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Master of Orion – Early Access First Impressions

By on March 7th, 2016 10:01 am

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars | A turn-based (real-time tactical battles) space 4X strategy game by NGD Studios and WG Labs

WG Labs ( publisher brand name) released NGD Studios developed Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars in Early Access on February 26, 2016. The game is a turn-based space 4X game with real-time tactical combat. The game will feature diplomacy, espionage, and several news mechanics like minor races and more victory conditions. It should be noted many of these things are not in the Early Access yet.

Aside from the tactical combat being in real-time and the introduction of star-lanes (referred to as Warp Points in the game’s lore) the game does try to recapture some of the essence of the original MOO games, using MOO 2 as its main source of inspiration. You can read the interview with Chris Keeling here to know a little more about the decisions made in developing the game.

As with any Early Access title it’s hard to form a solid opinion as the product is still in development, things can as easily go south as they can significantly improve. Sometimes a single element can hurt a game more than one could imagine, while the change to make things far better may be smaller than some may think. With all this said, I do think Master of Orion is off to a good start.

There are some issues but hopefully these will be addressed. Naturally, star-lanes and real-time tactical combat will disappoint a number of people. I don’t aim to argue which is better. I’ll only focus on the fact if they’re properly implemented or not. It’s not my goal to try to convince anyone to change their personal preferences, “to each their own,” as they say.

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

State of the Game

The game is surprisingly polished. I experienced no crash or game breaking bug (or anything I would call a bug either), and I only heard of a few reports on these. This doesn’t mean there are no rough corners: AI is still infantile to say the least, tactical combat still needs a lot of work, the ship designer is still unpolished, and many text errors are present in the tooltips.

One can easily play a full game with the core features present. Tactical combat actually works and is cinematic, though player control seems limited at the moment. The AI seems to be able to play the game in the early phase. Though the AI struggles once you hit the mid game and it becomes a complete pushover afterwards, which sparks the bulk of the criticisms against the AI.

Also, this should be obvious to anyone that watched the videos and looked at the images, the game does look gorgeous and the production values are high. This has to be one of the highest production values 4X game I’ve played in for a while. Say what you will that visuals are not important for a good game; they do help and does add to the immersion.

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

List of Features that are in now (from the official site):

  • Six playable races: Alkari, Bulrathi, Human, Mrrshan, Psilon and Sakkra
  • Three victory conditions: Conquest, Diplomatic, and Excellence (score victory)
  • Tactical battles
  • Multiplayer
  • Ship designer
  • English and Russian localization and voice over
  • Playable on 64-bit Windows

You can read our Early Access information article here if you want to know more.

List of some if the Features that will be added in (from this official post in the forums):

  • The remaining playable Races
  • Custom Races
  • Espionage
  • New victory conditions
  • Minor Races / Independent planets
  • Linux and Mac Support

They also mentioned in the same post that they will be improving the AI (both in general and in tactical combat), multiplayer, ship design, tactical battles as a whole, better galaxy generation, and balance improvements as needed.

First Impressions

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

Let’s tackle star-lanes first. Fortunately, unlike other games the connectivity of star systems is decent. Generally speaking you can always hop over to the next system with only a few places where there seems to be wall blocking off a nearby system. It’s not difficult to go around an occupied system or to get to a system that seems to be blocked from another system.

The downside is that there is no limit on range for anything, be it exploration or colonization. Sometimes a quadrant can be sparsely settled and nothing stops you from building up your empire over there, assuming you are not fully boxed in but usually there will be a path to get there. The AI sometimes takes advantage of this (but not as often as it should). Some people may like this actually, so this is more of a personal preference thing for me.

The other thing I noted is there seems to be no cost for expanding (except for the population you transfer over and the production time spent making the colony ship). This permits for very fast and continuous expansion. The only penalty seems to be in diplomatic relations which actually stacks up very harshly if you outpace the AI too much. I think there should be a higher cost for expansion.

Colony Management

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

The colony management system is the very similar to MOO2. At a glance it’s practically the same but there are some changes, like farming and productions cells giving less output the more people you put in that field and caps on how many can be assigned to farming and production. Also, shipping population from one planet to another also requires dedicated one-use transports.

The other significant change is exporting food is gone (which I do miss); instead there is a mid-game tech that lets you do this within a given system which also allows you to export food and production to a central planet. That last aspect is welcomed but in the end each star system has to be self-sufficient with food even with this tech.

Overall, I was happy with it but I wish we could, or more specifically, had to specialise our planets more as the strategy of going all Gaian generalists seems to be the most viable route. This is due to the fact each world needs to sustain itself and it’s not hard to hit the production cap. The rest of your population will go into science which will be enough by the late game. The only specialisation is what you build up first on a colony.

Diplomacy and Technology

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

Diplomacy is oddly familiar to anyone who played the Civilization series, though at the moment the AI is overly simplified in this regard. It will still do things that are interesting but it won’t follow through with its schemes and at other times be a little random to the point of being detrimental to itself. The framework for a classical diplomacy engine is there though; they only need to teach the AI to use it properly.

The tech tree is also very reminiscent of Civilization; however, the branches are less interlinked. The player can more easily avoid an entire segment and go very deep into the other branches. The only issue I have with the tech tree now is that tech speed increases dramatically as you progress through the game, making mid-end to end game techs get researched way too quickly.

Also, this time most techs award every item inside the tech, though some techs do make the player choose from the options available. Though I do agree that some techs should fully award their options, I found there were not enough of these “make a decision” techs. I do like tech trees in general, but the choices do make things more interesting and I think having more would be better.

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

Ship Designer

It’s very similar to MOO2, except they have slots which limit the number of separate special systems and weapon configurations you can install separately. Larger hulls have more slots, and honestly I’ve never felt restricted by them. Actually, my first fully customized cruiser was terrible, so there is still enough rope for you to hang yourself with even with the slot restrictions.

For example: Frigates have 2 Special Slots and 2 Weapon slots while Battleships have 4 Specials and 6 Weapons. A weapon slot lets you put as many of that specific weapon with the selected modification. So you can have 16 Heavy Continuous Forward-Facing Fusion Beams in one slot. The slots just prevent you from have twenty different weapons at x1 or stick every single special module you have.

The Ship designer’s interface is still rough and there are a lot of UI issues. It also seems weapons are not as strongly diverse as they were in the original MOO titles. Weapons with special properties like bypassing shields or increased damage to certain systems seem lacking. These sort of extreme result weapons were fun. The developers have acknowledged this and mentioned they will be revising the ship designer and weapon systems as well.

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

Tactical Combat

Tactical combat at the moment is the weakest link in the game if your desire is for a system that gives the player a lot tactical control. The overall speed is slow enough and the player can slow it down to a quarter pace, they can also pause the game and issue commands. The problem is that the AI still controls things no-matter what, even if the combat AI is disabled.

The game has a combat AI that the player can disable. However, it will still auto-cast your special modules, which may be fine for things like shield boosters, but can be annoying for teleport devices and black hole generators. Also, if you give an attack command, your ships will assume the default close in and attack behaviour.

As it stands the tactical combat system succeeds if its goal is to be cinematic. Actually, in this regard it does a better job than other games that aimed to have cinematic combat. The player can still issue commands while letting the combat AI control most of it, which further benefits it for those that prefer a “laissez-faire” approach.

However, for those that want a more tactical experience, the system is lacking. As I mentioned earlier the developers are still working on the combat system and they’re aware of the lack of tactical control for the player and the AI’s rather straight-forward behavior. Hopefully, we’ll see improvements in this regard.

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

Overall Opinions

As mentioned several times the AI is still lacking. Tactically, they just close in on attack which can be easily exploited since you know what to expect. Strategically, it seems by the mid to late game the AI falls behind quickly as the AI more often than not stops expanding. So when a war does break out at this stage your fleets of larger ships can make short work with what stands in front of them.

Overall, I am nowhere near hitting the panic button. This is because I’ve seen many games evolve their AIs considerably in a short period of time. The first patch actually made the AI more competent in the early to the mid game, and more AI improvements are promised. The developers have acknowledged these issues specifically in their post.

Also, a lot of the mechanics that would make the game stand out more (the races with more unique traits, minor planets, and espionage) are not yet released. Tactical combat is still being heavily improved and even the ship designer is going through a major revision pass. Personally, I have always been a wait and see kind of person before I start flipping the tables over.

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

I will not lie. I am optimistic, but I know that for many these are important issues and they will be for me as well upon release. So what will be delivered in the end is important, and for that we have to wait and see. Early Access has always been a risk venture and exercising prudence is always advisable.

SpaceSector will bring you more updates if necessary and perhaps even a follow-up impressions article as more features are added. As always, there will be a review for the final release of the game. Master of Orion Collector’s Edition is available on Steam Early Access for $49.99 USD. The game’s Collector’s Edition (along with Early Access) is also being sold on GOG.

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  1. Gary Vandegrift says:

    Thanks for the article. I’m not panicking (because the game will be bad) as much now :)

    • E.A. is difficult, but after covering so many I’ve started to have a better bead on the products. Sadly, it’s bit of a lop-sided curve. You can tell if a game has no chance, but you can never tell that it won’t mess up.

      Some games can be easily improved and issued addressed within reason. Of course, if it does is another question and I’ve seen developers drop the ball here. Other games you can tell no matter how hard they try they won’t be able to fix it.

      I will use a construction example, you see a house frame in front of you. Now if the foundation is cracked and the beams are crooked you know this house will be a crap when it’s finish. However, if you see all that is fine there is hope, but the dry-wall installer, electrician, and plumber can still screw it all up. So you have to learn how to spot those guys early.

      Honestly, it’s not easy to gauge it because certain elements may seem simple but are too hardcoded to change, while others seem beyond repair when the whole issue is just a misplaced variable in a XML table. It’s one of those things you can only learn slowly with experience.

  2. Xyggy says:

    Lack of turn-based tactical combat and the inclusion of star lanes are still big red flags for me. I probably could live with the star lanes, but the fact that WG took to consultants and followed their “advice” to go with real-time combat just frosts my frijoles. If the WG devs were such huge MOO fans, as they said they were, then why the consultants? Stinks of BS to me.

    I’m trying to keep an open mind, but I’m an unashamed MOO & MOO2 fanboi, so the omission of TBC is exceptionally sad. I’ll wait for the SpaceSector review on this one.

    • Irony here is I am the other way around, I’m more agnostic towards real-time than I am to star-lanes.

      I don’t automatically appose star-lanes, but I am going to be way more critical of them and prefer more free-travel system. But more specifically ones with some ‘tighter controls’ on them, GalCiv is an example of free-travel gone too far and I actually prefer star-lanes over it.

      I enjoyed Armada 2525 Supernova’s and MOO2 was pretty solid but it could use some improvements here and there. I also enjoy Stars in Shadows for the most part as well.

      When it comes to real-time versus turn-base, to me it can go either way. It just has to be good within it’s own category.

    • Roketter says:

      You can build portals that bypass starlanes… It’s not a no-starlane situation tough, portals can only be built in colonies at current. I’ll push on the forums for them to allow us to build portals regardless of the colony situation of the system.

    • dayrinni says:


      I submitted my alpha game to some publishers and some rejected it because it wasn’t real time. This is apparently what the market wants these days.

      I am keeping the game turn based – both galactic view and combat. This is what I think people would like to play.

      Regarding MoO here, I am really really on the fence about this. It looks great but I am not sure how it’ll turn out. I am going to wait for reviews.

      • I am pull a quote I did in a recent email.

        “I think we are stuck with this trend, and only more niche indie developers will be brave enough to tackle the challenge of making a good turn-based space combat in a 4X game. Until someone manages to pull it off and become an indie success story with what they come up with, it will be a while before higher budget games will take that risk.”

        We saw this in the RTS brand. After StarCraft’s success a lot of RTS followed the StarCraft model, Dawn of War broke away from this, and Company of Heroes even more so. Now we are seeing a few RTT springing up finally.

        I wouldn’t call Relic a small studio but it had trouble getting those games out. Say what you will about THQ, they were at least a little more open to risk taking, sadly them going under only reinforces other companies to be more cautious.

        I willing to bet Endless Space’s success (it did pretty well from what I heard) is what springing these batches of space 4X titles.

        So I wish a lot of luck for those sticking true to turn-base strategy and turn-based combat. If you can pull it off, you might just shake the establishment to give it a shot themselves.

        This is why I am strong supporter of indie development and free markets in gaming. It’s the only way we will get these chances to begin with.

  3. SamDog says:

    The reviewer tells us he won’t lie, he won’t tell us how to play (to each his own), that it is hard to form a solid opinion, and that he is not near hitting the panic button.

    This review seems to have been very taxing.

    • It seemed pretty clear to me.

      I won’t lie is relevant to the statement I am optimistic. Letting the reader know my bias. However, not everyone will be optimistic hence the rest of that paragraph. Paragraphs convey discreet packets of information. It’s also a figure of speech (or writing in this case), since hopefully I am never lying. The stylized phrase is to reflect an emphasis on revealing something about me, which is my optimism.

      I never said I won’t tell you how to play, I do not appreciate straw-men statements. I said I will not try to convince anyone which is better, again using the paragraph rule, in relation to the star-lane and real-time combat debate. My goal is to only see if these mechanics work well within their own rule-set. If your personal preference is you hate real-time that is your preference and you are free not be happy with the mechanic as a whole.

      However, not everyone objects to real-time and so they want to know if it’s done right. Here is a shocker, some people don’t prefer or even like turn-based combat, but still liked MOO despite this preference. I know! Crazy world we live in.

      Difficult to form a solid (or hard) opinion, because it’s E.A. and as such things can change quickly. I can’t say the game is good or bad because it’s not finished. I don’t see E.A. as a finished product but because it’s being sold for money, I do try to have an impression or a ‘soft’ opinion to use the same nomenclature.

      Not near hitting the panic button is a figure of speech. It’s to stress that despite the issues I have seen (and listed in the article) I think there is hope because so far the actions of the developers and the framework of the game is promising. So I rather wait and see before I go flipping tables, another figure of speech.

      It might not be obvious for everyone, but we all have biases. It’s impossible for any reviewer to eliminate them. So all a reviewer can do is be as objective as he can, denote when he is being subjective, use rational arguments to justify his subjective view, back up his objective view with evidence, wear his or her bias on her sleeves to the reader knows what they are, and be sympathetic to those with a different bias so the review or article can still be useful for those that disagree with them.

      These are the rules I try to ascribe to when I write these articles.

  4. Jodet says:

    This is the best looking and playing ‘early access’ game I’ve tried so far. I’m enjoying it immensely. I think this game has a strong shot to be up there with my favorite turn based games.

    The star-lanes make perfect sense to me and the combat is fun. No complaints to me.

    • Personally, I hope they do make tactical combat more tactical and put more diversity in the ship design.

      They can keep the combat AI and let those that enjoy just watching a cinematic battle with only some control over it to have their cake. However, I do think we can also get to eat our cake here (give more tactical control to the players that want to play it manually) and not sacrifice having the cake.

      As it stands, the combat is already more cinematic than games that go for no tactical control and aimed for cinematic. The fact we have some control over it is a major step up. They just need to take the next step, and as I said, it doesn’t have to sacrifice what is already there either.

  5. thrangar says:

    Many thanks for the review, I am going to wait, and see what they address.

    I still seems like I have a better game (old version), also they did not mention changing Tech tree decisions and or the specialized weapons diversity.

    I am sure that this will be a on sale purchase for me if I purchase at all.

    • “…also they did not mention changing Tech tree decisions and or the specialized weapons diversity.”

      They have mentioned in their more random posts they got feedback about improving specialized weapon diversity and I’ve observed the most common feedback I heard for the tech tree from people is that they wished there were more tech tree decisions as well.

      No official statement how they will act on this, but it was mentioned they got it the feedback.

      I’m hoping they do decide to go down this route. Especially specialized weapon diversity, that has an impact on both ship design and tactical combat directly. Anything that improves these fields is a good thing, so I hope they consider it.

      As I mentioned, I will keep the article updated (and maybe even do a follow-up article near the end of the E.A.) to keep you all informed about any changes that happen.

      • thrangar says:

        “I’m hoping they do decide to go down this route. Especially specialized weapon diversity, that has an impact on both ship design and tactical combat directly. Anything that improves these fields is a good thing, so I hope they consider it.”

        This right here /\ well said !, and its to me the focus of what is missing.

        Looking forward to your updates and again Thanks for your efforts.

  6. For the curious, they put out a primer for the content that phase 2 will contain. There is no ETA and exact details are still vague, but this still gives a general idea of what to expect.

    Since I know this game is a big fan debate (and fan-base divide as well), having such a huge legacy behind it, I’ll try to be more responsive to comments. Don’t worry, I’ve played the originals too when they first came out, so don’t let my formal language fool you that I am not an old-school fan myself.

    So if you have questions, ask away.

  7. Roketter says:

    Heeey! How come you didn’t mention you can build portals that bypass starlanes when traveling betwen two systems equiped with one ? Last playtrough i had one in almost every planet. Also, if you can take a planet behind enemy lines, that’s your entry point, just use credits to autobuy a portal.

    I think it’s an interesting mechanic, but i’d expand it a lot, as in allow portals to be built in uninhabitated systems or hidden from enemies in the middle of asteroid belts.

    • You can, I did mention the ability to colonize anywhere and everywhere but I didn’t mention the Star Gate mechanic. But yes it’s in the game and yes you can do the very tactic you describe.

      The article was long so naturally I can’t discuss all the minutia there is. So things won’t make it, hence the comments section.

      You do raise an interesting mechanic. Having the Star Gates tied to Factory ships. I heard there was a point where it was considered these will be built on Warp Points. Though I’d imagine it was still “must have colony in system” restricted. They decided to move it as a planetary structure. My guess was to make them more resilient in a war. It’s too easy to take down a warp point structure and since their current role is to help with defense I can understand why they took the route they did.

      Though I do agree with that logic, the ability to build a free standing star gate elsewhere on the map could be interesting. However, doesn’t mean you can’t still use that tactic as it stands now.

      Now you have to either plunk down a colony on one of the empty planets (there are usually a few, since it can be any planet) and speed buy it or you can actually seize an enemy colony and speed buy it there. I have used both tactics actually.

      While talking about minutia, I actually liked troop transports take their marines from the planet’s defense pool. You don’t get the GROPOS for free when you build the transports. It does mean you have manage where you get your transports from but I like this restriction, you have to use existing troops which spawn decently well anyways.

  8. Jeff P says:

    Thanks for the exhaustive update! MoO-CtS is a good-looking game, but I wonder how much of the game budget was spent to simply acquire the rights to the “MoO” name? I recognize the marketing advantage of having a classic title to sell, but I have concerns that we will be paying for a name and a memory, not great game.

    • Jodet says:

      Well, in early access it’s already a better game than the release version of CivBE.

      So I wouldn’t worry too much about how much game you’re getting for your money.

  9. Mark says:

    So the PR spin doctors swear blind that this is a reboot of MOO 1. But MOO 1 didn’t have starlanes or dumbed down RT combat. Which game had all that? Yeah MOO 3 had it. Looks like those “consultants” are grimly determined to kill at least one more MOO game.

    In spite of that I’d still buy it if the tactical combat were improved from its current ultra-dumb level, to at LEAST the level of detail and player control that MOO 2 offered. But I have serious doubts that such large changes can be accomplished in EA and even less confidence that these devs would even want to make those changes. They don’t want a smart game, they just want something casual-friendly that will sell as many units as possible.

    And no matter how the EA goes, we’ll still be stuck with those horrific starlanes that nobody ever asked for in a MOO game, just to make defensive strategy a little dumber so that Johnny-console-kid doesn’t get too confused. Looks like I’ll be giving this one a miss. Again. :(

    • If you are interested in a game that sticks to a full turn-based structure (for combat too) and has free travel similar to MOO, keep an eye out for Stars in Shadow. Predestination is another one but that one is going to have a lot of focus on micromanaging.

      So that’s two games going in that overall structure but each taking a different route when it comes to planetary management.

      • Mark says:

        The sad thing is that the MOO franchise (ignoring #3) always used to be the absolute epitome of deep, thoughtful TB strategic/tactical 4x games. Its pretty tragic that it has now gone so fully over to the “dark-side” of dumbing everything down for casual appeal. We’ve lost one of the pillars of high-quality 4x gaming and replaced it with something so generically similar to Endless Space that its not easy to immediately tell the difference.

        Thanks for the suggestions, I’ve actually had my eye on Predestination for quite a while but I don’t really know all that much about Stars in Shadow. I’ll be sure to keep tabs on both of them.

      • Jodet says:

        Stars in Shadow = Vaporware. A shame, as I paid for my copy, what – two years ago?

        • I am starting to think you are actively trying to spread misinformation at this point Jodet.

          Stars in Shadow only started to sell pre-orders a year ago (as of this month). The game has a beta, was Greenlit recently, and is actively being updated (though at a slow pace). Since the summer of last year they have added the planetary economy system and an expanded ground warfare mechanic.

          The last time you made this statement you mentioned a Kickstarter which the game didn’t have either, it never had a Kickstarter. Though you didn’t mention Kickstarter this time, you bring up the two year falsehood again.

          The only two game that seems to fit your description is definitely M.O.R.E. and maybe Predestination. Predestination has been getting a steady stream of updates in the past few months and is getting very close to their release list candidate. M.O.R.E. is the one that seems to have crawling or a none existing development pace.

          This has been explained to you in a previous article when you made this mistake, yet you repeat it here. So I can’t help but wonder if this is just an honest mistake or you doing it deliberately now?

        • Jodet says:

          Edit correction – I’ve been informed I’m mistaken and it’s only one year since this was offered for sale. My apologies for my mistake.

        • Gary Vandegrift says:

          Edward, work on M.O.R.E. may be slow, but it’s still ongoing. New update:

  10. mzprox says:

    Thanks for the review. For me the biggest let down in 4x strategy games is when the only viable strategy is expansion. It was said that in moo2 the strongest race is a production/expansion specced one, but I had success winning with a single (but ofc above average) planet.
    In civilization series they made great effort to make tall empires viable, and I like it. (they might have overdone it though). I agree that expansion should have a cost or the game will be a rush and very unrealistic.

    • The old Tall versus Wide debate. Honestly I agree with you.

      Modern games have always tried to balance this and for good reason. When wide is the most viable path every single time it creates a single optimal path to victory. There is a reason games have moved away from this.

      Civ might have over down going tall a little too much, and they probably shouldn’t penalise going wide as much (this I admit). However, I’ve seen people who claim to be top Civ players asking they get rid of tall completely. What they should be asking for is making wide equally as viable. Ironically, they then complain about a mechanic in Civ IV that existed because of the Wide-favoured approach. *head-desk ensures*

      Worst part, once you know how the game works you can easily go wide in Civ V and it will outpace a tall empire quickly because you can still get most of the benefits of tall when you time going wide properly.

      However, whenever a game doesn’t do anything to stymie rapid expansion you get the dreaded ICS term coming up in discussion threads (even from those that prefer wide) which shows that even people that love going wide have limits.

      I don’t think a game needs to severely penalise you for going wide, MOO already tanks your diplomacy if you do. However, someone that is warlike wouldn’t care about that penalty (also the AI never gangs up on you either).

      What I think they need to do is have a higher cost to expand. Colony ships are more expensive, colonies are a finical black hole for awhile, or something with morale (but then you need to have techs or structures that offset this specifically) could be possible considerations.

      I think the problem now is the economy is too generous. This is the other reason why it’s too easy to build everything and anything on all your planets thus turning them all into a carbon copy core world. Something like that should be a end game capability. You need to struggle with your economy more, and I think that would also help with the expansion if there was a larger cost to expansion.

    • SamDog says:

      In CIV 5 the trader civ (Venice) does well as the tall civilization.

      In star trek there is always that lonely single cloaked world with the tech advanced or telepathic race that would be so boring to play in a game. I agree though, you have to have the single homeworld play style. It just has to be more fun than building another planetary shield and another research university every turn.

  11. Manfromstars says:

    It is sad, read on web where it is specialise mainly for space strategy games and from space, see lack of knowledge. :/

    I understand that autors of game try defend their product. But when i see gameplay it is minimaly for me clearly that MOO merchantize is dead as example for Duke Nukem. Put video where space stars actors narating this game try hype it. And for me it is information that developers not foccusing make great game. :/
    Yes today customers are not much inteligent and maybe game sell good. But for me it is shame on mark MOO. :/

    But for me is now clearly except name of game i missing here from Master of Orion all fundamental things + some new things.

    Yes there something is new but i do not believe when game will be finished there come something that bring this game back on right track.

    Yes for true space strategist are mostly starlanes in game nightmare, but i must also say for some space strategy games are starlanes ok or good. But i too prefer mostly no starlanes.

    If you want best complex strategy game for turns then take look on Space Empires series 3,4 or SE5 but 5 have realtime combat but still is one of best space battles that even i play.
    And ships moders when bring some my scifi favourite ships lookings from Battlestar Galactica, Starwars, Babylon 5, Startrek, etc.
    Only one thing is this series missing and it is whole graphic polishings UI and planets.

    If you want realtime then choose Distant worlds, but there is for me extremly high learning curve and remembering to perfect handle this game.

  12. vmxa says:

    I watched a few LP’s and then bought it. I have played Moo1 since it came out and the same for Moo2. Both are still played to this day by me.

    Was up in the air about star lanes, as I was not fond of them in Moo3. I was mildly annoyed by them in Ascendancy, way back when.

    As for the reboot, I found them to not be an issue. The ship plans builder is not to my liking, as it removes thing I designed. I would like to see an option to not use the plans update. As it is now, I have to use it and then correct any thing I did not like.

    Would like to be able to have a bit more control during battles, but that may come. If not, the replay factor will suffer for me. Not going to do over the whole game, but I will say I have been having fun playing so far.

    One more thing I would want in the game is the ability to have more than one concurrent design for a given class. Maybe a destroyer with a bomb and one without for example. Maybe I can now, I have not tried to rename a design and see how that behaves.

  13. npu3paka says:

    MOO 1/2, Jagged Alliance 2, Space Empires 5, UFO:EU, Master of Magic, HOMM3! Those are the games which will never get proper remakes. These days developers are not even close… shame. I have hope for UFO2:ET, M.O.R.E. and this MOO ~4(?), but i have my doubts.

    • Jodet says:

      I’m still waiting for ‘Ascendancy 2’.

    • SQW says:

      UFO 2 had an initial release date BEFORE the first XCOM was even hinted to the public.

      As for M.O.R.E. AHAHAHAHAHA

      • Jodet says:

        I checked out the UFO 2 webpage today. It’s a ghost town. A pity, the game screenshots looked pretty good.

  14. UncaJoe says:

    Thanks for another good review, Edward. I appreciate what you and this site do for gamers. Thank you!

    This is only MY opinion: Star lanes (with or without options) is very, very close to a deal breaker for me. I don’t like them! Period.
    Real time battles is almost a deal breaker. Maybe I’ll like it, maybe not. Best guess: Probably I won’t like it.
    On both of these issues, I’ll wait and see.

    I was struck dumb (OK, it’s not that hard to do) by the comment that the Devs used a consultant. They spent money to find out what gamers like? Instead of looking at posts here and elsewhere, for FREE! What were they thinking? Reminds me of Might & Magic 9 where 3DO asked their sales reps how they thought the game should work.

    • Mark says:

      At least 2 of those consultants were former MOO 3 developers! Helps to explain why we ended up with forced starlanes and dumbed down RT combat.

      I still blame Wargaming though. I mean if you’re dumb enough to hire former MOO 3 devs as consultants and then actually LISTEN to them, well you deserve everything you get.

      • Jodet says:

        You just crossed the border from commentary to whining. WE GOT IT. YOU DON’T LIKE IT.

        • Mark says:

          Looks like you *do* like to spread misinformation. Please speak only for yourself, not everybody, that’s a very bad habit.

          PS: My response to UncaJoe was the only comment I made outside of my own thread. You on the other hand have made 5 comments outside your own thread including a humiliating public apology. Maybe you should be more concerned with how YOU are being perceived and less concerned with how others are behaving. Just some friendly advice.

  15. UncaJoe says:

    Oh! Well, I thought I was giving a personal OPINION. My bad. I’ll whine if and when I buy the game and it’s not what I thought it should be. There. Feel better now?

    • Mark says:

      I think you’re safe UncaJoe, pretty sure he was responding to me, not you :)

      • UncaJoe says:

        Ah. Thanks, Mark. I was worried that I might have to give up making comments on sites like this. (Just kidding!)

  16. They made a long post about the changes they are considering based on the feedback they’ve received.

    There’re some items in the post that might be interesting to some.

    • Mark says:

      Definitely interesting and hopeful, especially this…

      “We are experimenting with a slow / limited navigation option outside of starlanes, unlocked via mid-game technology”

      Hopefully they’ll do more than just experiment with it. And hopefully it wont be so slow as to be utterly useless like MOO 3 off-road travel was.

  17. Here is a quick update about the start of Phase 2 for Early Access:

    Not all the feedback changes are in yet, that will take more time, but it will contain some of them along with the planned additions for Phase 2.

  18. Virgil says:

    Polaris Sector

    That’s it i said it!

  19. I played the new patch. Phase 2, the added content is referenced in a previous post. Here is the low down of what I think.

    They significantly improved the pacing, however, near the end game things still skyrocket very fast, but the pace in the mid-game is significantly better.

    The AI is much better at expanding and getting things done, however, it still seems to be shy about building cruisers and never builds anything bigger. Since the firepower to CP ratio is insanely lopsided for Battleships and Titans, once you can build those ships the AI is toast. Heck you might even get ahead with Cruisers too.

    Not to downplay the improvements with the AI, its ability to expand properly is a significant improvement. Though the ship building is still a serious issue.

    They’ve added a range slider (both setting the min and max), formation bonuses, and a speed slider (along with a match button) to tactical combat and tweaked the speed to be slower at x1. All these changes are great but the tactical AI still needs more improvements. But the changes a huge step in the right direction.

    The diversified the races more. Could still use a little more work.

    They haven’t done much changes to the tech tree (except for the pacing and a few techs getting moved around). There still doesn’t seem that much diversification between weapons systems. They mentioned they are still looking into it, but as of this build it’s about the same as it was in Phase 1.

    Overall, the game is better but not by enough to change my overall opinion. However, if this rate of improvements continue I will probably be doing a follow-up article for the last phase of Early Access.

  20. Early Access Phase 3 is out.

    Here are the patch notes:

    Espionage Overview:

    Minor Civilization Overview:

    And the Economic Victory Overview:

    There is a lot of tweaks across the board. They are still balancing the progression curve so it is smoother (income and tech in the mid and late game specifically). Still balancing the races to make them a little more distinct. They have also added a lot more “make a decision which application you get” technologies. Personally, I think they could still add a few more.

    I have seen the AI build Cruisers (haven’t played long enough to see larger ships out of the AI, but this is at least a step up). Tactical combat pacing is still getting improved and we are started to see some diversification in weapons (a little more would be nice). They try to clean up the UI for the sip designer, though I would have preferred if they used tabs instead of a drop-down filter or at least tabs for major categories.

    Overall, it seems to have a lot of improvements. Still needs more work naturally but this EA Phase is more of a step up than the last one. Still have to see how well the Minor Races work, but the new victory condition is interesting as it’s not just about making money only.

  21. KaiShan says:

    I’m sorry, but this new MOO is just Endless Space with a few minor alterations, being sold at four times the price to pay for Mark Hamill’s voice acting.

    They changed the colour of the warp lanes and they changed the tech tree from circular to rectangular and naturally they replaced the aliens with the MOO species. But I found the AI to be unchanged. Also there were far fewer choices in galaxy generation, though granted it is ‘early access’ (a bit of a joke when you just buy the right to mod someone else’s game) and those choices may expand.

    But basically it is ES rebadged and more expensive.

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Post category: Early Access, Game First Impressions, Game Previews