Stardock has just announced Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, a standalone expansion (quasi-sequel?) to Ironclad’s 2008 space opera RTS. Here are some of the promised features:
“New Factions: Players decide whether to become Loyalists or Rebels, which unlocks a unique new tech tree granting them new technologies and ship variants.
New Titan-class ships: Massive warships for each race that dwarf capital ships, these deadly new monsters are capable of wiping out entire enemy fleets single-handedly.
New Capital Ships: A new capital ship class arrives, giving players new strategic options.
New Corvette-class ships: Small, highly maneuverable light ships that are adept at a variety of tasks…. (Snip)
… New Victory Conditions to allow for more variety, differing strategies and shorter game sessions.”
Of all these, the one that really excites me is “new victory conditions”. New units are well and good, and I’m sure the Titans will be as cool as the developers intend, but a dearth of units was never one of my complaints. On the other hand, I do think Sins could do with more ways to win, and I can think of two possibilities that would be particularly suited to the game*:
1. Territorial victory a la Company of Heroes – hold X key points on the map long enough to win. Since the entire game design is built around territorial control (you derive your income from planets, which are discrete locations on the map connected by jump lanes, and hence choke points also become very important), territorial victory is the logical extension of this.
2. Wonder victory – build a megaproject, or megaprojects, and defend them while a countdown timer ticks down to victory. Such a pure “builder” victory condition would be consistent with Sins’ grand scope – and be a welcome import from the 4X genre into a game whose stated ambition is to be a “RT4X”.
The beauty of both these win conditions is that they add tension to the late game – can I break through player X’s defences and tear down his/her Wonder, or snatch enough victory points, before I lose? This tension (at least, in single-player) is something sorely lacking from the basic “kill ‘em all” victory condition once the player reaches the “tipping point” where victory is inevitable, but still requires long, hard fighting. Sins already took some steps down this path with the diplomatic victory introduced in the Diplomacy expansion, and it would be great to see this continued.
No launch date announced yet that I can find, but I look forward to further details, particularly on the victory conditions. Here’s hoping Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion will live up to the promise of its predecessors.