I have never played any of the previous editions of this game; however, I have been playing this game which is still in beta since August 2014.
I have been extremely impressed with how well the developers have improved the game play and added new features and options. They provide weekly Dev Streams where the lead designer demonstrates the capabilities of the game, explains their development intentions, and answers questions from the audience. Copies of the Dev Streams are available for viewing on YouTube.
So far, I have submitted over 24 bug reports and Stardock support has been very quick to respond to each of them. Most of the issues I raised have already been resolved via game updates or hotfixes.
The game is 64-bit and therefore will demand more than 2 GB of RAM to operate. How much memory is used depends primarily on how big the map is. On my PC, a small map starts using about 1.7 GB, a huge map starts with about 3.1 GB, while the insane map starts running at about 4.1 GB. Please note that this is about 50% less than what the game was using three months ago with smaller maps and the developers have not finished optimizing it.
I find the game exciting to play, especially in the beginning phase. However, it becomes tedious when my empire approaches 100 planets with only a third of the map explored. Towards the middle of the game it is downright boring due to the number of repetitive tasks (e.g., starbase improvements) and a passive AI. The developers are working to address these issues but they still have a long way to go.
The game has multi-player capability but this option is broken in my opinion. I suspect this may be due to how the background calculations are transmitted between players since most of the game freezes and crashes occur during the handoff to another player. I look forward to Stardock resolving this issue.
If you want to participate in developing what may be the premiere space 4X game of the decade then I recommend you join in the fun, and frustrations. If you dislike things breaking for no apparent reason or desire a fully implemented game then I suggest you place this game on your wishlist.