What you’ll find on Sins of a Solar Empire’s Forbidden Worlds

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In the vanilla version of Sins of a Solar Empire, Hypatia would be just another comfortable terran planet. I would settle it, upgrade its civilian infrastructure, and let its population grow for a while. It would eventually be a high-population world, useful mainly for the taxes it pays and whatever strategic place it occupies in the galaxy. Since it’s a fair distance from my capital, I’d of course build a temple to raise its allegiance, which is a base modifier to income. I might search it for artifacts. Of course, I wouldn’t find any. But you can’t very well not spend the money to check each planet for artifacts.

Hypatia would eventually turn into a blue marble that spits out credits. Basically, a cash cow. I would know this from the moment my scout warped into its gravity well for the first time. Terran planets equal credits. Next world.

But this isn’t the vanilla version of Sins of a Solar Empire. This isn’t your father’s Hypatia.

After the jump, what you’ll find on Forbidden Worlds

Hypatia is one of the oceanic planet types added in the Forbidden Worlds DLC for Sins of a Solar Empire. This means I have to research the appropriate tech before I settle it. At first, this strikes me as pointless busywork. But as I spread out and find a few different types of planets, I realize the new colonization techs are a speedbump to rapid expansion. In the basic version of Sins of a Solar Empire, you can quickly click the volcano and ice planet colonization techs and then settle pretty much any world you find. But in Forbidden Worlds, you have to funnel more resources into more techs, spending more time to unlock them. This means fewer resources and less time for the other techs you’d have bought by now. Busywork? Perhaps. But more to the point, the new planet types force more choices earlier on.

Forbidden Worlds also adds a slew of new planet modifiers. Previously, you might find underground caverns for more population capacity or high gravity for slower build times. The occasional minor tweak you might not even notice. But there’s more variety in Forbidden Worlds and Hypatia is a perfect example. As soon as I settled it, it revealed itself as a feudal society.


When I searched for artifacts, I didn’t find any. But I did reveal an oceanic energy converter, which improves my trade income by 20%. I’m guessing from the name these are unique to oceanic planets.


What eventually sets Hypatia apart even more is Forbidden Worlds’ option to convert any planet to social or industrial specialization. These are mutually exclusive, and each one has several stages of upgrade. The social specialization adds more room for population and a harder culture push, at the expense of trade income and ship building speed. The industrial specialization adds more trade income and faster ship building, at the expense of population capacity and culture. Eventually, these changes can be ridiculously powerful. For instance, my capital planet, a terran world, has a population capacity of 280. After applying the maximum number of social specialization upgrades, its population capacity is 1120. I love how much that feels like I’ve just broken the game.

Given that Hypatia has oceanic energy converters already boosting its trade, and given that its feudal society already restricts culture and makes ship building slightly cheaper, the decision is obvious. This oceanic planet becomes a booming industrial world, governed by a feudal society, harnessing its oceanic energy converters to boost the trade income of my empire. As such, it becomes the lead contributor to my trade income.

Not bad for what would otherwise be just another outlying world.

Unfortunately, the sum total of all these tweaks can be hard to suss out. You’d never know by looking at Hypatia that it’s a tricked out industrial powerhouse. Maybe that’s a bit too much to expect from the game’s already bounteous art assets. But even the planet’s title card gives no indication that I’ve upgraded it. This presumably dramatic change is buried two layers deep in the menu system.

Furthermore, I’m not sure it’s working correctly. By converting Hypatia to an industrial world, I have apparently limited its population to 150.


Fair enough. But after some time, the population still hasn’t dropped from 200.


Can I therefore trust that the other penalties and bonuses are working? I’ve enjoyed watching my capital planet’s population climb towards 980, and I can definitely see that Hypatia’s shipyards work faster. But in an expansion that introduces a bunch of cool new math, it’s a bit discouraging to see the math not always working. Regardless, Hypatia is already far more interesting than anyplace I’ve previously settled in Sins of a Solar Empire. And that’s even before finding any of the new artifacts Forbidden Worlds introduced.

3 stars