The New Technologies
Retribution makes the greatest changes to the technology tree since the original release of the game. Moreover, many of those changes occur at the very start of the game as opposed to late game. Today, we'll walk you through some of the changes and why we made them.
The most obvious change here is the study of artifacts. We will have an entire journal dedicated to artifacts. But suffice to say, going up the artifact tree allows players to get more out of the artifacts they find on worlds. There have also been other changes designed to improve the overall pacing of the game. For example, Colonial Administration introduces farms and cities together. Moreover, the various multi-choice techs are completely eliminated. Every tech gives you something meaningful.
Engineering got a pretty big shake-up. First off, Space Elevators have been moved to "space elevator technology". At the start of the game, players have some new planetary improvements they can construct instead, like the Colonization Center, or Supply Depot, which help get things moving and provides a bit more time to decide where players want to place their hubs.
This tree also has the Hypergate tech path on it that makes hypergates better and faster. Like with Colonization, this tree has been narrowed and the optimization/choose 1 of N techs concept is gone. Starports have been moved to Orbital Manufacturing and, as you may have noticed, Carriers have been moved way, way up in order to make them a viable alternative to weapon systems. This will also involve improving the carrier concept in general.
The Warfare tree has been re-designed to be much cleaner. While there are a few optimization techs in the tree, the pacing of the techs has been substantially improved.
Planetary Invasion is much earlier now in the tech tree. This is partly because, now that stars are more distant, there is a bit more time to prepare for being rushed.
The weapon improvements have been merged together by weapon type. So instead of, for example, beam weapons having two parallel improvement tree,s there is only one. This way, a weapon technology has time to become relevant. New miniaturization techs have also been added later in the tree to, again, make a given weapon technology have its day in the sun, rather than becoming obsolete in a short time.
The Culture Tech tree has gotten a major overhaul as well. It now contains a immigration sub-tree for increasing population growth on planets. Like the others, the tree here is narrower in order to give techs more time to be relevant, as well as make sure that each technology feels important.
In the game I'm testing with today, I have 6 colonies. It's turn 40. I am playing on a large map. What's happening?
My Best Colony
My population is 2 out of a max of 3. But as you can see, my production isn't that dependent on population now.
My 2 population becomes 9.5 production thanks to the Space Elevator placement, Supply Depot, government, etc. The costs of various improvements and techs have been balanced to reasonable levels. Moreover, a Supply Ship from Earth...
Supply Ship from Earth bringing 100 social production with it (10 turns worth of production).
On Mars I have "aid economy" on repeat, which is helping me out.
My home world, Earth, is built up. I haven't researched any terraforming improvements yet, so this is Earth's natural state.
Let's look at Earth
Its population of 7 is getting a lot done thanks to automation. I have it aiding economy.
You might be wondering what happened to Aid Research. The answer is: that ability is now tied to the Technology Capital super project. Aid Research is now much, much more powerful, but only can be done on a single planet (which if you use supply ships with rally points you can get a lot done). This was done because late game, social manufacturing effectively became research, which was not really ideal.
I also feel like there are a lot of interesting things I might want to build on this planet once I have more tiles available.
Back to La La World
The question on pacing boils down to what players would expect to accomplish in 10 turns.
La La world got rich!
So what changed? As you can see, the population didn't, it's still 2. Raw production didn't change either. What did change was the construction of the Central Bank, a Supply Depot, and a Market Center.
But how did all that get built in 10 turns? Answer: the Supply Ship from Earth.
Before Retribution, players would basically just pound the turn button waiting for their population to grow. And what were their shipyards doing around turn 50? Either spamming colony ships (if it was a huge map) hoping to find stuff, constructors, or treasure hunters. Game in and game out.
Now, Shipyards are deciding between Stellar Architects (hypergates), Supply Ships, Constructors, or Colony ships depending on the situation. Because planetary invasions are so early now (relatively speaking), players can punish nearby civilizations that are mindlessly expanding by building up their own colonies a bit. And this ignores the effect of artifacts in this formula.
The cumulative effect is that players have a lot more strategic choices to make based on how the map is set up, who their neighbors are, and what resources they want to employ.
Journal #9 (Coming Soon)