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A List of Space/Sci-Fi/Fantasy Games You Can’t Miss in 2015

By on January 12th, 2015 12:17 pm

Another year, another list of interesting space-based, science fiction and fantasy-themed games to look for. Strategy has always the priority here, but you’ll also find other types of games in this list, namely simulation, RPG and even a bit of action. To note that fantasy strategy is having another strong presence this year, as are 4X games. As always in this type of article the release dates are only tentative, so it’s very likely that not all of the games present in this list will be officially released this year, but at least some form of early access is expected to be released in most cases. So, here you have it. Now, and in no particular order, the list we here at SpaceSector think are the most interesting games which we believe you should have a look at in 2015. Enjoy!

Stars in Shadow | Ashdar Games
Stars in Shadow
Ashdar Games
Release Date: Q2-Q3 2015

Stars in Shadow is a turn-based space 4X game that will feature turn-based tactical combat. It is being developed by the two man team of Sven Olsen and Jim Francis (Arioch). The game is inspired on the classic Master of Orion 2 and uses an art style that is reminiscent of that era. Unlike other games which are also ‘inspired’ by MOO2, Stars in Shadow attempts to recreate the experience, however it also tries to add new elements so that the game is a worthwhile experience. The game also takes some inspiration from Sword of the Stars to explore giving races different techs to differentiate them from each other. Ship customisation and space battles seem reminiscent to MOO2.

The expected release date is middle of 2015, however the beta testing should begin in the next month or so, which players can sign-up for at the game’s official website. Though games have come a long way since Master of Orion 2, and there have been many solid titles since then, many feel a certain charm that MOO2 had which has always escaped the grasp of the current generation of 4X titles. Perhaps Stars in Shadow could help revive that old charm once more.

Satellite Reign | 5 Lives Studios
Satellite Reign
5 Lives Studios
Release Date: Q2 2015

Satellite Reign is a “spiritual successor” to Bullfrog’s popular 1990s game series, Syndicate. The Syndicate series is one of many excellent Bullfrog series deserving of a proper successor, so hopes are certainly high that developer 5 Lives Studios can do it justice. Satellite Reign puts you in control of 4 futuristic agents in a real-time strategy game set in a cyberpunk world of corporate corruption. What has me most excited about this one is the emergent gameplay which should offer the opportunity to deal with situations as we see fit, be it through stealth, hacking, corporate espionage, or guns blazing.

As we reported back in mid 2013, Satellite Reign achieved its Kickstarter goals and then some stretch goals. Though the game missed its estimated 2014 release, they have recently launched on Steam’s Early Access with plans currently forecasting a full release in the first half of 2015.

\Update: Early Acccess Frst Impressions (Jan 22nd 2015).

Galactic Civilizations 3 | Stardock Entertainment
Galactic Civilizations 3
Stardock Entertainment
Release Date: Q2 2015

Stardock’s Galactic Civilizations series is a staple for turn-based space 4X gaming, with Galactic Civilizations 2 being among the best the genre has to offer, providing a very rich and challenging experience. So, it was with great excitement that I received news that a third installment was in the making. Galactic Civilizations 3 was made available on Steam Early Access in March of 2014.

Can’t say I was impressed by what I saw by then, but that’s hardly unexpected for any early version of a game, I thought. But still, I was expecting more because what I was seeing reminded me of GalCiv2 a bit too much. Then, in an interview with did with the lead designer Paul Boyer he was very upfront and confirmed that while his wish is that “GC3 is going to be a bigger and richer experience” he also said that “we did not want to make a completely new game, we wanted to make the GalCiv2 of our dreams.”. So, there you have it. If you’re a veteran GalCiv player and you don’t share Paul’s ideal, this may leave you a bit underwhelmed. But, I know better not to judge a game too hastily, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Stars Beyond Reach | Arcen Games
Stars Beyond Reach
Arcen Games
Release Date: April/May 2015

Stars Beyond Reach is developed by Arcen Games, a company renowned for thinking outside the box with games such as AI War and The Last Federation. It’s a sci-fi planet-based 4X game that will have SimCity like elements as the player will place buildings down on the map as they expand their faction, these buildings directly interacting with the environment around them. Unlike their previous game, The Last Federation, the player will have a more direct control of their faction. The game will still do things off of the beaten path, this includes a system where the player will not be micromanaging individuals units on the map.

Though there isn’t much detail about the game as many of the new systems are still being tested, the game is slated for an April or May release and it’s expected to receive significant post-release support like with previous Arcen games. Though space 4X, fantasy 4X, and historical 4X tend to have their niche filled, we do not see many Sci-Fi themed 4X games that are played on a scale similar to a fantasy or historical 4X game. This alone makes us eager about Arcen’s latest title.

StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void | Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void
Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: Late 2015 / Early 2016 (unconfirmed)

You never know with Blizzard regarding release dates, and we’ve missed the mark last year, but judging from a comment made by the community manager, StarCraft 2’s standalone and concluding expansion (Legacy of the Void) should be entering beta in the first half of 2015 (beta signups have already started by the way). As presumably the last two betas lasted between 6-8 months, according to a Battle.net forum member, there’s a good chance that we’ll see this game release by the end of 2015 (or early 2016).

StarCraft2, as its predecessor, is not a game for everyone. Its focus is more on quick pace, rapid thinking and twitch gameplay optimized for competitive multiplayer. Nevertheless this is one of the best experiences sci-fi RTS games have to offer at this point. Solo players can still take a lot from this game as the campaigns are rich in both story-telling and production value. The balance is also superb, so there’s still a decent experience to be find here for the leisure-paced turtling kind of players (like me). StarCraft2: Legacy of the Void will now focus on the Protoss race; the previous two releases focused on the Humans and the Zerg, in that order.

Sovereignty: Crown of Kings | The Lordz Games Studio / Slitherine
Sovereignty: Crown of Kings
The Lordz Games Studio / Slitherine
Release Date: 2015

Sovereignty is a turn-based fantasy strategy game, but it may not be quite what you’re expecting. It’s described as Risk meets Master of Magic meets Panzer General, which is an interesting combination to be sure. It’s not a 4X game, nor is it just a war-game. Imagine taking a traditional war-game featuring area control, then mixing in some magic spells and fantasy units, then mixing in some resource trading and political intrigue, and finally some tactical abilities, and you’ve mostly got the idea.

Sovereignty’s unique approach to fantasy warfare compared to other recent releases has got me excited to uncover its mysteries when it releases later this year. My only hope is that it offers enough fantasy and strategic elements to give it broad appeal outside the traditional hex-based war-gamer who its visuals may initially attract.

Limit Theory| Josh Parnell
Limit Theory
Josh Parnell
Release Date: Early 2015

In December of 2012, Josh Parnell embarked on a quest to make an open world space simulation RPG where everything you see is procedurally-generated, all this in an infinite universe. Josh plans to offer large-scall space battles, rich mining features and even planetary interaction where you should be able to land on planets and do trade, take jobs and even construct buildings.

Sounds very ambitions, right? Especially for a single and young solo developer. Though Josh seems driven and although he has slipped his release date once, he states that he’s doing his best to release the beta “as soon as humanly possibly”. He says that he can’t advance a firm date for the release yet but reinforces the intention to hit it by early 2015. If this release will be in some form of early access or a full-blown release is yet to be seen. This is a title that caught our attention, and we’re eager to see what Josh has in stock for us. Here’s the latest video development update.

Predestination | Brain and Nerd
Predestination
Brain and Nerd
Release Date: 2015 (Early Access)

Brain and Nerd indie studio is developing Predestination, a turn-based space 4X strategy game in the traditional sense that wants to build and improve on the gameplay found in classic games “like Master of Orion II, Civilization and the Galactic Civilizations series”.

Featured in both the previous 2013 and 2014 “can’t miss lists” this is a title that has come a long way but has yet to see the day light. It isn’t easy being an indie developer, especially when only one person (Brendan Drain) is doing the programming alone. In a recent update, Brendan explains that his plan to push the Early Access out to beta backers before the end of the year has failed due “to a few game breaking bugs”. Steam Early Access should happen in 2015 but if the full version will also release this year is still uncertain.

M.O.R.E. | IdeaLcenter
M.O.R.E.
IdeaLcenter
Release Date: 2015 – 2016

Judging by the frequent delays, it’s still unclear if IdeaLcenter will meet their new target for releasing M.O.R.E. already this year. However, contrary to previous years, there’s a good chance (or at least a hope) that they’ll be able to release some form of early access version in 2015.

Like Predestination, M.O.R.E. also went the Kickstarter route, and while both seem to be treading the same path of seeking to develop a turn-based space 4X game that is worthy of classics like Master of Orion and Galactic Civilizations, M.O.R.E. seems to be even more ambitious than Predestination, at least in terms of complexity and scale (they didn’t choose this name for nothing that’s for sure). So, the question is if ideaLcenter will manage to deliver an experience that is both rich and deep, as it seems to be their goal, but also polished and engaging. In any case this is a title that all space 4X fans should keep in mind for the near future.

Chaos Reborn| Snapshot Games
Chaos Reborn
Snapshot Games
Release Date: May 2015

Legendary designer Julian Gollop, the co-creator of UFO: Enemy Unknown (aka X-COM: UFO Defense), has returned to the development scene, this time to remake one of his classic games from the 80’s, Chaos: The Battle of Wizards. In Chaos Reborn you’re a wizard fighting other wizards for supremacy, casting many different spells in a hex-based arena in a turn-based fashion.

Chaos Reborn was made available on Steam Early Access in December of 2014 and I’ve been playing this fantasy turn-based strategy game since then. Recently, I produced some first impressions of this early version. Overall, I’m very pleased with this title and I highly recommend it. Meanwhile, Julian is still adding content to his game and the plan is to release it officially somewhere around May of 2015. This is a game I’m already having a lot of fun playing and I can’t wait to play the full version soon.

The Mims Beginning | Squatting Penguins
The Mims Beginning
Squatting Penguins
Release Date: Jan 14th 2015 (Early Access)

The Mims Beginning reminds me of the good old days of playing Populous, Dungeon Keeper and Black & White. It’s a god game where you control little creatures called the Mims while they go on on their busy lives expanding your colony in a floating island in some point in the universe, with the objective of managing livestock and sell it at the intergalactic market! :)

Other features include technology research, building upgrades, protecting the colony from wildlife predators and planting different types of fruit crops. This is a very interesting and intriguing sci-fi/fantasy game, and it looks gorgeous too. And while I haven’t played it yet, I sense that we may be up for a treat. The Steam Early Access version is scheduled for January 14th 2015 and we plan to give you some coverage on it as soon as possible.

Offworld Trading Company | Mohawk Games
Offworld Trading Company
Mohawk Games
Release Date: 2015 (Early Access – unconfirmed)

Soren Johnson, the lead designer and programmer of Civilization 4, has ventured in the world of indie game development by founding Mohawk Games to develop “innovative strategy games”. Soren’s first game as an indie dev is Offworld Trading Company, a sci-fi economic RTS set in Mars where different corporations fight for economic power on the red planet. But, the fighting isn’t done with weapons but with money.

Money is made by selling mined and processed resources on the open market, and it is spent by buying other resources you’ll need to keep your colony running. In a black market you’ll be able to recruit pirates to disrupt your opponents supply routes or to conduct sabotage on their facilities. The objective of the game is to buy out all your opponents and take control of the entire planet’s economic power. A game prototype is already available to those who buy the founder’s elite version. The game is expected to release on Steam Early Access somewhere this year with a final release date set for “When it’s done!”.

StarDrive 2 | Zero Sum Games
StarDrive 2
Zero Sum Games
Release Date: 2015

StarDrive 2’s unique blend of TBS empire management, RTS space combat, and TBS ground combat are what help separate it from the pack when it comes to space 4X strategy games. StarDrive 2 is far from a playing it safe type of sequel. Aside from the aforementioned switch from RTS all the time to TBS for many aspects, new and enhanced features like heroes and slavery should provide a completely different experience this time around.

Unlike StarDrive, professional QA has been on-board since the beginning. It is also using a solid and well understood Unity engine, so the performance issues that plagued some StarDrive players should hopefully be a thing of the past. Its development is now “feature complete” with only polishing and bug fixing remaining prior to release.

Space Pirates and Zombies 2 | MinMax Games
Space Pirates and Zombies 2
MinMax Games
Release Date: 2015 (Early Access)

It’s hard to describe what exactly Space Pirates and Zombies 2 is so here’s my best shot: it is an action-RPG with strategy elements with a focus on space combat. The game is about exploration, territorial control, ship construction, space combat and salvaging. Here’s the reveal trailer so that you can see what the game currently has to offer.

SPAZ2 is set to release on Steam Early Access on 2015, so there’s a chance that the full release will also happen this year, or the one after. If you enjoyed the original than you should keep an eye on this one.

Age of Wonders 3 | Triumph Studios
Age of Wonders 3 (second expansion)
Triumph Studios
Release Date: Q1 2015

The first expansion for Age of Wonders 3, Golden Realms, took what in my opinion was a decent game and turned it into a great one. This next expansion looks like it is going to add even more content than that one did, so I am very anxious to see just how high my opinion of this title can climb. A new race, the Frostlings, is included and contains a slew of new and interesting unit designs. Unlike Golden Realms, this expansion will also introduce a new class, the Necromancer, and just like other classes it will come complete with new class specific spells and units. Of course Triumph Studios didn’t stop there, so also included are new cosmic events that can dramatically impact the plans of you and your rivals. Cosmic events can even spawn threats like an ancient Lich King who will attempt to destroy any who cross his path.

The thing that really elevated my opinion of Age of Wonders 3 with the first expansion wasn’t really the new race or units. Golden Realms introduced some completely new game systems that dramatically improved the general gameplay. Thankfully, this upcoming expansion looks set to continue this approach with cosmic events that will shake the game up at its core once again. In addition, a free patch will release that adds even more features to the base game, including further increases to racial variety and an interesting new race upgrade system that will provide special benefits to players who specialize their cities towards specific races.

Worlds of Magic | Lucid Dreamers / Wastelands Interactive
Worlds of Magic
Lucid Dreamers / Wastelands Interactive
Release Date: Q1 2015

Worlds of Magic burst onto the Kickstarter scene in early 2013 with a promise to become a true spiritual successor to the Microprose classic fantasy 4X game, Master of Magic. It was and is a bold claim, but many fans jumped at the chance to help this dream come to life. A few months ago, early access on Steam was opened to all, and I provided some first impressions of the game as it was at that time. Worlds of Magic showed promise and looked like it may just achieve its lofty goal after all. It did however feel like it was an early access game in need of a lot of polish.

Originally on our 2014 release list, the game experienced a few delays that have placed its current release date in February 2015. Worlds of Magic has enough ambition to succeed in the hotly contested turn-based fantasy strategy genre, but it has a hard road ahead as the bar has been raised significantly in the past year.

Void Destroyer | Iteration 11
Void Destroyer
Iteration 11
Release Date: Q1 2015

Void Destroyer has been Paul Zakrzewski’s labor of love for the past 5 years. Paul’s goal was to combine space combat simulation with real-time strategy, in the same game. He made it on Kickstarter and with that was able to secure some extra funds for art assets. The game got on Steam Early Access in Jan 15th 2014. And now, one year after, it is almost ready for its official release.

In a nutshell, Void Destroyer is a 3D space combat sim and real-time strategy hybrid where you can fly any ship, research new technologies, do asteroid mining and do combat in six degree of freedom with Newtonian physics. Joystick and mouse piloting are supported. It’s a single-player game with a campaign as its primary mode but you can also create your own maps through a battle editor for extended game longevity. So, there seems to be a whole space combat sim experience here. And, on top you have a strategy layer, which upon completion could rival with other space RTS games currently on the market, and even perhaps Homeword, who knows.

\Update: Void Destroyer officially released (Jan 20th 2015).

Rimworld | Ludeon Studios
RimWorld
Ludeon Studios
Release Date: 2015

If you haven’t followed our prior coverage, you may not have heard of Rimworld. Rimworld is one of the few games I play that is not currently available on Steam. Rimworld is a sci-fi colony simulation game that is driven by your choice of AI storytellers. Every game is completely customizable and offers a truly unique and satisfying experience. While updates have been frequent and feature rich, it’s also worth noting that a thriving modding community has already been built around this game.

I honestly can’t say whether or not Rimworld will actually “release” in 2015, but even in alpha it feels like a complete game. I am ashamed of myself for not covering the incredible amount of changes it experienced in 2014, and I’ll be correcting that mistake in 2015. Suffice it to say, if you’re a fan of simulation games and of base building and survival on an unknown world, Rimworld is certainly worthy of your consideration.

Sorcerer King | Stardock Entertainment
Sorcerer King
Stardock Entertainment
Release Date: Q1 2015

Sorcerer King was a surprise to me when first announced by Stardock Entertainment. With an excellent fantasy 4X title already in their grasp, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes, I never expected another fantasy strategy title to come from their studio so soon. It was only once I’d played it that I realized it was something quite different after all. An asymmetric 1v1, placing the player’s empire against the foul Sorcerer King. It’s a game quite unlike any other recent release.

How successful this game will be is difficult to judge based on my early access experience, as there just didn’t seem to be enough content present at that time. My hope is that the change in scope allows them to really create a solid single player AI capable of challenging the player, but that wasn’t what I experienced in the early access. I will say that having experienced past Stardock betas, I know better than to be too concerned until the final release.

Deep Space Settlement | Escape Velocity Studios
Deep Space Settlement
Escape Velocity Studios
Release Date: 2015/2016 (unconfirmed)

Deep Space Settlement is a space 4X RTS from Escape Velocity Studios, a small indie firm. The player will design their own ships and space stations as they extract resources from nearby space. The player will also command their fleets in real time while building up their empire as one would in a 4X title. The game will feature diplomacy, trade, and empire management along with a ship designer, real-time tactical combat, and an experience system for unlocking new ship abilities. The game will also have a storyline for release.

It is uncertain if Deep Space Settlement will be released by the end of 2015, as the developer is willing to take extra time to make sure the game is fun and works properly at each stage of development. The First Playable version of the game for those that supported its development via pre-orders will be released in the coming months. It is not hard to be reminded of Homeworld with this game, making it a definite curiosity for many.

Gratuitous Space Battles 2 | Positech Games
Gratuitous Space Battles 2
Positech Games
Release Date: Q1 2015

Gratuitous Space Battles, originally released in 2009, was one of the first games SpaceSector reviewed way back in 2010. After nearly 5 years, developer Cliff Harris is almost ready to unleash its sequel on the world. Features include an all new engine, new special effects, new ship designs and visual customization options, multi-monitor support, and more. If you’re a fan of designing not only ships, but entire fleets of complimentary ships, and if you can accept being hands-off as you watch your designs engage the enemy, this should definitely be on your watch list.

Whereas we’ve seen a lot of space 4X games release in the past few years, with still many promising ones coming this year, none of these quite fit the same mold as Gratuitous Space Battles 2. While it did miss its original late 2014 release date, things are looking good for a Q1 release.

Star Ruler 2 | Blind Mind Studios
Star Ruler 2
Blind Mind Studios
Release Date: 2015 (no estimates given)

Star Ruler 2 is sequel in name only as Blind Mind Studios decided to re-explore the way to make a real-time 4X strategy game. The game uses an internal resource trade network system to simulate the growth of your empire and individual planets. The game takes the focus away from micromanaging your planets and more on managing your empire as a whole as you interconnect your worlds to increase the output of your faction. Using a card based Diplomacy system to perform actions such as peaceful annexations of systems and other global measures making Diplomacy something the player can’t ignore. The game also has a robust ship customizer where the player choses the placement of vital systems.

Star Ruler 2 was slated for a late 2014 release. However, the release has been postponed to give the developers more time to fully develop the game before it is officially released. The game is available on Steam Early Access now, and you can find my impressions at the time it entered Early Access here. A perfect hybrid of 4X and real-time, along with a unique diplomacy system and empire management system makes this game garner our attention easily.

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90 Comments


  1. meprun says:

    Looks all very promising!
    I long for a copy of mmo with a few improvements.
    Stars in shadows looks promesing.

    Galactic civ keeps lacking good tactical combat, what makes it playable for not even one ended mass game. But worth buying.

  2. eleazar says:

    Rimworld is quite playable and i’m rather enjoying it. It doesn’t however feel finished or balanced — but it is an alpha after all. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

    • Tycow says:

      I can second this. It has a bit of a learning curve but it’s totally worth sticking with it.

      Each alpha brings something new… Rimworld has had me hooked for days, which is way more than I can say for a lot of other games I’ve got recently!

  3. Ashbery76 says:

    1.Stardrive2
    2.Stars in Shadow
    3.Satellite Reign

    My top 3 but will most likely get most on that list.

    Not interested in StarCraft,Off world trading or
    Mims.Not my thing.

  4. BTAxis says:

    Great list, and I’m interested in most of these to varying degrees. Problematic for me are GalCiv 3 and Stardrive 2. GalCiv 3 is looking very slick indeed, but I just couldn’t get myself to like GalCiv 2. Stardrive 2 is shaping up very nicely, but I don’t know if I want to support a developer who treated his customers so badly with Stardrive 1.

  5. zigzag says:

    A lot of good options this year. Let’s see which of them follow through on their promise. My top five, in no particular order: Age of Wonders III Expansion, Sorcerer King, Starcraft 2 Expansion, Stardrive 2, and Stars in Shadow.

  6. Echo2361 says:

    Nice list of games, most of which I have been following recently or actively been beta testing/playing. With the advent of early access and open betas it is interesting to see a list of games “coming out this year” that I’m already playing to one degree or another.

  7. DrBalthar says:

    Awesome! Finally I was waiting for that list and was concerned it would not manifest itself this year!

  8. Keith Turner says:

    Another year of (hopefully) excellent games ahead. Hopefully fans of every genre we cover will have something to look forward to this year.

  9. Gary says:

    The games I’m most looking forward to:

    Stars in Shadow
    Sovereignty: Crown of Kings
    Predestination
    M.O.R.E.
    Worlds of Magic

    I’ll probably end up with a few others, though :)

  10. salvo says:

    great list, I’ll probably get most of them, I backed some on kickstarter, some I already have on EA, though there are two very promising games which are missing in the list, in my opinion

    no man’s sky
    the mandate

    • Keith Turner says:

      I need to catch up on the Mandate. I’m actually a backer, but I’ve not followed its progress closely.

    • Adam Solo says:

      The Mandate could have been in this list, but the truth is that we’ve not been following its recent progress. Moreover, there are strong indications that no public version (early access or full release) will be available before 2016. In any case I’m positive that we’ll have some coverage on this game in the future.

    • DrBalthar says:

      Both are not clear if they actually get released this year. I am also skeptical on M.O.R.E. even though I am a backer of the original kickstarter. It has also gone concerningly quiet on Predestination (which I am also a backer). Games I am looking forward since I hadn’t had them on the radar before are definitely Offworld Trading company and Stars beyond Reach. I was surprised not to see Star Citizen in there I am sure we will see a bigger release of this in 2015.

  11. reynanuy says:

    Both Stardrive 2 and Stars in Shadow would be in my top 3, which would then include The Mandate as well; a game I am sad to see missing from this list. I am a backer for both MORE and Predestination, but I must confess neither excite me, they way this other three do. If I had to fill up to a top 5, it would be with GalCiv3 and SC2 Legacy of the Void, in that order.

  12. Zero says:

    I would like to see some more coverage about the Mandate as well. I’m still unclear about what the game IS exactly.

  13. Keith Turner says:

    I see a few people have voiced interest in the Mandate. The latest backer update appears to indicate it is expected to hit early alpha in Q3 with full release in Q1 2016.

    I will certainly be following up with this one throughout the year. I believe there is a good chance this one won’t reach alpha this year though. It is an ambitious project.

  14. jgdesigner says:

    Looking forward to Stars in Shadow, MORE, StarDrive 2 and Predestination. If even one of them turns out to be a great game it will be worth the wait!
    In the meantime I am going ahead with my own table-top based space strategy games! http://www.gallionsreach.com

  15. Alex says:

    I wish people would stop hyping Star Drive 2.

    The company should be polishing up its buggy, unfinished mess of a first game, instead of abandoning it and milking us for more money thanks to a hype train that will again not deliver.

    • Zero says:

      I agree it would be awesome if they polished up #1, but from what I understand, there were a lot of good reasons for moving on to StarDrive 2, which from all indications seems to be a vastly superior product to StarDrive 1. It makes sense that a developer would grow and change over the course of his career, and I’m willing to give him a pass on StarDrive 1 because it had a lot of really great ideas, but just not the best execution. I also hear that they are using better technology on the sequel which should eliminate a lot of the technical issues that plagued the first one.

      At least that’s what I tell myself.

    • zigzag says:

      I bought Stardrive 1, but won’t be too upset if Stardrive 2 turns out well. One success in two is better than most developers manage. That said, I’m not too thrilled about ground combat in Stardrive 2.

      • Zero says:

        I hear you on the ground combat. It’s a really hard thing to do in a 4x. I don’t think anyone’s ever really nailed it in my book. My general feeling is that it is too abstracted in most 4x games because I like to play as a combat leader – I want to know that my tactics can win the day rather than just pure numbers type stuff. So that’s why I chose to go full tactical in SD2.

    • Mark says:

      I’m going to adopt a “wait and see” approach for StarDrive 2. From what I’ve heard, it has the potential to be very good or possibly even excellent. I really like many of the game ideas I have recently read about and I’m certainly willing to give Zero the benefit of the doubt.

      Unfortunately though, a few of the design decisions (like totally deterministic, chess-like ground combat) worry me. Military ground combat is inherently messy and unpredictable, is it not chess. Hopefully the game will not have many immersion breaking, reality defying mechanics like that.

      Either way, I’ll be reading a *lot* of reviews on the finished, released, final product before making up my mind. That way it is completely IMPOSSIBLE to get ripped off. The only way you can possibly get burned is if you are impatient.

    • chuki792 says:

      I agree one should be careful about jumping on a hype train, I myself was burned by SD1, but if SD2 turns out good, I believe all should be forgiven since he would’ve made amends with a new improved game.

  16. Chase Montague says:

    Thanks for the updated list. I was from your list last year that I first learned about M.O.R.E.. I consider your write-up on the game a warning that the media notices the missed schedules and broken promises. They must learn to be impeccable with their word. Set realistic goals and then meet them. Their first kickstarter was, what?, 2.5 years ago. Then they drew support for a second Kickstarter last Autumn. It’s long overdue for them to deliver something back to the supporters of their Kickstarter campaigns. For the the funds I donated to them I could have bought 5 top-tier, finished games. I’m about ready to cut my losses and move on.

  17. Chase Montague says:

    I doubt the process. Early Access gaming has trending upward over the last year. Very few of those titles in my Steam Library list have been finished over the last 12 months, and the ones that were are very disappointing. I start to believe that the business model is to draw corporate income from an unfinished game with the promise of delivering a finished produce sometime in the future. They have no financial incentive to deliver a quality “finished” product once they have considerable income from the unfinished one. It’s a scam. Buyer beware.

    • Jeff P says:

      Aside from established studio products (GalCivIII, expanded AoWIII, expanded SC2, and Sorcerer King), it will be interesting to see how many of these games are ever released, much less released in 2015. I agree that crowd-funded and Early Access products are rapidly gaining terrible reputations. An article in gamesindustry.biz claimed that since 2013 only 25% of Early Access titles have been released. The article didn’t mention crowd-funded games, but their release rate must be even lower. Caveat Emptor indeed!

  18. Mark says:

    Great list of games, what a terrific time to be a strategy gamer! I’m really looking forward to some of these like Sovereignty, Predestination, Stardrive 2 and Rimworld.

    Others like GalCiv 3 (which appears to be a repeat of GalCiv 2 + a glossier coat of paint) …. not so much.

    Limit Theory is another big disappointment. I recently learned that it has developed in an utterly horrible direction where the freedom of space has been replaced with Roads! Yes you have roads in space everywhere, with *lanes* no less! Of course you don’t have to use them but it will take forever to get anywhere without. I couldn’t possibly imagine anything less immersive or less space-like. I’ll be giving it a miss and placing all my hopes for a good immersive space game on No Man’s Sky. May space-lanes burn in hell along with whoever thought of them.

  19. Jorge says:

    What about Shallow Space?

  20. Sawelios says:

    It’s very strange indeed to hear from Zero (Stardrive’s mastermind) words like “I agree it would be awesome if they polished up #1, but from what I understand, there were a lot of good reasons for moving on to StarDrive 2, which from all indications seems to be a vastly superior product to StarDrive 1. It makes sense that a developer would grow and change over the course of his career, and I’m willing to give him a pass on StarDrive 1 because it had a lot of really great ideas, but just not the best execution. I also hear that they are using better technology on the sequel which should eliminate a lot of the technical issues that plagued the first one.” (c)
    If it’s not schizophrenia then name it yourself. Skullduggery maybe? Meseems it would be…hmm…thoughtless to give your money to a such person. And it’s not a matter of money. It’s matter of efficiency of this paying.
    The modern way of making and selling video games, promotional power of an Internet site with shiny pictures, hype-propensity of gaming community – all of this gave an open road for such type of money-makers.

    • Mark says:

      “If it’s not schizophrenia then name it yourself.”

      Humor? Sarcasm? It came across as tongue-in-cheek to me. He’d have to be pretty dumb to attempt serious deception using his own name.

    • reynanuy says:

      Are they the same person? I pretty much assumed they were different people, that just shared the nick. If it’s indeed Zero the dev behind Stardrive 2, I’d first find it amusing before “skullduggery”, but still weird as hell. I am still getting the game regardless, SD1 was a disappointment which was not even completed and Zero did promise too much; but we did set some obviously unreachable goals for the game and the first time developer.

      On the ground combat, the mechanic is totally wasted on me, I’ll probably auto resolve a lot. I love that there is ground combat, because I find that planetary bombardment should have deeply diplomatic consequences, due to the massive lost of life. However for me, with an abstracted mini game would have been enough.

    • zigzag says:

      Yeah, that threw me off too.

  21. Sawelios says:

    As for upcoming games (will all of them reach the finish line?), I’d say that NOTHING from these titles has touched my old heart. Maybe, Stars Beyond Reach could surprise me in a good way (as Arcen Games always did so far), and Stars in Shadows in less degree (what I can see now shows the regrettable lack of creativity).

  22. JD says:

    Stars Beyond Reach:
    – Some fellas doing new different things, like that new lingerie your girl bought but has yet to show you ;-)

    Space Pirates and Zombies 2:
    – Whoa … that leaking science sure is nasty.

    Gratuitous Space Battles 2:
    – This game should be called; A lot of blown up spacehips blown up by a lot of spacehips game.

    Stars in Shadow:
    – Gotta see a Utube first of this…

  23. t1it says:

    GC3 isn’t that interesting yet. Need at least one major expansion.
    AoW 3 is playable now but is becoming truly great with the next expansion (virtually all issues I have with the game is fixed).
    Stardrive 2 is looking good so far but also has a bit of “mediocrity” written over it from the videos I’ve seen so far.
    I’m waiting anxiously Worlds of Magic. Seems like it has depth written all over it.
    Uninstalled SC2 when I fell from diamond in the end of 2012 and I don’t think I can make beyond silver nowadays :D; multiplayer besides, the campaign story in latest expansion sucked. Chris Metzen is REALLY lazy nowadays.So I won’t even bother with that title.
    MORE and Predestination I have nothing to say but wishing the folks good luck in 2015.
    Sorcerer King: Nice mod you got there stardock.

    • t1it says:

      I forgot star ruler 2. Looks like a neat, innovative game (like the first one). They’ve fixed the critical issues with the first game (like now ships are colored and not pitch black LoL) and incentives for the player not colonizing everything they see in record time. Love the diplomacy rework. Might be the best diplomacy of any space 4x game ever if it’s implemented sensibly and the AI isn’t brain dead.

    • DennisP says:

      I’m worried that GC3 is going to turn into Civilization: Beyond Earth. Nothing but an overhyped (and under fun) mod.

  24. salvo says:

    btw

    rebel galaxy is scheduled to launch in 2015

    http://www.rpgwatch.com/#30242

  25. Farflame says:

    Guys, could you give me short advice which game should I try if my preferencies are:

    – 4x over RTS
    – somewhat customisable units
    – tactical battles, TB or RTwP
    – meaningfull exploration (for resources, outposts, new units, items, quests…)
    – story-like missions/quests and events like in FE:LH that could bring some new challenges or suprises (no simple generic sandbox)

    I wonder if Star Drive 2 is close to that. Im not sure if it should have something like quests.

    • Sawelios says:

      1. Galactic Civilizations 2 Ultimate edition with Community AI Patch (see GalCiv2 forum) – all points but tactical battlles;
      2. Space Rangers 2 (or upgraded Space Rangers HD A War Apart version) – not really 4X but you’ll be full of quests, items, story, tactical pausable battles, customizable ships, RPG-lite skill system, money-making, and everything is crowned with very decent dose of humor, though I don’t really know how good this humor is in English version (it’s a Russian game and it reflects the special Russian sense of humor…:));
      3. Smugglers 5 – kind of Space Rangers in slower pace, everything is turn-based, with some 4X elements, quarreling space empires, lot of ships, battles, quests, story-mode, career simulation and such.

      • Farflame says:

        Thanks for your advice.
        Smugglers 5 – I never heard about this game. It seems that quests are better part of the game but I noticed that many players criticise it for its repetitiveness.

    • zigzag says:

      No game does all of those well. Endless Legend and Alpha Centauri are close for different reasons. What are your priorities within those preferences?

      • Farflame says:

        I would say that my priorities are the last two things.

        • zigzag says:

          Then Space Ranger 2, mentioned above, is a good shout. You might also try looking at strategy/RPG hybrids, like King’s Bounty, Disciples, or Heroes of Might and Magic. They’re light on the empire building, but heavy on the leveling and looting.

  26. Sick ion says:

    Will look forward to some of them and especially SPAZ 2.
    I still dont know how i feel about the 3d look i prefer the old one more but i will still try it out before judging.

    Also i hope that Enemy Starfighter will release in 2015 but i dont keep my hopes up about that. There is only one guy working on it after all and no release date yet.

    Has someone here maybe played it at pax prime and can tell a bit about it?

  27. Gary says:

    I was checking out the Stars in Shadow website, and came across this great web comic created by one of the developers: http://well-of-souls.com/outsider/outsider000.html

    Highly recommended!

    • Ashbery76 says:

      Yes.I am hopefull they will provide a truly immersive theme.Most 4X are pretty bad at that.

      The Starruler2 beta has some great innovation but the theme is so bland I struggle to play it for any length.

    • Mark says:

      Cool comic, I’m liking the story. He seems to have drawn very, very heavy inspiration for the blue elf chicks from the telepathic Elerians of Moo2. Not that that’s a bad thing, you really cant have too many blue elf chicks.

  28. Smeghead says:

    BWAHAHAHA! Limit Theory? It’s a YEAR late! And he’s had to make fundamental design decisions rather recently (persistent asteroids for example). All I see is some shader and particle effects. Well done for graphics, but nothing looking like a “game” is emerging.

    His videos never show the “armada” you’re supposed to be commanding, much less maintaining reasonable FPS during combat. What he’s show is the equivalent of a Total War clone showing a single soldier swinging a sword – and promising (sight unseen) massive pitched battles.

    Ya right. I don’t expect his release any time soon. And no, he promised to be FINISHED early 2014, not “early access” – which means “still in development”. Pardon me if I don’t hold my breath.

    • Mark says:

      I’m not so worried about it being late, almost *all* games end up being late. Far more concerning is that his original cool concept appears to have morphed into a restrictive, arcadey, space-lane infested travesty which no longer holds any interest for me. Very disappointing.

      Cant any dev make a sandbox type space game where we have total freedom and DON’T have to travel on rails?

      • DrManhatten says:

        Well there is always Elite Dangerous I guess if you can overlook the long list of bugs and rather blant longterm gameplay

        • Mark says:

          I *was* quite excited about E.D. Until I found out that they had recently changed it so that you had to be always online even for completely solo play. Thanks David Braben but no thanks.

          Also I’ve heard many reports that the game is just a boring, empty, featureless skeleton, waiting for the inevitable deluge of DLC to inject some semblance of life. Once again, no thanks David Braben.

      • Smeghead says:

        Late != better
        Remember Daikatana?

        • Mark says:

          True, the later Limit Theory gets the more it looks like I’m going to hate it when it eventually does come out.

          Seems like every update video he produces makes it look worse, although I stopped watching when he showed the one with space lanes absolutely everywhere, even in-system. That was the final straw.

  29. chuki792 says:

    An exciting list to be sure, for me satellite rain is the most exciting, long have I yearned for a syndicate remake (unlike the drab Fps offering from ea)

  30. poctyk says:

    Dear SpaceSector, will you review upcoming RTS “Grey Goo?”

  31. SQW says:

    Back in the days (around 2 years ago) people thought of indie games as games-with-heart since it take real commitment to quit your job at a AAA studio to go out on your own.

    Nowadays, I see indie as games-without-polish because everyone fresh out of programming course is making a Kickstarter presentation. They still have heart but lack the experience or business acumen to really turn their vision to reality.

    So, for 2015, my rule-of-thumb is: if the SCOPE of the game is not consistent with an indie title or if the devs are not industry veterans with proven track record, then I’m going to just ignore it.

    I’ve seriously got no space 4X game to look forward to this year. Oh sure, the potentials are there but right now, I’m just seeing a whole lot of over promise and under deliver.

    *On a completely different tangent, someone put Cosmonautica on that list.

    • Jodet says:

      No space 4X game to look forward to this year? Not even GalcivIII?

      I’m not a big Stardock fan, but this could be a real A-list title.

    • SQW says:

      GalCiv III is tied down by its own reputation; everything looks so much like a reskin of the last iteration.

      The GalCiv II might have been a classic in its time but all I remember was a mess of galactic map, boring races, linear tech trees and cumbersome mechanics. 4X game has come a long way since then. SOTS, Endless and even failed entries like Star Drive have all pushed the envelope just a little further. To see how safe and backwards GCIII youtube gameplays are simply makes me cringe.

      At best GCIII will be a CIV:BE type entry – plays it safe and while enjoyable, ultimately is just a mediocre copy designed to leverage its predecessor’s name for easy money.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Hadn’t heard of Cosmonautica until you mentioned it. Looks interesting.

    • SQW says:

      It reminded me of Gazillionaire which in my opinion, is one of few pure trading games that made the mundane act of buy-low-sell-high engaging and fun.

      Cosmonautica’s scale and goal also seemed reasonably achievable for an indie dev. I don’t know about other people, but all these fresh out of school first-time indies promising the world and luring desperate space-4X starved fans to donate via KS really leave a bad taste in my mouth.

  32. Jodet says:

    Grey Goo comes out Thursday. Nice to not have to wait long for one of these.

  33. Gary Vandegrift says:

    Predestination has just announced Early Access will be rolled out later this week.

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nyphur/predestination-a-turn-based-space-4x-strategy-game/posts/1111401

    • SQW says:

      One day, historian will mark the momentous day when the gaming industry finally codify on what state a game needs to reach before it can be labelled a bloody Early Access.

      The KS page says it’s still missing MAJOR features, graphics, optimization and presumably a competent AI since there’re still missing features. So basically a late Alpha? And the asking price is on par with Endless Legend – runner up to 2014’s GOTY!!!

      Hardcore fans aside, why would anyone pay for this game at its current state?

      • Keith Turner says:

        If that day ever comes, I will certainly celebrate and shout from the rooftops (or send a tweet at least).

        EDIT: Just to be 100% clear, none of the below has anything to do with Predestination specifically. I have no knowledge of its progress or current status. This is just my thoughts on Early Access in general.

        My advice in this case is always the same. If it’s early access, I don’t recommend buying it unless you are CERTAIN it is worth the money to you in its CURRENT state. Counting on things to change or improve over time is a gamble in multiple ways. One, it may never improve to a standard you’re happy with, or perhaps even be finished at all. Two, it will likely be on sale multiple times in a more complete state in the future.

        I do play a lot of Early Access games for SpaceSector. In that capacity, I do enjoy bringing everyone information about how a specific game is shaping up. It lets everyone discuss how it is progressing, reminds us all of its existence, and hopefully gives the developers some ideas on how it needs to be improved prior to release if it wants to satisfy us. Outside of my official responsibilities, I don’t play EA games at all. Any I do own I have set aside in an Early Access category to play when they are finished. I have too many other completed games in my collection to play.

        I would recommend people look at existing fully released titles. Games like Age of Wonders 3 and Endless Legend are great examples of games that are fully released, yet still under active development. You can play a complete game now, and still get the benefit of receiving new content (like with an EA game) down the road.

      • SQW says:

        If the other retail sectors manage to duplicate what the gaming industry has unbelievably achieved with all this Early Access bs, we are all doomed.

        “Here’s your set of tires good sir. You car, which may or may not contain all features listed here, may or may not be delivered to you in a timely fashion. That would be $30,000.”

        “Here’s $33,000. Just give the tires NOW! Oh, you promise the manufacturer will continue to support this model right?”

        “Of course sir.”

      • Actually, E.A. is not the success (or achievement or however you want to phrase it) some think it is. It’s widespread existence is, rather an obnoxious anomaly than a new trend (however, still as equally dangerous to the customer).

        When you take successful E.A. games, they only make about 5-10% of their sales in E.A. These are games that actually do well and are pretty decent. So in the end most of your sales will still come with official release. This means 3 things:

        1) This is not the lucrative cash-in that some people were hoping to make it out to be. As such it is unlikely to spread too far outside of this industry.

        2) Developers that were hoping to get easy early money, won’t. So this has two side-effects: a) you do not make that much money off of it which is the follow through of point 1 and b) (the one that makes this very dangerous for us as gamers) if they were depending on such money coming in, it won’t. So the game may never get the funds needed to be finished even if the dev was well-intentioned.

        3) A bad E.A. is likely to generate early negative coverage which will hurt final sales. So you might actually do more than 10% of total sales, but this is less about making more in E.A. and more about making less in total. So a crappy E.A. will only hurt your final sales, where most of your sale potential was to begin with.

        Keith did a good job to explain why the customer should be cautious, and I mean very cautious with E.A.

        With what I listed here, also means why it is very risky for gamers to buy an E.A. game. If the dev was depending on E.A. sales to get the money, he won’t and the game will never be finished. You also run the risk of people who know this and do not care, and do release it on E.A. because a bit of anything is better than nothing. Both cases, the player looses.

        This is why I personally tell people to be very careful, and to be on the safe side don’t purchase E.A. when you have the slightest doubt (and you should always have some doubts).

      • Gary Vandegrift says:

        Predestination is already supplying it’s Kickstarter backers with the alpha/beta versions, so they may as well sell it.

        • SQW says:

          There’s so much wrong with that type of thinking. Asking for investment to start your business and selling a goods/service, even if incomplete, is a different relationship.

          KSers are like investors – anything you give them before full release is like a thank-you. This particular EA is basically a 2nd round of KS packaged differently – both are selling a dream and the actual product itself is still a long way off.

          If you read Spacesector’s last interview with the devs, you know the game’s a year overdue and another 6 months at least to go. I’d like to know how that original $50,000 funding (double what they were asking initially) is holding up.

          When a first time dev, who’s quite obviously running out funds, tries to sell a complex 4x game that’s a year late on KS all the while missing a lot of key features, both the seller and potential buyers need to start asking some uncomfortable questions.

  34. zigzag says:

    Whatever happened to Homeworld: Shipbreakers? I haven’t heard anything about Blackbird in over a year.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Good question. Nothing new to report for more than a year now. The last piece of news we had was when “Hardware: Shipbreakers” became “Homeworld: Shipbreakers” when Blackbird signed a deal with Gearbox in September 2013. Hopefully they’re deep into development.

  35. Jodet says:

    Homeworld 1 and 2 remastered will be out in February. From all accounts they’ve done a bang-up job of updating the graphics and sound. Apparently they even re-hired the original voice talent to re-record the dialogue.

    That’s on my ‘must buy’ list.

    • SQW says:

      The price of $35 is a bit steep though. It’s a full release price for what is basically a graphic update. I love Homeworld but this feels too much like corporate greed – instead of putting the effort into HW3, they give us a new paint job instead but charge us the same price.

      I want new games to push the boundary of game mechanics, not keep looking back and treat the old classic as holy grails. Stop acting like perfection had already been achieve by some ancient, all knowing game studio and all there is left for the descendants to do is polish the paint job every few years.

  36. Gary Vandegrift says:

    Predestination Update #49: Ground Combat update, Fleet Combat iteration, and plans for the next update

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nyphur/predestination-a-turn-based-space-4x-strategy-game/posts/1209926

  37. Gary Vandegrift says:

    Development continues on Predestination.

    Update #52: Dev Update: Diplomacy released, new release schedule, and General Feature Patch #1

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nyphur/predestination-a-turn-based-space-4x-strategy-game/posts/1340424

  38. Gary Vandegrift says:

    Oct 26, 2015: eXplorminate has a Q&A with the M.O.R.E. devs: http://explorminate.net/2015/10/26/m-o-r-e-qa-part-1/


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