Galactic Civilizations III

Game review by
Franklin Rinaldi, Common Sense Media
Galactic Civilizations III Game Poster Image
Great space strategy is very deep but has very slow pacing.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Encourages players to think about interactions between nations, potential societal impact of future technologies, trade, various paths to victory, teamwork in multiplayer.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You see direct results of making positive, negative decisions through diplomacy. Otherwise, role models defined by personal play style.

Ease of Play

Basic gameplay isn't difficult, but its nuances are. With moderately designed tutorials, takes some time to learn how to best plan, strategize. A very in-depth manual can be downloaded to help.


Battles initiated but only observed by player in third-person perspective. There's no blood, gore; battles are won, lost based on survivability of your ships.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Galactic Civilizations III is a downloadable turn-based strategy game that simulates colonization of star systems. It makes players consider a nation's development, including politics, culture, military, and technological advancement. Unlike other strategy games of this genre, it's slow-paced, allowing the player plenty of time to contemplate how they wish to pursue their dominance of the galaxy and work toward it. Players can win through conquest or through other pursuits including technology, diplomacy, influence, and ascension. The very detailed ship-builder model allows for interesting designs and a variety of tactics in building a fleet of ships. Multiplayer allows for head-to-head or collaborative gameplay, so parents need to be aware that in this mode, online play against strangers is handled with text chat, which means kids could be exposed to bullying or inappropriate language or topics. Though ships explode in conflict, no blood or gore is shown, and players don't have overt control over a battle once it's started.

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What's it about?

GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS III is set 10 years after Galactic Civilizations II in a distant universe. The Drengin Empire, with their allies the Yor, reign supreme after the destruction of the Dread Lords. Players begin choosing or creating a race to enter into this war-torn galaxy. With only a home planet, they must research new technologies, explore, harvest resources, and colonize new worlds to expand their influence throughout the galaxy.

Is it any good?

This massive strategy title between space-faring species and cultures is a great turn-based 4X space game. The ability to explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate in so many ways is what will keep fans of this genre playing over and over. The depth of customization in game modes, race and civilization creation, diplomatic interactions, technical research, ideology, and more ensures that no two games will be alike. Whether you enjoy a long or short campaign, there are options to fulfill the need for strategy in us all. The AI is very well done, possibly the best seen, taking into consideration numerous aspects of your respective strengths and weaknesses, previous interactions, and more before either befriending you or attacking. A lone ship may get ignored while a fleet may be attacked -- it all just depends upon the personality of the species at the time. The option to be benevolent or malevolent in your planetary conquest adds some very interesting story twists that will drive you to try different approaches in your colonization to experience them all. 

It's not a perfect game; it does have its issues. The ability to build incredible ships exists in a great sandbox mode that's then minimized with your lack of control in combat. Once you engage in a battle, you're in spectator mode until the fight's over. You'll either lose all the ships (whether they were custom-designed or just built from stock schematics), or you'll be victorious. The complexity of the ship design system is to be heralded, though: Absolutely stunning ships can be designed if you have the patience for it. Plus, the pacing of the game can, at times, leave you with nothing much to do but push the "Turn" button so you can get to the next survey site, build completion, or build location. Without an option to select how many turns to move forward, you have to play each one out manually, which can be tedious. Overall, Galactic Civilizations III is a fantastic 4X space-strategy game that has the potential for you to lose track of time while you hit the turn button over and over. The depth of the gameplay, the humor of the story, and interactions with the other races make it a delightful game to play.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about setting media-consumption time limits. These games are famous for luring gamers to keep playing for "just one more turn," so how do you strike the balance between time played and time away from your progress?

  • Talk about the ramifications of talking with strangers online and how to keep private things private. Why shouldn't you share personal information, including passwords, your home address, inappropriate images, and why shouldn't you gossip online? Do you know why it's important to disconnect from conversations before they get out of control?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $39.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Stardock
  • Release date: May 4, 2015
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Topics: Adventures, Space and Aliens
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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