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Distant Worlds: Shadows Preview

By on May 10th, 2013 7:02 am

Distant Worlds: Shadows | "The Life of a Space Pirate" - 3rd expansion to Distant Worlds

A short intro first, as this is a game’s third expansion pack. Distant Worlds is a real-time space 4X strategy game by CodeForce, Matrix Games and Slitherine. The original game was released in March 2010. But, to be honest, it was quite a lackluster release. Nine months after, the first expansion, Return of the Shakturi, fixed the game and turned it into an enjoyable experience. Perhaps how it should have been released in the first place. Legends, the second expansion, came out in late 2011 and elevated the game to excellence. Distant Worlds: Legends is now one of the best, if not the best, space 4X experience money can buy at the moment.

So, I’ve been playing around with a Distant Worlds: Shadows beta preview build for the last few days, and I feel that I have already a good idea of what CodeForce and Matrix Games have been cooking for us with their third and latest Distant Worlds expansion.

Distant Worlds: Shadows is about offering players a new experience when playing Distant Worlds. A pirate life experience. More precisely, on the Shadows era, which, apparently, precedes the events of the “normal” Distant Worlds era. This is the big thing offered by this third expansion. Before, pirates were not playable, and the player only played with what this new expansion calls: “normal empires”. But now, you can play as a (revamped) pirate faction and exploit the old empires which in the new setting are still in their early stages of development. However, you can still play on the normal Distant Worlds timeline, if you wish.

The other not so big, but still quite major changes and additions include an expanded ground combat mechanic, new weapons, a new extreme difficulty setting, better performance and promised improved AI. Matrix Games also announced that modding support has been kept to be inline with the new improvements.

The Life of a Pirate

“Take what you can, give nothing back.” -Pirates of the Caribbean

I think this quote summarizes pretty well how it feels to play as a pirate faction in the Distant Worlds: Shadows universe. I confess that the idea of leading and controlling a pirate nation didn’t feel too appealing to me at first. After all, we’re used to run big empires in 4X games, with lots of colonies and billions of people to manage. But, I must say that I’m finding this pirating experience quite a fun one so far. And, it surely is a 4X experience, only a slightly different one.

These new pirate factions expand their influence and wealth very differently from traditional empires. While the empires economy is based mostly on taxing the population, and from revenue obtained from trading and tourism, pirates gain their wealth by very different means. And, Shadows lets you play three distinct types of pirating experiences.

You can decide to be a Raider leader and expand your wealth and influence as a looter and as a terrorizer and controller of worlds. And to do that, you take advantage of Shadows’ new raid system which lets you attack, sack and plunder bases and planets for loot. But, when you play as a Raider you not only go after easy prey but also try to establish control of planets by having war ships nearby, and fiercely compete with other pirate factions for control of such planets. The more you control a planet, and the more developed it is, the more wealth you can extract from it. To extend your control further you can build pirate bases and pirate fortresses on planets. Ultimately, you can even deploy a very special facility that will allow you to have full control of a planet like normal empires do. If you end up controlling a notable amount of colonies, you eliminate the most rival pirate factions and conduct the most successful raids in the galaxy, you win as a Raider pirate. Sounds fun to you?

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Raider pirates faction

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Raider pirates faction

But, if you find the need to control independent, or other empires’ colonies boring, and the business of other pirate factions, or anybody else for that matter, don’t interest you that much, you can decide to go full rogue and go all guns for hire. You’re a Mercenary pirate, and your business is to take advantage of the new pirate attack and defense mission mechanics, which are missions requested by other factions for a price. But, while you find the Raider’s need to control others people’s lives boring, you still find a lot of fun on raising havoc and plundering those poor innocents who just want to run an honest life. Bah, where’s the fun on that anyway? :)

So, if you play as a Mercenary pirate, you will want to not only complete the most pirate attack and defense missions, but also undertake the most raids in the galaxy. In between, and as stealing can be much easier and more fun than building stuff, you will want to capture what you don’t destroy, and so, you should try your best to use Shadows new boarding and capture mechanics to achieve just that.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Base boarding and capture

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Base boarding and capture (base was still under construction)

Alternatively, if you find all that aggression unnecessary and just an inefficient use of resources, you can always decide to take a more reserved and low-profile pirate posture and act as the Galaxy’s supplier and protector. The kind of people who can get you anything and whom you can “trust”. Are you in need of a particular supply of resources? Don’t despair. We are here all day to help you out in your needs and ventures, but not without asking you for an outrageous lump of money for the trouble. After all, these fresh supplies, which were exactly what you needed, were very hard to come by, and so, all we ask is a “small” compensation for our efforts.

This is the life of a smuggler pirate, and when you choose to be a smuggler lord, that means you’re an information trafficker and you’re also extremely resourceful. You prefer to avoid conflict if possible, but not without a price. So, you’ll want to establish as many pirate fees, I mean, protection arrangements with other empires as possible, and you’ll want to expand your influence by carrying out the most intelligence missions as well. Of course, knowledge is power, so you should also do your best to accomplish the most research in the galaxy.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Smuggler Pirates faction

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Smuggler Pirates faction

But, Shadows offers you a fourth pirate style option: a balanced approach. So, if you don’t want to specialize and just want to experience a bit of everything the new pirate gameplay has to offer, you can decide to go with a “balanced” pirate style which combines all the other three pirate-style’s victory conditions into a balanced mix.

As you can see, I let myself carry away pretty easily while describing the different types of Shadows pirate experiences, and the new mechanics that come along with them. And, I think that’s proof that, while I’m still scratching the surface here, I think CodeForce has a done a great job on designing the different pirate gameplay styles. Time will tell how balanced and fun playing as the pirates really is, but in the period of time I played this beta preview build I did enjoy these different experiences. And, I don’t usually fancy pirate stuff that much.

But, what if Pirating is really not your thing?

Ok, you find all that pirate thing quite fascinating, but you’re really not into playing as a pirate but more as a control-seeking and ever expanding empire. The classical empire-building experience. So, what’s in it for you in Shadows?

Even if you don’t play as a pirate, but go with a “normal” empire like you always did up until now, you still have the new boarding and capturing mechanics to look forward for. But, you can’t raid, that’s reserved for pirates only. But, you can also use the new smuggling and pirate defense and attack missions as well, but, naturally, you use them the other way around. You are the one requesting the pirate attack and defense missions, and the smuggling missions, from the new Shadows’ pirates around you.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Pirate missions (attack, defend, smuggle)

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Pirate missions (attack, defend, smuggle)

But, if you’re really not into the pirate thing, nor particularly interested on its associated new mechanics, you could look at the expanded ground combat mechanic, as the new major change that Shadows has to offer. Pirates can also use this new ground combat mechanic by the way, during raids, but there the goal is not to secure planets, as pirates usually don’t do that, but to sack and plunder.

Previously, there was only one type of ground trooper available. You landed your troops on your rivals’ planets to try and invade their colonies and all you had to do next was to wait for the battle to end. The resolution was completely abstracted to you. You eventually got a warning saying whether the invasion was successful or not. In Shadows, there’s an entirely new tech tree devoted just for ground combat, offering different ground units, not only infantry now but also armored units and planetary defenses.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Expanded ground combat

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Expanded ground combat

But, hold your horses if you think this is a Total War ground combat in space experience. It’s not. It’s animated ground combat, a resolution screen that can be opened and enlarged, and where you can see the progress of your invasion. There’s also a series of modifiers depending on your generals’ experience, if you have ships in orbit and other factors. Invasions are also done into two steps now. You first drop your assault pods, which carry your troops, but they can be shot at depending on your opponents ground tech level. Then, the battle takes place with the remaining troops. There’s also different types of facilities that you can build to influence ground combat, like bunkers and others which provide combat modifiers.

So, while you don’t have any direct control over ground combat whatsoever, you can still influence how that combat unfolds depending on the strategic decisions you make before the combat takes place. Still on the ground combat topic, there’s also a new garrison feature now, which allows you to set a number of fixed troops that will not be picked up by troop transports, so that you avoid leaving planets depleted of troops in case you have some automation options on.

Besides the expanded ground combat, Shadows also comes with new weapons: gravitic weapons, which bypass both shields and armor; and tractor beams that could prove useful to ease boarding and capturing of ships, or to push foes away.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - New gravitic and tractor beam weapons

Distant Worlds: Shadows - New gravitic and tractor beam weapons

AI improvements were also promised, but it’s too early to judge on that. One thing I can already confirm is that the also promised graphical engine improvement is indeed very noticeable. Previously, your system could easily start lagging when playing with larger galaxies, and in particular in late game. Now, the experience is much smoother, and you do notice it quite easily. So, the somewhat late game sluggishness was definitely improved. I didn’t notice any significant improvements on the font issue front though, small and blurry at places in the previous expansions. \Edit: You can enlarge the ground combat and the “bottom left box” windows now, for more readability \endEdit, but, I’ll reserve more on that for the review after the official release.

I almost forgot, but this is quite important also. You can also play in a “prewarp” era now, where hyperspace and colonization of other planets are still not possible. It’s an interesting new gameplay possibility when you play as an empire (you can’t play prewarp while playing with pirates though, they wouldn’t have any real advantage over the other empires). So, you start only with your homeworld, and no ships or space ports nor other bases of any kind. A really clean and humble start. You start by building a spaceport and then go from there. You explore your star system almost as you would explore the galaxy around you in the usual postwarp era. Eventually, you unlock hyperspace and can then venture into the stars. When you breakthrough the colonization tech you can start to expand. So, it’s the true hardcore 4X experience, and one I’m particularly looking forward to trying next.

There’s also a new difficulty setting: extreme. And, two new tutorials. One to explain how to play with pirates and another one on how to play in the prewarp era. There’s also a new “destroyed pirates do not re-spawn” option, and a “difficulty scales as player nears victory” option, although I don’t know yet for sure how this last one works.

Release date, pricing details and conclusion

Distant Worlds: Shadows requires ownership of the Distant Worlds base game and both the Return of the Shakturi and Legends expansions. It’s a Windows PC game with a more or less firm release date set by Slitherine for May 21st. So, we should be less than a couple of weeks away from official release.

The price for this third expansion should be the same as for the previous two, around $20-$25, however I couldn’t confirm this with Slitherine. But, Slitherine did confirm that there will be a sales going for all the installments (base game and expansions) of some sort (\Edit: reason for editing: Slitherine only confirmed that there will be a “launch promotion for Distant Worlds Shadows”, details on if that includes the base game and the other expansions is still unknown\endEdit) when Shadows gets out. So, if you’re new to the series you should have a somewhat smoother entry price. Matrix sales are typically around 35%.

Now, the big questions are: are Shadows’ new features enough to satisfy the expectations of veteran Distant Worlds gamers? Is there really enough new content provided for people who may be twisting their noses on the new pirating mechanics, which represent the bulk of this expansion? Should you just buy or keep playing up until the Legends expansion? Or, is the jump to Shadows really worth it? Find out the answers to these questions in our Distant Worlds: Shadows review to come out after the official release :)

\Edit (May 23, 2013): Distant Worlds: Shadows is out now.

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55 Comments


  1. BTJ says:

    Thank you for the preview, Adam! I am really looking forward to this one!

    On the font issue I think I remember reading on the Matrix boards that a lot of UI elements will be “scalable”, i.e. you can enlarge them like windows in, well, in Windows… :-) I think I saw a screenshot, where the bottom left info box was enlarged and the fonts scaled with it.

    I never thought fonts were an issue, but recently got a 27″ monitor with 2560×1440 resolution and now I can understand why people complain… ;-)

    • Adam Solo says:

      You’re welcome!

      Yes, you can expand/enlarge the ground combat view and the “bottom left box” window. Those help but that’s a small portion of the UI.

      • BTJ says:

        Ah, okay. Seems that the remaining parts of the UI are unchanged then?
        Well, that would give quite some comments on the Matrix forums…

        BTW, there is a nice preview video from Das24680 on Youtube. I can recommend to all readers to watch it.

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          I second this suggestion. Das24680 is basically a strategy god and he does most game LPs of strategy games I love.

          I don’t want to watch his LP though because I don’t want to spoil anything. I want to explore space knowing nothing

    • NAG says:

      Well, it’s FINALLY out! And it’s got the predicted $20 pricetag…great

  2. Daniel Judah says:

    I am not into piracy so able to play as pirate don’t appeal to me much.

    But being able to play in pre-Warp area? That sounds very appealing to me. When and how do I do my first contact? Will I found the alien in pre-Warp, or already the same tech level with me?

    The ground combat, by the looks of it, is interesting. The same saying goes with the boarding mechanic.

    I sincerely hope that the AI will improve, as my AI sometimes, will pit my fleet against larger foe that I will lose, against far-away pirates, and escaping when fighting space monsters.

    • Adam Solo says:

      As I said in the preview, I’m also very looking forward to play in pre-warp. Sounds like fun. In fact, I’m a strong adept of starting my 4X games from the very bare bones. One city, the homeworld only, one settlement, very basic technology, and then all starts from there. A very humble beginning. It’s so much more fun to look back and see the evolution almost from nothing. I think that’s what 4X games are all about to be honest.

  3. Antiscamp says:

    It’s all very yummy. I’m really looking forward to Shadows.

  4. BTAxis says:

    35% off isn’t much when the full price for the base game and the first two expansions is about $100 or so. And I saw nothing about improved ship design, so I’m afraid Distant Worlds is going to remain distant.

    • Kurrick says:

      Im right there with ya BTAxis, The price point just puts this game out of reach for me. Matrix makes some good games but they never drop price point on there titles even the very old one cost the same as they did when they where released…..Just occurred to me maybe I can find a used copy of this on Amazon, I picked up Carrier Command that way, got it for $25.
      Tell ya what living on a fixed income sucks :/

      Thanks for the Preview Adam, as always it is very well writen and informative ;)

      • Adam Solo says:

        Thanks Kurrick! :)

        As for the price, yes, although Legends is worth every penny it’s still a considerable amount to ask for a new gamer, considering that you should get at the very least the Shakturi expansion to have an enjoyable experience. I really hope Matrix and Slitherine make a super bundle with everything up to Shadows. That, or a 50%-75% sale on the base game. I tried my best to know more details about the planned promotion for this preview but they didn’t disclose that information yet. I can understand that however.

        The price has been debated to death in the Matrix forums. They know what the community thinks. They know that they should lower their prices to attract new gamers because the game is more than ready to be played by everybody, and it would help bring more people to the 4X genre. Let’s see what happens.

        • csebal says:

          “although Legends is worth every penny it’s still a considerable amount to ask for a new gamer”
          Sorry Adam, but I have to strongly disagree there. No single game is worth $100 in my book. Enthusiasm is a good thing, but it should be kept in check when it comes to your wallet.

          Worth the price of an AAA game? Maybe.. yea I guess if someone is an avid fan of space 4X, then sure.. its worth it. If you can get the game for like 50 euros, then go for it. Two AAA games? Nah..

          Lets not even do the math on how many other awesome indy games I could get at a 5-20 dollar price point for 100 bucks, because frankly DW would not stand a chance in that competition.

          DW sucks big time when it comes to cost vs value. The only thing that stands on its side is the sorry state the 4X genre, which allows that game to shine brighter than how it otherwise could.

          Dont get me wrong, its an okay game, for about 25-40 bucks and not 100+.

        • Adam Solo says:

          @csebal
          I completely disagree with you here. With everything you said basically.

          The discussion could be long, but to summarize I don’t find your AAA vs indie price tag preconception to be a fair one. We can discuss that in a separate thread if you want.

          Saying that indie games can be judged “by the pound” is also something I don’t understand. You can get hundreds of hours of enjoyment out of a single indie game (DW’s case) and less than 4 hours with another indie game, or even a so called AAA game. Or even 2 or 3 or 5 games combined.

          If you think DW sucks big time, then that’s ok, it’s your opinion. In fact, I agree with you there :) DW base ALONE sucks big time. DW+rots is a great 4X experience, DW+legends is an excellent experience.

          If the full bundle (DW base+rots+legends+shadows) is worth $65 in a sale depends on the person. But, in my view DW base+rots+legends is totally worth your time.

          \Edit: For the record, I’m not saying the game is cheap. It’s expensive, everybody agrees with that. Sure it should be cheaper to attract more gamers to the genre. I would love that. But, to whom can afford it it’s totally worth the time they are going to spend with it. Especially if they are 4X fans and space enthusiasts in general.

        • csebal says:

          @Adam:
          I never said that DW sucked. I said that it sucked in terms of price vs value. Thats a huge difference.

          Also ye sure, there are tons of sub-par indy games out there, but also gemstones among them, that could easily provide the same amount of gameplay as DW would at half, third or a quarter of the price point an AAA game would have, unlike DW, where the price is actually twice of that.

          With the AAA comparison I was merely trying to put the price in perspective. I could get two top of the line AAA titles for the price DW costs at the moment, or 5-8 cheap but great indy games.

          Point being, that you get the game (no matter how good or bad, still just a single game) for the price of two, even if those two are the otherwise expensive AAA titles. Not to mention the horrible ratio if you go wise and buy good independent games instead.

          This topic however brings us a little further than what could reasonably be discussed in relation to a single game preview, even if the game in question is a perfect poster child for the problem plaguing the gaming industry.

    • necaradan666 says:

      Actually the larger the price the better a 35% off deal is. Just saying…

      I agree with the worries about price, but really.. after paying it and playing it. I can soon forget the cost because it’s just that good of a game compared to the others out there.

  5. Werit says:

    Very nice preview. Can’t wait to play a pirate faction! Capturing ships sounds like a lot of fun.

  6. Lobo7922 says:

    I think it’s awesome that they are taking the 4X genres to new heights, it sounds to me like playing Mount & Blade inside a 4X game.
    Perhaps they should do that, allow you to play not to be just a pirate but a mercenary company.

    • Adam Solo says:

      But, you do play as a mercenary/raider/smuggler company in Shadows, or gang/guild, whatever the group designation. It’s not really about a single pirate’s life, it’s about a pirate empire’s life. You are the pirate lord :)

      Of course, Distant Worlds has this thing which allows you to optionally play the game in special ways. Not in a normal empire-oriented kind of way, but just pick a ship and wonder around the universe doing your stuff (pirate stuff in this case) if you want, while leaving all the empire thing automated.

  7. Towerbooks3192 says:

    Please tell me that release date is confirmed! If so then my schedule will be bogged down with fallen enchantress, this game and crusader kings 2 :old gods on top of my upcoming assessments.Makes me wonder where these games are when I was unable to enrol in uni.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I would say that there’s a 95% chance the release will be on May 21st ;)

      • Towerbooks3192 says:

        Then I would say that there would be a 100% chance that I would be one step closer to failing this year :(

        But what the heck! I want to go back to space. I am a bit tired of medieval europe and backstabbing and getting backstabbed by my family

  8. lammaer says:

    Anyone have information on troops handling?

    Eg:
    - is it possible to select more than one row on the troop screen and perform actions on several troops once (eg: disband 10-20-50 troop wth a single click)?
    - can I really control WHICH troops I want to load/unload from/to a planet?

    Midgame when I finished conquering an enemy empire, I had tons of troops abundant (eg weak ones, unnecessary ones) having brutal maintenance. Disbanding them was really painful (one by one) and often I simply gave up a game there. This could be pretty easy “spreadsheet” operation on the unit screen (eg: sort upon strength, shift+left click to select a range of troops then click disband) but that didnt work at all.

    • Adam Solo says:

      You’ll be happy to know that yes, in this beta build you can use CTRL and SHIFT to select more than one row on the troops screen and perform multiple actions at once :)

      About troop unloading, I don’t know if it’s possible to pick specific troops to unload, at least in this beta build. But, you can use the new garrison function to load only the troops you want (the ones not in the planet’s garrison).

      • Towerbooks3192 says:

        Adam I have a question, it is said that the ground combat is not like total war. So is it safe to assume that its something like Europa Universalis/Paradox games where you just park a stack on a province then the computer would sort it out with dice rolls and you could just influence it like lets say X bonus because of leader and Y bonus because of tech, etc., etc. ?

        • Adam Solo says:

          Exactly. You don’t control the actual battles, like you do in Total War games for example. It’s like you say, you order your troops to invade/raid a planet and the AI sorts it out according to your bonuses (leaders, techs, etc). A bit like in Master of Orion 2′s ground combat, if you know or remember that.

          However, ground combat is done in two phases, as I explained in the preview. First your troops’ assault pods enter the atmosphere, and can be shot at by the planet’s defenses (if any is present), and then the actual combat takes place according to each faction’s modifiers. But, I don’t know all the details yet. This was just a preview, more details will follow on my review.

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          Ok, thanks. Looking forward to it! I love to read your reviews and I think I haven’t read one in quite awhile so I am pretty excited. :)

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          Oh one more thing. While the computer is sorting out the battle, does things run like normal or it has its special resolution screen and it pauses or like EU3 again, once you park you could click the battle and it shows progress of the battle and would resume if unpaused while everything is still running in the background and you could just drop in and out to check its progress?

  9. Nick West says:

    I really loved DW, but unless they fix the late game performance problems it’s certainly not worth the ridiculous amount of $ they charge for the series. I personally feel burned the performance is so bad, I’ve got a nearly top of the line computer & graphics card and it’s a slide show trying to render the UI as they still use the antiquated and ill supported 2D rendering API. There are many threads in the bugs forum about this and the people are basically told it’s their problem. Get with the program and use Unity or something.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Yes, late game performance could be a problem for some people, especially with larger galaxies, more factions and more worlds. They’ve been improving the graphics engine performance with the expansions though. Late games are bearable with Legends but it could be definitely improved further. As you probably read in this preview the issue seems to have been addressed to some extent.

      I didn’t play a large Shadows game to conclusion yet, and this was a beta preview build in any case, but I played around with the quick start and generated “Galactic Republic – Supreme Ruler” and “Fully Developed – Large” quick games just to check how performance would look like on monster game setups. I can tell you that the performance is much smoother than before. There’s definitely less sluggishness.

    • Nick West says:

      I’ve been playing Legends with the new patch and performance is definitely better. Not to say that it’s great, but the game is now playable on a high end computer with all normal settings.

      • Adam Solo says:

        Oh, I see that they optimized performance to some extent with Legends v1.7.0.20a – May 22nd, 2013. You say that performance is definitely better, that’s great. I, however, can’t tell how much that patch has improved performance (since I upgraded to Shadows now), but I can say that performance was definitely improved further with Shadows. You can now scroll around smoothly, even in huge galaxies full of stars and freighters all over the place. It was really a huge improvement over what I was used to.

  10. Erik Rutins says:

    Thank you very much for the preview! Very glad that you are enjoying Shadows so far.

    If you have any questions as you play, please feel free to contact me and ask. The preview build that you have now doesn’t have the updated galactopedia or manual yet, so some things may still be a bit unclear.

  11. Serge says:

    What about graphics/UI performance? Did they put UI in separate thread and replace graphics engine or performance improvements are insignificant?

  12. Sheldon H says:

    Another awesome preview Adam.
    I know you’ve mentioned it before – and also brought it up in a comment response – but do you know if a “super”-bundle release for Distant Worlds is possible/in-the-works?
    I’ve not played Distant Worlds – like most people here – because of the high price tag and the several different releases needed to get the “true” experience, but would love to pick it up if it was simplified a bit and made a little more accessible.
    Any rumors along those lines?

    • Seraph says:

      I’m sorry dude, but they won’t do a bundle in the foreseeable future. as adam already mentioned, the discussion about the price was and is heavily discussed in their official forum but it doesn’t seem that they will change it.

      to be honest, i waited for quite a long time to purchase the complete package and i can just recommend everyone to wait for the release of the shadows expansion and the usual (and announced) discount around 30-30%, otherwise it’s REALLY expensive.

      i love the game myself but the price is heavy! some people on the forum argued that it’s just a personal perception and if you don’t wanna pay the heavy price then maybe you generally wouldn’t wanna buy it, which i think is bullshit! as everyone knows is not just the game the whole selling point but also the price tag.

      if you don’t own the game and are interested i would advise you to buy at least the game+ shakturi expansion! it would be also good to try the demo.

      • Sheldon H says:

        Thanks Seraph.
        Yeah, I’ll try out the demo.
        Realistically I just don’t have the kind of money to invest in getting a game as pricy as the complete Distant Worlds collection.
        I guess I’ll just have to save up for a while and hope for another sale sometime in the future.

        • CptKork says:

          i made a plan

          27 Eur Gold Edition (Original + ROTS)
          + 2*25*(0,7)Eur (Legends + Shadows 30% Sale assumed)
          = 62 Eur

          which is totally ok for what i get.

          What i dont know is, if i can buy the DL Versions of Legends & Shadows with Paypal or IBAN, because i dont have/wont get a Credit Card

        • csebal says:

          Do they really expect anyone other than the already existing DW players to buy the expansion? At a $120-$130 price point?

          from the Matrix online store:
          - distant worlds: $39.99
          - return of the shakturi: $19.99
          - legends: $19.99
          The last two includes a 20% discount for buying in a bundle..
          - VAT (27%): $21.59
          ————————–
          $101.56

          Then shadows:
          - shadows: $24.99 (estimate)
          - VAT (27%): $6.75
          ————————–
          $31.74

          So for a new player to get the game and the new expansion, it would cost ~ $130. I can see thousands of new players crashing the matrix store servers in a desperate attempt to get their hands on the game. :roll:

          Lets assume there will be a blanket 50% discount, that’s still $65 at the end, which is over the top even for an AAA title, let alone an indy game.

          Whoever is in charge of that price should get a reality check.

          Unless they do something, either by finding a direction in which DW can expand in a meaningful way, or lower prices dramatically, Shadows will be the swan song of DW.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Funny how people can be so different, even when sharing the passion for games of a specific genre :) Assuming their pocket sizes are the same, of course…

          DW total bundle (base+rots+legends+shadows):

          “=62 Eur, which is totally ok for what i get.” ~CptKork

          “$65 at the end, which is over the top even for an AAA title, let alone an indy game.” ~csebal

          The price issue has been discussed ad nauseum on the Matrix Games forums. At the end, the publisher seems to be ok with the price range, and they are the most interested part on selling.

          Of course, we, the customers, want to pay less. What worries me is if many people would want to enter in the DW universe, a great 4X experience, and can’t because it’s too expensive. $65 for the full bundle (at sale) is still $65.

          But, for those, I guess the base game + return of the shakturi at sale could still be a good entry point. Probably $35-$40? In fact, DW base+rots is a already a great ride. Return of the Shakturi (1st expansion) is a 8.7/10 worth experience in my opinion. Then, they can upgrade to Legends later on and Shadows further if they are really enjoying the experience. Matrix/Slitherine do one or two sales a year, so, there are always opportunities to upgrade later.

  13. Erik Rutins says:

    Just FYI Adam, we have a new preview build available now.

  14. killias2 says:

    It’s interesting how similar this sounds to Crusader Kings 2: Old Gods, which comes out just a week later. It focuses on the Vikings, so, yeah, quite a lot of piracy and raiding going on there.

  15. Necker says:

    There’s not much in life that gives me a twang in my pyjama’s but shadows is it…
    I’m only planning on one game purchase this year, it is shadows.
    Thanks for the great review
    The ‘starting from scratch’ approach of shadows is exactly what this game needed.

    I just hope that it takes a monumental effort to ‘go warp’ and not a 10 minute tech grab before the game is back into the normal mode of play.
    I like the thought of struggling for the stars rather than them being handed to you on a plate.

  16. gena2x says:

    Adam, thank you for review! Can you please take a look, did the tech tree performance improved? It is most annoying issue on my system – selecting tech takes like 1 second on my 4-core 2.6Ghz system, it ruined all my games, has no reasonable technical explanation and got worse with each expansion as the tech tree also expanded. Otherwise game idea is brilliant, i enjoyed it much.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Thanks, but it’s still a preview ;) The review will be up after release, somewhere next week (I hope).

      By the way, I see no delay in Shadows when selecting, cancelling and re-selecting techs on the tech tree.

  17. csebal says:

    @Adam:
    “Funny how people can be so different, even when sharing the passion for games of a specific genre :) Assuming their pocket sizes are the same, of course…”

    Its quite a lot of thing really.
    1) Ability to control one’s enthusiasm.
    -I might love 4X, but also am aware of how that love might make me do stupid things, so I revisit every decision, every impulse twice before I act on it and forcefully evaluate my impressions from different perspectives in an attempt to eliminate bias due to my enthusiasm for a subject.

    I started doing this after my earlier attitude of blindly supporting any 4X project got me burned through several games in a row.

    2) Differences in financial environment.
    I live in a country where the average income of the population is around 600 EUR a month after taxes. While I’m lucky enough to earn well above the average, having such a different value in currency still gives me a different perspective and sense of value when it comes to spending 60 EUROs.

    3) Being a perfectionist.
    Good enough is not a term I prefer using and its not something I accept easily. I also prefer to measure things based on my own absolute scale and not a relative one.

    When people say, that a game is worth it as it is the best one out there right now, that is just a non argument in my book. Being the one eyed guy among blind men does not make one king.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Please keep comments in context, as by opening a new comment from scratch people lose history of what was said and why it was said on the related comment thread.

      First of all, I said “Assuming their pocket sizes are the same”.

      But, csebal, this is a non-discussion really. Expectations and living standards aren’t debatable. They are what they are. What one considers $60 a lot, another considers fine. In fact, I regret of having escalated the issue in the first place. So, let’s move on on the price vs expectations vs living standards topic shall we?

      The topic you brought up, as I understand it, was that you consider DW’s full bundle too expensive, or way too expensive. This is a very subjective matter. I can only reply that while expensive, it’s totally worth the time you invest in it. At least up until Legends (at this point, as I haven’t reviewed Shadows yet).

      Consider Civilization 5, just for the exercise. $30-$40 at release? First expansion: Gods & Kings. $30? And what about Brave New World? Another $30? That’s $90-$100 for the full bundle (without sales) and no extra DLCs.

      Will Civ5:BNW be worth $100? We don’t know yet. Was Civ5:G&K worth $70? We enter in the same situation as for DW. Some people will say yes, others will say no. I say that Civ5:G&K is totally worth your time. Can’t say the same for Civ5 vanilla (original version).

      And before you ask, yes, I think DW:Legends competes with Civilization5. I put them in the same league. I wouldn’t have given the scores I did if I thought otherwise.

      • csebal says:

        Its funny that you bring civ5 up..

        http://store.steampowered.com/sub/25544/

        Civilization V Gold can be bought for just 39.99 and yes, it contains the base game, the expansion and all DLCs between the two. So in essence its a 100 eur bundle for just 40 euros.

        That they did less than a year after the FIRST expansion. I rest my case.

        EDIT:
        Aye, on top of that, you will probably be able to grab this package for 25-50% off in just a month or two during the summer sale. Why? Because with all the crap that can be said about steam, they know sales and how people work.

        • Adam Solo says:

          We don’t know how much they plan to charge for the DW bundle yet. Then we can complain.

          \Edit: Yes, sales are great but consider that some people (still a considerable amount) will pay $100 for Civ5 complete at the end. The ones who bought the base and expansions on day 1.

        • Paul Fowler says:

          There may be a considerable amount of people who will shell out a decent bit of money for a game and it’s expansions, but there are also those who will not/can not. It would make the most sense, at least to me, to do what most publishers do and lower the price after 6 months to a year after release. This way the fans who have money will likely buy right away for a larger sum and then after the price drops you get people who will not/can not purchase it any other way.

          I think this works especially well for people who are on the fence about the game, or are somewhat interested in the genre but don’t want to pay much for a game they’re not even sure they’ll enjoy. And then, if they get hooked, they’ll be more likely to purchase future expansions and sequels sooner and at a higher price. It just doesn’t seem logical to keep prices this high so long after release. If Civilizations 2 wasn’t being sold at Costco for a cheaper price than usual I might not have gotten into this genre of games when I did.

          And bundling DW with the first expansion would probably go a long way towards making better first impressions among new players since the game play seems to be improved so much more than DW alone.

    • necaradan666 says:

      That’s ridiculous.. being a one eyed man sure would make you king if everyone else is blind.

  18. Adam Solo says:

    Release date update: Latest word from the devs points to a Wednesday/Thursday release (22nd/23rd May).

    • Xerberus6 says:

      23rd May ala this thursday is definitely the relase, it was confirmed a page later. can’t wait to buy the new expansion….and for your review :D.

      btw the new pirate avatars look great, it would be great if they add some more variation to the portraits of fleet and troop generals, governors and the likes.

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