Each faction now has their own tech tree, with specific race technologies or the ability to research general technologies earlier than others. The Iridium, an ultra-capitalist race, has access to specific techs that provide them with extra economy improvements, while the aggressive Drengin can pick up military sciences like "Planetary Invasion" way ahead of the competition. While many of these new mechanics are still subject to balancing, they'll hopefully go a long way to ensuring no two games of GalCiv III play the same.
Despite many significant additions and tweaks over the alpha, there are several core features of GalCiv III that are still in the works - Less-militaristic options like diplomacy, trade and treaties are slated for an October update. The United Planets (think an intergalactic version of the United Nations) is making a return from GalCiv II, but has been reworked to allow for more player agency and control. "You can use it almost as a weapon - You can be elected to the chair of the United Planets, and then you propose the bills that get passed," Boyer explained of the new UP feature, which will make for some interesting chat logs between players in multiplayer matches. "So it's like 'I really hate the Altarians, I know they're the richest race in the galaxy right now, so I'm going to pass this bill that taxes them.'"
On the warfare front, the hands-off combat viewer that'll give players a front row seat to each battle will be enabled in the next beta update, followed by the game's campaign in a third planned update just before launch. There'll also be weapon augments and support modules for your starships, allowing you to create a variety of ships with different roles. Boyer said there will be a great deal more strategy involved in space combat and players will need to "build [their] fleet like a deck of cards" in an almost "Hearthstone-esque" manner. Minor races will also make a reappearance; AI-controlled civilizations that pose no real threat to your quest for dominance but can provide extra opportunities for trade or target practice.
Also in the works are modding tools and options for players to share their customized races and ships through Steamworks and other methods that are still under construction. "My goal is for you to be able to - I'll be playing you, and I look over and go, "Damn, that's a cool ship he's got," said Boyer. "And I should be able to go to the ship detail screen and say 'save as template,' and now I have your ship." Another possibility being explored is allowing the game's AI to "mine the internet for ships" and bringing in customized starships that other players have uploaded to Steamworks. With the plan for giant galaxies featuring multiple races and a vast suite of customization options, "Modders will be able to go crazy," Boyer said.
The full version of Galactic Civilizations III doesn't have a solid release date just yet, but Boyer is hoping for a Spring 2015 launch window. Until then, aspiring empire builders can check out the game via Steam Early Access, or follow Stardock's Twitch channel.