Its well documented that I love space and have a special place for 4x games. When I got a glimpse of Lords of the Black Sun, I was intrigued and took up the opportunity to preview the latest early access build of the game. There’s still a lot of work to do, but the foundations of a quality 4x experience are there.

The necessities of any 4x game are present in Lords of the Black Sun. If you’re looking for intergalactic trading and diplomacy, its got it.  If you’re looking for massive galaxies that take days to explore and conquer, its got them too. If you’re a fan of managing countless colonies while doing your best to keep the citizens of your worlds alive and happy, Lords of the Black Sun will keep you busy. If you’ve played Master of Orion or other 4x games of the past, you’ll know what to expect. That doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t have a few tricks up its sleeve though.

Lords of the Black Sun - Scouting

On the look for new, habitable planets with lots of resources.

Lords of the Black Sun does a lot to make each playthrough of the game unique. You’re able to customize the variables of the randomly-generated world so that you can play the kind of game you want to play, while still being at the mercy of the roll of the dice. If you want to play a shorter game for example, you can specify the galaxy size and the races that will occupy it, but the map will be randomly-generated to ensure that each playthrough is different than the last. Each playable race has unique characteristics that affect your overall strategy, as well as a unique fleet of ships.  The game goes a step further in giving players the ability to customize their ships and develop their own designs, which is a nice added touch.

Despite being still in development, the game is fully playable and the majority of the systems work fairly well. Diplomacy in particular seems well done, with the player being able to make demands of an opposing race and threaten war if the demands are not met. If the race rejects your demands, you have an option; You can go to war and show them who’s boss, or you can just let it slide. If you go to war, it will definitely affect other races’ perception of you. If they are less than happy with your presence in the galaxy, they may stand up to you and go to war or shrewdly draft trade embargoes to weaken your economy. If you decide to not go through with your threat, your reputation will suffer and the other races will see you as a push-over who doesn’t back up what he says. Either way, your reputation is on the line.

Lords of the Black Sun - Embargo

Damn you! What did I do to deserve this?

While the game plays well, there’s still a lot of room for improvement as the game continues development. I found the tactical battles to be a bit underwhelming and difficult to control. Getting my ships to attack an enemy was trickier than it should be, and the battles simply didn’t feel exciting enough. Generals, a hero-type unit in the game that levels up over time, currently feels under-developed and I feel that the developers should try to make them more unique and personal so that players are able to connect with them more. I also wasn’t able to figure out a way to create “fleets” of ships, so controlling ships can be a bit tricky, especially on larger maps. I also encountered several crashes to desktop, which never adds to the experience.

Lords of the Black Sun - Battles

These skirmishes weren’t very exciting and difficult to control.

Lords of the Black Sun is still in development, and a recent patch improved the AI and trade system in the game. Hopefully they continue to polish the game and find ways to make it more engaging.