From time to time I start looking for a worthy successor for Master of Orion 2, which has been my favorite 4X game for many years now. Some games like GalCiv2 and Sins of a Solar Empire are pretty nice, but still can’t topple MoO2 from its throne. Recently I found two pretty new 4X games that might not exactly what I’ve been looking for, but they are very cool games in their own right.
Space is huge. Our local galaxy has billions of stars and there are millions of galaxies in known space. Of course no computer game could simulate anything like that and still remain playable, but Star Ruler actually comes pretty close. It features huge, procedurally generated galaxies. Each solar system not only contains a couple of planets, but also asteroids, moons and many other astronomical objects you would expect.
Instead of a flat starmap, Star Ruler’s map is fully 3D. The graphics might not be up to par, but they definitely serve their purpose. The original soundtrack is pretty cool though, and the fact that the game features fully simulated newtonian physics is a big plus in my book.
I have to admit I’ve just barely touched all the cool things you can do in this game. The highly detailed but easy to use ship design feature was actually what sold me on this game.
Armada 2526 is much more traditional than Star Ruler. It features a classic flat space map and actually shares a lot with MoO2. When you have played MoO2 you’ll feel right at home with Armada 2526. I actually started playing without bothering to play through the tutorial and did pretty fine.
The majority of the game is turn-based, only combat is handled in realtime. The battles also use full 3D graphics unlike the rest of the game which is in 2D. I have to admit I haven’t fought that many battles yet, so I can’t comment on that part of the game yet.
For the most part the UI of Armada 2526 is pretty clear and self-explanatory, but there are some things that took me a while to figure out. Hmm, perhaps I should have played through that tutorial after all. For example you need to click on the appropriate building in the planet overview screen in order to build new buildings and ships.
Although I am pretty happy with Armada 2526, there are two things I am missing: a) being able to have more than one colony per system and b) ship design. But it’s still a very good 4X game, no doubts about that.
The recent addon Supernova added a more technologies, a trade system, two new races, and most importantly multiplayer to the game. If you are interested in buying Armada 2526 you should consider getting the addon, too. It’s worth it.
Both games are definitely worth a closer look, although none of them has the special charm Master of Orion 2 still has. Star Ruler is definitely the more ambitious game but it also has a much steeper learning curve. The vast scope also makes it necessary that the player has to rely on the AI a lot, when it comes to colony management or space ship control. But luckily you can override the AI manually if needed.
Armada 2526 is much more traditional and feels more like a “game”. The lack of custom space ship designs is a bit of a letdown, but aside from that it’s definitely fun to play. If you ask me, you should check out both if you are into 4X games.