Niche strategy sickos rejoice, Dominions 6 will let you cook up bizarre gods shortly

 An army of pixel sprites marches to battle on 3D terrain in Dominions 6: Rise of the Pantokrator.
An army of pixel sprites marches to battle on 3D terrain in Dominions 6: Rise of the Pantokrator.

Long-running strategy series Dominions gets a new entry this week, as Dominions 6: Rise of the Pantokrator will launch on January 17, 2024. The Dominions series has players take on the role of a powerful demigod-creature attempting to become the  next god of gods, the Pantokrator. The deep, complex strategy games are known for their wild variety of pretender gods, units, factions, and magic spells.

Dominions is a core series for people who love niche, complex strategy games focusing on incredible flexibility. The core parts of the gameplay, which for much of the community focuses on multiplayer, are about assembling a magical economy to support carefully-constructed armies of mundane and mythical troops. So at its simplest you might raise an army of frost giants in order to summon battlefield-engulfing blizzards without risk of friendly fire.

Dominions 6 will have a number of key changes, the most prominent of which is a near doubling of the size of battlefields and the number of units on them. There'll also be a new underground map layer and an astral-world map layer. There's also about a thousand new units, 100 new items, and a new school of dream and illusion-focused Glamour magic. Also, for the first time in Dominions history, the mount and rider are separate entities. There are also major upgrades to the UI. (I know, it looks bad, but trust me here. It's better.)

Of course, it wouldn't be a Dominions expansion without new factions, with this release bringing 7 new ones for a new total number of nations of 101. New on the block this time are stuff like the Fire Giants of Muspelheim, Andromanian Dog-Men, and an island of tiny bird-riding people who worship some kind of philosopher king.

Perhaps most exciting for some players of Dominions is that a new system of AI behavior templating will let the community mod the bot-players' choices and strategies—letting the bots pull of weird strategies that players love like blotting out the sun or creating supervolcanoes. It should prove to be a huge boon for those who want to practice their skills or who prefer to play by themselves. The AI will also be able to understand rudimentary diplomacy, allowing for brief pauses in your attempts at Total War.

Back around the coming of Dominions 4 PC Gamer had a diary series on Dominions, recounting the journey of one obelisk and its army of apes to control the world and become god of gods. The gameplay is much evolved since then, but the core goal and the pure comedy remains the same.

You can find Dominions 6: Rise of the Pantokrator on Steam, where it will release on January 17, 2024. You can look at Illwinter Game Design's website if you want to see the website of a 90s indie company that makes games for a very specific subset of people and nobody else.