Space Empires V Impressions - First Look

The next game in this space strategy series will feature highly customizable spaceships and intergalactic travel.

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While the idea of exploring space has always been intriguing to nerds, the idea of strategically exploring and conquering space really came into its own in modern computer games with classics such as Spaceward Ho! and Master of Orion. Since then, space strategy games have let you explore and conquer the universe, harvest resources from nearby planets, conduct intergalactic diplomacy, and build fleets of starships for when diplomacy doesn't quite work out. Publisher Strategy First and developer Malfador Machinations are working on a new space strategy game, Space Empires V, and we recently had a chance to take a look.

You'll explore and conquer multiple star systems in this upcoming strategy sequel.
You'll explore and conquer multiple star systems in this upcoming strategy sequel.

Space Empires V will start you out in a single solar system and let you colonize or capture nearby planets to extract their resources. You'll be able to spend the credits you gain from your conquests to build highly detailed fleets of starships that are fully customizable with "hardpoint" slots that can be fitted with a huge variety of weapons, energy shields, and other upgrades that will all have different effects and costs. The game will actually ship with several dozen premade space fighters, or you can check in with the community of fans and download ship designs created by other players if you don't wish to design your fleet from scratch.

Space Empires V is a turn-based game that plays out on a hex-based space map--green hexes indicate areas you have explored and now control; red hexes indicate areas controlled by your rivals; and unexplored squares are grayed out. Your various ships will be able to move only a certain number of hexes per turn based on their abilities, but scouting new areas will be crucial for discovering new planets and warp points. Warp points are glowing hexes that will let you jump to entirely new solar systems in search of new worlds to appropriate and conquer. Since stars will actually age over the course of a game, you'll want to explore as many galaxies as possible before their suns become supernovas and collapse, leaving the surrounding planets inhospitable and lifeless.

On the off chance that you'd actually like to try talking things over with your extraterrestrial neighbors, rather than annihilating them and seizing their stuff, you can use the game's diplomacy menu to contact them, barter with them, or inform them that you'll be vaporizing them shortly. In the meantime, you can use your collection of funds and minerals to power research on many different types of technology, in areas such as improved space travel and vaporization of your extraterrestrial neighbors. The results of each of your actions (what you've researched, what you've built, and which enemies you've annihilated) will appear in a message log that will grow over time.

Space Empires V may not look or sound like the flashiest game ever, but it has effective 3D graphics for its star systems and ships, and should hopefully pack in tons of depth under the hood. The game is scheduled for release next February.

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