Currently available on Steam as an early access title, Master of Orion is a reboot of the popular 1993 sci-fi strategy game of the same name, which was credited as being the father of turn-based strategy games, and even coined the term 4X. For those of you new to the genre, 4X games stand for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate.
The aim of Master of Orion is to lead your race on an interstellar journey for total control of the known galaxy. This can be achieved through diplomacy, technological advancements, conquest, exploration and colonisation.
As is to be expected with a rebooted game, Master of Orion sports impressive graphics and AI, but perhaps a standout feature is the clean and user-friendly UI that Wargaming has introduced to the game. Like all 4X games, Master of Orion requires a lot of micromanagement. Giving commands to a fleet of ships that are scattered throughout the galaxy, as well as trying to keep multiple colonies under control is no easy task, but is made so much easier by the game’s modern UI. Here, you can bring up an overview of your inhabited planets, which will let you see important information, such as how much revenue each colony is earning for your empire, what is being produced, and if any workers are on strike.
The game boasts an impressive voice cast, with many well-known actors such as Mark Hamill, Alan Tudyk and Michael Dorn. Combined with a soundtrack that feels like it came straight out of a classic sci-fi film, Master of Orion delivers an extremely immersive experience for players. Adding to this is the ability to seamlessly zoom in and out of the galaxy, giving you a new perspective on just how large the game is.
Master of Orion provides you with an advisor, who will help you out and notify you of any problems within your colony, which makes gameplay a lot easier to understand. Like most 4X games, Master of Orion is easy to learn, but hard to master.
When first playing the game, you have the option to either start a quick match, with predetermined settings, or you can create a match. Creating a match allows you to control things the size and shape of the galaxy, the number of alien races you will encounter and more. This customisation means that you can have a truly unique experience every time the game is played.
Possibly the most useful feature of the game is your ships ability to auto-explore. This means that instead of having to set a new destination for your scouts every turn, they will act on their own accord and search new star systems for you. Along with this, is the production queue feature, which lets you line up multiple buildings/ships to be created one after the other. These features make gameplay less tedious and more enjoyable, as you can forget about a colony for a while, and instead focus on more pressing matters.
As with all early access and beta versions of a game, there are numerous bugs that and issues that you wouldn’t normally see in a finalised game. The only bug I came across in my time playing Master of Orion, was an issue with space monsters. Whenever I would encounter these monsters and attempt combat, the game would crash. Turning space monsters off in the menu settings easily solved this, and even without these battles my playthrough was still extremely enjoyable.
At times, the game’s AI can give you responses that do not make sense (AI clearly losing a war demanding the majority of your planets for peace, for example). I also am not too impressed with the AI’s response when a leader approaches you with a “deal”. The AI demands certain things of you, which you can either accept or reject – with no room for negotiation. The inability to give the AI a counter-offer is frustrating and makes it extremely difficult to maintain a good relationship with your allies, unless you accept every deal and are happy to have them walk all over you. The developers have stated that they are going to work on the game’s AI system before the game’s full release, so hopefully these problems will soon no longer be an issue.
Seeing that Master of Orion is still in early access, I felt that rating it at this time wouldn’t do the game justice. As it stands now, Master of Orion is still a solid, enjoyable and addictive game. Master of Orion is set to stay in early access for a minimum of three months, so unless you don’t mind dealing with the bugs, I’d recommend waiting for the full version in order to get the best experience.