4X

Description

By definition, 4X is the abbreviation of eXploration, eXpansion, eXploitation, and eXtermination, a term originally coined by Alan Emrich. In terms of use and practice, 4X is some what more complex and may have expanded from its original definition.

Traditionally 4X was first popularly used to identify strategy games such as Sid Meier's Civilization and Master of Orion, although 4X games or its characteristics by definition may have existed far earlier than the aforementioned games.

A 4X game must fulfill ALL the following requirements:
  • Strategic Gameplay
    The player usually plays the role of a leader or adviser to a race, faction, country, civilization, nation, or any bunch of blokes in a large scale population against opposing forces. The game genre is usually limited to the strategy gameplay. No other genre's have been identified under 4X.

  • eXploration
    The eXploration category identifies the purpose of exploring surrounding territories, which may signify the use of a map. Exploration is conducted by sending out units to unexplored regions, where newly discovered locations become and remain revealed, depending on the variations of an implemented fog of war effect.

  • eXpansion
    The eXpansion category identifies the objective to expand territory or area of control, usually (optional) after eXploration campaigns have been successfully carried out. The strategy of eXpansion requires a balance between the player's ability to expand as well as the player's ability to defend and hold conquered or areas under the player's control. Existing or new areas/territories (towns, planets, etc.), may then be developed with structural buildings or other enhancements.

  • eXploitation
    The eXploitation category identifies the objective to control resources. Resources may or may not be limited, however the eXploitation category goes hand-in-hand with the eXpansion category as the more territory the player controls, the less the opponent does, thus the more resources the player has to his/her disposal.

  • eXtermination
    The eXtermination category is the result of continuous expansion. Conflict is inevitable and when push comes to shove, extermination of the opponent is eminent. Extermination requires the total elimination of an opponent or to subdue the opponent under the player's direct or indirect control (i.e. vassal, puppet, etc.) via armed conflict or diplomatic devices.

  • Randomly Generated Environments
    See the Games with randomly generated environments game group for further information.

  • Structural Building
    No 4X game has been identified to do without a structural building or similar devices. Anything from a latrine to a planetary doomsday weapon station may be used to further advance the player's purpose.

  • Technological Advancement
    Traditionally, 4X games have identified the use of technology advancements (or popularly known as a Technology Tree). These advancements are usually identified with the requirement to use resources, time to research, upgrade an idea or object, or other steps/factors needed before a certain (new or upgraded) technological benefit, unit, building, or similar devices be available to the player.

  • Diplomacy
    The concept of not being alone in this existence refers to other beings(s) that may have different goals or priorities than the player. Diplomacy is the bridge to those differences of 4X. Diplomacy is used to make allies or enemies, trade resources and information, or even as a channel for espionage. Most 4X games prefer complex uses of diplomacy rather than the standard friend or foe commonly found in non-4X strategy war games.
Limitations
For purposes of this game group, games where primary gameplay focuses only on eXtermination without any other possible victory conditions are excluded from this game group.

This means games such as Age of Empires, Command & Conquer, Heroes of Might and Magic, or Warcraft should not go here.

Additional Note:
Some hybrid games do not follow the traditional identification of 4X games, disabling one or more of its common features, yet may officially identify itself under the same genre. Whether or not these games should be included remain open for debate.
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sorted in ascending orderGame Title
Age of Wonders Windows Front Cover

Windows (1999)

Age of Wonders is a turn-based strategy game set in a fantasy scenario. The campaign can be played on two...

Age of Wonders III Linux Front Cover

Linux (2015), Windows (2014) and Macintosh (2015)

Age of Wonders III is a turn-based strategy game and is mechanically similar to Master of Magic. The background story...

Age of Wonders II: The Wizard's Throne Windows Front Cover

Windows (2002)

Age of Wonders II: The Wizard's Throne is about a young wizard named "Merlin". The world is unbalanced, and Merlin...

Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic Windows Front Cover

Windows (2003)

Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic is a stand alone sequel to Age of Wonders II: The Wizard's Throne. Like in...

Alien Legacy DOS Front Cover

DOS (1994)

After an alien attack in 2043, great technological leaps were made and space travel was significantly improved upon. In 2119,...

Windows (2004)

Based on the classic DOS game Anacreon: Reconstruction 4021, this shareware remake (by the original game's designer) adds a graphical,...

DOS (1987)

Anacreon: Reconstruction 4021 is an ASCII space strategy game in where you play (obviously) as the supreme leader of a...

Armada 2525 DOS Front Cover

DOS (1991)

An early 4X space strategy game that foreshadowed the more recent Master of Orion I and II. The game can...

Armada 2526 Windows Front Cover

Windows (2009)

Armada 2526 is a 4x space game and the successor of Armada 2525. As usual the player takes control over...

Ascendancy DOS Front Cover

DOS (1995), iPhone (2011) and iPad (2011)

Ascendancy is similar to, but nevertheless very different from, Master of Orion. You play one of many races, each with...

DOS (1995)

The Blue Planet 2000 is a 4X game and could be described as Civilization variant. The game starts in 6000...

Call to Power II Windows Front Cover

Windows (2000)

The sequel to Civilization: Call to Power. Call to Power II gives the player the chance to lead a civilization...

C-evo Windows Front Cover 1st version

Windows (1999)

C-evo (short for Civilization Evolution) is a 4X strategy game similar to Sid Meier's Civilization II. The game features hotseat...

N-Gage (2006)

Civilization for N-Gage is a handheld version of a popular strategy series. However, it's not a port of any existing...

Civilization: Call to Power Linux Front Cover

Linux (1999), Windows (1999), Macintosh (2000) and BeOS (2000)

Civilization: Call to Power is a turn-based empire building game. The players start a civilization in the stone age and...

Civilization II (Multiplayer Gold Edition) Windows Front Cover

Windows (1998) and Macintosh (1999)

This compilation includes the following games on one single disc: Sid Meier's Civilization II (base game with new multi-players features)...

Civilization II: Test of Time Windows Front Cover

Windows (1999)

Civilization 2 returns with all new adventures to complete. Included is the original Civilization 2, which now extends into the...

Amiga (1994)

Colonial Conquest II is a strategy game set in space, totally unrelated to the old SSI game. Instead, its main...

Dawn of Andromeda Windows Front Cover

Windows (2017)

Deadlock II: Shrine Wars Windows Front Cover

Windows (1998)

A sequel to the game Deadlock. This game features campaign play for each of the seven races in the game....

Deadlock: Planetary Conquest Windows Front Cover

Windows (1996), Windows 3.x (1996) and Macintosh (1997)

Deadlock: Planetary Conquest is a 2D turn-based 4X strategy. Players take the roles of aliens deadlocked on a planet surface....

Demise of Nations Linux Front Cover

Linux (2017), Windows (2017) and Macintosh (2017)

Windows (2010)

Distant World is a space strategy game consisting of (depending on the size of the known universe) a galaxy with...

Linux (2003), Windows (2003) and Macintosh (2003)

It is the time of the Ascension wars, when powerful creatures of several races and origins battle against one another....

Dominions 3: The Awakening Linux Front Cover

Linux (2006), Windows (2006) and Macintosh (2006)

For time untold, the Pantokrator ruled over the known worlds as a god and was the most powerful force known....

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