Strategy Games 2016 edition

Melrax

Strategy Games 2016 edition
« on: March 01, 2016, 02:35:21 PM »
Space 4x games

It's looking like a good year for space 4x games. Unfortunately there are no release dates other than sometime this year.

Stellaris




Developer diary archive

Coming out from my favourite published/developer so it's hard to not get hyped. This is pretty much the only 4x that promises to bring something truly new to the table. It could be hit or miss to be fair as it's so different from all the clones decending from Master of Orion. Distant Worlds is the closest cousin of it but Stellaris will be much more of a game than a galaxy scifi simulator.

Basically they are scavenging mechanics from their previous titles: CK2, EU4. There are no manually fought tactical battles so it's entirely about the strategic part. However, as the game is real time and you can directly control the movement of your fleets inside star systems, there is some tactical aspect similar to EU/CK.

As is typical for Paradox games, you can expect a big focus on the diplomacy game. Wars are fought for specific goals and not just because you decided that you want to conquer everything. You can create federations (Starfleet FTW) or tyrannical empires, manage all kinds of policies like enslaving your robot workers, you can have parts of your empire rebel and break away...

One interesting thing which is hard to say whether it's good or bad is the research. There is no typical Civ style research tree where you do the same 'builds' every game. You are instead semi-randomly given choices between different research advances. You can control the speed of the research and make some techs more likely to appear. There is also no end to the tech development because even if you have researched everything, the game will keep generating improved versions of those techs.

As usual for a Paradox game, you can expect a massive modding effort for every imaginable scifi out there. Star Wars mod team is already being organized and the game isn't even out yet. Star Trek should be especially suitable for a Stellaris mod.

Endless Space 2




Developer diary archive

I wasn't a big fan of Endless Space 1. It seemed too clinical and somehow 'off'. However the developers did mostly a good job on Endless Legend so I have some faith in them. I think this has a pretty good chance at being the next actually-not-shitty turn based 4x.

For some reason, while neither ES1 or 2 have manually controlled battles beyond a simple card game-ish mini game, they still insist on giving you a full display of the battle. It's pretty cool I guess but one might ask: since it has no real effect on the gameplay then why bother spending so much time developing such a system in the first place? It's inevitable you will get tired of these sequences sooner or later and just skip them. Maybe they came up with something to improve it.

Of course all the typical 4x stuff is included... ship designing, diplomacy, trade, economy management etc. I expect quite a deep level of empire management if EL is anything to go by.

What sets it apart from the generic 4x is that they are adding a lot of RPG-ish elements that they also had in Endless Legend. That means heroes that develop like in Heroes of Might and Magic, mini quests and even story arcs for each race.

Master of Orion (4)




I was extremely sceptical ever since the announcement. A reboot developed by a company completely unrelated the original games... published by Wargaming (from World of Tanks to MOO? wtf). Gee, when has this ever gone wrong?

It's out as early access which is really terrible in this case. If the game was ugly, buggy and unoptimized, wouldn't mind at all. My policy on EA games is to only ever buy one if I think the current state of the game is worth playing because more often than not, there won't be any miraculous game changing updates down the road. And IF there are, the game will be long dead by then.

MOO looks and sounds pretty and runs smooth. Doesn't capture the atmosphere of MOO 2 but space 4x hardly ever do these days. The problem is that the game is too damn shallow for a 4x. Tactical turn based combat is replaced by 'smash your fleets together' real time shitfest but that's not the big issue. The real meat of the game, the strategic gameplay part, is just the most generic and bland 4x I've ever seen. There's just nothing that sets it apart from the competition.

The developers have pretty much shown their hand with this EA release. It's fishing for sales from old MOO fans with it's IP while appealing to the new CIV 5 (RIP my respect for review sites - 21.10.2010) crowd by replacing meaningful gameplay with cute graphics and pointless mechanics. Want a 4x that is less focused on microing at empire level and more focused on tactical combat? Sword of the Stars 1 does it better. Want a turn based 4x with a lot of challenge and deep strategy gameplay? There's GalCiv 2.

I'll give this a 25% chance that this will turn out anything but shit down the road.

Other strategy games

Hearts of Iron 4





Developer diary archive

Hype is through the roof. HOI4 is to HOI3 as Gandalf the White was to Saruman... or something. HOI3 dragged my favourite strategy game series down to dark depths of micromanagement hell and brain dead AIs and allowed me to experience the horrors of the eastern front for real in my chair. I still played the shit out of it.

HOI4 is hopefully what HOI3 should have been. A WW2 grand strategy *game* and not a 'hand hold hundreds of your useless divisions across the globe while studying the game files in order to cipher an arcane supply system' simulator.

Basically the changes come down to getting rid of boring micromanagement without dumbing down the game. Also to giving players (and AIs) more freedom for ahistorical outcomes (like United States invading Britain etc).

The game has been plagued by delays because so many complex systems (for simulating air warfare, logistics, navy etc.) have been developed to replaced the wreck that was HOI3. Could also mean that HOI4 ends up being a total mess but it better fucking not.



Melrax

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2016, 01:05:07 PM »
Starsector



A one-man eternity project. Developed since 2010 and no end in sight. Imagine Mount & Blade but 2D and in space. Hand down absolutely the best 2D space combat there ever was. It's a crime that there is no multiplayer because this game would be perfect for some kind of competetive team vs team mode at the very least.

The campaign mode where you build up your fleet and roam star systems is just OK for now. Functional but it doesn't wow you. You can pirate, trade, mine, do faction stuff etc etc but it's not the most exciting thing.

There is a dedicated mod community however that does compensate for the slooooooow development.

Rimworld



Another slooooow project. It's something between Dwarf Fortress and Prison Architect. A space colony sim where you don't control units directly but give instructions instead. Build a base, grow food, develop technologies, fight off raiders and aliens monsters, watch as crazy shit happens to your colonists and so on.

There is a lot in the game already but the potential is massive. Prison Arctitect looks rather simple by comparison although Rimworld is lightweight compared to DF... but what game isn't. A modding community is active as well.

I'm inclined to wait longer before really getting into the game as a lot of really cool stuff has been promised and I have no doubt this developer will deliver, eventually.

Factorio



The game's in EA but it might as well as be considered finished and I don't expect any major additions to the game. It's an interesting mix of factory building sim in a scifi setting on a planet with hostile zerg-like aliens. While fighting off the aliens is a necessary part of the game, it's still first and foremost about building an efficient factory as the vanilla game currently stands. There is multiplayer too which is surprising in this type of game. Graphics remind me of old school top-down shooters but the game doesn't look bad at all when it's in motion.

Gameplay is relatively simple but my god, so addicting. Building efficient ore processing facilities and transportation systems with conveyor belts, trains or drones to make your assembly lines work at max speed is incredibly satisfying. Generally, most of your assembly line are built towards creating 'science packs' which go into your labs that you use to research tech. There is a lot to research but once you have everything, it unfortunately means there is no real reason to continue playing.

I think it would be great if the aliens were developed a bit more. Basically the map is littered with alien hives that agro if you go near them. They also attack your base when the pollution from your machines reaches their hives. There is an evolution factor as well that creates bigger and meaner aliens as time goes on and pollution increases.

On default settings the aliens were laughably easy. Next game I set all the alien settings to max and it did offer some challenge. The entire map is basically full of hives. Trying to go in and destroy them looks like a scene from Starship Troopers and even with upgraded weapons and power armor with fusion generators, energy shields and blah blah cool trinkets is still very hard. Until I crafted a tank. So damn OP and too easy to make. Once you clear the nearest hives, the attacks on your base become much easier to handle for your turrets and the aliens rarely if ever expand. It becomes a matter of how hard you want to fuck up the alien pests on the planet. Fortunately this game, too, has a big modding community. There are a lot of alien related mods to try. Also mods for more techs or making research slower and so on.

There is something incredibly cool about aliens suddenly swarming your base at night and your base lights flickering while the alarms go off because the laser turrets are overloading the power grid as they mow down the aliens. Usually it only lasts a few seconds but when it doesn't stop, you become quite concerned. The aliens wrecking your carefully built factory is a nightmare to fix.









Melrax

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2016, 06:52:00 PM »
From the GDC event.

Stellaris

-10/10 interface
-Animated portraits, that's a first for Paradox. Stylistically everything looks great. Star system view looks perfect. Enough eye candy without cluttering the screen with random effects. Galaxy view could use some work though.
-Race/empire creation is much more detailed than I hoped for.
-Science ships exploring the galaxy in Star Trek style. OMG.
-First contact procedures with other alien races. Holy shit so cool. You don't even know if it's a 'proper' AI race or just some space creatures floating around before you do research.
-Seems like everything in Stellaris is made to create a sense of discovery which is not the case in any 4x since Master of Orion.





Hearts of Iron 4

Nothing much new to discover here. Nice stream with the latest build explaining the game though if someone wants to get a better idea of the game.

TWITCH STREAM VOD




Brevi

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2016, 06:23:59 AM »
This footage came out just now!

^(O.o)^



Melrax

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2016, 01:24:46 PM »
Awesome. Saw some stuff that hasn't been shown off before. Surprising that AJ is interested in Stellaris. Looks like there was another video for HOI4 but it was too short and rushed and made the game look like a clusterfuck. :D

I hope he does a similar preview for HOI4 later.



Melrax

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2016, 11:54:45 PM »


Spoiler for Hiden:










Brevi

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2016, 11:15:32 AM »
The spoiler section was the best part. :D
^(O.o)^



Melrax

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2016, 10:20:31 PM »
There are dozens of streams and 'let's play's up...





Goodguy Paradox livestreams gameplay months before release, before preorders are up and implements good suggestions within days of being requested. Gives out copies to a score of streamers and youtubers and lifts media embargo a week before release so that anyone can see what the game is about. Writes modding tutorials and releases a gfx model convertor before release. Sets the price 20-30€ lower than 99% of the garbage AAA games coming out with a budget of millions and the gameplay depth of peekaboo. Doesn't add anything that affects gameplay to the deluxe editions.

Highlights:
-gene modify your species... KHAAAAAAAN
-conquer and enslave aliens in the name of your God Emperor
-uplift primitive alien species to create even better slaves
-purge alien populations that just won't submit and work in your space Gulag
-create slave and clone armies
-create robot and droid workers...... and robot and droid armies
-create synthetic AI species that definitely won't rebel
-find Earth that has been nuked into a radioactive wasteland and is populated by mutated giant cockroaches
-get steamrolled by invaders from another dimension



Xaviz

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2016, 04:37:14 PM »
one day I will get into this genre of games... One day.



Melrax

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2016, 07:40:58 PM »
Familiar feeling...

FUCK, I'm not spending the weekend drooling over the streams and youtube videos. No way. Must find some cheapass game to distract me for a day or two. AHHHHHHHH.



Melrax

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2016, 02:02:39 PM »
Time to obsess about modding while I wait. The largest projects going on:

Star Wars
Warhammer 40k
Star Trek

I was thinking of jumping into the Star Trek project but I had some ideas of my own to try out as well. First is patriarchies/matriarchies but I'm not sure the game allows the implementation I had in mind... not without seeing the game files. It's a thing in Star Trek so why not in Stellaris as well. Second one is a "space UN" which would actually be similar to Civ4's UN mechanic. Voting of sanctions, policies, emancipation of slaves and the like. Pretty excited to try this out because I wrote a voting script for CK2 a few years back which should be easy to adapt to Stellaris.

Also:





Xaviz

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2016, 09:32:36 PM »


yikes



Xaviz

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2016, 09:35:43 PM »



Melrax

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2016, 10:14:35 PM »
I'm shocked. :P

Every Paradox game since forever has gotten reviews from 60 to 100. People either like them or hate them. Although in IGN's case it's funny and not just because of the memes floating around about it. Here's a list of recent strategy game reviews from IGN:

Civilization V: 9
Total War Rome II: 8.8
Civilization Beyond Earth: 7.9
Sid Meier's Starships: 6.5
Stellaris: 6.3

Anyone who is into the genre could tell you how ridiculous that list is.

The IGN review may or may not be right about the issues but the score might as well as have been pulled out of a hat because the website has no standards for scoring.

If I compare Stellaris to EU4 with years of dlcs, it's not going to be as in-depth yet. Compared to space 4x games from the last 15 years... well I can say that on this reviewer's scale no 4x would go past 6.

This is why I like sites like Rock Paper Shotgun that simply give no scores.



Melrax

Re: Strategy Games 2016 edition
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2016, 10:22:09 PM »
Take for example 2 websites that specialize on 4x games:

Explorminate:

TL;DR: Stellaris is an absolute masterpiece, combining the Paradox sensibilities of grand strategy and epic international relations with the best that space 4X has to offer. Those looking to experience a huge range of spectacular encounters, in a seemingly endless galaxy, while feeling like true space emperors, are going to be very, very happy.  The game isn’t perfect, but knowing that it can and will grow almost makes it more of a pleasure to play. Stellaris is a landmark in the genre and we fully expect it to have a lasting impact on the games we play and love.

SpaceSector:

Stellaris is certainly the most immersive 4X and Grand Strategy game I played to date. Also, the gameplay seems solid. However, this is a Paradox game and it uses the trappings of the Grand Strategy genre which I have discussed earlier. However, I find the mix blends well together with the 4X genre. Personally, I think Paradox has hit their mark with Stellaris.

Both reviews touch on the same issues as the IGN review but neither consider it as big a problem as the IGN reviewer.