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4x games are bloated – and that’s what’s awesome about them

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TL;DR: A lot of the strength of 4x games lie in their sheer amount of stuff, which lures people in and despite the complexity, still bring in fairly large player numbers as they are aimed at a specific target audience

So first off, this post is of course a response to u/LukaCola, who made this post, and this post is not meant to mock his opinion, I actually think he makes a few good points, although there are some things I feel he has overlooked.

I have experience with Total War and the paradox games, but My experience in 4x is in no way huge, and therefore feel like I represent a certain group of "casual grand strategy gamers" that were the target audience the original posts intentions to make 4x simpler. Or, at least less bloated.

So as a casual 4x player, how did I even get started on them? Well, because they are bloated as hell, and I love that aspect. And I think that there are a lot of people who agree, as Civ6 is as of writing in the top 20 for concurrent players on steam charts, and Total War Warhammer II is in top 30.
I still remember the very first time I saw someone play Total War. Holy shit, I was blown away, I couldn't now believe that someone had made a game such extensive mechanics, to the point where you could control your armies yourself.

And then I saw EUIV, and man oh man, even more stuff. I just loved it for the fact that there was lots of stuff. Now you could argue that I am niche – except I am not, as stated above, these things have large and growing player bases. Are they mainstream? No, of course not. But they never will be.

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4x is niche in the sense that usually you like the genre or you don't. What I mean by that, is that they are made for the type of person who enjoys that kind of gameplay, and no one else. Take Among Us for example, arguably the biggest game of 2020. You can show among us to a majority of people, and they will be able to say whether or not they think the game is good. And in this case, it is light-hearted fun that almost anyone can enjoy. Then look at CK3, a major paradox release from the same year. As someone who enjoys that kind of game, I can say that I think the game is good and lots of fun. But if you do not enjoy that gameplay, it will have a hard time winning someone over. This does not mean that new players do not join, but the ones that do already found that kind of gameplay interesting, and I do not think that "dumbing down" the already complex games, like Civ or CK is the answer.

That said, there most certainly is a market for simpler strategy games, I just don't think that it would be the right path for already established game series. They already have their target audience. And I would actually recommend the Total War games for this, as they have comparatively much simpler mechanics and a focus on the battles that are pretty easy to learn and have a decently high skill ceiling. But I also realise that I grew up with TW, so maybe I can play them the same way you never forget how to ride a bike, idk.

There is one point made in the Original post that I totally agree with – 4x games can lack an obvious sense of direction. As the filthy casual I am, I will often just kinda sit around and look at things, wondering whether I want to this, or want to do that, without having any real idea of where to actually go, which can be kind of awkward the first few times playing, but these games often have events and missions that are slowly fed to the player, so it is rarely a problem for very long. And the answer to this is just to dive into doing stuff and learning through mistakes.

What do you think? I might be completely wrong on this one.

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