Build Death Stars and team up with pirates (the scurvy kind) in Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

We saw a ton of cool stuff when we sat down with Ironclad Games to discuss Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, the upcoming stand-alone expansion to the beloved 4X strategy series. We saw giant space battles, we saw greatly enhanced graphics, and we saw different races and factions engaging in absurdly large intergalactic wars. But two things we saw during our time with the game stood out more than anything else, and rose above the rest: the inclusion of playable pirates, and Death Stars.

Alright, well, we should probably clarify both of those features. There's no pirate faction or anything, and you can't actually build the real Death Star per say, but both of these elements have been added to the game in some form.

First, let's go through the other things you need to know: Rebellion is an expansion to Sins of a Solar Empire that moves the series' story a few steps forward. The original games' three factions, TEC, Advent, Vasari, have been split (as the "Rebellion" name implies), creating six factions that sound like they play a good deal differently than each other. Each side now has a "loyalist" and "rebel" side, and each side has its own tech trees and abilities.

The TEC Rebel side, for example, has a unique ability to team up with pirates. No, not the kind that download illegal games and post angry comments on videogame websites complaining about DRM - the other kind. The kind with eyepatches and scurvy and rum and parrots and stuff (though we don't know if the pirates in Sins have parrots). Fans have been asking for years to control the space pirates, and Rebellion finally opens up that option. Besides being able to recruit them, you can also use them to your advantage, hiding out in their special pirate areas. They're also sort of a comedic relief, making pirate quips that sound gleefully out of place in outer space.

The different factions also have access to different Titan ships. Titans are a new class of ship that reminded us, in a way, of an Imperial Death Star from Star Wars. It didn't actually look like the Death Star, but it was essentially the same thing: a moon-sized ship with power unlike the universe has ever seen. Each faction can build their own personal Titan, gaining access to the strongest ship there is. There's a caveat, though - you can only build one, they take a long time to build, and starting the building process alerts all other players of the intent. This, obviously, speeds things up a good deal, forcing everyone to act.

Or else, you know, they can deal with a bunch of Death Stars showing up and messing up their day. But we're guessing you won't want to deal with that. We wouldn't want to, either.

Other additions include an Artifact Planet that can be captured as a win condition, turning the game into a massive match of King of the Kill, and a slew of Steam improvements including voice chat and Achievements. On that same note, for a limited time the game will cost $29.99 for those who pre-order directly from Stardock.

We were also told that you're finally going to get some solid hints as to what the Vasari are running from, which has been a plot point teased for several years now. Apparently little bits of info will be hidden in the code, and Ironclad is anxious to find out how long it takes the community to sort through it all and crack the clues.

Our guess? Seven minutes. Before the game comes out.

Hollander Cooper

Hollander Cooper was the Lead Features Editor of GamesRadar+ between 2011 and 2014. After that lengthy stint managing GR's editorial calendar he moved behind the curtain and into the video game industry itself, working as social media manager for EA and as a communications lead at Riot Games. Hollander is currently stationed at Apple as an organic social lead for the App Store and Apple Arcade.