Six months after entering Early Access, and thirteen years after the last Master of Orion game (though some fans would argue it has been longer), Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars has left Early Access. The game, developed by NGD Studios and published by Wargaming, takes the beloved Master of Orion 4X formula (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) and takes it into the modern age with the help of fabulous voice talent, polished visuals, and a healthy dose of community feedback.
“Master of Orion had a profound influence on my career,” said Victor Kislyi, CEO of Wargaming. “Being able to bring this classic back to life is an honor. It was a true inspiration and a very rewarding experience. With the help of our community, who were with us every step of the way, WG Labs and NGD Studios reimagined an iconic experience with new content and sharp visuals.”
Master of Orion has received positive reviews since its debut on Steam, and my first impression of it was positive even in an early state. The game has made great strides since that early release, adding new factions, gameplay elements (such as spying), and victory conditions. Wargaming and NGD have done a solid job of staying on top of community feedback throughout the early access process, listening to their fans’ concerns and issues regarding everything from minor tweaks like adjusting the point values of custom race options, to the behavior of pirate AIs. One feature, the Minor Race interactions, was even removed from the early release in order to make sure that when it returns, it will live up to the fans’ expectations.
Development will not end with release. As is often the case in the modern gaming industry, NGD is committed to continuing to improve the game, and mod support is on the way.
The game is available in two editions, with the collector’s edition containing a new faction, alternate ‘retro’ ship art, plus the usual soundtrack and art collection, and perhaps most importantly, all the previous Master of Orion games. All three can be run without the use of DosBox or other emulators, and Wargaming has moved quickly to ensure that any bugs that crop up are swiftly dealt with – other than the Klackons. Those, you have to squash yourself. A neat unadvertised feature of both editions is a free copy of Total Annihilation when you link up to a Wargaming account, and players who are only interested in the classic games are covered too.