If a spaceship casts a shadow in the dark expanse of the stars, can anyone see it? If you’re planning on playing Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, you will. We recently had a chance to talk to one of the title’s producer- Chris Bray- about how the third expansion to the 4x RTS game promises to add not only space shadows, but a whole host of other additions.

Lighting is one of the many graphical improvements made to the game. Though it still runs on the Iron Engine, new textures will make ships more visually stunning, and effects have received a “significant overhaul.” Considering Sins is almost four and a half years old at this point, it’s good to see that they didn’t just stop at mechanical improvements, but made the effort to give the game a visual polish.

If you’ve been playing the beta for “Rebellion,” you know that the mechanical amendments are a plenty. Each of the three original races has been split into two factions with specific techs, abilities and ships that allow them to be played in different ways. Two new ship types have been added on opposite ends of the scales- the gigantic Titan class ship which spans the length of four capital ships, and the smaller Corvette class ships. While the latter’s smaller cost and size seem antithetical to a game that is so clearly designed to be about the large scale in all its aspects (long matches, big empires, giant fleets), Bray made sure to point out that they will be more balanced by the game’s release.

Speaking of the mechanics, the broadness of the game’s tactical options were a bit of a barrier to newcomers, and the current tutorials cover only a fraction of the basics you need to know to run an empire in Sins. This resulted in players needing to have a certain amount autodidacticism to go through each faction’s tech trees and vehicle details. While Rebellion is most definitely a multiplayer focused expansion, Bray assured that those tutorials will be improved and include at least one more that focuses on the diplomatic mechanics that weren’t covered before.

One of the more exciting bits of news was the improvement of modding tools. The Galaxy Forge toolset used by modders will now be expanded and include more features that have been asked for. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, the Star Trek mod- Sacrifice of Angels 2- is brilliant in its use of audio clips from the various series and has amazing texture and model work. It’ll be exciting to see what the expanded tools will allow modders to create next. Though there was a clear indication that it wasn’t a guarantee, Bray teased that they were looking into the possibility of using Steam Workshop for mod distribution. Considering how simple and popular that mod distribution system has been with Skyrim, it’d be exciting to see the accessibility used by more devs.

While Steam’s convenient modding abilities may or may not be eventually included, it’s great to hear that some of the platform’s community information will be integrated into the game, allowing players to access their Steam friends list for creating multiplayer games.

Lastly, while buying “Rebellion” will give players access to all of the Sins content that came before it, it was mentioned that owners of the original Sins would “not be forgotten.” While we weren’t given specifics, it’s always a plus when a developer is willing to take care of its entire audience, not just newcomers.

Look forward to a review of the “Rebellion” package soon.