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An in-depth look
Published on February 5, 2007 By Draginol In GalCiv Journals

 A Guided Tour of Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar.

A reintroduction to Galactic Civilizations

Galactic Civilizations is a turn-based strategy game set in the 23rd century. Players take on the role of leader of an interstellar civilization. The player must explore and expand into the galaxy and balancing their manufacturing, economic, political, cultural, and military resources in order to survive in a hostile galaxy.

Players can win the game through military conquest, diplomatic alliances, cultural influence, or through a technological victory.

Galactic Civilizations II introduced a ton of new features over the original game which we won't get into here. But a couple of the most notable were ship design and a new "technology forest".  The technology tree in GalCiv II forces players to make tough choices. Because economic, military, industrial, logistical, diplomatic, computing, cultural, and other kinds of technologies are in their own separate branches, the order in which players choose to research technologies as well as when they make those choices have a much greater impact on game play than is typical of strategy games. It also requires the computer AI to be far more sophisticated in order to be competitive.

The computer AI in Galactic Civilizations has always been one of its high points. Most reviews will touch on it because, in an age where AI is often ignored (you can't take a screenshot of artificial intelligence), Galactic Civilizations has a computer AI that provides a significant challenge without having to resort to cheating (though super high levels are available for people who truly master the game where the AI does get extra money and resources).  The net result is a game where there are a ton of strategic options available that still provides compelling competition from the computer players.

Rise of the Dark Avatar

Galactic Civilizations II included a campaign called Dread Lords (the full title was Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords). In it, the Terran Alliance based on Earth in 2225 was working to build an interstellar alliance to ward of the powerful and hostile Drengin Empire.  Into this mix came the Dread Lords -- a race of insanely powerful beings who had been imprisoned in a pocket dimension.  Suddenly, a three-way war was underway.  The Dread Lords only weakness is that they were few in number (as in, only numbering in the hundreds).

Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar is the expansion pack to GalCiv II. It includes a ton of new features as well as a new campaign in which players must take on the role of leader of the evil Drengin Empire to deal with an internal challenge to their dominance -- the Korath.

A Guided Tour of Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar

 

Setting up a game

The setup options in Dark Avatar give normal players the kind of power that is normally reserved to game modders. Here's what's new:


The new galaxy setup screen allows users far more options than previous and is much easier to use.


Players can now easily pick and choose from a long list of opponents including ones they've created themselves.


When players create their own opponents they can even decide what ship style they'll have

 


Still not good enough? Okay, fine, you can even tell the computer player what ship styles they should use for particular roles.  Still not good enough? Okay, the ships they use can be ones you designed! So all those ships you made from your favorite Sci-Fi show can now be in the game used by different races that you created!


Still want more? Okay, how about being able to set the intelligence level to the point where you pick which algorithms and how much money they get compared to you? You can even decide whether they get to use more CPU than normal in order to make use of more sophisticated algorithms!

 

Into the galaxy


Colonizing planets isn't the "rush" it once was. Half the planets require a specific (and expensive) technology to get. Focus too much on getting those techs and you could find yourself far behind technologically.

 


The graphics in Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar are significantly better. Military star base from Dark Avatar (left) vs. original (right). And the new ones are more memory efficient.

 


The technology tree has been greatly streamlined. Gone are repetitive items in the tree like "Laser 1, Laser 2". Instead, technology groups are put together into a single item on the tree that's divided into milestones.

 


Asteroids are now in the game which can be mined. But the miners are not totally loyal. Make sure you control the space the mines are in or else they may defect! Moreover, decide carefully where to beam the resources from your mines. The further the target planet is, the fewer resources that get there.

 

Ship Design


Players can now use template ships as the basis of a design. Create a really cool ship? Save it as a template and use it in future games as the basis of new designs!


Ship Design is greatly enhanced thanks to having around 10X as many ship components to put onto ships as were available in the original.

 

The Effect of Super Abilities


Each civilization has its own unique super-ablity. And they're not afraid to use it. Here, "someone" has persuaded the Altarians to go to war with the Korx. Someone has the Super Manipulator ability...

 

The New Diplomacy


With Economic and Research Treaties in the mix, players who want to win without going to war have lots of new options.

 


The new treaties are immensely valuable. But they are very powerful too.


The Foreign Report screen is much more detailed about why civilizations like or don't like you.

 


Computer players put even more thought into who they should surrender to and why.

 

 

 

The New Warfare

The key to military victory in Galactic Civilizations II has been to keep an eye on what your opponents have on their ships. In Dark Avatar, this has been taken up a notch with the Starship Intelligence Report.


Pretty and useful. Keep track of what the AI has on its ships in style


Want to knock someone down but don't want to go to war? Send in your secret agents! They can disrupt an opponent's economy with them never knowing who did it. Of course, the same can be done to you...

 


Dark Avatar has a new combat system: Battles take place on a per weapon basis instead of all weapons being summed up into a single shot by a single ship. This makes ship design even more important and makes capital ships more valuable (but also more expensive).

 

The little Touches


Set where you want your ships to exit orbit at.


Get a pop up map for displaying territory using normal perspective.

 

 

Misc Screenshots


My Ranger class starship protects the home solar system.


Manage your military from a super zoomed out position in the abstract...


Or get really close to individual ships


A detailed report on your mining base (and an easy way to show how much better the graphics are than in the original GalCiv II).


Ships in orbit now really orbit on the map


Players now have the option to build not just the latest/greatest planetary improvements but older ones as well

[Get Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar]


Comments (Page 2)
on Feb 05, 2007
When do the pre-orderers get it?
on Feb 05, 2007
the orbiting ship bonus looks real cool. is there still a 10-ship limit?
on Feb 05, 2007
if 10 is the limit on the planet screen, then yes its the same. it only shows whats really there. i love this feature though, nothing like designing/building a new ship and then zooming all the way into see it orbiting one of your planets to scale. (well, more to scale than they are in space)
on Feb 05, 2007
If I hadn't already preordered the thing, this would have convinced me to do so. Wow, just wow. Well done, SD!
on Feb 05, 2007
And now for a bit of shameless advertising...

If you have a good computer and a fast internet connection, be sure to download a copy of my new High Resolution Graphics Mod to enhance Dark Avatar even further with awesome high-res graphics! The release of the mod will coincide with the release of Dark Avatar on the 14th! Click on the link to see what it's all about!
on Feb 06, 2007
Seeing that a large ship can take out much more smaller ones, is building a great number of small ships still a useful strategy?
on Feb 06, 2007
DA seems to building up nicely. I really enjoyed the Beta and looking forward to seeing all the new gfx and AI boosts the final version will bring. The beta DA experience has been 80% pure fun and love most of the enchantments, but with good there are also few bad ones.

1. No pictures of land combat? If you guys have not doned anything for land combat gfx it will be major let down. Not only did not the land combat get any improvements (like ship combat did) but it seems gfx was left untouched as well?

2. Starbase upgrading still a major PAIN. Horrible micromanagement hell.

3. It seems none of my UI suggestions made its way to the final. Knowingly I sound like a selfist brat "My suggestions are the BEST!", but you guys did ask for UI enchantment ideas. A major dissapointment will be if the biggest UI change is a possibility to launch ships from orbit to which ever direction you want. Dont get me wrong, Iam talking about actual gameplay UI, the new pre game menus are really sweet!

4. Espionage did not turn out exactly the way I immagined, I confess that I had too high hopes for it probably.

Now this was the situation with Beta and I must highlight that I don´t know have some of these things been fixed in the final. I will reserve my final judgement about the expansion pack untill later, so you could call my venting the "beta gripes" or something
on Feb 06, 2007
I noticed that there is no longer any laserII, railgun IV, Stinger III, etc. on the tech tree. Does that mean there is only one level per weapon type now, and no more stages of improvement to go through like before?
on Feb 06, 2007
No, there are still, for example, 5 levels of laser.
There is only 1 box that partially fills each time that you reaserch it so there are less overall boxes on the tech tree.
The tech tree is also easier to look at overall.
on Feb 06, 2007
No, just that if a ship with multiple weapons destroys one target without firing them all, it can fire the rest on another (and another, and another, until all it's weapons have been fired). So capital ships can now cut through fighter swarms with ease, rather than picking them off one per round.

Bad design decision imo, currently there was little point in having smaller ships. Now they will be completely pointless which will make the combat even more one dimensional.

Wouldnt it make more sense to encourage people to build smaller ships so there will be a mix of ships at mid-late game?
on Feb 06, 2007
""Okay, the ships they use can be ones you designed! So all those ships you made from your favorite Sci-Fi show can now be in the game used by different races that you created!"""

YES!! Mods will be better than ever now as you can ensure they keep with the feeling of the game. Rock on!!!
on Feb 06, 2007
Lots of spiffy changes, I can't wait to get this expansion.

Bad design decision imo, currently there was little point in having smaller ships. Now they will be completely pointless which will make the combat even more one dimensional.

Wouldnt it make more sense to encourage people to build smaller ships so there will be a mix of ships at mid-late game?


Err, not really - why encourage players to drift to any particular style or design strategy? Ideally you have the flexibility to do whatever you want to do and still be successful. Things just have to be well balanced so this happens...and I'm sure they'll do a good job with the balancing.

I think the change makes a lot of sense, since a capital ship loaded with weapons should be able to take out more than one ship at a time rather than fully unloading on only 1 ship per combat round, doing vast overkill, and wasting tons of firepower.
on Feb 06, 2007

No, just that if a ship with multiple weapons destroys one target without firing them all, it can fire the rest on another (and another, and another, until all it's weapons have been fired). So capital ships can now cut through fighter swarms with ease, rather than picking them off one per round.

Bad design decision imo, currently there was little point in having smaller ships. Now they will be completely pointless which will make the combat even more one dimensional.

Wouldnt it make more sense to encourage people to build smaller ships so there will be a mix of ships at mid-late game?

From what I've read, there IS a change to combat to encourage smaller ships: weapons fire degrades defenses. It doesn't matter how long a ship lasts if it's physically incapable of actually hurting what it's shooting at, and in DL, a battleship with enough defenses can wipe out an entire fleet of eleventy-billion snubfighters without hardly a scratch. In DA, however, each shot fired will reduce the target's defense for the rest of that "turn", so now that swarm of snubfighters could possibly batter down the capital ship's shields/armor/PD and do some real damage before being wiped out.
on Feb 06, 2007
One other change regarding battles -- bigger hulls cost a LOOOT more. Large ships now use 10 logistics points and cost a ton more. 
on Feb 06, 2007
Well done Stardock, well done. I'm looking forward to this expansion. I do have a question however.

How will having milestones for techs instead of say Laser I, II, III, etc., affect trading those techs? Will we be able to offer milestones, or will we have to trade the tech as a whole? Just curious. Thanks for all your hard work. Keep the fun alive!   
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