Review: Galactic Civilizations III: Retribution11 Mar 2019 1
Review: Galactic Civilizations III: Retribution
Released 21 Feb 2019
Galactic Civilizations III has long stood as a strange game, far beyond the curve of most 4X in the market. A relic of a bygone time, the 2015 sequel to the critically acclaimed Galactic Civilizations II tried to recreate the magic of its predecessor while mostly retaining the arguably dated mechanics and the original release wound up receiving a modest reception. Stardock has stuck with it, however, and now the latest in a long series of expansions has arrived.
Galactic Civilizations III: Retribution is most likely the last major DLC for GalCiv III, bringing a new campaign that finishes up the in-game narrative, two previously unavailable fan-favourite factions, and several improvements. The expansion mostly serves as a content pack, featuring no new mechanics but bringing a restructuring of the existing technology tree and new units/structures.
At its core, Retribution is very much a work of polar extremes. The two new mainstay additions -- artefacts and hypergates -- are respectively ancient and new technologies that can change the way the game is played; artefacts give empires static unique abilities, like terraforming tiles or spawning warships, while hypergates work as placeable super speed highways that make movement around the galaxy considerably easier and faster.
Similarly, returning factions Drath and Korath are in the opposite spectrums at almost every level. The Drath are ancient Draconian people whose slow birth rate made them passive aggressive and highly manipulative, weirdly translating as a natural talent for diplomacy. Meanwhile, the Korath are an offshoot of the evil Drengin Empire -- but as a slight contrast to their slave-loving cousins, are intent on complete extermination of all other races instead.
Thanks to the way GalCiv III works, the factions mostly play the same, with the biggest changes being in what bonuses and penalties they have to contend with. The Korath are adept at warfare to the detriment of nigh everything else, and Drath get a bonus to diplomacy in exchange for slow population growth. As always, the animations and 3D models are top notch, creating one of the most expressive and characterful races available in any 4X game.
The expansion also brings more ways to develop existing empires in the mid-game, be it through the new terraform improvements to expand planetary tiles or the supply ships designed to boost development of far-away colonies. The addition of those new buildings and ships further increase the logistical depth of what’s already a thinking-heavy game, making this a very satisfying strategy game for those who have the patience for a slower experience.
The new campaign is presented as a series of missions, starting with you being sent to Drengin territory to investigate a newly discovered Precursor artefact. As the story progresses, players will meet the two new races, discover the origin of the artefact, and have a final battle around a capital planet that isn’t particularly noteworthy. The interesting thing, however, is the option to beeline for the objective or take as long as they want on each mission, adding a great degree of freedom in an age where developer’s arbitrary limitations are synonymous with game design.
Overall, Retribution is a capable expansion for fans of the franchise, bringing in new gameplay options and two specialist races to round off an already well-developed roster. The expansion will not change the mind of anyone who already likes or dislikes the series, but it’s worth a shot if you like the game. GalCiv III might not have taken off the way Stardock intended, but the company’s decision to stick with it turned the game into a tailored experience virtually unmatched by any other sci-fi 4X on the market.