4X Games are a type of strategy game that is classified under four distinct principles. Those are eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate, hence the “4X” moniker. Generally, a relatively complex class of games, titles in this genre must consist of those elements and typically incorporate both turn-based and real-time strategy. So, although there is a lot to comprehend and gradually achieve, at the same time, it's very rewarding for dedicated fans who wish to immerse themselves and build their own empire through these four domains of conquest. Thankfully, for us PC gamers, the genre has always thrived on the platform. As a result, here are the best 4X Games on PC, in 2023.
5. Age of Wonders: Planetfall
Triumph Studios' Age of Wonders series has been a well-known name in the 4X genre for quite some time. And their latest title, Age of Wonders: Planetfall showcases the studio at its best. However, they aren't far away from releasing their newest entry, Age of Wonders 4, on May 2, 2023. Surely this will raise the bar yet again for one of the best 4X games series on PC. So, in order to properly prepare for its release, you'll want to set yourself up by playing Age of Wonders: Planetfall.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a sci-fi 4X game in which you enter an era when a galactic empire has fallen, leaving six factions (which you can choose from) to construct a new empire from the ground up. Play as the dinosaur-riding Amazons, cyborg-zombies Assembly, and more. In the game's single-player story mode, you must grow your empire by investigating other factions' civilizations, negotiating with them, or exterminating them if need be. You can also take the game's adventure and turn-based combat to multiplayer and compete for absolute dominance among your pals.
If you want one of the most grand 4X games on PC, you can't go wrong with Stellaris. Developed by Paradox Development Studio, you start as a civilization that has just developed the ability to travel throughout space. As you venture deeper into the cosmos, you will encounter, investigate, and interact with hundreds of different species, all of which will lead you on new missions and reveal new mysteries, shaping your adventure and the ambition of your empire.
Of course, your ultimate goal is to establish a galactic empire that governs over the universe. However, that won't come without resistance. So, resort to war with opposing nations, and strive to build the most cutting-edge technologies, battleships, and even full-fledged war fleets. You can even customize your nation's ideologies and ethics. All in all, Stellaris is one of the best 4X Games on PC, because it is one of the most in-depth titles in the genre, granting everything you could conceivably want in building your empire from the ground up. Or should I say from space travel and onward.
3. Endless Legend
Endless Legends has stood out as one of the best 4X games on PC due to its diverse gameplay, which consists of a bit of everything. You can choose one of eight nations, each of which plays very differently from one another, but all with the same goal: the sovereignty of Auriga. You begin with a modest city and army, and your supplies are sufficient to keep your nation alive for a short time. But if you want to prosper, you must cultivate food, establish new industries, enhance your scientific and magical knowledge, and improve your overall economy.
However, as a 4X title, it is more than just a game of conquest. That means there are a plethora of mysteries to unearth that may hold the secret answers to giving your society a step above the rest. Mixing in a sense of exploration and adventure. Nonetheless, you'll inevitably have to compete with other nations in your path for survival and prosperity.
2. Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War
We've included a lot of sci-fi/space-based 4X games in this list so far. Consequently, that's because the two concepts work so well together. And, evidently why the best 4X games on PC often fall into that premise. That's why we're taking a different approach with Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War. Though still science fiction at heart, the emphasis here is on violence and conflict, as that is what Warhammer is all about.
In Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War, four factions (Astra Militarum, Space Marines, Orks, and Necrons) are at war over the planet, Gladius Prime. You take command of one faction and, as you might expect, strive to exterminate every other nation in your fight for supremacy. Because in Warhammer, there are no friends, only enemies, conflict, and ultimate annihilation until only one race exists.
1. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
To no one's surprise, Civilization VI tops our list of the best 4X games on PC. As it's long-held stature as “the most played” 4X game amongst its competition, and of all games for that matter. Check the steam charts to see for yourself. It's also nice to move away from sci-fi and into something utterly different, but one we're familiar with: the history of our world. You virtually rewrite the history of the entire globe in Civilization VI. And it puts you right in the middle of the conflict.
Each country has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, a country by the coast will utilize trading ports, whereas a mountainous country will utilize mining for its resources. Nonetheless, you must make the difficult decisions of which country to start as and how you can make your chosen civilization the best in the world.
However, that only scratches the surface of what Civilization VI has to offer, not even covering its extensive variety of community mods. So, if you want the ultimate 4X experience on PC, Sid Meier's latest and greatest title is a no-brainer.