Galactic Civilizations 3 announced, pre-orders offering alpha and beta access

Stardock has announced Galactic Civilizations 3, the next iteration of its long-running PC strategy franchise. The announcement promises much more detailed visuals, a revised ship builder, and multiplayer.

You'll be the leader of a spacefaring civilization, looking to expand your range of influence. You'll have to gain an advantage over the other races you run into with your superior technical know-how, diplomatic savvy, or cultural advantages. Or, alternately, you could murder them all. Conquest is conquest. This third installment includes new terrain elements like black holes and "Precursor relics," a revised ship builder to give you much more control over your fleet, and a new resource system. It's also exclusive to 64-bit PCs, so no slouches.

"The move to 64-bit architecture heralds a new era of game development at Stardock," Stardock Entertainment VP Derek Paxton explained. "The technology allows players to experience a level of graphical detail and on-screen activity unprecedented in large-scale strategy PC games. It dramatically increases the size and scope of the maps, and opens the door for modders to add a virtually unlimited amount of new content to the game."

Pre-orders are open at the official site, offering two packages. The "Founder's Edition" for $39.99 gives you beta access, a forum badge, and $10 off the price. The "Founder's Elite Edition" is $99.99, and also grants you alpha access, all the DLC and expansions, your name in the credits, and the ability to name a star in the universe.