First, i think it's important to say that the 4x games are very much alive and i wouldn't say they are in a bad shape at all....we just have to see the amount of games that are being released this year, which is great thing. The good thing is that space 4x are many, the bad thing is that historical 4x are few (only Oriental Empires this year to fight agains CIV games and Legion 2 is still just a dream). Maybe the real problem is that we have too many of them?
It's an interesting question and i think it's important that sometimes an article like this brings in the reflection. First i'd like to say that my interest is focused on the 3 first Xs, the last isn't my thing (extermination) in this specific type of games, thus i always want other type of victories, diplomatic being my favorite one and this is where the game below shines imho.
I started my 4x experience with MOO. Like the writer, i've spent hours/weeks/months on the game. First it has imho a perfect design (simple and efficient) and the second very important part, everything was new
. When playing, i didn't know what
to expect, what the races would say, what Orion was, how the game would end. As i said before, the diplomatic aspects are hugely important to me and i think that the first MOO has the best model of all...it always seems realistic to me...in the new MOO for example and many CIV games, the demands from the AI are just ridiculous. I've never had has much diplomatic negotiations as in the first MOO. One aspect that could be improved is the inner life of ones society (politics, idiology, religion). Some games have a little of it but many have nothing...this could be something interesting to work on....the fact that you get the feeling that you have citizens who have opionions and feelings...a living society.
The new MOO does not seem to bring anything new to the genre. I have it and it's nice, but there's no surprises at all for now...i know everything already. Horizon brought in different quests and two of them lead you to the end game....this was excellent because you need to explore the galaxy and the planets to continue this small stories...this was new to me and is the reason why i've played the game so much. A new 4x game has to bring real surprises, something new (be it a story, unexpected events, new untouched scenario). If it's just brand new graphics and so forth, i may just play the games i already have. Some games really bring in new things like Endless Legends and others....so there is innovation.
I will get Polaris Sector but i am not sure yet what is really new here...something that really makes me want to continue playing. I hope to be surprised.
Right now, the most promising games for this year are Oriental Empires, Endless Space 2 and Stellaris, imho. New subject, random events, random races...evolving nations.
Short Movies can make a good difference in increasing the immersion of the player during the game (MOO, Imperium Galactica I & II, Horizon)
I agree with this citation:
Each new 4X needs to find a story to tell about conquest, survival, exploration, discovery, or all of the above
PS: what i do think however is that the Android Market does not have enough 4x to play with at the moment (Legion, Imperium Galactica II, Birth of the Empires are among the few exceptions).