The Galactic Civilization III Crusade Expansion is the new installment from Stardock Entertainments Galactic Civilization series. Upon first glance, this game offers up a plethora of choices, ranging from ship design, civilization-building, text management, map editing, and even the ability to resync Mods. This 4X game (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) always leaves you feeling that there are several valid options at the start of each turn. The decisions you make could be astronomical, leading to large scale wars, or diplomacies between alliances be left toppling. Here’s our Galactic Civilization III Crusade Expansion review!
A Feast for the Eyes
The game itself has taken a graphical overhaul, from the dedicated ship designs which lend a hand in being completely distinctive from other factions. Plus, no two ships are alike with various color schemes, helping them stand out from the crowd. Additionally, with Mods, you could also have the entire Star Trek fleet at your command or simply ride the Millennium Falcon into victory! The star systems, planets, asteroids, nebulae, etc. really help to make the game an absolute wonder for the eyes!
Build Tomorrow, for Today’s Enjoyment
One of the truly remarkable and most enjoyable aspects of this game is the colonization and hex-based planet-building mechanic. Once you figure out the various uses and bonuses of the buildings you research, the game becomes very enjoyable! It is worth the time to research, explore and further develop that skill as well as further enhance our gameplay.
The Story of Your Creations’ Lives
The Galactic Civilization III Crusade Expansion seems to be a step in the right direction for Stardock’s grand 4X series. Like it’s predecessors, its set in the ever-expanding universe and with many different factions to choose from such as the Terran Alliance, Drengin Empire, Altarian Resistance, Iridium corporations, and much more. You can, however, create your own race which is probably the most robust that we’ve ever seen in a 4X game!
With the new race types and abilities, as well as the traits tree, they all come together and combine into a unique race, which also determines what technology you can research. Not only that, depending on what you create will also determine your ideologies which further adds to the evolution of your race.
Online multiplayer has also been included, reaching a whopping 100 races, which, in the grand scheme of things is ridiculous but in a good way.
With each faction has its own story to be told and different reasons for intergalactic travel and possibly universal domination. As you traverse the open-world, be prepared to be engaged by the story-based campaign, learn about the ancient histories of the alien civilizations, or if you’re a returning player, be re-told new and old stories.
There’s Always More Than One Path
If you’re a returning player, you will enjoy all-new galactic ‘terrain’ features, new changes to ship construction and designs, plus additional tweaks for handling the tech tree. There will be no moral alignment of your civilization as that has been put aside and replaced with a three-way ideology system, in which, depending on the colonization or event, can drastically alter your choices.
Within this game, there are numerous paths to take, and multiple different ways to win either through military prowess, cultural dominance, technological advancements, or even by a more political approach. Within our time playing this game, we have discovered personally that this is no easy feat, and will take time and diligence.
Like many other turn-based games, you are best anticipating your enemy’s movements and being able to counteract them as soon as possible. Understanding the motives behind the enemies you are up against will solidify your victory as you can make preparations for either an alliance or complete destruction.
Learning to Swim is Easy: Just Jump In
The tutorial starts on a remote world that focuses on space exploration and reconnaissance to defend against possible threats. The game will guide you through how the game works and what to build and not much of anything else. The game’s tutorial doesn’t explain the myriad interlocking system, and in fact, neglects almost everything else. You’re not told that you can assign several colonies to one shipyard, or construct shipyards using constructor ships.
If you’ve ever played a turn-based strategy game you’ll know that most games will hold your hand through the entire tutorial where you secure your first victory and feel like an absolute boss, but unfortunately Galactic Civilization III is severely lacking in this department.
Another underlying issue with the tutorial is that everything is explained through bullet points. Nothing visibly striking there, and it’s not very intuitive. As we play around, hovering our mouse over certain things, clicking this and that, in hopes of it doing something more, we are left feeling a little underwhelmed and bewildered.
The game is slow to start at first, but once you get around the little nuances, the game begins to make a little more sense. However, it is deceptively simple-looking and will require that you master a lot of the small details that aren’t obvious from get-go.
The World is Mine
A new game is where you make the rules. This is perfect for those who are familiar with the game and wish to be challenged. In this mode, you are able to set maps that can contain 100 races, but be wary, if your computer isn’t sufficiently powerful, it may lag behind and become frustrating even when attempting a simple task. Additionally, you can control the maps you want to fight in, the frequency of drops, and so on.
The new game also allows you the option of choice on the desired character. We picked the race that could give the greatest challenge: the Terran Alliance. Usually, in games like these, the Human race is often the easiest, or at least the most comprehensible and always a good starting point. We were immediately faced with the multitude of options that we’re certain the game developers are absolutely proud of. For deep customization, the new game mode is your best friend.
Your First Step
The campaign gives you a timeline of choices, a short story background and description of objectives to complete which should help familiarize you with the game’s core mechanics.
Every game starts with you in a hexagonal area of which can be moved out of and explored. Along the way, you will come across excavation areas and anomalies that you can research for further technological advances. Each world has a set amount of building spaces for you to create and build your starships, troopers, workers, etc.
However, the AI capital placements for planets can be a downer. When you secure a planet, the AI will randomly place the capital. This is very troublesome, especially when it places the all-important capital somewhere on the hexagonal map where none of our structures can benefit and gain bonuses from its placements.
Just a Bug (Or two. Or three. Or…)
The game does have a few more minor issues, one of which is the lack of in-game voice actors. Some people may not find it an issue, but we would have enjoyed some narrative from a speaker than a pure dialogue-based interaction. We find that it takes away from the engagement of the game and doesn’t fully draw us in, especially since most of the encounters that you face are not long-winded dialogues, so a voice behind the words would have been a rather pleasant detail.
There aren’t any options for retreating. If you think you’ve got bigger guns than the other team when in fact you don’t, that’s it, you may as well hold up the tiny white flag as they run through your forces mercilessly until you quit the game. If you try to run, they will only follow and dismember you and your entire colony. Some games, such as Endless Empire, at least offer an option to flee when things get out of hands or surrender so that you won’t need to waste the next something-minutes agonizing over your defeat.
The Galactic Civilization III Crusade Expansion isn’t beginner-friendly. Some may argue that the steep learning curve is the purpose of the challenge, but if that’s the case, why have a tutorial in the first place? The purpose of the tutorial is to teach new and returning players on how to play their new game. You shouldn’t have to look up YouTube tutorials on how to command your fleet or build multiple resources from one location. What should be included in the tutorials are beginner-friendly and advanced information, that way, all players are covered.
That being said, despite starting on the wrong foot, the Crusade Expansion is a game worth playing and learning. Due to its challenging nature and sophisticated AI system, the game offers up a completely new way to play every time you log into it. No two matches will ever be the same, and with the option of race customization, ships and mods, this game is forever engaging and interesting. The UI, though, somewhat difficult to navigate, does work and it works well once you figure out where everything is and the short-keys to access them.
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