For the 4X lover who never recovered from the fall in real-time strategy, Sins of a Solar Empire was a panacea. I took most of what I liked about both strategy models and merged them together in one epic clash in space. It was a revelation that I hoped to inspire imitators, but in almost 15 years no one else has attempted to replicate this hugely successful experiment. Thankfully, that’s about to change. Sins of a Solar Empire 2 is coming.
Developer Ironclad Games has been thinking about this sequel for a long time. The last piece of Sins DLC came out in 2018, a decade after the base game launched, and while Ironclad didn’t begin work on Sins 2 shortly thereafter – development had only begun a year earlier – discussions are already taking place. Was. The Minor Facts DLC wasn’t just one last hurray for Sins: it was a hint at the future of the series.
“We were always thinking, Let’s do a test on this one,” says Ironclad co-owner Blair Fraser. “Since Sin 2 is about to come out, what will it look like?” Original Sin was “very, very combat focused”, but through expansion the team was able to experiment more with diplomacy and NPC factions. And for Sins 2, Ironclad has “went to town” on that aspect of its cosmic conflict.
So while Sins has always had the empire management you’d expect from 4X, it looks like it will be a lot more explicit this time around, with more interaction that, as Fraser says, “just blows up the enemy” in real time. In the space dispute. “Since 2 is really the merging of what else we can do between tactical and high-level empire management that others have requested and we never set out to do.” It is the product of 15 years of feedback and feature wish list.
But the original’s greater focus on that final X, Destruction, set it apart from both its contemporaries and, later, Stellaris, which went down the real-time route but didn’t have Sins’ more granular focus on ship warfare. That legacy remains important.
It’s clear from one of the big new features that Ironclad is currently saying: “You have turrets that actually move and fire and hit targets in real time,” Fraser explains. “If you remember Sins 1 and detail, given the technology of the time, and the number of units we were using, we were only able to do four banks. All the weapons in one bank had the same firing solution and had achieved only one goal… it was just a computational requirement.”
Multi-threading was still new, and the limitations of 2008’s technology forced Ironclad to keep things straightforward. But 15 years of progress has allowed the team to make separate turrets and completely simulated missiles—things Fraser and his fellow designers wish they could have done before—a reality. “Not only does it look great, but from a tactical point of view, it introduces a whole bunch of new changes to the combat mechanics.”
(image credit: Stardock)
So now you have point defense turrets “spinning and trying to track down these things and shoot them down”, and beefy capital ships with heavy armor to block missile fire and the glass in the rear. cannons, which act like 20th century artillery . Large ships are more like squads or smaller armies with more capability and flexibility, although you won’t need to control each turret manually. And you’ll still be able to avoid micromanagement by setting ships to autocast their abilities.
For fans of Subtle, though, there’s more to play for and more to consider. For example, smart positioning of your ships is much more important because ships and celestial bodies now form line-of-sight wrinkles.
Ironclad also changed the system of counters and arbitrary bonuses, so instead of allowing ships to receive automatic bonuses against a specific type of ship, their performance is now determined by the properties of offensive and defensive systems. To put it simply: “If you have heavy armor, anything with armor penetration will perform better against something that doesn’t.”
Low-level tactical combat isn’t the only thing that’s getting more nuanced and simulated. The same kind of love has been given to the galaxy. The planets now orbit their stars, and the moons now orbit their planets. “What this makes is a dynamic galaxy that you have to plan about,” Fraser says. The inspiration for this comes from an unlikely source: Buck Rogers – Battle for the 25th Century, an ’80s board game based on the classic sci-fi romp. It wasn’t a commercial success, but it certainly had an impact on Fraser, who still has the box sitting on his shelf.
Where things get really interesting is how the pace of these worlds can eliminate you or your enemies.
You won’t need to squeeze into a tight jumpsuit or show off your chest hair, but you will need to pay attention to the celestial mechanics. As before, everything is connected in a network of phase lanes, which determine where ships can go directly. But since all these planets and moons are now in motion, your plans will have to be favourable. When a planet is closer to the world you occupy, it can be a good time to launch an attack or shore up your defenses, and when they are further away you can focus on other things like your economy or research. Would like This alone sounds incredibly novel, but where things get really interesting is how the pace of these worlds can eliminate you or your enemies.
(image credit: Stardock)
Maybe there’s a world you really want to snuggle up to, but it’s pretty safe. In that case, you might be better off driving away enemy fleets by targeting less attractive worlds. And while they’re traveling to defend this world, you grab your fleet and send them to their real goal, but because you’re so smart and doing it right at the right time, the enemy The fleet cannot follow you because the phase lane has shifted and there is no longer a direct route. This happens because the planets move at different speeds depending on their proximity to the star, potentially turning them into a barrier that temporarily breaks off connections between other worlds.
It sounds complicated, especially in real-time games, but the UI lends a hand. “Every so often you should hold down the tactical approach,” advises Fraser. “And you can look at the projections to see how the planets are moving. Currently, it’s set at a 10-minute interval, so you can see where it’s going to be 10 minutes from now, but we can change that.” And give players the option to set how far they want to project.” The planets are also color-coded so you can tell whether they are moving or retrograde, as not every planet moves in the same direction.
These celestial mechanics also inform the rhythm of the conflict and how you will build your empires. “In a typical game, we’ve tuned it so that players can start more on the outskirts,” Fraser explains. “And because those clusters of planets move so slowly, they move in much more cohesive clusters. So the core of your empire, its guts, should be together for most of the game. At some point the multi-hour situation, They’ll fall apart, but by that point, presumably, if you’re winning, you’ve expanded your empire and you have a different frontline anyway. But by design, and just on a little bit of basis astronomy wise. , the stuff closer to the star is much less stable. And that’s where we put the more valuable stuff. So you get these valuable resources and really interesting competitions on planets.”
Objects closer to the star will still take about 30–45 minutes to complete a full orbit, but this is also dependent on settings. Like in Original Sins, you’ll be able to make a lot of changes in the sequel, turning things on and off until you create a stellar battlefield that’s just right.
(image credit: Stardock)
Two topics have generated the most debate within Ironclad. The first is 3D movement. Having more than 2D planes to work with is a tempting prospect, but it’s not Homeworld, its particular focus on ships; Sin gives you an empire to manage, and stacking more complexity on top of what’s already a very dense game is a risk. Like its predecessor, Sins 2 has stuck with 2D motion.
sins of the sandbox empire
The other major topic of debate was the possibility of a campaign or discrete narrative elements like you would see in Stellaris or Endless Space 2. Ultimately the pure sandbox approach won out – this is what Ironclad knows and has already seen success with. “That’s not to say that we aren’t very interested in the story of Sins of a Solar Empire,” Fraser says. “There’s a very detailed story. It covers every ship’s ability, all the research themes, every element of the look and feel, every voice line that every character in the game speaks – the whole thing emits story.”
(image credit: Stardock)
Ironclad has also stuck with the original Sins setting, continuing its feud with Tec, Advent, and Vasari. Sin 2 is a retelling of The Conflict, but it has an acceleration. You’ll start with the basic factions, which then split into loyalists and rebels, and then as you expand, you’ll encounter features that were present in the Enchantment expansion, and then the Diplomacy expansion, until That you don’t hit the brand new stuff. sins 2.
Each faction is different, from their metal cutting rates to the fundamental systems that define them. For example, TEC is the only one that can benefit from trade lanes. It is their specialty, as merchant Emergency alliance, and the game takes place in TEC space. According to Fraser, the trading system has also been given an upgrade with more sophisticated and “more decision-making”. Original Sins had oddities, but, he says, “given the scale of the game, we lean more into it”.
The more notable difference between factions and the complexities of the galaxy that’s always in motion should be a boon to multiplayer, as well, which, along with modding, was one of the main reasons Sins enjoyed such a longevity. It was a great single player game, and that’s how I played most of it, but it really came to life with PvP. And thanks to advances in technology, Iron Engine 3 should be more capable of creating a seamless multiplayer conflict in Sins 2, for example, by letting you re-engage in multiplayer matches without any fuffing. If you don’t have time to end the battle, you’ll also be able to transfer control of your faction to another player.
(image credit: Stardock)
After so many years I am very much looking forward to conquering space again. There’s no release date yet, but we’ll be able to get our hands on it before the full launch, whenever it happens.
“It will be a real early access,” Fraser says. “But it’s also very targeted this time around. The initial one will probably just be the main game loop. It won’t have guts, all the extra content and all the extra mechanics. It’s just: Are the players able to play it? Will they finish the game? Can? Build some basic ships, take over planets and annihilate your enemies. That would be just the basic nugget.”
There’s no date for early access just yet, but we’ll have more Sins of Solar Empire 2 to share in the near future. In the meantime, consider grabbing a physics textbook and brushing up on astronomy.