While meeting with a team of Wargaming personnel at E3 this past June it was clear that among the titles we discussed the Master of Orion reboot was definitely the game they were most excited about, and after seeing it in action during a hands-off demo, I too am looking forward to its release. I had no previous experience with the franchise heading into the demo (didn’t even know it is considered to be the Grandfather of the 4X genre), but based on what I saw I’ll definitely be joining the legions of Master of Orion fans thanks to its tight focus on the 4X strategy motifs, as well as the modern day visuals and capabilities it offers.
This Master of Orion reboot is being fully developed by Wargaming thanks to the company acquiring the rights to the franchise, but I was assured that the former developers and creators have been working with the Wargaming team closely as consultants to ensure the core mechanics and feel of the franchise remain in tact. At its core this game is all about exploration, exploitation, expansion, and extermination as you choose one of ten available races to do your bidding in one of the 20 included solar systems, which feature over 100 unique celestial bodies to comb through as you plot your victory.
Like most 4X games victory can be achieved through five different conditions, which include: Conquest, Technological, Economical, Diplomatic, and Excellence (achieved by being voted Supreme Commander by the AI players). Players will have a tech tree at their disposal to flesh out the technologies that can help them achieve the victory condition they’re working towards, and it looks very familiar to the branching path setup featured in the recent Civilization: Beyond Earth. In addition to managing the tech, players will also have to manage the jobs their passive workers carry out on each planet they have assimilated into their empire. Workers are now animated sprites in one of the game’s menus and can be dynamically placed between Research, Food, and Production assets to boost the rate at which they’re harvested, making it very simple to switch up your strategy on each planet to craft the resources you need to complete whatever objective you’re working on.
The core gameplay is focused on managing your fleet that is in search of new territories, managing your workers on planets you’ve established, and keeping tabs on the other races that happen to be in the same system you’re exploring. While exploring players can come across anomalies, which are essentially randomized loot drops, new randomized planets to explore, or they can encounter other races. Players can choose to work with the races to setup partnerships, just like in Civilization, or they can choose to become hostile and try to take out the encroaching race. If war is your thing a scripted battle will play out for the planet in contention, and if your stats outmatch the other race’s, then you will win the dice roll, otherwise you have the potential to suffer defeat. Once a planet or zone of planets have been established the Frigate class ship can be used to guard it and increase its defensive capabilities to hopefully scare away potential attackers.
A new unit has been introduced in the Master of Orion reboot that will surely change up strategies. This unit is the Star Base, which can be used to set up block nodes to reinforce your zones and keep other players from invading them. There’s also a new space factory ship to help aid your quest for one of the five winning conditions.
Visually Master of Orion is a serene beauty. All assets have been updated with modern visuals and designs. Over 100 new animations have been added to the game to bring the ships, races, Emperors, and advisors to life unlike ever before, and that’s 100 per race, not in total, so there’s no denying the level of visual detail that has been added to the modern version of Master of Orion.
Like most other 4X strategy titles, Master of Orion doesn’t feature frenetic twitchy gameplay, but rather it opts for a more methodical approach to the action, so fans of the turn-based strategy genre won’t be asked to control ship battles on a ship-by-ship basis, or land on planets to scavenge resources and take them over. All of this will be handled through behind the scene dice rolls, just like games from the Civilization series. It’s more about planning and tactics than high octane action set pieces, which is a nice change of pace from many of today’s popular video game franchises.
Wargaming looks to have a 4X winner on its hands thanks to the acquisition of the Master of Orion franchise. The passion the team has for this reboot is intoxicating, and it shows in the progress they’ve made so far, which was plenty to get me excited about this time honored franchise even though I never knew it existed until the reboot was announced. Release date and pricing information aren’t available at this time, so stay tuned to Entertainment Buddha to get caught up on all things Master of Orion as they get released.
Head on down past the break to check out the game’s announcement trailer if you missed it, and a few more screenshots from the E3 preview.
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