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 (468 reviews)
Release Date: May 23, 2014

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"The definitive version of the best space strategy game I’ve ever played"
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May 28

Your chance to grab the best 4x space game at 50% off

A year ago Distant Worlds: Universe released on our store and on Steam. Since then, press and players, old and new of the series, have been playing and praising this game as the best 4X space game ever made.

PCGamesN wrote it is "and exceedingly complex, infinitely rewarding space strategy game", while
GameWatcher wrote "Distant Worlds: Universe is the finest 4X space game in a generation".
RockPaperShotgun called it "one of the most unique, enormous and engrossing strategy games ever made".

We really wanted to celebrate this anniversary with you so, starting today at 7 PM CEST/ 5 PM UTC/ 1 PM EDT and for the next 48 hours, the game will be on sale for only $ 29,99!

The sale will end on Saturday 30th at 7 PM CEST/ 5 PM UTC/ 1 PM EDT!

Now, this is your chance to get Distant Worlds: Universe for half the price, but hurry up!


10 comments Read more

May 18

Distant World: Universe Version is out!

Humanity has the stars in its future” – Isaac Asimov

A major new update is available for the critically acclaimed 4x space strategy game Distant Worlds: Universe, bringing the game to version with many improvements, changes and bug fixes!

For example, major improvements to the private sector freighter system, AI improvements, fixes to achievements that were not being retained, and bases will now launch fighters at attackers even when they have no other weapons!

But the list is very long, so be sure to check the whole changelog here

11 comments Read more


“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 or 8
    • Processor: Pentium 4 @1.5 GHz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: minimum 1024 x 768 resolution, 32 bit
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 9 compatible
    • Additional Notes: Requires Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer
    • OS: Windows Vista, Windows 7 or 8 (64-bit)
    • Processor: Dual Core CPU @ 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: minimum 1024 x 768 resolution, 32 bit
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 9 compatible
    • Additional Notes: Requires Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer
Helpful customer reviews
160 of 174 people (92%) found this review helpful
6 people found this review funny
358.3 hrs on record
Posted: March 9
I write this review shortly after it becoming my most-played game on Steam.

It's difficult to summarize what is- without question- the best space 4X that exists.

With all my hours, I've never even really played past the midgame. There's so much replayability just in restarting galaxies with different settings. I constantly got somewhere in the midgame and realized there was a setting I wanted to change.

You'd be surprised how much some of those galaxy generation settings make a difference. Things like pirate amount, pirate strength, colonization range, galaxy size, colony influence range, and even the generic difficulty setting.

I constantly toyed with all of them. Trying less but stronger pirates. More but weaker pirates. I finally found the balance I like.

Colonization range matters. Too large and empires jump over each other's borders. Too small and you run out of in-range planets you can colonize.

Galaxy size, in relation to star amount. You can do 15x15 with 1400 stars, or 10x10 with 1400 stars. The difference of course is the density of the entire galaxy.

Influence range. Colonies project "influence" and these influence circles are considered your territory. This is a setting typically not thought of- just set to the recommended setting- but this matters too. For example I'm experimenting with having it set to the minimum setting- 10%- and this is all kinds of interesting. The influence circles basically don't extend beyond their respective solar systems, leaving the vastness of space permanently unclaimed. Multiple empires can have mines within a single solar system, and not ♥♥♥♥♥ at each other for having mines in the other's territory.

The difficulty setting. I played on Normal for the longest time. But I began to notice that towards the midgame, I would have like 16 colonies and every other empire would have like 3 or 4. I was vastly ahead. Bumping the difficulty up to Hard allows the AI to keep up with me, and it's common for a few to stay ahead of me as well. An extremely welcome change, to not just breeze through the entire game.

I apologize for focusing so much on settings but this really has almost been my entire focus with the game. Moving on though.

Ship design is amazing. I love unlocking new components and building ships from scratch. Testing them out in battle. When they wreck face, I feel like it's because I designed them well.

Lots of people describe the game as a space opera and it really is. The stories it creates, the politics that unfold, are amazing.

I guess I'll stop here. My review is different I suppose. Almost entirely about settings.

I really hope you guys found this helpful. Comments are greatly welcomed!
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121 of 189 people (64%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
109.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 25
tl;dr: functionality does not match the high price (worth $25 US imo); many features are complex, mysterious and frustrating; too much AI

My apologies, this is going to be a long review because DW:U is a complicated game.

  • A ton of features and complexity
  • A ton of automation
  • If you like 4x gaming, you could get a lot of hours out of the game (bang for the buck)
  • Vast galaxy size and many races
  • Many things can be modded

  • The AI will often override your settings and actions. For example:
    - in settings, say you set minimum number of troops on a planet to 4
    - in settings, you set minimum population for troops to 1 million inhabitants
    - let's say you have 20ish planets and many have huge populations (greater than 1.5 billion)
    - let's say you are at peace and your economy is growing. Cash on hand is 300k (top number...upper right), cash flow is 5k (middle number...upper right) and bonus income is 30k (bottom number...upper right)

    You will scroll through your planets and see that many do not have 4 troops. The reason is because the AI believes you do not have the cash flow to support 4 troops per planet. The AI also believes that lower populations do not warrant 4 troops. So....even though you set 4 troops for planets with any population...the AI decides otherwise.

    You could even manually place recruit orders for 4 troops on all the planets. You will later review those planets and discover that the AI cancelled those recruit orders or got rid of the troops.

    A typical game would let you live with the consequences of your settings. Not so in this game. If there is an income level involved in deciding to build troops then that income level should be a setting. It is not, you must live with it and the enemy will often capture your planets because you have no troops defending them. TONS OF FRUSTRATION (and not fun)
  • None of the hidden rules are published and there are a ton of them. Every time I have weird or frustrating behavior, I need to go to the forum. Often, people state how they "think" it works.
  • To bypass the AI frustrations you would need to go 100% manual. I've found AI quirks in nearly every aspect of the game. Due to the complexity of the game, a fully manual game will take hundreds of hours to complete and is not a realistic option IMO. Even on manual, you will still need to work around some quirks (e.g. removing low fuel ships before issuing a move command for a fleet).
  • The developers do not seem to be active in the community
  • The game starts to feel like cat herding and trying to trick the AI into doing what you want. Often, the solution is the go completely manual. A completely manual game will take forever to play (at least hundreds of hours)

    For example: A fleet will fly at 1/3 speed if any ship is overly damaged or is low on fuel. They will also consume more fuel at lower speeds over long distances, compouding the problem. So...every time...before sending a 50 ship fleet to a destination you need to review the status of ships in the fleet, remove ships that will slow down the fleet and then automate or scrap the ships you just removed.
  • Some user interface features are cool but other common tasks can require many clicks
  • Very small community (dead game)
  • Overly complex user interface (e.g. some right click options are only available at certain zoom levels)
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32 of 39 people (82%) found this review helpful
63.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 5
Distant Worlds: Universe - The definition of a true RT4X, but not a game for everyone.

I feel as though this review doesn't do the game justice, as I highly enjoy this game. That said, there are things about it that most gamers would have trouble with, despite Distant Worlds generally being a good game.

Gameplay-wise, Distant Worlds is extremely deep. The tech tree is enormous and even makes logical sense. Basic gameplay is very similar to an RTS, while the amount of control you have over every aspect of your empire goes down to the very designs of your ships. This may seem too deep, but you can automate anything you don't want to have to deal with - you can even basically let the AI take over for you while you watch if you want.

Graphically, the game is a bit dated, though it will look familiar to people who have played older RTSs and indie 4Xs. There's not much to say here, as it's a 2D game without too many graphical frills. However, I'm kinda glad the graphics are so basic - there's so much going on in this game that 3D graphics of any sort would kill even modern GPUs.

The soundtrack is something I could gush over for days, but I'm not going to. It basically varies from cinimatic to orchestral classical, and even a bit of monophonic chamber classical (though it all meshes together very well). One thing, however, is that the entire soundtrack plays at all times, so you may end up with peaceful exploration music during a brutal war, or a high-intensity battle theme while you're peacefully exploring the galaxy.

Quality-wise, this game is all over the map. On one hand, the game runs surprisingly smoothly for what can be considdered the biggest RT4X ever made in terms of map size. On the other hand, there are parts of the game that don't feel finished, particularly the system used for ground combat.

One thing to note: This game has a steep learning curve dispite all the automation features. Mistakes will hurt, and they will hurt HARD.

The Bottom Line

Gameplay: 9/10 - Deep, almost too deep in fact.
Graphics: 5/10 - Nothing special, but there's no slowdown.
Soundtrack: 10/10 - Incredible
Quality: X/10 - I can't give a rating in this category, as the game is all over the map here.

Overall: 8/10 - A little rough around the edges, but definately a solid entry in the RT4X genre.

Recommended for: Fans of RT4Xs, people who liked Civilization but were bored by how simple it was
Not Recommended for: The average gamer.

P.S. Pirates suck
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73 of 127 people (57%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
70.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 21, 2014
I really wanted to like this game. Having played Sword of the Stars just before this, I was very much looking forward to not micro-managing things due to the automation. The problem is that the automation doesn't work well.

The automatically created ships designs include will include a troop compartment on everything that is destroyer class or bigger. Never mind that there is dedicated troop transport and troops are useless in space battles, I suspect this is because the AI controlled empires wouldn't be able to conquer planet otherwise, as the fleets the automation creates don't make a lot of sense. In one game I got a strike force (4 ships) with four cruiser in it, and fleet (15 ships) with no crusiers or carriers in it. Troop transports will get mixed into both strike forces and fleets. Nevermind that for an invasion to be most successful the troop transports need to massed and attack the planet at the same time, and it is necessary to move the troop transports to a planet enmasse, wait for them to get positioned, and then attack. Otherwise some of the troops won't participate in the invasion.

The automation for the civillian ships can't be turned off and it breaks down hard if you build to many star ports. The automatic queueing for building mines also can't be turned off, so to avoid having mines built on poor quality resources and/or in locations you don't want to defend, its necessary turn off automation on all of your construction ships. That means you have to micromanage them, including somtimes telling them to refuel. Definitely not what I was lookin for.

And fricking fuel. The automated designs don't include nearly enough fuel storage, which is just one of many reasons you'll need to manually design your ships. Ships can also get completed and be empty on fuel and have to limp slowly somewhere else to get fueled up. This happens because the civillian ships aren't transporting enough fuel to your star port(s). The same can happen for other resources and caused the building of your ships and bases to stall for extended periods.

When ships are completed their shields typically aren't charged and they only charge up at the regular and slow rate (relatively very slow later in the game). You can mitigate this by ordering your the components of your ships in specific way so that shields will actually charge while remainder of the ship components are being built. However, achieving this order requires creating most of the design when better refactor, fuel cell, or shield components come available. This is because the when a new component is added it always added at the bottom of the list, and those items need to at the top for the shields to charge. So its not just micro-management but just tedium in the user interface as well.

Didn't find the planetary facility automtion useful at all. It frequently wanted to build wonders on worlds were they would be very slow to build, and also build regular facilities to early in a colonies lifetime given the value of the colony vs. the cost of maintaining the facility.

Loading and saving is also quite slow with the top performing SSD currently on the market. Given the save files aren't all that big, it seems likely its software algorithm issue rather than a throughput issue.
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13 of 17 people (76%) found this review helpful
416.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 9
I'm going to start this off with the obligatory, this game isn't for everyone. But for me, this game is the ultimate 4x space sim.

Many people complain about the price of the game, that it's just too high. I sympathize, I would be very upset if that prevented my from owning/playing the game. The reality is, this game has tons of content and accomodates tons of play styles. I've put in nearly 500 hours and still feel like there's a bunch of things that I still have to experience.

My main draw to the game is its scope. The size of the universe (at the largest setting) is simply astonishing. This is the only space sim (next to elite dangerous) that really captures the immense size of the universe. This has essentially ruined Galactic Civilizations for me. I played GalCiv2 to death but have found GalCivIII very hard to get into now that I've been spoiled by DWU.

DWU is a simulation first, game second. Much like Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis IV, you can just let the computer AI manage your empire's decisions. DWU has an incredible amount of options regarding what aspects of the empire you want to control so it's up to you to decide. I find that starting as a prewarp empire is essential when getting into the game initially. It reduces the early game scope to what most players are familiar with: exploration, finding critical resources and developing some crucial early technologies that allow you to expand and defend your empire.

The visual presentation is very utilitarian. The menus are probably the weakest visual element, but some other aspects of the game are gorgeous. I think the late game galaxy view is a sight to behold. So many moving parts bring an incredible amout of life to the game, something you don't get in GalCivIII or any of game I've played for that matter.

The ship graphics can be modded, but it's a relatively basic 2d representation. Managing large battles can be challenging when ships overlap, but I have not had to many problems in that regard. I still prefer the 2d presentation which allows for the massive scale over the more limited 3d turn based views of GalCivIII.

The game also allows you to play as a pirate faction which can be a very fun experience, it's more intimate. You also have the ability to custom build/upgrade your own ships. You can have the AI do this, but that takes a huge strategical element out of the game. I'm finding that I like to micro manage this process more and more.

This game is one of those rare games that will age (and has aged) very well. The game mechanics are solid and the simulation is just stellar. By focusing on those core elements and not so much on the visual side, we have a product that is in a category of it's own. I understand that some people won't get over the price premium and put way more emphasis on the visual side of things, but I think they are missing the point of what this game ultimately achieves. For them I recommend GalCivIII (which I enjoy playing), but I will be turning to DWU to scratch my Space 4X itches most of the time. Highly recommended.
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11 of 15 people (73%) found this review helpful
96.4 hrs on record
Posted: April 29
A short simple review on why the game is worth the money:

My reasons for recommending this game:

Some reviews state the steep learning curve and the ♥♥♥♥♥♥ UI. Nonsense, this game can be fully automatized and you can watch it run itself ! This in itself presents you the opportunity to learn this game. Each game you play (I would, as a starter advise a smaller galaxy) you can put different parts of your empire on automation and learn other parts until you grasp the entire game. On top of that the automation is actually good and competent enough to do diplomacy and war.

The only minor annoying thing is the management of invasion and troop transports. Sometimes the AI takes a really long time to put together a proper fleet to attack a planet and take it over with an invasion. From experience I can say this should be improved as the AI tends to put single troop transports in every fleet or strike force. The AI should first and foremost create a proper invasion fleet and then it can assign troop transports wherever.

Civilian Economy
Excellent design due to you, as a player, not being able to influence it directly. The civilian economy is semi-independent and takes care of all trade and resource transport across your empire. If you mismanage your civilian economy by bad military escort or having to few resources of one type, you are in trouble since you cannot influence it directly. The civilian economy needs time to build up from disasters and from the start of the game. Your job as a player is to provide them with enough planets, asteroids and last but not least security so that they can do their job of transporting resources. You might think this semi-independent economy is irritating, but its not it add a layer of strategic depth that is most satisfying to play with.

Race policy
You can be a genocidal maniac or the benevolent empire that is there to save all. The only slightly irritating thing is the fact that you can only select FAMILY of the race, not specific races. correction: You can only set policies for your own family and all other races, which I find arbitrary and a bad design option. What does this mean you say ? There are a lot and I mean a lot of races (not counting mods) and these races are divided by family. You have insectoids, humanoids, reptiles, etc.

These are my main reasons for that this game is far better than any other 4x space game out there.
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5 of 6 people (83%) found this review helpful
332.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 31
This game is extremely complex and diverse. I've played it for a while now and it still manages to suprise me. Some people may dislike the RTS concept, however you can pause and slow and quicken time, allowing you to play this game as if it were a turn-based game, yet also allowing for a sort of natural variety or uncontrollability that would come from commanding a real space empire. An enemy might attack one of your bases without warning, popping out of hyperspace, and you may not react in time or have any defense. The atmosphere of this game is extremely unique.

If you ever get bored of the game, you can simply look around online and find many mods that allow you to play as many many more races, such as the Picard Era Mod allowing you to command the United Federation of Planets, or the various star wars mods or DWU Extended mods. There are mods that change how the game behaves and the AI's as well. The possibilities of this game are limitless.
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7 of 10 people (70%) found this review helpful
92.7 hrs on record
Posted: March 25
Ok, so this is my first review i have ever written and I've played alot of games especially in the 4x genre, but this game compelled me to do so...

First off when I fired up the game all excited it seemed overwhelming at first with all the menus in the interface. I soon realized that most everything was automated and it played more of a choose your own adventure approach which kind of turned me off... Then I digged deeper and found that you could turn off all these automated options and control every aspect of your empire...

All I can say is WOW!! This game has trivialized every 4x game I have ever played. I am currently in the GCIII early access and that is a great game, but compared to this it is boring. Ill probably only play GCIII when I'm too inebriated to play distant worlds. I see some crying about the price saying this isn't a AAA game, well thank god for that, because unlike AAA game titles this is actually a good game with unlimited hours of replayability and mods galore, and if that's not worth sixty bucks well I don't know what to tell you.

Bottom line: flat out best 4x game i have ever played. If you are a fan of this genre and don't own this game it is the biggest mistake you have made in your life as a strategy gamer.

4x Games currently owned: (some not on steam older gamer with hard copies.)
CIV 1-5
GCiv 1-3
Endless Space
Endless Legends
Fallen Enchatress
Civ Beyond Earth
Dominions 4
Age of wonders III
Worlds of Magic
Hearts of Iron I-II
Crusader KIngs II
Eropa Uneversialis IV
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7 of 10 people (70%) found this review helpful
72.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 14
Ah, man.

This is tied with Swords of the Stars (original one, of course) for my favorite 4X, if not my favorite game. When people say that Distant Worlds is one of the best games made, they aren't exaggerating or lying - it truly is. The features are truly extensive, and the AI is actually intelligent - I've been outfoxed by it twice - even if it does have its failings.

I personally think that the greatest feature about DW are the automation settings. It relieves some pressure on you by taking care of the small bits that you might not care for - for example, taxes and improvements - and there's also the potential for alternative game play, such for example playing as a starship captain. There's even apparently the possibility to automate literally everything, though I wouldn't recommend doing that unless you are really bored, haha!

Now, for downsides...this game, as I said, is extensive, and even with automation its still a lot to take in. The resulting learning curve is pretty high, especially if you aren't used to 4Xs, and it'll take a playthrough or two to get a hang of all of the features. Its not for everyone, particularly if you don't have a decent amount of time to sink into this game, because believe me it does eat up time like no other game.

If you do want to get it, I recommend getting exclusively the DW:U package, which has all of the expansions - its worth it, and there is a significant difference between expansions. I then would recommend getting the Expanded Universe mod, which further dramatically changes the game for the better.
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8 of 12 people (67%) found this review helpful
122.2 hrs on record
Posted: April 18
    Distant Worlds: Universe is an old school type 4x space sim. Don't expect high-end graphics and fancy user interfaces in this game. Instead you should expect a high level of functionality, strategy and interaction. Distant Worlds: Universe brings you a great deal of control to your fledgeling space empire where your bad decisions can really turn the course of this game around.

  • Many options for your new game. From galaxy ship, number of stars, pirates, starting tech, colonization rules and many many more options to play with.
  • Great ship designer, again with many options. You're able to really spec out different ships for different purposes.
  • Automation... EVERYTHING. You can basically run this game on autopilot and have the AI manage your whole empire. Or you can choose which things you want automated and which things you want direct control over. Don't like diplomacy? Automate it. Don't like colonization? Automate it. Automate your ship design upgrades? Why not! Every aspect CAN be automated. I like to automate things I don't like doing, like diplomacy.
  • It's big. You can have an upper limit of 1,400 stars in game and the distances are closer to real life distances from star to star. This gives this game a nice realisim feel to it.
  • Every ship counts! You'll feel the hurt if you lose that fleet. You have to think about fleet engaugements and if you can afford to move a fleet from it's position, or if you can afford to lose it. This is one of my favorite parts of this game.
  • It's solid. It's been around for awhile and tweaked to the point where eveything works well with everything else.
  • A ton of options for every part of your empire.

  • The graphics are by far well below what you'll expect from games these days. Drop down menus are like the ones found in windows.
  • Learning curve is moderate. If you don't automate somethings it can become very tedious.
  • You'll probably get tired of building mining stations to supply your empire. This reduces a bit once you realize you should focus on resources that you don't have at that time.

    Graphics3 It's noticably lacking in graphics. Windows norm with a lot of the menus. Ship animations are nearly non-existant.
    Gameplay8 Many different strategies will have you coming back to try something different.
    Immersion7 The level of strategy and the feel of lose, even from a couple of ships really puts eveything into prespective. The amount of options you have over your empire is staggering
    Value6 With the lack of current day level of graphics and the $25 price tag are the only reason why this isn't higher.
    6 Considerably higher if graphics are not a concern for you!

    Distant Worlds: Universe is a must have for any 4x space sim fan. If you're able to get past the graphics you'll have great times with this game. Start off with a small galaxy otherwise you may get overwhelmed!

You can ether wait until it's on sale or buy it for regular retail. Personally I would buy it for the full retail because I wouldn't want to wait for it to go on sale.
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10 of 16 people (63%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
47.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 2
Recommended with caveats.

This game is much more akin to Paradox’s “grand strategy” games than it is to conventional 4X space games (MOO, GalCiv and the like).

It simulates a lot of the detail of the empire and offers automation for everything - the same automation the AI uses.

That leaves the player free to take on the elements that are interesting to them at any given point in the game (for example - I usually do a bit of early colonisation, set the research path then mostly take control of fleet targets and diplomacy).

Playing with a lot of automation can involve a lot of watching your plans being implemented by the AI with a little bit of reacting to random events - yet it is still quite absorbing as you edge towards your long range goals.

The caveats:

It isn’t very accessible - many critical systems are more than a little opaque, such as colony growth, research caps and the way various ship components work. Expect to have to do a bunch of reading forum threads and guides to get to grips with things.

The UI is annoyingly clunky (for me); while there are multiple ways to select and list the objects in your empire there are actions that can only be performed in specific views and lists.

I also have some concerns about the victory system (which may not be that important because at its core the game is more of a “sandbox” than a 4X). There isn’t any kind of diplomatic or alliance victory, there isn’t really an influence based victory - its all about population and territory, which ultimately means military victory.
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13 of 22 people (59%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
126.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 22, 2014
This game is a bad ♥♥♥ Grand Strategy. The action is nice, but a little seizure inducing at late game stages, just the game a good gamer likes it.

I was "Bro bro bro'd" by a broke friend into buying this game so he could play it on my steam share.

The first day I got it I decided to be a deuchebag and play it for a bit so that he couldn't, I only planned to be there long enough to learn the game... 12 hours later after starting to play, I hadn't even gotten off my homeworld yet but once or twice, restarted the game like 4 times and ignored all messages the entire time... The learning curve melted my brain, it was phenomenal.

Despite this the game is pure unfiltered gold distilled in a strange little package. It's like a jacked up mixture of Europa Universalis and Masters of Orion 3 - its Effin' glorious if you're a fan of either one, better if you're a fan of both.

It definitely gives you a real "I'm the leader of a galactic empire and I can't really do everything" feel. There are quite a few options that you can either control yourself or have the AI control - in fact, if you want to "Watch" the game you could put the AI in control of everything, from colonization to troop management to whether you go to war or not but honestly its more fun the more you control, however overwhelming it may get.

I've had the game for just under three weeks and already put 90 hours into it, on my laptop no less. My job wishes I put in that kind of time. I'm limited to galaxies with 400 stars but if you've got a graphics card and decent processor a standard 900-1400 stars'll work for you just fine.

Don't buy it for the graphics, buy it for the gameplay. Tons of customization options you can build the galaxy as you like and control many victory conditions. I highly recommend this game for anyone who is a fan of Grand Strategy games.
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15 of 26 people (58%) found this review helpful
38.6 hrs on record
Posted: May 17
This game came out in March 2010 for 30 bucks, but I couldn't register it on Matrix website, since I bought it on Gamer's Gate. I bought the 1st expansion from Matrix (only place available), got it to work once, got a new pc, they came out with a patch and 2 never worked together again (customer support was useless). Five years later this comes to Steam with all 3 expansions. This game is 5 years old and not worth the 60 dollar price tag, and it's only 32 bit. If you're lucky, you might actually complete a game before it gets really bogged down from all the ships in play.

From what I've seen of Matrix, they would rather discontinue a game before dropping the price tag to something reasonable. All their games are over-price. So if you're waiting for a 50% off sale, it'll never happen, the most you might get is 10% off at the end of the year.

This game is buggy.

Just in my limited time of play, I've found so many bugs. I'll list a few that just irritated me.

When setting up your empires policies. I like mine setup so that whenever a new planet is colonized, it immediately starts building a defensive base. However that's not always available from game to game. I've started 7 seven games so far (all with the exact same settings and race). Of those seven, only in 3 I had the option to build defensive bases when a planet is colonized. I think it was games, 1, 4, and 5. How does that make any sense?

Games 2, 3, 4, had to be abandoned due to some weird glitch that caused my population growth to jump to 109%, maxing it out in seconds, then my cash and income showed infinity, my 1 and only planet would build every ship, regardless of how they were queued, except colony ships.

Game 5, my automated explorers would explore a system, but when you clicked on a specific location, it wouldn't tell you how much of a % of that resource there was. So then you had to do it manually. Game abandoned.

Game 6 had to be abandon because all the civilian ships (the ones you can't control) just sat at a starbase and wouldn't move. Since no resources were being delivered, nothing could be built. After messing around with it for 1/2 hour I gave up.

Often times you give your ships orders and they just ignore them. For instance, I wanted a fleet to attack a pirate base that was close, gave the order and it just sat there ignoring the order. Or I order a constructor ship to refit/refuel, but they just ignore the order. Some of my constructor ships were like 10 levels behind on tech, but just refused to upgrade. I remember this problem from when I played this game 5 years ago.

Sometimes there's the option to refuel a ship, other times there isn't.

Sometimes you can build a certain base on a remote or colonized planet (with a constructor), other times you can't. Or it'll accept the order, but won't actually build it.

And the list goes on and on.

And there are some in game mechanics that I just can't stand or don't make sense to me.

For instance, the bigger your empire, the more you have invested in research, the less you research. I read the reason for that was so the smaller empires had a chance of catching up in tech. Yes, lets just pointlessly build money sucking bases that do nothing.

You get leaders (heroes or whatever you want to call them), and then the leaders get dismissed randomly due to incompetence. My empire leader in game 1 was dismissed, never got another. WTF! (actually completed game 1). Game 2 had 2 empire leaders from the start, only one of them had stats. Supposedly some of the buildings you build will attracted new leaders. I had a Science academy (they're supposed to increase the chance of getting a researcher) on 40 planets (game 1), but I had no research leaders thought out the game (the only 1 I had was dismissed early on). One of my fleet leaders was killed in battle, even though I lost no ships and none of them took any damage (except shields halfway). I noticed that for every leader that's dismissed, it also says there were killed.

Looking at the research tree, for some of the items you have no clue why you would want to research them. Like energy collection, I have no idea what it does for you or why I even need it.

For bases you can click on "mercenary defense mission". There's no explanation in the help for it. Clicking on it costs some money. But when the base gets attacked, it makes no difference. I've tried this before, during and after a raid from pirates. I have yet to figure out what it actually does.

One of the expansions added different types of troops, frankly they could have just left that out and just stuck with one type of troop for all the difference it makes.

I read that people who like this game just love the pre-warp option, frankly, that just makes the game even more boring then it already is, waiting for tech to get researched so you can actually get somewhere.

The messages you get flash on by and there's no way to adjust message speed. You can look in to the message history, but it's useless since clicking on messages in there doesn't take you to the location and by the time you look in there, it's too late anyway.

I do like some of the options they've added for the game, like setting a limit on how many sectors out you can colonize out.

Also if you fully automate everything, then the game will play it self and you can go watch tv. Why did I buy this game again?

Depending on your automation settings, either the game is fast to micromanagement from hell. With ship designs, it's either the game makes the designs, or you do, but not both. Just what I want to do, spend hours designing ships only to find out that I have to abandon the game due to some weird bug that was never fixed.

Due to all the bugs that haven't been fixed, and unless they fixed a lot of the issues, the only thing it deserves so far is a negative.

Currently on game 7, wonder if I'll actually be able to finish it.......
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6 of 9 people (67%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
21.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 19
I was tired of some other 4x games guiding me by the hand, and limiting my options. I don't like being given shape of a spaceship, nor the stock layout of weapons.
I want to design my own ships from the grounds up. I want to be able to min-max my design and tailor it perfectly for the role I need. I want to create a perfect combined arms fleet utilizing multiple specialized ship designs. I want a frigate for chasing smugglers, and a more bulky frigate that can take some beating. I want them to have different shape. I want another one for point defense and a few carrier-corvettes.

In Distant Worlds: Universe, I can.
I am able to actually engineer my ships.
I am able to modify existing mining stations, or civilian freighters' designs, thus forcing civilians to comply with set standards; pirates now have a much harder time looting a civilian mining station loaded with rocket launchers and fighter squadrons, heh heh heh.

The possibilities are endless, and this is just station and ship design.
Don't like designing? No problem, just set it to automatic, and AI will take care of creating and retrofitting designs as research yields new, more advanced components.

I am able to ruin another empire by financing pirates in their sector, stealing research and inciting rebellion through my spies.

I am able to assimilate/exterminate indigenous populations on newly colonized planets.

I am ble to build a death star.

All while trying to keep my empires' population happy, protecting civilian trade routes, befriending ancient sentient machines, exploring new systems, and researching new technologies.

Distant Worlds: Universe is a 4x game with manual transmission. It has a steep learning curve, and the UI takes a bit time to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, you will feel the delicious power of total control over your empire. Conquest has never tasted so sweet.

9/10 ( I would give it 10, but it might ruin your life. )
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
103.6 hrs on record
Posted: April 30
UPDATE: I have updated to NOT RECOMMEND this game.

Encountering too many crashes in later, bigger games. Overall shoddy feel of the interface and functions don't help. Worst, is the random civil war crap. Anytime your empire gets big EVEN IF YOU HAVE ZERO WAR WEARINESS and your people are happy, civil war can break out and half your empire switches over.
There is no way to disable this unless you start all over again and supposedly (from what others say) turn off random events---which takes away all the other random events that make the game interesting. But isn't that funny, it's a "random event". What a bunch of bull.
The only other way to mitigate this is to use the in-game editor to MANUALLY change each revolting planet and ship back to your side. It's funny too how the "other side" of the civil war are a totally other race! Where all those other Humans really alien shapeshifters?

Anyways, unless you want to spend loads of time watching nothing and fighting with the game to get it to do what you want, don't bother.

Distand Worlds: Universe takes the 4X "conquer the galaxy" genre and weaves it into a large-scale RTS game.
How could this even work? In most RTS games, you might get to a point of managing a large empire with 40 colonies or much more, and can devolve into a sadistic routine of micro-management.

To sovle this, the game puts a lot of emphasis on automation. Letting the AI run things for you.
This works and fails at the same time.

Where is works:
-you can tweak what you want to manage yourself vs. what the AI manages
How it fails:
-the AI is stupid, it needs too much hand-holding, fights against your decisions, all the time, leading to micromanagement of the AI
-the AI will auto-design ships and not make them the best they can be.
-the AI will put ships into a fleets and strike groups and send it out to the middle of nowhere for no reason
-when you override AI control of fleets, ships, strike groups, the AI will re-override with it's own inferior decision making capability
-During a war, you might have 500 ships and the enemy is attacking ONE system. Rather than defend, the AI will send all your ships to patrol your other systems. This leads to constant fighting with the AI where you order your ships to defend the system, they get there, then the AI overrides and sends them away. I'm not joking, even AFTER YOU DISABLE the AI capability, this happens.
-To disable AI, you can set it up where it doesn't form fleets when you build ships, rather, you can do it manually. Or if the AI forms groups, you can go in to each group separately and disable AI command. THIS IS WAY TOO CUMBERSOME, because of the poor interface, is poorly organized, and extremely glitchy/blippy, and sloooooow. Extremely rough and skiddish at best.
Where as in other games, you can pull up a list of all your ships and fleets and issue orders, settings, global settings, this game let's you pull up the ships, but you have to exit the list to focus on the ship/fleet you select, and then work on issuing commands. Then you have to go back and pull up the list again, scroll through the list looking for it, it's soooo incredibly poorly organized and slow, and then wash, rinse, repeat. Total fail.

It's almost best that you form your own 5 kick-butt fleets, that you always will control, and let the AI handle everything else. Even in this scenario, everything will fall apart into disarray when a big war breaks out.

Graphically, the game looks okay, but the weapon effects and ship designs mostly looks like something out of an ♥♥♥♥.
I don't mind lacking graphics.

What I DO MIND, is old, simple graphics that run like crap.
This game's graphics would have been appropriate for something 20 years ago.
The ships are just 2D static pictures.
No flashing lights or effects or anything.
*Just a .jpg that flies around and shoots other .jpgs at other .jpgs.*
So why does this run so bad? I fault the developer, bad programming, that sort of thing.
Has nothing to do with your system when you can easily play a Total War game with thousands of soldiers rendered in full 3D bashing each other over the head, but this game struggles with hundreds of flat 2D pictures moving on the screen. It's like they used a cheap game maker engine from the 90s that wasn't designed to handle so many moving pictures.

Diplomacy is a fair attempt to do something more than throw money at the other side for peace or something.
But the poor game performance shows its ugly face even where when you try to trade something and it struggles to load the list of things you need to trade. In the end, it is pretty much "throw money at everything".

Pirates are a separate party in the game, but are totally annoying and unrealistic.

Using governerors, hero-type characters to assign to missions, that it is RTS, that managing colonies aspect of AI works well, that there are different ways to play the game (just manage building your empire or assigned you leader to a ship and fly around blowing up pirates or raiding civilian ships), I like there is civilian traffic and trade that goes on automatically, you can build space-stations near black-holes for tourism, I like customization of own ships even being able to use other "picture" designs not inherit to your race, I like the research system, I actually like the space combat, it's simple and effective, good sound-effects. I love watching space carriers act like REAL carriers where they can launch dozens of fighters, I also like you can invade planets and watch the ground-battles take place (it sucks you have to manually order all your troop transports to be sure to load troops which should be done automatically when built), and the economic system involving more logistics (fuel, mining) is good, I love the size of the galaxy can be ridiculously huge, that you can impose embargo's on other empires, that you can destroy their stuff and there is NO "automatic war", and the dynamic that empires can have a revolt and there can be civil war and new empires from that.

On that list thing, empire civil war, it happens AT RANDOM though which totally sucks.
There is no warning, even if your population is happy, it can suddenly happen without warning. This needs to be fixed.
But so do a lot of things. Also, when you conquer a planet, it can easily revolt. In some games, MY OWN TROOPS, garrisoning the planet joined the rebels. What gives????
If you bomb the planet to smithereens, another race might try to colonize it.
When I recolonized, the predisposition to revolt was still there and still happening.
Maybe it was something in that planet's atmosphere?

Main problems of this game:
-Extremely clunky, slow UI performance
-Game can't handle too many ships on the screen despite the really remidial and simple graphics (seriously, what gives?)
-Buggy save game system, some updates killed save games
-Has a great game editor but also real buggy
-And worst: the AI that is there to take away micromanagement is so incredibly stupid making so many outrageously bad decisions, is a total failure. You'll spend more time fighting your own empire-management AI than anything else in the game, and it sucks it is so essential as it is.

My advice, don't use the AI at all and spend all the time you want focusing on manually doing everything.
This means slowing down the game time, and having TONS OF PATIENCE.
It will be one of the slowest, longest games you will have ever played but you will probably enjoy it more than messing with the AI.

I know I mentioned more negative than good, but probably because there are fewer negative than good, but bad enough where they must be mentioned and emphasized, so this can better help people know the main issues they will encounter should they consider purchasing the game.
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9 of 16 people (56%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
13.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 8
I want to like this, but it's just too messy to get into. The complexity is intriguing, but what good is that if the game manages to lose me in 10 minutes? A somewhat better tutorial system and a thorough UI overhaul might be able to salvage DWU, but as it stands it's only something for people with a crapload of time on their hands, and the patience to learn for a few weeks before they accomplish anything.

I'll stick to EU4 in the meantime.
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25 of 48 people (52%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
12.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 27
Hey everyone,

For those who read this: I want to start by saying that i love the concept of this game. Its features are really amazing, and it is a lot of fun. The possibility to build a large empire with a huge fleet and 1000+ ship battles is a lot of fun. The ai that helps you run the empire is really solid and reliable (and i love to use it). Sure its 2D but the grapics really arent bad. The combat animations really look quite cool. No complains here. This game is awsome.

So then... why the negative advice?

Well, unfortunetely the greatness of this game is overshadowed by a massive game breaking problem: once you got a larger number of planets in your empire and a larger number of ships (lets say about 100 planets and 700 ships, this is after about 3 hours of gameplay if you are lucky) the game begins to lag/freeze at the higher running speeds (2-4 times game speed) and the problem becomes worse once you get more ships.

I understand that the devs of this game are currently looking into bugs and are still releasing patches for this game and i really hope that they will be able to fix this issue. However in the mean time i must conclude:

I cannot, in good faith, recommend the current version of this game to anyone. The performance issues simply make the late game unplayble and unstable. Once this issue is fixed i will gladely adjust this review however in the mean time i feel obliged to warn possible buyers of this issue. 55 euros is after all, a lot of money for anyone to pay for a game that really doesnt work properly.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 28
The game does not load, read all the forum posts about this.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
590.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 11
Despite some of the criticisms, I'd have to say this is the best 4x out there today by a wide margin.
I'm a huge moo2 fan from the DOS days and constantly looking for something that gives that same immersive feeling and character. I have plenty of things on my wishlist for v2 of this beast and have high hopes they will take some of the input from the members to heart and ignore the negative trollers, but overall I'm glad I paid $60 bucks now that I've played it a while and I'd strongly recommend it to anyone as a great value at that price. Be warned, it takes some learning, and certainly some digging through the forums to learn some of the basics, but if you don't mind a bit of digging, the payoff is great.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
155.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 19
I have been looking for a game like this for a long time. It has the standard 4X features, but what makes it stand out from the others is the living universe. You don't control every detail. In fact it would be almost impossible too, because there are so may things going on.

There are also some great mods to this game, like the Star Trek mod that makes it feel like you are playing in the Star Trek universe. Each empire has it's own unque abilities, ships, etc.

Definately worth getting. Check out videos on youtube to see how it plays.
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