Ranking the Space 4x games

EDITED: I have gathered more review data and incorporated it into the list. I removed Pandora, which is not a space 4x (my bad) and added Sword of the Stars, which I had forgotten about (also my bad).

I also added a red trend line for each chart to show the recommended % based on how much time the reviewer has played the game. If there are less than 5 reviews in a time period, that line is not shown.

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I don’t play very many space 4x games. At all.¬† To be perfectly frank, MOO1 ruined me for most games in this genre.

However, I understand that I am an anomaly in this area. All of you guys LOVE space 4x games and constantly debate about which ones are better — games I have very little bias for or against. So who better to objectively rank these games than someone who’s never played them?

Here’s my methodology: compile a list of space 4x games currently available on Steam and analyze their reviews, looking beyond the simplistic Up/Down percentages given for the game. I generally do not trust those because: a) most gamers are not reviewers and don’t understand how to properly review a game, b) most gamers let their biases for or against a game (or its publisher) influence their up/down vote.

No, what I will do is examine the best barometer (not perfect, but best) of whether a player enjoys game: hours played.

  • < 10 hours means the player plainly rejected the game
  • >100 hours means the player was hooked by the game
  • Anything in between is a subjective gray area and ignored

A score from 0-100 is then calculated for each game, where a perfect 100 score means that 100% of the reviewers have played at least 100 hours, and a perfect 0 score means that 100% of the reviewers played less than 10 hours. Median and maximum hours played is also presented, but do not affect the score.

It’s also possible that newer games (like Polaris Sector, MOO, Stellaris) will improve their scores as more reviewers’ play time surpasses 100 hours.

Make sense? Then let’s see how well this algorithm comports with your own opinions of the following games. I’ll also show a useage curve for each of the games.

Sometimes in the curve you can see a pronounced bump where a game presumably starts off well and hooks the player, but lags in the late-game resulting in a noticeable dropoff. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I see that in both the curves for Stellaris and Master of Orion.

Score: 67 – Galactic Civilizations III

  • < 10 hours: 9.8%
  • >100 hours: 43.6%
  • Median time: 82.7 hours
  • Maximum time: 6,842 hours

GalacticCivilizations

Score: 59 – Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

  • < 10 hours: 14.9%
  • >100 hours: 32.2%
  • Median time: 53.6 hours
  • Maximum time: 10,824 hours.

SinsOfASolarEmpire

Score: 58 – Stellaris

  • < 10 hours: 6.3%
  • >100 hours: 22.9%
  • Median time: 53.1 hours
  • Maximum time: 974 hours

Stellaris

Score: 57 – Distant Worlds: Universe

  • < 10 hours: 17.3%
  • >100 hours: 32.1%
  • Median time: 51.2 hours
  • Maximum Time: 1629 hours

DistantWorlds

Score: 53 – StarDrive 2

  • < 10 hours: 14.8%
  • >100 hours: 19.9%
  • Median time: 41.1 hours
  • Maximum time: 1537 hours

StarDrive

Score: 52 РSword  of the Stars 2

  • < 10 hours: 31.7%
  • >100 hours: 34.9%
  • Median time: 41.6 hours
  • Maximum time: 5802 hours

SwordOfTheStars

Score: 51 – Endless Space

  • < 10 hours: 19.0%
  • >100 hours: 21.3%
  • Median time: 39.8 hours
  • Maximum time: 12,375 hours

EndlessSpace

Score: 46 – Star Ruler 2

  • < 10 hours: 23.8%
  • >100 hours: 16.4%
  • Median time: 31.8 hours
  • Maximum time: 797 hours

StarRuler

Score: 46 – Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

  • < 10 hours: 20.8%
  • >100 hours: 11.8%
  • Median time: 25.6 hours
  • Maximum time: 1,453 hours

MasterOfOrion

Score: 42 – Polaris Sector

  • < 10 hours: 28.7%
  • >100 hours: 13.0%
  • Median time: 30.1 hours
  • Maximum time: 788 hours

PolarisSector

Score: 12 – Lords of the Black Sun

  • < 10 hours: 77.5%
  • >100 hours: 1.0%
  • Median time: 4.2 hours
  • Maximum time: 439 hours

LordsOfTheBlackSun

Score: 9 – Apollo 4X

  • < 10 hours: 82.9%
  • >100 hours: 0%
  • Median time: 3.4 hours
  • Maximum time: 21 hours

Apollo

Score: 5 – Galactic Inheritors

  • < 10 hours: 89.3%
  • >100 hours: 0%
  • Median time: 2.9 hours
  • Maximum time: 25 hours

GalacticInheritors