We've fast-forwarded a little bit for the second part of the Lords of the Black Sun preview. My humans have gone out and conquered a few more planets, but everyone is still playing nice. Even the pirates are all being utterly delightful.
That's not how this is supposed to be!
Time to build an enormous fleet and start cracking some skulls. In this second video, we take a look at combat and espionage, using an agent to go behind enemy lines and pinch some money off of our neighbours.
As I say towards the end of the video, Lords of the Black Sun has a promising foundation laid out here. Arkavi have managed to get the basics of a decent 4X game in play, and it should be remembered that the game is still in Early Access. But I struggle to see why the game is being priced close to £20. There's just nothing here that really stands out. The AI is a little more aggressive on the higher difficulty levels, but there's little to distinguish the various races from one another.
Furthermore, it strikes me that so much more could be made of the universe. It's not enough to simply have a star map, eight thumbnails of hand-drawn alien races, and to adjust a couple of sliders here and there to create a setting that demands interest. It used to be, but we already have 4X games that perfected that formula. Modern 4X titles need to kick on in some respect and try to deliver something that doesn't just resemble a copy of games that have come before.
To be fair to Lords of the Black Sun, story elements are yet to come, but it remains to be seen how they'll tie into things. Strategy games don't need stories, but context can certainly help. I just want to see more depth everywhere -- from more expansive, exciting research options to more background lore to more variety in terms of racial playstyles. The eight races play out in fairly similar fashion to one another as far as I can tell (I've tested four of them at this point) and there are still too many empty turns.
There's promise here, but Lords of the Black Sun is still waiting for some personality, something to elevate it from being just another Galactic Civ clone.