The latest expansion for Galactic Civilizations III, called Intrigue, adds a number of welcome features to the popular turn-based strategy PC game. The entire governance system has been reworked, adding elections, cabinets, and a news network to stay in the loop of all the goings on across the galaxy. Other nice touches include new dynamic events, crises, and a galactic market for trade.
The full range of improvements and features added to the game are separated into the Intrigue expansion, which you'll need to buy separately, and a free update that bumps the game to 3.0. Much as you'd expect from Paradox Interactive with Cities: Skylines and Stellaris, there's something new even if you don't wish to part with cash for the latest DLC. But is the latest patch and DLC worth checking out? I spent some time getting re-accustomed to Gal Civ.
As I touched on in a piece on how Stardock is wanting to bring a little realism to the growth of an empire, the new improvements in Galactic Civilizations III make it feel like you really are growing from a single colonized planet, as opposed to a species that seems to already feel right at home in the galaxy. It's something Stellaris does well and, finally, Stardock has made some changes to bring a similar experience to its turn-based strategy title.
Choosing a government type will add limitations, bonuses, ships and other unique features to a playthrough that can alter how you approach the task at hand. Instead of following a similar strategy each time, opting to go with something a little different can really switch things up. Speaking of choice, there's quite the emphasis on ideology in Intrigue (hence the name), and you'll find yourself making some tough decisions as your empire grows in size. Are you going to kick ass or make friends?
Planets you conquer or colonize will offer special attributes you can exploit by building specific buildings and approaching development with optimization in mind. But the newly-added administrators make it so you can't simply throw out countless colony ships and constructors — you've really got to plan ahead and make careful decisions, even if you aim to build far and wide. Whatever you choose to do, your people will need to be kept in mind if you plan on winning the next election and staying in power.
In my playthroughs with Intrigue and 3.0 installed, I've found myself enjoying the early and mid-game thoroughly, instead of quickly racing to get everything set up and convoys fired out to neighbors. I'd say that Intrigue is among my top choices for Galactic Civilizations III DLC, maybe even topping Crusade, though I recommend having the latter installed regardless, and you should have it if you really want to enjoy Gal Civ as the developer intended.
Buy low, sell high
Probably my favorite feature is the new galactic market. This is huge for civilizations that wish to keep things small and efficient, which is how I enjoy playing. When coming across a special resource early on, it's possible to make some coin on the market, or alternatively import resources you require. The crises are a nice touch, though I did somehow manage to encounter the same one multiple times in one playthrough, which broke immersion a little. But overall it's a good addition.
If Crusade expands on the empire building and management mechanics, Intrigue fine-tunes everything and takes it to the next level, adding in features you never knew you wanted to see. Space is big and everything you'll find within it is a result of Intrigue. Galactic Civilizations III isn't perfect, but this is yet another step in the right direction.
Intrigue is available on GOG for $19.99 and requires the base game to work.
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