If you think Wargaming‘s remake of the cult classic Master of Orion is somewhere in line with the rest of the overcrowded market of video game reboots, you are sadly mistaken. This isn’t your typical reboot–this is a meticulous remake of a game that pioneered an entire genre. The makers of World of Tanks are bringing this old gem back like it never left, and we got a first-hand look at it behind closed doors at PAX Prime. Plug in your mice and dust off your keyboards, the time to conquer the stars will be here before you can say the word terraform.
What is a 4X Strategy Game?
For those of you who may not know, 4X strategy is a term that began being associated with certain games back in 1993, around the time the original Master of Orion title launched. Think of them as a playable board games, comparable with tabletop arrangements like Risk. Titles like Space Empires and Sid Meier’s Civilization would also fall under this category. 4X games typically operate on a quartet of core objectives: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. Of course, these four pillars aren’t necessarily requirements and are completely contingent upon the choices the player makes while in-game.
What’s old and what’s new
Many of the old staples from the previous Master of Orion titles are still intact. The game still features the complex 4X strategy gameplay folks grew to love, the 10 races featured in the original game have all returned, the original dev team is back to serve as consultants on the reboot, and even the game’s music is being scored by its original composers. NGD Studios worked diligently not to relinquish the soul of the original series, so OG MoO aspects are in abundance, and the core concept of the game has most definitely been upheld.
But given that this is a reboot, there are a slew of noticeable enhancements and features put in place to make the game more accessible to the modern day crowd. For starters, NGD Studios has completely overhauled the game’s graphics, even redesigning the game’s Star Map, making it more aesthetically satisfying. There are new alien races, voice acted dialogue, new victory conditions (Technology and Excellence), fully rendered cinematic sequences, and a spiffy new tech tree–the latter of which is quite extensive, featuring 75 different tech groups.
Breaking the Wargaming mold.
Wargaming is known for their “World of” titles, all of which fall into the vehicular war simulator genre. It’s been a desire by many for the video game company to show their versatility outside of this genre. Master of Orion is a refreshing deviation from the Wargaming tradition and is a part of a new initiative called WG Labs.
WG Labs was constructed to foster up-and-coming video game studios with unique ideas. This is Wargaming’s umbrella for new and engaging talent. Their first project under the new initiative is being helmed by NGD studios, who will be at the helm on refining the galaxies of Master of Orion for modern day consumption. This could be the start of Wargaming bringing the world excellent titles to the forefront, in genres outside of their comfort zone.
Paths to Victory
The beauty of Master of Orion and most 4X strategy games is that they allow players to be the type of conquer that they desire to be. For instance, if using force to gain control over different planets is your style, you can traverse the galaxies and wipe out civilizations, aggressively colonizing their entire worlds. On the flip side, you can choose to take a more diplomatic approach, gaining the trust of the universes different leaders and organically conquering the universe through a means of power and respect. The reboot will feature five different paths to victory: Economic, Diplomatic, Conquest, Technology and Excellence.
Conquer the stars
Don’t let the concept of a 4X game intimidate and drive you away. NGD is implementing a host of tools that should assist players who may struggle learning the ins and out of the genre. There’s an auto-build feature that will help players with farming, and growing their controlled territory. Empire management has been streamlined and made far more accessible for new players as well. Every accessibility feature is optional, so veteran players who’d rather play their game the vintage way can completely bypass these elements if they wish.
As of now, there is no release date for the Master of Orion reboot, though they’ve already announced what’s to come in its collector’s edition. The bundle will ship with the game, an art book, the series’ full score, retro-ships, a brand new race, Master of Orion 1,2, and 3, and Steam early access to the game. We’ll be keeping our ears to the ground for any more rumblings on this title leading up to its official release.
Did you play the original Master of Orion series? Tell us how the reboot is sounding to you down in the comments below.
Malik Forté is the Gaming Editor of Nerdist. Find him on Twitter @Malik4play.