Having played for over 40+ hrs so far, my conclusion is that this is a solid 4x space game. Space 4x is my favorite genre and I've plaved many of them, and this game comes off as a very original and innovative game to me (have not played Star Ruler 1).
First off, the game is an RTS, but its really meant to be paused...a lot (early on at least), and thats ok. It takes quite some time to get the hang of how colonizing works, what to build, what orbitals do, how pressue works, etc. There is a wiki to help you with most things, and some things you have to figure out by trial and error. I've restarted quite a lot of games because I'd always realize something new I wasn't doing. Main thing is if it seems too complex, just hang in there, read the wiki, experiment and you will figure it out, and its well worth it, trust me!
-Research is nice, but the research screen could of been better. Easy to get lost, but it works.
-Ship design is daunting(for me). Others I'm sure will enjoy it. Thankfully you can have the AI design any size ship you want, or you can see what other players have designed and just use their ship!
-Diplomacy is unique, but good. Has a system where you can vote on certain propositions using cards and influence points. Has your standared treaties as well (don't need cards), like Alliance, Trade Treaty, Mutual Defense, etc.
-Exploration is nicely done as well. When you start exploring you can run into multiple things, like Debris Fields, which you can scan to bring up events in which you choose what you want to do. You can find Pirate ships guarding special items which will give you certain bonuses. There is also Artifacts to find in which you can spend energy to activate whatever bonuses they hold.
-Colonization is uniqe in this game as well, in which you constantly need to colonize planets for their resources in order to export them to planets you want to grow. It can get confusing, but pretty much how it goes is, growing a planet needs resoucres, and those resources need resources, and those resources need resources. Just pause the game, look at your surroundings, look at the planet you want to upgrade and it will tell you exactally what you need.
-Buildings can be constructed on each planet by the AI and user. The user can build things like Research complexes, Labor Factories, Megafarms, and more, the AI builds smaller buildings helpling the planet as it grows. You can also build Orbital structures that go in space, like shipyards, supply stations, outposts, etc. Careful on what you build though, they come at a hefty maintaince cost.
-Economy is done well in this game. You get income from population and "Income Pressue" and you have maintaince costs from buildings and ships. Every 3 minutes you will get cash based on the difference in your income and maintaince. So you can spend all your money and once the 3 minutes is up you will get another sum of money to spend in that time, based off the difference in Income and Maintanice. Seems confusing but it works nicely.
-Combat consists of having a flagship with multiple support ships under its wing. Those support ships can specialize in missles, rail guns, lasers, rockets, etc. The flagship has a certain amount of support capacity, which means you can only carry so many support ships. Your ships move in which your flagship is in the middle and the support ships make a big circle around it, so its like a circle of death. Combat is real time and you can zoom in to see the action, but its pretty much just a bunch of balls of death shooting at one another, but it works for me. Although ship building and making your fleets can be confusing.
-UI is only ok in this game for there are many things I wish they would of done. Can easily lose track of what you have building.
-Graphics and Sound are just average, if not below par. Graphics never mean much to me in these types of games, and the soundtrack didnt do anything for me. Effect sounds are ok at best.
-Scale can be whatever you want to be. You can choose from multiple types of universes and even ones with multiple universes, so you can make a game however big or small you want.
Overall this is a solid game that id give an 7.5/10. It might take a bit of getting used to, but its really fun once you get the hang of it. One of the better space RTS games to come along since Sins of a Solar Empire.