The planets you visit are filled with history, the remnants of the Star Union Empire can be seen everywhere. Great ruins of devastated cities, dormant defense systems and stray droids have survived centuries to challenge the player. A post-apocalyptic realm rendered on a galactic level, with players competing to reestablish a new future. The game contains many landmarks to visit, ruined bio techs or the Elysium parks entertainment districts. Chunks of information distributed through the game allow the player to piece together their races’ own history and what fate befell the once great Star Union.
Planets are built from a combination of distinct landscapes, such as frozen wastes, lush jungles, and deserts, with their own alien flora and fauna. There are five main land biomes, which have varied resource yields to be exploited through research. The world map wraps horizontally, and as such there are no eastern or western edges to the map.
The surface of a planet is divided into multiple sectors. Sectors are important for a colony to grow and can be conquered individually and taken from other colonies. Each sector has a name hinting at its contents.
- Imperial World -
- Frontier World
- Capital World
- Ravaged World
- Infested World
A patchwork of bordered areas called Sectors make up the surface of planets. This sector system has a big impact on the world map gameflow. They come in a number of types:
- Wilderness sectors follow natural boundaries and reflect their terrain. A Sector contains one biome and a number of natural terrain features — these define the sector’s base resource yield.
- Landmark sectors contain high value, large Imperial ruins providing unique benefits. Landmarks “occupy” the sector.
- Dwelling sectors contain the bases and cities of NPC Natives, with smaller spawner-like camps you can clear through diplomacy or force.
Additional structures and effects
Next to sector occupying Landmark and bases, there is a collection of secondary structures to be found. They include resource nodes, pickups and visit sites. Then there are defenses and hazards that work as status effects for the entire sector.
Pickups are one-time packages of resources that are scattered across the map and may be defended or undefended. In addition to its standard reward a Pickup will sometimes trigger a bonus event themes around its resource. These bonuses include items, map locations, units and events affecting relations with NPC factions.
Some sectors will feature hazards, crater locations guarded by a strong enemy that drastically debuff both the sector's economic output of sectors and the units positioned in it. Hazards can be removed after researching the Hazard Removal technology. Late game factions are able to create new hazards.
Fog of war
The Fog of War represents the area outside the vision range of units and cities. Units can be detected through the Fog of War by structures and units which project Scan Range. Structure and Pickup guards will appear yellow spots while mobile enemy and marauder units will appear as red spots. Stacks that did not move in the last turn will appear the same as Structure guards. Initially only the location of units will be detected but research can allow Scan Range to reveal more information such as the commander or faction a unit belongs to.
Marauders are unaffiliated monsters and brigands that are hostile towards each other Faction and can be killed without without any consequences. Marauder armies become active after 5-10 turns and increase in strength as the game progresses.
Marauders always seek to attack stacks first. If no stack is found they will attack province bases. And if no province is found they will attack colony centers. If a marauder unit enters a province base it will raze it within 3 turns. If a marauder unit enters a colony center it will plunge it into anarchy. If the anarchy timer expires the colony will be reduced to a camp.
When marauders enter a sector they will pause for one turn, allowing the commander to prepare for the inevitable battle.
Marauders are created from marauder spawners, dwellings that occupy a sector and have to be cleared before the sector can be exploited.