I’m almost a sucker for 4x games where I can manage a space empire and conquer worlds with earth-shattering weapons. So it was by this personal problem I picked up Star Ruler 2 and StarDrive 2. We’ll talk about both today, for they each have traits I find appealing.
I’m a fan of long-winded space strategy. If I can manage my empire, colonize moons and asteroids, build star-rupturing bombs and harvest space-dust into new worlds then I’m in my happy place. For that reason I still play Space Empires for time to time.
Star Ruler 2 caught my attention in one gameplay review when at 4 minutes in the reviewer was looking at ship design. Your ships are single modules with an amount of space attached to it symbolizing the size/power of the module. For example, you could have one big engine or many small engines pushing you around the map. Research is managed through a large flat development map where your research points are spent to buy a project (as opposed to the usual “Invest until complete” model).
Notably Star Ruler 2 plays in realtime and plays like an RTS with each planet being a resource hub, colony ships being deployed as a tiny train to the destination planet. It plays like some other stripped down 4x games and while It’s got some really neat elements (I like ship design and research) I’m less fond of the fleet management model. It has elements that make me think it’s still in some form of development and for that I hold onto my interest in case it matures into a game I inadvertently spend 100 hours in.
StarDrive 2 came up because I have StarDrive 1 and rather liked other parts of it’s design. It plays on a turn-based direction and features a micromanaged ship design where you select a component, it’s size and then have to place it in the limited amount of space for the ship you’re working with. It features alien races referenced from popular media in cluding one Mythos-inspired “tentacle face” alien culture. This game feels the most polished but it uses an interesting research approach where you have the choice of several categories and in each category you have several options. Once you research one of those options that category updates to new options and you are unable to research the old options any further. This does force you into some interesting strategic choices but leads to some frustrating ones.