Galactic Civilizations IV vs Galactic Civilizations III

I’ve played a lot of Galactic Civilizations III and enough of Galactic Civilizations IV to be able to make comparisons between the two. These are both produced by Stardock and are both turn-based, space-based strategy games. Gal Civ IV is the latest game in the Gal Civ series.

Galactic Civilizations IV has better graphics and more strategic options than Galactic Civilizations III. There are now seven Ideologies versus the three in Gal Civ III plus another economic “system” has been added to the game called “Control.”

One difference worth mentioning about Gal Civ IV is the graphics and they are outstanding, both in the species portraits and in the game itself.

Game Set Up for Gal Civ III versus Gal Civ IV

Gal Civ III and Gal Civ IV both have 25 civilizations that can be a part of the game. Both games have many of the same basic settings. In both games you can set things like traits & abilities, ship and fleet appearance, the personality of your species, victory conditions and the number and intelligence of each AI opponent.

The most notable differences to me in the game set up were the victory conditions and galaxy settings. Gal Civ IV has more galaxy settings than Gal Civ III plus it now has sectors, making for a theoretically more strategic type of game, such as controlling the chokepoints to these new sectors

There are six Victory Conditions in Gal Civ III versus four for Gal Civ IV. Conquest, Influence, and essentially Turn Limits (titled Month Limits in Gal Civ IV) are still available. Missing from Gal Civ IV are the Research, Ascension and Alliance victories and a Prestige victory has been added to Gal Civ 4.

Economic Systems

Galactic Civilizations III has two main economic systems, net weekly income and food for the pops in your civilization. Other items that play a factor in the game are the pops themselves, administration capacity, which places limits on things like colony and constructor ships, available legions, which is your empire armies, and strategic resources like Elerium.

Gal Civ IV has three main economic systems. Monthly Income and Food production are still in the game, but a new system has been added, Control. Control is your ability to suppress protests, rush construction of things and issuing executive orders, which are also new. It still has the same strategic resources as well.

Gal Civ III Versus Gal Civ IV, Research & Technology

Technology and the approach to it are vastly different between the two games. In Gal Civ III there are many research options available, as many as twelve or more, any of which can be chosen to research. In Gal Civ IV only four are available at one time, with a fifth becoming available for research when a Minister of technology is appointed.

The layout of the Tech tree is mainly the same but, in this aspect, I believe Gal Civ III does a better job. You cannot easily navigate from one branch of technology to another in Gal Civ IV while Gal Civ III makes it easy, all you need to do is click on the icon representing the branch you’re interested in. In Gal Civ IV you’re restricted to clicking on whatever research options are available, so all the branches may not be represented, meaning you can’t navigate to them, at least as far as I can tell.

One feature in Gal Civ IV is that if you don’t like the research options available can reroll them with a focus on something like Engineering or Military. This causes research to take a little longer, but you will be presented with more options that are relevant to what your research interests are.

Ship Movement

Ship movement is the same in both games. Select your ship and right click on where you want it to go. There are some subtle differences in the results screens for some of the ships, like Survey Ships. In Gal Civ III the results of a Survey Ship are shown in the middle of the screen that’s hard to miss, the results in Gal Civ IV are tucked away in an alert at the left edge of the screen, making it easy to overlook.

Ideology in Gal Civ III versus Gal Civ IV

Ideology is another significant difference between the two games. In Gal Civ III Ideology is limited to three types, Benevolent, Pragmatic and Malevolent, each having four branches.

In Gal Civ 4 there are seven Ideologies:

  • Liberty
  • Innovation
  • Compassion
  • Equality
  • Transparency
  • Individualism
  • Creativity

Each Ideology has two branches with about seven perks in each path although that number varies from one ideology to another. For example, the Liberty Ideology has two paths, Authority and Liberty.

Gal Civ III & IV Bazaar

There are differences between how the Bazaar is contacted and what it sells between the two games. In Gal Civ III you must discover the Bazaar before you can interact with it, in Gal Civ IV you must appoint a Minister of Finance before the Bazaar can be accessed. The Minister of Finance is not immediately available either, it must first be obtained through research.

The Bazaar in Gal Civ III sells Mercenary Ships and is represented by the Korx. It has a full screen animation that you can interact with to buy ships.

In Gal Civ IV, once the Bazar is accessed, you “buy and sell the galaxy’s most valuable resources.” You can buy or sell resources like Elerium and Durantium but not ships, at least not in the early game.

Gal Civ IV Executive Orders

Executive Orders are new to the game and are one way you spend Control. You can search for new Leaders by using it, draft colonists for colony ships instead of waiting for volunteers or takeover a private telescope and use it to reveal an unknown part of the galaxy. There aren’t any prerequisites for issuing Executive Orders, you just need to have enough Control to execute them with

Rich Gallien

I've always liked board games like chess and PC games, especially space based strategy games, which lead to the creation of this site. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it and updating it with new games!

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