Games like Galactic Civilizations might be common today but they were still a niche market when the first game in the series came out in 2003. Entrusting you with the future of humanity, the game thrusts you into an interstellar conflict where humanity’s discovery and sharing of a hyperdrive; kickstarts a race to colonize the galaxy. The other five major races all cease communication and begin vying with each other to dominate the galaxy.
Sequels built upon this initial formula with the second game introducing an ancient civilization, the Precursors, who once ruled the galaxy before a civil war rent them apart. The Arnor wished to nurture the younger civilizations and enlighten them. The Dread Lords wished to exterminate them. The player now must attempt to salvage Precursor technology, fight galactic wars with the other major powers, and survive the return of the genocidal Dread Lords.
Galactic Civilizations offers several paths to victory, through military conquest, cultural domination, universal alliance, or overwhelming technological supremacy. Each of the playable civilizations has a distinct personality along with unique traits and advantages.
The AI has a series of levels to alter the difficulty. Higher levels of AI will learn from the player and tailor their fleets to repulse their opponents.
The biggest difference between this and other 4X games is its economic system. Most 4X strategy games receive money through taxes. Galactic Civilizations II instead requires that the income of an empire is used to pay for all forms of production. It is essential that players balance their income with their industrial output lest they go broke.
The games are significantly moddable and this is supported by both the developer and fans. Those who enjoy this game would do well to try out other 4X space strategy games to see how they’ve built upon the genre that Galactic Civilizations is a key part of.