Starting with Galactic Civilizations II, we allowed players to go and watch their ships fight it out in battle in a separate battle viewer screen. But, what if we could show the battle on the main screen? That is, what if we could just zoom in on a fleet and rather than it being the leader ship with a number by it, it actually changed to show the entire fleet? So if you wanted to watch a fleet fight it out, you would just watch it right on the map.
I love this idea of zooming in to see the actual fleet battle! What I'm envisioning based on your words sounds like it could be very appealing if the AI, visuals, effects, audio, camera controls, etc. are all up to par with the rest of GC4's polish.
I love combat in my games, SotS is one of my all-time favorites and still unmatched in some ways with how it made combat engaging and interesting. I've enjoyed combat in all sorts of other titles in this genre.
I must admit I did not care for GC3's combat viewer, its controls, the graphics, the effects, etc. The combat experience wasn't fun or engaging and I would avoid it after a handful of views. I really tried to enjoy it but ultimately skipped it for the strategy layer animations.
I hope the idea of GC4's combat viewer eschews that for something new, even-if classic, like a locked isometric RTS view. Would this be 3D movable (with customizable controls)? Side/top? Isometric?
I do agree that battle stats intel is critical to display in a readable & useful fashion. It would be nice to see epic ship designs and researched tech builds be shown off in modern GFX glory. If it can't be given the level of detail and polish to be at least visually fun and engaging, I'd be fine with the existing "zoomed out" strategy layer summarized combat.
But if you pursue combat in GC4, mayyyybe interactive/controllable if/when zoomed in? Yes, I realize it's quite the pipe dream but one can always hope.