Distant Worlds is a vast, pausable real-time 4X space strategy game. Experience the full depth and detail of turn-based strategy, but with the simplicity and ease of real-time, and on the scale of a massively-multiplayer online game.
User reviews:
Very Positive (652 reviews) - 80% of the 652 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: May 23, 2014

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“Distant Worlds: Universe is my favourite space strategy game. Not my favourite space strategy game released this week and not my favourite space strategy game released this year. It’s the definitive version of the best space strategy game I’ve ever played and I want to share the excitement with everyone”
Rock Paper Shotgun

“Distant Worlds: Universe is perhaps the finest 4x Space game in a generation, certainly since Galactic Civilizations 2. It's a challenging and complex game packed with features that allows you to choose just how you want to play it, while accommodating a wide variety of play-styles and strategies.”
9/10 – Strategy Informer

“Its enormous, complex and - above all - fun.”
4.5/5 – Digitally Downloaded

About This Game

The Universe is Yours!
Distant Worlds: Universe is the newest chapter of this critically acclaimed sci-fi series, adding incredible new features and an exciting new storyline.  Universe is also the ultimate collector’s edition, the first time all previous Distant Worlds releases have been included in one package, along with an updated manual and greatly expanded modding support.  

Distant Worlds is a vast, pausable real-time 4X space strategy game. Experience the full depth and detail of turn-based strategy, but with the simplicity and ease of real-time, and on the scale of a massively-multiplayer online game.  

Vast galaxies are made to order: up to 1400 star systems, with up to 50,000 planets, moons and asteroids. Galaxies are so deep, fun and immersive that you won’t want to finish the game.  Build, expand and improve your empire while playing through one of the storylines, with victory conditions or in an open-ended sandbox mode.

Each galaxy is packed with life and activity. Encounter other empires, independent alien colonies, traders, pirates and space monsters. Explore star systems, asteroid fields, gas clouds, supernovae, galactic storms and black holes. Discover evidence of civilizations long since past, uncovering secrets about the galaxy's troubled history...

Best of all, you can play the game your way: enjoy a quick, intense game in a crowded sector of space or take your time in an epic game spread across a vast galaxy! 

Distant Worlds: Universe contains all of the following:


  • Truly Epic-Scale Galaxies: play in galaxies with up to 1400 star systems and 50,000 planets, moons and asteroids. Vast nebula clouds spiral out from the galactic core, shaping the distribution of star clusters in the galaxy
  • Private Enterprise: the private citizens of your empire automatically take care of mundane tasks like mining resources, transporting cargo, migration between colonies, tourism and much more. This frees you from micro-management and instead allows you to focus on a macro-scale
  • Diplomacy: interact with other empires, discussing treaties, making trade offers or just giving them a piece of your mind. Talk to pirate factions, tapping into their underground information, or paying them to do your dirty work for you...
  • Choose your Playstyle: Start with a single planet and sub-light ships, or as an established space-faring civilization with warp drives.  Play as a Standard empire or as a Pirate faction, with many adjustable victory conditions and gameplay choices depending on your actions.
  • Intelligent Automation: automate the various tasks in your empire, so that you can focus on the areas that you enjoy most. Or have your advisors make suggestions in different areas like colonization, defence or diplomacy – helping you learn the best tactics and strategies
  • Explore: explore the vast galaxy, discovering valuable resources, potential colonies for your empire and making contact with other empires. Uncover secrets that lift the veil on the galaxy’s mysterious past...
  • Colonize: send out colony ships to found new worlds for your empire. Develop your new colonies by keeping them well-supplied with a steady stream of valuable resources
  • Defend: patrol the outlying areas of your empire to protect from raiding pirates or dangerous space monsters. Construct defensive bases at your colonies. Build up your fleets to defend against enemy empires. Recruit troops to invade enemy colonies and conquer the galaxy!
  • Espionage: covertly seek out information about other empires, or even disrupt their progress with acts of sabotage
  • Research: develop new technologies for use in building your own unique ships and star bases
  • Characters:  including Leaders, Admirals, Generals, Ambassadors, Governors, Agents and Scientists, all with defined skills and traits and the opportunity to advance and improve
  • Design and Build: A very flexible system allows you to design and build the ships and star bases in your empire. Construct mighty military ships ranging from escorts to carriers and dreadnoughts at your space ports, or build mining stations, research installations or secret monitoring facilities at remote locations throughout the galaxy
  • Built-in Game Editor: fine-tune your own galaxy, adding or removing star systems, planets, asteroid fields, ships, star bases, space monsters or anything else. Modify the attributes of any empire in your game
  • Extensive Help: exhaustive, built-in, context-sensitive help is always only a single key-press away. Press F1 at any time for a detailed explanation of the current game screen, your currently selected item, etc
  • Tutorials: in-game tutorials familiarize you with all of the game elements and tools

New to Universe!

  • The entire Distant Worlds series in one package! Universe includes the Original Distant Worlds, Return of the Shakturi, Legends, Shadows and the new Universe expansion!
  • Comprehensive Modding and Customization Support: Allows adding/removing/changing most items: resources (including new colony-manufactured resources), ship components, planetary facilities and wonders, fighter designs, alien races and race families, diplomatic dialog, empire policy, custom characters, ship and base design templates, governments, plagues, research tech trees and more
    • Can customize most of the images used in the game: ships and bases, fighters, alien races, planetary facilities and wonders, characters, troops, components, resources, ancient ruins, planets, stars, asteroids, animated in-game effects and more
    • Use a previously saved and editor-customized game as a map for a new game (instead of generating a new galaxy)
    • Powerful new event system accessible from a considerably-upgraded Game Editor. Set up your own storyline in a custom map with triggered events and custom victory conditions
    • Add story triggers on specific in-game objects or events, executing one or more actions on other in-game objects (either immediately or delayed)
    • Can replace most of the user interface icons and sound effects
    • Add your own custom help files to the in-game Galactopedia
    • Switch between different customization sets with a couple of mouse clicks from the main game menu
    • Comprehensive 99-page Modding Guide that outlines how to make Mods and explains all of the settings in detail
  • A new official storyline built using the new modding capabilities, covering the first war between the Freedom Alliance and the Shaktur Axis, in which you have access to the tech required to build your own planet destroyers, establish the Ancient Guardians and research and deploy the Xaraktor virus.


System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP SP3, Vista, Windows 7, 8, 10
    • Processor: Pentium 4 @1.5 GHz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: minimum 1024 x 768 resolution, 32 bit
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 9 compatible
    • Additional Notes: Requires Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer
    • OS: Windows Vista, Windows 7, 8 (64-bit), 10
    • Processor: Dual Core CPU @ 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: minimum 1024 x 768 resolution, 32 bit
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 9 compatible
    • Additional Notes: Requires Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer
Helpful customer reviews
46 of 54 people (85%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
307.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 18, 2015
There are plenty of detailed reviews here so here's this:

I like the game....alot...Once I learned how to get around the game, I found out how much. It can be different every time you start a new game. Ship design for me is the most interesting, especially knowing when to upgrade and what possibilities I have within the game itself to customize my fleet.

If there is anything I'm not a fan of, it is the late game as it really does bring my computer down to a crawl sometimes.

2 thumbs up from me....9 out of 10

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27 of 28 people (96%) found this review helpful
142.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 25
A lot of the other reviews for this product, whether for or against, are quite spot-on, in both their assessment of the game's strengths, and its weaknesses. The game's scale is almost unimaginable (700 Star Systems in a Medium game? How many planets is that? Thousands?) the rich game play, the ugly graphics, the variety (what, 30 playable races plus custom options?), the obtuse economic model (I have well over a hundred hours in this game, and still haven't really figured it out).

I love it, but it is definitely NOT for everyone.

The one thing I want to touch on is something that other reviews fail to mention, or only mention briefly: micromanagement and automation. The flexibility you have for setting how many decisions you get to / have to make is just over the top. I have never seen another game with anywhere near the fine control over such things.

You absolutely CAN turn off most (or all, if you are crazy) of the automated decision making processes, and handle everything yourself. Good luck with that.

The opposite extreme is also true. You can turn everything over to the AI, and turn it into a giant Galactic Civilization Simulator. This would be a lot more fun if the graphics were better.

I typically play somewhere in-between. I turn most of the tedious planet management stuff over to the AI, and keep tech, treaties, and colonization all to me. By mid to late game, I usually have most of my fleets automated, doing defensive missions like swatting pirates and the like, with one or two Aggressor fleets under my direct command.

Someone (I forget exactly who) suggested taking that to a new level. Pick a nice, aggressive race. Build up your early empire, and then turn everything over to the AI. Production, Tech, Diplomacy, the whole nine yards. Take a fleet, and become the Admiral. Chase pirates. When your Empire goes to war, punish her enemies. The ability to speed up game speed during those times when nothing interesting is happening really makes this a viable game play option.

I guess, in my final conclusion, what I like the most about this game is its re-playability. Not just in starting a new game with different settings, but in actually HOW you play the game. Not many games offer you that choice.
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32 of 46 people (70%) found this review helpful
177.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 11
Its been a bit since I played this game. I did enjoy it for what it is. It has some neat features (characters, civilian ships), but once you get over the intimidating interface, and learn how to play, the game was simple and I grew bored.

I did not find it as complex and deep as many claim. Just like any game like it, you wont just jump right in. You will have to learn how to play first, but once you figure it out I found it not much different then many of the games already available, and with its dated graphics and high price its not something I would rush to buy.

I would recommend this game on a good sale. Full price it too much in my opinion. 50% off is not a bad deal if you really like these sort of games, it is worth it at that price.

Edit: Had the 4x itch lately and been playing DWU a bit. This game does a good job of making the galaxy feel more alive then most 4x games, but is very weak on diplomacy and ship designing. Biggest reason I do not recommend is the needless high price with nothing too innovative to justify. Pick up on sale.
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12 of 13 people (92%) found this review helpful
227.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 20
This is a the best Space 4X game you can play. Because unlike the glut of all the other 4X games out there. It is in this game that I truly feel like I am managing a living breathing empire. You can dictate just how much you wish to involve yourself in the management of your empire which is great for new players.

Civilian ships will do their own thing and fill in the gaps in your empires demands. They handle the mundane tasks like transporting resources and population throughout the galaxy and mining. Even the population reacts to your tax policy on planets by migrating to the less taxed planets in your control... or they may even migrate to other factions planets because your taxes are too high. You can even control how your empire handles the migration of other races, even to extreme degrees like enslavement and extermination.

The AI does its job when assigned to manage any role you set it too. I like to allow it to control my military fleets and let them go to work when I declare war.

Those two things are nearly entirely absent in most 4X games or they are over simplified to the point they hardly matter. While the game makes it feel like you are running a living and breathing empire... its not without its faults.

Your planets are static things and have no real dynamic meaning other than fulfilling your expansion. Yes you have building but they are mostly focused around defence or building troops. Forget improving them in any meaningful way or have them sate a specific role in your empire. Strangely in Distant Worlds, you have no terraforming feature or even the ability to improve a planets overall quality. There is a terraformer, but it only restores a planet back to its original quality and never higher.

The economy in this game is just... ugh. For all the hours I have put into this game I still only have a vague idea of how it works. Get energy collection tech fast so your reactors don't burn energy in system. Make sure your civilian builds use a different fuel source than your military. Prioritize that your mining bases and ships have plenty of space to carry large amounts of cargo back home. Hopefully... your Empire will remain well stocked if you follow those guidelines!

Combat is really where this game suffers for me and is why I usually just the AI handle it, because there is Zero depth to how your ships approach a fight. Unless your enemy actually has the tech to stop your ships from warping in right on top of them. It just comes down to who has the bigger boots in a shin kicking competition. So your ships warp in point blank and if the enemy wants to run it has to endure nearly ten seconds of being mobbed. So as long as you are efficient with your ships designs and have a large empire, you will eventually grind your opponents into the ground.
TLDR; Good 4X game, combat is weak.
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28 of 47 people (60%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
8.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 10
The game makes a genuine stab at excellence but misses the mark somewhat.

The language that the develop uses to promote this game sets the bar pretty high for success: "Experience the full depth and detail of turn-based strategy, but with the simplicity and ease of real-time, and on the scale of a massively-multiplayer online game."

In retrospect, having played the game for about 9 hours, the first two pieces of this claim are obviously contradictory.

Truly you can have as much depth and detail as you like and you can certain have any level of control that you like. Or you can have as little of each as you like as well. But there just doesn't seem to be a whole lot of middle ground in how you play the game. You're eiether all in and playing it down to the level of the ensign washing the heads or the supreme commander mastering the strategy.

Add to this the interface, which is clunky, awkward, and frustratingly complex, I am left with a game that I truly wish I could play and enjoy but have no idea how to do so.

The game is a beautiful game. There has been a lot of attention and depth brought to this product. And perhaps I don't realize I don't like space simulation games and don't realize it.

But this game, for me, was extremely boring. Challenges were easily bypassed. And it was fairly easy to amass an armada of ships and bully my way through the universe. *Yawn*

I bought this game in a moment of weakness. Every two or three years or so I get stupid and purchase a game at its full price. Before this game it had been about a year since I fell off the wagon and bought the Witcher II. And before that before I fell off the wagon and bought Spore.

I've been a good boy since I bought this gameand haven't paid anything neear full price for any game since. $60 is way way way way too much to pay for this game. $20 is still too much. I would be satisfied that I hadn't wasted my money if I bought it around the $15 mark.

And rememeber, all of my reviews need to be examined through the lens of a casual gamer who counts the moments of his free time preciously, between life, career, family, and soul-crushing student loan debt.
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