4X Strategy Games That Are Good For Beginners


4X stands for explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate (eventually). Those four words that usually lay out the habits of players in turn-based strategy games have blossomed into a genre of their own. But being an armchair general in the safety of a digital space is not as simple as it sounds. 4X games are generally known for being quite complex.


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Managing empires and space armadas, after all, isn’t supposed to be a walk in the park. Consequently, this turns off a lot of players who just want their own definition of casual fun in video games. However, some 4X titles have broken off the mold and provided anything from simple gameplay to hand-holding as a tutorial, proving that maybe, Rome can be built in a day.

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8 Civilization 6

  • Release year:
    2016
  • Platforms:
    Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android

Sid Meier’s Civilization series has always held the 4X flag high as one of the most popular and strongest titles in the genre. Civilization 6 is their current latest game (though a Civ 7 is overdue). In terms of simplicity and streamlined mechanics, Civilization 6 will pull in plenty of franchise beginners.

It’s one of the most newbie-friendly entries in the series to date. That is provided that players purchase all the expansions and DLCs which come with the best features for the game. Players essentially just pick their civilization which by default starts off in the Stone Age and progresses to futuristic eras; it’s up to them how to propel their civilization to global power.

7 Endless Space 2

  • Release year:
    2017
  • Platforms:
    Microsoft Windows, macOS

As far as space 4X games go, Endless Space 2 has one of the most compelling and captivating pre-made stories that players can follow. Its universe has a canon background for all its factions and all of them are interesting. Players will choose their space-faring civilization or faction and do what they want with them (which tends to boil down to war).

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The game is quite attentive to the player’s needs and knowledge. Some quests are even linear enough and easy to follow. The tutorial and the UI are also smooth and helpful here compared to other 4X games with less polish. It’s also easy to become emotionally invested in this Space Opera’s story.

6 Master Of Orion – Conquer The Stars (Remake)

  • Release year:
    2016
  • Platforms:
    Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux

A lot of players will swear by Master of Orion as one of the most beginner-friendly 4X games out there. Thus, it’s a perfect game for players who want to delve into a new genre. It’s similar to Endless Space 2 in terms of world-building. There’s no shortage of factions vying for power and all of them are brimming with individuality and uniqueness.

There is an original trilogy for this game, but they have since become outdated. A remake called Master of Orion – Conquer the Stars brings the game’s graphics up to speed and recreates the turn-based magic of the second game with a new coat of paint.

5 Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics Of War

  • Release year:
    2018
  • Platforms:
    Microsoft Windows, Linux

A lot of 4X games end up in the bitter flames and destruction of the “extermination” aspect anyway, so Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War decided to focus on that part. It’s a simplified version of 4X games that allows players to focus on being an armchair general by picking any of the four most popular Warhammer 40,000 races (for the base game, at least).

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The end goal here is to fight several other factions on a planet for its resources. There’s not much in the way of empire building since players mostly just control armies or squadrons of units, leading to a relatively easy 4X gameplay session that also works well in multiplayer.

4 Stars In Shadow

  • Release year:
    2017
  • Platforms:
    Microsoft Windows

Stars in Shadow is another 4X game that’s similar to Gladius in terms of simplicity. It’s also a space-focused strategy game where players pick their alien faction to explore and colonize nearby star systems and crush their rivals in the process.

On the surface, it looks complex due to empire-building aspect, but the game does a good job of explaining its mechanics. The user interface and the art style also aren’t intimidating though they can get a bit too wordy. Still, beginners can’t go wrong with this one, it’s one of the friendliest 4X games out there.

3 Space Tyrant

  • Release year:
    2017
  • Platforms:
    Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems

Space Tyrant‘s developers consider their game as an ideal beer & pretzels strategy game due to its simplicity. In certain facades, it can even look like a browser-based or mobile game, but that’s also part of its charm since it carries its own brand of dark humor.

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In any case, the goal is pretty standard. Players pick their alien faction but instead of skirting around violence as a win condition, Space Tyrant goes all in on warfare. In fact, ruling one’s dominion irresponsibly is also somewhat encouraged here. To that end, it has a unique tone and a less serious atmosphere compared to others.

2 Warlock: Master Of The Arcane

  • Release year:
    2012
  • Platforms:
    Microsoft Windows

All those space games a little too stellar? Then high fantasy will offer a breath of fresh air. Warlock: Master of the Arcane is thankfully both a simple and interesting 4X strategy game. Players take on the role of a powerful mage or wizard in a land with too many of them.

Sure enough, all of them desire ultimate power; they don’t want to cooperate with one another since they’re the fantasy equivalent of scientists looking to patent their own inventions or discoveries. In any case, this evil or ambitious wizard simulator and strategy game opens its arms wide for beginners.

1 The Battle Of Polytopia

  • Release year:
    2016
  • Platforms:
    iOS, Android, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems

What if Minecraft and Civilization had a baby? Well, it’s safe to say that it would have looked like The Battle of Polytopia. It offers the chill simplicity of both games. It’s set in the cute polygonal and flat world of Square where players get to pick one of the 12 distinct civilizations for their usual 4X endeavors.

The fact that it’s also available on mobile devices means that its gameplay is basic enough for those who want in on the 4X rabbit hole. Some genre veterans even consider it a mini-4X since players can finish their game sessions in under an hour instead of 12 hours or three days non-stop— give or take.

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4X Strategy Games That Are Good For Beginners

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