your ability to manage your empire and command your vast fleets of starships to victory.