Let us put our wayback hats on and move back in time to 1993. Microprose, a company known for strategy and simulation titles decided to release a little game called Master of Orion. The concept was that you picked one of 10 races and tried to colonize a large galaxy. You could choose to be a peaceful society, growing through diplomatic channels and fostering relationships with other races. Or maybe you just wanted to pillage and plunder, taking over with force and military superiority. The choices were endless and it left creating the adventure and the story up to the player. Master of Orion was one of the first to usher in the concept of 4X strategy titles (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) and it did that so well.
Slowly fast forward to the present and we watched this genre spiral into a decline. Master of Orion did get a second release which was good, but the third release in the series was so crippled by bugs and poor design that it essentially killed the franchise and it was left dormant on a shelf for many years until an asset sale opened a path to a new opportunity. Enter Wargaming.net.
Yes, the company that you may be more familiar with making tank games is now making a new, revitalized and revamped Master of Orion title. Apparently, the owner of Wargaming.net is a huge fan of the Master of Orion series and when he got the chance to buy it at an asset sale, he grabbed and tasked a team with creating a Master of Orion series that was faithful to the original game, while making it a bit more accessible to new players and giving it a visual makeover.
With that backstory out of the way, we started our presentation going through the basics of Master of Orion. True to their word, the game does keep with the way that the original title plays. You pick one of ten races (all the races are the same from the original) and go forth from your sector of the galaxy. As with any 4X title, you start to explore the planets closest to you, terraforming planets, assigning tasks for planets and building items to fuel your empire forward. Old school players will get the hang of the systems and controls very quickly, but there are tutorial popups available for players that might be coming into the franchise new, as they might become overwhelmed by all the choices and decisions they need to make.
As you expand you also gain access to a technology tree, or as I like to refer to it, a technology forest. There are over 70 different choices to make on the tech tree with paths for different types of tech. You can also filter the tree so you can look for specific tech or maybe just a specific branch of the tree. It allows for you to give focus on the tech that you want to power your society.
Later on, as you expand, you will run into other races and you can negotiate trade agreements, travel rights and more. You can use ships to blockage entry points into your society as can other societies to control access to their regions of space. Later, you can even create spaceports that will automate this process for you, alleviating the need to place valuable ships at chokepoints in your empire. Again, the system will cater to either new players or the hardcore faithful with as much or as little assistance with each process in building your empire and working with other races.
As with the original game, you have multiple paths to victory, but a new thing (or something I could not remember from the original) is a handy chart that you can bring up that shows you how well you are performing towards all of the possible victory conditions. At this time from my presentation, I can say that there are at least 7-8 paths to victory, but their could be more over time. Same thing goes for races as we only saw seven of the ten available choice.
Currently, Master of Orion has not approximate release date. The game is currently running at a pre-alpha state and the only news I could pilfer from my gracious hosts is that it will be coming to PC at some point. No word on console releases or pricing for that matter, but at this early point, Master or Orion looks stable and percolated some of those long lost memories I had for the Master of Orion series. It was weird to see it being handled by Wargaming.net, but so far, it looks to be in capable hands.