You can “explore, eXpand and exploit” by taking over huge civilizations in the best 4X games, which are named after the way they let you do these things. In this case, these games won’t help.
4X games are thought of as the foundation of PC games because they’re the same type of games that are used to control PC games (mouse and keyboard). So make sure to check out the rest of the list if you want to play on something other than a computer. Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5 are two of the other platforms where you can play some of the games on this list. Expect to see games like Civilization on this list, as well as some that might surprise you.
4X has become a kind of hybrid genre since it was first made. Many games mix in different strategy elements or focus on expanding instead of exploring, or killing instead of exploding. The best 4X games combine elements from all kinds of games, like RTS and war games, to make something new, exciting, and interesting. So, which game is your favourite? Check out these 4X games.
Aggressors – Ancient Rome
Developer: Kubat Software
Many 4X games take their inspiration from Civilization. Aggressors, on the other hand, adds more bureaucracy and adds real history to make it the ultimate fantasy for fans of Ancient Rome. This makes Aggressors a very realistic game about running an empire with all the rules that were in place at the time.
There is a lot to think about, but in reality, Aggressors is very familiar to anyone who has played Civilization. In the end, Aggressors is both its downfall and its best asset. It’s hard to get into, but all that effort leads to very simple combat in the end.
Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes
Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes is the sequel to the 4X game Elemental: War of Magic, which was made by Stardock Entertainment. It was the best fantasy 4X game for a short time until Endless Legend took it over. This is a war game first and foremost, and it wants to push you into battle rather than find a diplomatic way out. Your territory expansion is a powerful tool for growing your armies.
With a hero leading the charge and having to keep them happy to keep your best unit pleased, there are a lot of great RP elements, like side quests. You can also make units unique in ways that make them easier to play again. Even after a few years, this is a title that fantasy game designers should not miss.
Thea 2: the Shattering
Developer: MuHa Games, Eerie Forest Studio
Platform: PC, Xbox One
Thea 2 isn’t just a 4X, RPG, and card game. It’s also a lot of different things at the same time, thanks to the love MuHa Games put into its fantasy world. In this game, you play the role of a deity who is in charge of their flock. Make a hero, who has to deal with RPG-style quests while exploring, and then decide how to deal with what you find. Your fantasy party doesn’t get bigger than a 4X army, so cards are used to decide battles. This is a unique and interesting twist.
It’s good for people who like some of the systems in RPGs more than others. The focus on a single hero in an RPG setting doesn’t leave much room for the big moves of a group of people and how they interact with each other. On the other hand, it may not have enough features for people who have played 4X games before.
Warhammer 40k: Gladius – Relics of War
Developer: Proxy Studios
If “exterminate” is one of your favourite things about the best 4X games, you can’t go wrong with Gladius, because it’s so good. It is, of course, a big part of the 40k universe, with units you won’t find anywhere else and fun gameplay based on their strengths and flaws.
There is a lot of depth to 4X games, but Gladius doesn’t have as much of it in any system but warfare. This makes it great for newbies but a little too simple for veterans of the genre. A 4X with a unique setting and for fans of 40k, this is a great game, but it doesn’t do much else.
Developer: Shining Pixel Studios, R.T. Smith, John Carline
If you want a 4X game that focuses on Chinese history in the same way Aggressors does for Ancient Rome, this is the best game for you. Especially with the Three Kingdoms and Genghis DLC. In a nod to 4X’s board game roots, Oriental Empires uses the WEGO system, where all players solve their turns at the same time, which adds a little suspense. This is one of the best games to play when you want to be surprised, even if the surprise turns out to be frustrating.
A win that seemed like a sure thing can be won or lost by random disasters and people who do not want to win. While the AI in this game is hard to understand, complex expansion systems and interesting tech tree options make up for it. While Total War has since made a game about the Three Kingdoms, Oriental Empires is still the only 4X game that really focuses on this specific setting. That makes it one of the best in the genre.
Star Wars Rebellion/Star Wars Supremacy
Developer: Coolhand Interactive
Rebellion is not to be confused with the board game of the same name. Even though it has been around for more than 20 years, Rebellion is still the best 4X for Star Wars fans. After the Death Star is destroyed, you can play as either the rebels or the Empire in a campaign set after that. You can help each side get back to where they were with the help of characters from the expanded universe.
Even though 3D battles and their “pretty much real-time” systems are fun to play, it still is fun to send characters you know out on missions and build relationships with groups you know. This makes you feel like you’re shaping a familiar world, which is a big part of 4X and a thrill every time.
Age Of Wonders: Planetfall
In the years since Civilization came out, Triumph Studios has been the “hidden” rival to it. Their fantasy-based Age of Wonders series has a unique mix of hardcore wargame sensibilities and mainstream 4X strategy values. When Paradox Interactive took over, they made Age of Wonders: Planetfall. Now, they’re aiming for the stars with that game. It’s the 4X sci-fi game we didn’t even know we wanted to play. On the strategic level, there are a few things that need to be worked out. But one of the game’s biggest achievements is that it has turn-based tactical battles that run quickly and smoothly. The game is so similar to XCOM that it feels like you are.
Also, the strategy layer is very good looking. You’ll need to explore, colonise, and conquer different parts of the planets in order to progress through them. This means each world you make has its own story to tell. You can choose to get involved with it or just paint the town your favourite colour. A must-have for anyone who likes 4X.
Planetfall has definitely beaten Age of Wonders III to be the best game in the series, but because it’s science-fiction and Age of Wonders III is fantasy, it’s not entirely fair to compare them. AoW3 was a lot like Civilization V, and it worked well with the fantasy elements. If this sounds like something you’d like to try, we still think it’s a good idea. A lot of things have been added to Planetfall over time, including Star Kings.
Galactic Civilization Iii
Galactic Civilizations III came out nine years after its predecessor, which was a cult favourite. It takes place in a huge, randomly generated sandbox world. Following a loose plot from the last game, this game lets you populate star systems and conquer planets. But the real fun is meeting the nine colourful space races that populate the universe. It’s up to you to play as one of these people. Each race encourages a different play style because of their unique abilities. On Bernie Sanders’ political policies, as we tried to do at one point in the past.
As in other 4X games, there are many ways to win, like conquest, technology, cultural domination, and political alliances, just like in other games. This is a good mix of diplomacy, careful building of your empire, and intergalactic war. It’s also grown over the years thanks to a lot of DLC expansions, like Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade, which is almost perfect. Unless there is a new Galactic Civilization game, this big guy won’t be able to stay at the top of the list.