The 17 Best 4X Games To Play on PC

best 4x games
Who doesn't want to control a race of futuristic dwarf themed race of humans.

Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate

We all need a break once in a while from the gray everydays. Sitting in your comfy chair, sipping the beverage of your choice, what better way to spend your free time than deciding the fate of entire civilizations.Yes, that's exactly what you do in a 4X game, be it in space as a warmongering alien race, or as a king protecting his vast kingdom. Your goal is to bring your nation to prosperity, often at the cost of others.

Let's look at the 17 best 4X games that you can play today.

17) Star Ruler 2

Star Ruler 2 Official trailer

As far as space 4X games go, this one is special, recommended especially if you are a veteran of the genre. You start out simple enough, like any other space 4X, with a single planet, a custom race, floating in the vast nothingness of space. However, you soon discover that this is unlike any other 4x game. First of all, It's possible to explore multiple galaxies, a dream of many sci-fi fans.

Also unlike other games where each planet is a self-contained world, here planets can only grow if they get resources from other planets in a complex web of imports/exports.Similar to the economics, the diplomacy is as unique if not more. Where in other games races interact through a simple system of menus like some weird socially awkward shut-ins; here each race gets a seat in a galactic parliament and vote on issues, like in Mass effect or Star Wars.

Battles can get out of hand.

16) Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion HD trailer

If you are tired of the slow paced scheming of a traditional 4X, this one is up you alley. Sins of a Solar Empire combines the best parts of a RTS and a 4x game into a fast, straightforward, action packed game.The player can choose between six well balanced factions each with a different tech tree and ships. Visually, it's one of the best on the market, watching a wing of bombers flying through the battle as a gargantuan capital ship casts it's shadow on them is glorious. The replay value is huge as the modding scene is big with a list of amazing mods for the game. A must have for multiplayer matches as the fast paced nature of the game complements it nicely.  

Sometimes you just have to fly to you inescapeable doom for cool pictures.

15) Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares

Master of Orion 2 Gameplay video

Master of Orion 2 is the World of Warcraft of the 4X games. After it came out, it defined the whole genre and spawned a ton of copy cats. Has all the classic marks of a 4x game, customization, interesting races, tactical battles and fun events.The 2d art provides a visual style that still maintains it's charm after many years. The mechanics of the game are as creative as the art with interesting playable races like trans-dimensional underwater mini-cthulhus, or the repulsive rock like lifeforms.The endgame provides an interesting challenge in the form of the Antares, a hyper-advanced race from another dimension that occasionally invades real space.

Spoiler alert: purple wins

14) Civilization 5

Civilization 5 Gameplay trailer

When somebody hears 4X, the most likely thing that is going to appear in their mind is Civilization, the flagship franchise of the genre. The gateway drug to 4x games, Civ is easy to learn but provides enough depth that even the veteran players are learning new things.The player can take the role of real historical civilizations and lead their people through the ages. This sense of realizing history helps new players and keeps old time fans. The nature of the game makes for amusing scenarios; if you ever wanted to send thousands of knights against German panzers, this is the game for you.

Yes, the famous Great Wall of Ethiopia.

13) Civilization 4

Civilization 4 gameplay trailer

We cannot talk about Civ 4 without comparing it to Civ 5. The comparison between the two games are like the comparison between vanilla and chocolate ice cream - it depends entirely on the person.

What Civ 4 may lack on the visual and (also subjective) combat side of things, it makes up for in endgame content and the modding community. If you are a Civ 5 veteran playing Civ 4 for the first time, nuking away happily you quickly discover that it is possible to trigger climate change and turn the planet into a dusty wasteland, changing the game into a post-apocaliptic nightmare.

Thanks to the many mods the fans offer, it is also possible to turn the game into a high fantasy world, or play as stone age caveman and enchanced future humans, the limit is only how many turns you have the time for.  

When there are more roads than trees and cities combined.


12) Age of Wonders 3

Age of Wonders 3 trailer

An interesting mix of Heroes Of Might And Magic and Civilization, Aow 3 offers a unique combination of RPG and 4X. You take on the role of a custom hero who leads a race of fantasy creatures on a journey to conquest. The different classes and races offer a different playstyle for each playthrough, increasing the replay value. Unlike many other 4x, Aow 3 has multiple fully fleshed singleplayer campaigns.

As you make your way through the randomly generated(or hand crafted campaign) maps, you terraform the surrounding lands to fit the demograpfics of the different races that inhabit your empire; be it faires, or dragons. So if advanced and fun tactical combat, an abundance of playstyles and races interests you; you might want to pick this one up.

Just your reagular fantasy city.

11) Endless Legend

Endless Legend Dust to Dust trailer

As far as art style is concerned, this game wins by a landslide. But it wouldn't be on the list if it was only the visuals. The different factions each offer a wildly different playstyle, and this asymmetry is what makes the game.You can play as the industry focused, rock worshipping humans who came with a spaceship, or a crazy cult-like faction of ancient robots and slaves who are not allowed to have more than one city; and we haven't even talked about the dragon like reptilians whose role is a peacekeeping faction who are able to force diplomatic actions on other races. This is just three of the many interesting races.

With each passing turn, the air gets colder around your subjects, trees loose their leaves and the chilling winds bite into your skin as winter arrives, as the game boasts an interesting season mechanic where summer and winter changes the landscape and as the game progresses each summer is shorter while the winters become more severe and the planet turns inhospitable.

A game too pretty not to like.

Hello there, I have been a passionate gamer ever since I set eyes on my first game, I always wanted to share my opinions and infinite wisdom with the world.
Gamer Since: 2001
Favorite Genre: FPS
Currently Playing: Red Orchestra 2, Cities: Skylines, Faeria, Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dragon Age: Origins, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Europa Universalis IV

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