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Distant Worlds: Shadows Review

By on June 8th, 2013 1:25 pm

Distant Worlds: Shadows is the third expansion to Distant Worlds, a real-time (pausable) space 4X strategy game for the PC developed by CodeForce and published by Matrix Games and Slitherine.

Distant Worlds: Legends, the second expansion, is a true 4X masterpiece, one that managed to elevate this game to become the quintessential space 4X gaming experience.

But, this isn’t a review about Distant Worlds, or Distant Worlds: Legends. It’s about Distant Worlds: Shadows, the third and latest expansion to Distant Worlds. So, what does Shadows brings new to the table? What changed? And, are these changes enough to justify your investment, to make you expand an already excellent experience?

It’s about offering a new experience, a Pirate ruler experience

As the title suggests (Shadows), this expansion is about a darker theme. Deceit, paranoia, fear. Things you can’t see. The kind of feelings you would experience if you were being threatened by a dark and chaotic force. If you were being attacked by space pirates, in this case. But, you are the pirates now. You control what CodeForce calls: a “pirate empire”. Before, pirates were minor factions that would annoy you from time to time, but could still be useful for information. Now, they are full-fledged factions, with their own particular play-styles and victory conditions.

So, Shadows offers you the possibility to play as a pirate faction. Instead of collecting taxes from your citizens, you loot and extort those citizens. Instead of owning planets and colonizing new worlds, you control planets, being those independent or imperial owned. You can also board, capture, raid and loot ships and bases. And, you can also raid planets for bounty. Money rewards in most cases, but also goods and even new technologies can be obtained from the plunder. “Normal” empires can also board and capture ships, by the way, but raiding and looting is exclusive to pirates’ gameplay.

Distant Worlds: Shadows | Playing as a Pirate faction

Playing as a pirate has a very humble start

When you play with a pirate faction, usually you start small. Very small. Only a handful of military ships at your disposal, a refuelling ship, an explorer, a couple of freighters and a spaceport, which is your base. But let me tell you that playing with a pirate faction is very different from when playing with a normal empire. I was very skeptical about this completely different way to play the game at first. After all, the 4X gaming experience is all about empire-building, where the usual formula is to develop a full-fledged empire, a very advanced civilization, from a very humble beginning. How could that work when you play as a rogue pirate ruler?

Well, it does work. Pirates are indeed, pirates. They plunder, sack, exploit, terrorize and extort. A criminal experience. But, in a way they are not so different from an imperial play-style as one would first assume. At least according to CodeForce’s design, pirates can also explore to discover new resources and to get in contact with other civilizations. They also expand their influence, not by owning but by controlling planets and by building secret bases on them, allowing them to eventually have full control over those planets like normal empires do.

Pirates also exploit resources, and in a way it’s even more fun and challenging to play with them in this aspect, because they start very small and your progression is not as fast as when playing with normal empires. Everything matters more. And, you can also decide to exterminate everyone if you decide so, but only when you’re powerful enough, which tends to be much later than when playing with a normal empire.

Distant Worlds: Shadows | Mercenary pirate-style

Playing with a Pirate faction - Mercenary style

So, although I had some reserves about this new pirate gameplay, and still think that the main game mode, playing as a normal empire that is, is still the way, or at least my favorite way to play this game, I think that CodeForce did a brilliant job designing and delivering this new pirating experience. Which is what an expansion should be all about in the first place, about offering new experiences and not as much as offering more of the same.

Playing as a pirate ruler, with the pirate-style that better suits you – Shadows allows you to play as a Raider, a Smuggler, a Mercenary or follow a more balanced pirate approach – is indeed fun, and while there are still some imbalances to be found in this new gameplay, with some areas that still need extra polishing and balancing made just right, I think this expansion pack is entirely justifiable just for this new addition alone.

However, I have to warn you that the pacing, the progression, what you actually do in the game, is quite different. It’s much more overwhelming, and chaotic, to play as a pirate faction. The focus is much more on ships, fleet management and patrol than it is on colonization, diplomacy and technology progression.

At one point in the game you may decide to build pirate facilities, which are secret hidden bases, to expand your wealth and research capabilities, and research will start to progress faster, like when playing with normal empires. Eventually, you can even decide to transform your pirate nation into a pseudo normal empire (a mix between the two play-styles), after building an ultimate pirate facility on a planet. Then, after that point, technology progression will increase even more, your wealth will be much bigger and you’ll finally be able to build colony ships to colonize your own worlds and build more construction ships like regular empires do (you start with only one Construction ship). However, you’re still a pirate faction, only one with some “normal” empire abilities (diplomacy-wise you’re still restricted to pirate gameplay, and you can continue raiding as you once did).

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Hidden Pirate Base

Playing with a Pirate faction - Hidden Pirate base facility

I like this new pirate experience, for a change of pace, and for the new experience. But, personally I still prefer playing with a “normal” empire faction, and that’s probably what I’ll keep returning to. But, you may think otherwise, of course.

But, it’s not only about the new pirate gameplay.

Another big change: PreWarp gameplay

The new Pirate gameplay is no doubt the bulk of this new expansion, but there are other relevant changes and additions as well. Probably the most important one is the ability to play before the hyperdrive technology is discovered. What CodeForce calls: “PreWarp”. Not to confuse with the also new “Age of Shadows”. The Age of Shadows is just a setting you can play, an ancient time, where it makes more sense to play PreWarp, but you can decide to play PreWarp in the Classic Age, as well. The Classic Age is the “normal” Distant Worlds setting, the single one offered before the Shadows expansion.

So, before, you started with the capability to travel to other stars, and start the colonization of new words almost immediately. You already had a few constructor ships at your disposal, a bunch of mining stations and a moderately strong civilian sector, with lots of freighter ships ready to dispatch goods around.

But, now, with Shadows’ new “prewarp” gameplay, you may decide to start with zero spaceships. That’s right. No spaceships of any kind, no bases, no space ports, nothing space-based. You start with your homeworld alone, its population and only the very basic techs in each branch of the tech tree. So, no hyperdrive capability. No travelling to other stars yet. You have regular thrusters only, which will make exploring your homeworld’s star system feel like when you previously explored the galaxy.

Playing since prewarp is much more interesting and fun, and one can’t help not to wonder how on Earth wasn’t this in the game since the beginning? Well, better late than never. A note though: when you play with a pirate faction you can’t play in PreWarp, that’s an imperial feature only, because, with Shadows’ current design, Pirates wouldn’t have any advantage when playing in PreWarp and would be swallowed very quickly by full-fledged empires.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Playing in PreWarp

Playing PreWarp - From a Civilization to a Spacefaring Civilization

Now, the thing is, this “PreWarp” period is not as big as you probably thought it could be. Well, it will also depend on your expectations, but I thought this period would be bigger, with more tech “breakthroughing” required. More stuff to do. Don’t get me wrong, the key technologies are indeed time-consuming, and the progression is nice, sprinkled with some nice background story checkpoints. But, it felt like the whole thing ended too fast and there I was again, already a full-fledged space faring civilization, again.

So, just a few moments before I could only travel very, very slowly across my entire star system, to transport critical goods around, I can now travel across the entire galaxy with just a few more technology breakthroughs. I understand that you could delay this progression by setting up a harsher start, with a worse homeworld and more expensive tech progression. But, that would feel more about delaying the experience, I guess. My expectation was probably for more content in between. But, it’s good that this option is in the game now, and I really enjoyed playing in prewarp, which I did twice for this review. It will probably be the default option for me from this point forward.

Another big change: Expanded Ground Combat

Another big change, apart from the new pirate gameplay and the prewarp start, is the expanded ground combat experience. Before, up to Distant Worlds: Legends, you could only train basic infantry units. Invasions were light in features. You dropped your troops on a rival’s planet, wait, witness a very basic combat progress and then the invasion outcome would be presented to you. This was basically it for ground combat.

Shadows brings a new tech branch entirely devoted to ground combat and a new ground resolution panel where you can now watch how well the invasion is going. You can’t manage battles I’m afraid, at least not directly, but you’re presented with some useful information still. I took note of at least half a dozen modifiers (e.g. overwhelming forces, space control, planet penalty,…) which give you combat bonuses or penalties. Therefore, although you can’t intervene directly, you can still adjust your invasion strategy, and order more troops to land in case you see that what you have there will not be enough.

By the way, there’s a new feature called “garrison” now that lets you set a predefined number of troops that will not get into troop transports but stay on the planets. Previously it could be painful to manage troop loading, but now it’s much simpler to load troops due to this garrison feature. You can’t selectively unload troops yet however.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - New ground combat tech tree

New ground combat tech tree

There’s also new troop types now: armored units (like tanks or mechs), special forces (which are very useful as a first intervention unit) and planetary defenses (specialized in attacking invaders while they’re still on the planet’s higher atmosphere). Yes, there are two invasion layers, or stages now. First you land your troops, which during the descent are more vulnerable to the new planetary defense units, and then the actual land invasion begins where some units will excel in attack while others in defense. So, there’s definitely a lot more going on during ground combat. A good deal is certainly cosmetic, but the different troop types, the different specializations, and the expanded tech tree, will make you wonder where should you invest more concerning troop handling and invasions.

So, the ground combat experience has more depth now. You really feel the difference and don’t really feel like going back after you experience the new features. However, remember that this is a “small” portion of the game, one that you may even not enjoy particularly. If you rarely paid attention to ground invasions in the past, maybe because you like to play more peacefully, and use ground troops only to defend, then there doesn’t seem to be much here for you. If, however, you would like to have more ground combat options, with more decisions to be made, then I’m convinced that you’ll be pleased with CodeForce’s improvements in this area. Oh, and it’s worth noting that you can also take advantage of the new ground combat invasion screen resolution while raiding planets when you play as a pirate empire.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Expanded ground combat

New ground combat resolution screen

Other changes

But, there are other less than major changes and additions worth noting. For instance, there are two new weapon techs now: gravitic weapons and tractor beams. Gravitic weapons are quite powerful, and while expensive they can bypass both shields and armor. Ouch! Yes, these babies need to be considered very carefully. The graphical effect is also quite impressive, so you’ll not miss it when someone uses them in battle.

The new tractor beam weapon is useful to pull enemy ships in case you want to board and capture them (note than this isn’t exclusive to pirates, you can also capture objects when playing as a “normal” empire, but you can’t raid though) or push them away if they are a menace. These are interesting new weapon choices. I particularly used, and liked, the new gravitic weapons a lot. I wonder if they could be too powerful as of now though?

Distant Worlds: Shadows - New Gravitic weapons

New gravitic weapons in action (in the middle) - not the big blue sphere, that's the Devastator Pulse

As we are in the subject of new techs, there are also new planetary facilities now, specialized in attracting more leaders of a certain kind (by the way, there’s the new ship captain leader now also, which can enhance a particular ship’s stats). And, there’s also the new techs used during prewarp. Yes, precursor new techs that eventually lead to what the basic techs were before, but I will not spoil it all for you.

Then there’s the new attack, defense and smuggle request missions. These are in fact quite major additions on their own. When you play as a normal empire you can request pirates to attack a particular military objective or to defend a particular colony if you’re short on ships near a certain area. Interested pirate factions will bid, and the one which prevails will take the contract and try its best to destroy the target you designate, or defend a particular colony or base. If you’re the pirate faction yourself, you can consult a list of currently active attack and defense missions, and decide to bid on contracts if you wish.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Mission requests UI

Mission requests Attack/Defend/Smuggle UI (on the top left)

These are like the “current pirate jobs” in the galaxy bulletin. It’s actually quite fun and disturbing at the same time. At times you really do feel like a gun for hire pirate faction. “So, what do we have here today? Hum, destroy the Space Marauder’s space port for the Securans? They pay 35.000?! Oh, I think we can spare some boys near that sector. I’ll take that!”. This part of the pirate’s gameplay can be quite immersive indeed, but only when you’re powerful enough :)

As for the smuggling request missions, they are a very welcome new feature as well. When you play as a normal empire they are quite handy when you have resource shortages, and now the user interface displays which resources are lacking in a particular place for you. Pirate smugglers will, eventually, bring you the necessary goods. When you play as the pirates you may also earn a lot of money if you decide to invest in smuggling and accept smuggling missions.

The smuggling mechanic is not handled by you directly though, but by your private sector’s AI. But, you can always decide to “help” it by buying more freighters (yes, pirate empires can buy civilian ships directly, something not possible when playing with a normal empire) and eventually they will go to their smuggling business. I do have to note though that the smuggling missions feel like they are too much out of your control. Sometimes you do spot freighters smuggling resources but other times they will just sit there and you’re left wondering why aren’t they fulfilling the smuggling requests. But, overall, the feature does seem to work.

Then there’s new achievements and medals. It’s mainly cosmetic but still quite a nice new touch.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Achievements and medals

New Achievements and Medals feature

There are also two new tutorials now, one that explain the basics of playing as a pirate faction, and a second one to help you on your way when playing in prewarp. I found both tutorials essential before starting playing, and adequate. The in-game galactopedia was also expanded to accommodate the new gameplay. And, after going through the tutorials, and through the in-game encyclopedia for the occasional doubt, I had no trouble figuring Shadows’ out.

But, I’m used to this game. Note that Distant Worlds, with all expansions, and this new one is no exception, takes a good while to learn if you’re new to the series, as the learning curve is quite high. But with time you’ll eventually start to get the hang of things. But, overall, it’s easy enough to learn the game by consulting the manual, the tutorials and the in-game galactopedia. For the most tricky doubts you may need to go to the game’s forums to ask for help though (I had to do that quite a few times myself in the past). Fortunately, the community is very active there, since the game was released back in 2010, till the present day.

The ship design screen also has new entries: boarding assault and boarding defense (due to the new ship/base capture ability). But, there’s also range now (measured in system diameter during “PreWarp” and sectors during “PostWarp”). This is useful, especially during prewarp gameplay. And, there are also resource shortages highlights now, that inform you of lack of resource sources for particular components. Also useful.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - New ship range and resource shortage highlights

Ship design - New ship range and resource shortage highlights

There’s also an option to not allow pirate factions to respawn, a new difficulty level (Extreme) and an option to scale difficulty level as you progress and come closer to victory, but more on difficulty on the next chapter.

On AI

Matrix Games promised a “much improved” AI, especially with respect to the “economy” handling and the new “difficulty” settings.

I played a total of six games exclusively for this review. Three normal empire games and three pirate empire games, some in the “Age of Shadows” setting (an era where pirates tend to rule) and others in the “Classical Age” setting (where normal empires tend to have supremacy). I played with different difficulty settings (including “Normal”, “Hard” and “Very Hard”), and also with the new “difficulty scales as players nears victory” option.

I also made a point of playing a full Legends game before playing any Shadows game and I have to say that I didn’t feel anything too radically different about the AI, or about the game’s difficulty in general. However, I have to say that I feel that Legends’ AI was already quite competent. Not brilliant, because you could easily take advantage of it, if you knew the tricks that is. But, it was Ok. Resources shortage, and the civilian sector response to these shortages, do seem better handled by the private sector now though. The private sector is the part of the game that you can’t control and have to rely on the AI to manage.

I feel that money is slightly more important now also. Or, at least it’s not as easy to extort other empires via diplomacy as it seems that they tend to have less money available than before. It’s still possible to take advantage of some diplomacy shortcomings to get rich fast, or rush and build a few of the more powerful wonders (which boost colony development, and consequentially money generation) but in any case I feel that there were some improvements to the AI in this respect.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Not nearly as much money available in exchanges now

Diplomacy - Not nearly as much money available in exchanges now

Now, about the new “difficulty scales as players nears victory” option, quite frankly I didn’t feel the promised difficulty increase that much. It should start to increase after 50% score, and be very noticeable when you’re closer and closer to victory. In my pirate games I did feel that the game was starting to “get out of hand” at some point, when I was very close to victory and was on the lead, so, that was probably it. But it’s something that you’re not informed by the game at all. It’s an automatic thing. So, I’m not sure if what I felt was really a significant difficulty increase, or the natural result of everybody becoming more powerful as the game progressed. Or, just the product of my imagination really.

The game does feel a bit harder overall now though. Even on “Normal” difficulty. I also played a “Very Hard” game and feel that I had a good challenge. Had a satisfying war and a great diplomatic experience handling that war and its ramifications. It was already about so in Legends, where the diplomacy interaction was already very good, but I felt less comfortable playing a “Hard” game now than before. Of course, I can’t tell if the new resource model, which makes resources scarcer, had a strong influence on that, or if that was due to a more efficient AI in the end, which made the other factions play better. But, overall, I think the game is somewhat harder now and gives more of a challenge if that’s your choice.

In conclusion, I think the game is somewhat harder now and can give you a more challenging experience than before. Or, at the very least it gives you the tools to customize a more challenging game, especially by manipulating the number of colonies, which consequentially affects resource abundance.

On performance, stability and overall quality

There was a big improvement performance-wise with Shadows. It’s indeed quite noticeable, even on huge games full of stars with lots of rivals. Late game in Legends could still stutter a bit and be less responsive than desirable, especially on larger games. CodeForce and Matrix really did a good job here. The game has no more slowdowns due to graphical rendering now.

However, there’s still room for improvement though. Zooming is smoother now, but the UI interactions could be even more responsive. Sometimes it still takes a fraction of a second longer than desirable to activate consecutive UI functions. For the record, Legends’ most recent patch (v1.7.0.20a) should have fixed some of the Legends’ performance issues, particularly in late game. Check here for the patch notes. However I don’t know how extensive these changes to performance were in this Legends patch. But, in Shadows, the performance increase is indeed very noticeable.

Distant Words: Shadows - Significant performance increase

Much better performance - Large galaxy with 1000 stars and 10x10 sectors

I also found this expansion to be quite stable. Not as much as Legends (not surprisingly). I got a couple of crashes when alt-tabbing to Windows, but never had a crash since (there were already 5 patches since release that seem to have fixed many crashes – this review is based on v1.9.0.4, by the way). So, things look good in terms of stability. As I said, I had no crash or freeze ever since. So, everything looks good here.

Now, with respect to balancing, polishing and bugs I think there’s still a long road ahead for Matrix Games and CodeForce. For balancing (or lack thereof) I believe that’s not so much of a problem. Or shouldn’t be. After all, strategy games, and in particular 4X games, always have (or usually have) a post-release support phase to help get balancing right. And that usually requires a lot of player’s feedback. Matrix’s record with this has been very good to excellent, so, there’s a very good chance that this will be the same case again with Shadows. The fact that they already released five patches since release (in two weeks) helps reinforce this belief.

But, where things get worse is with polishing and bugs. Some aspects of the UI, namely the ones concerning the new features, are still in need of serious work. Some sentences go beyond the limits of the window, and can’t be read completely. The attack/defense/smuggling mission request UI portion is also far from ideal. It’s easy to lose track of all the missions offered and hard to focus on the ones that do matter. Maybe they should be grouped by type and collapse and be made visible by type, so that you could focus only on attack missions if you wish, or only smuggle. As of now, that part of the UI is still quite poor. It’s functional, but it’s definitely not that user-friendly, with tiny fonts and lots of sub-optimal color contrasts which makes it hard to read. Something more definitely needs to be done there. Check this pic to see what I’m talking about (at the top-left: “Pirate Missions”).

The font issue, the small size and blurry effect at places (which I’ve been addressing for a long time), is not totally solved yet. There were improvements, but a few areas are still a bit hard to read. For instance, you can enlarge the selection window/box now (where things are displayed when you click something). That has improved readability substantially. But, the worse has always been the tech tree descriptions. They tried to fix that in a Legends patch (if I recall correctly). The font size increased, and that helped. But, it didn’t fix the issue completely. So, it would be great if something more could be done about this. Note: I play on a 24” monitor with 1920×1080 (native) resolution.

Distant Worlds: Shadows - Tech tree descriptions a bit blurry

Tech tree descriptions are still a bit hard to read (blurry font)

Then there’s some fleet handling that could be better fleshed out, or at least made more intuitive. As of now it can be hard to micromanage your fleets, telling them to stay put or make them attack invaders and raiders effectively. At the moment, it’s not uncommon to witness pirates successfully raiding your colonies, with huge defense fleets present there. The problem is that defense fleets tend to take too much time to react, and when they do react sometimes not enough ships enter the fight. This lacking could have been in the game already, the thing is that the new pirate mechanics made fleet management much more relevant, and so these small quirks all add up quickly and are in need of some serious ironing out.

Also, things like not being able to tell badly damaged ships to leave a fleet quickly, but to manually having to remove them, or scrap them, by going to other screens. Or, ordering ships to capture ships but witness them destroying them in many cases. Or not being able to set taxes when you upgrade your pirate empire to a normal empire.

So, there’s definitely a road of polishing and bug ironing in front of the developers. But, if they keep up the patch ratio (five relevant patches since release), it’s possible that these and other bugs may be squashed fast. However, you’re warned that you may experience some bugs here and there, especially (not surprisingly) concerning the pirate gameplay (the “normal” empire gameplay seems solid though). So, take that into account if that’s very important to you when you buy and play a game.

Conclusion

Distant Worlds: Shadows is definitely worth it, especially for veteran Distant Worlds’ gamers. It offers more than enough to justify the purchase, but more importantly, your time. Even if you think you may not like the new pirate gameplay, there are other features that I think you will find your investment worth doing. If not the ability to start really small, in a prewarp age, then perhaps the significant performance increase will be enough for you. If not the expanded ground combat options, which are still considerable, perhaps all the other less than major changes all added up will make the trick.

So, in my opinion, Shadows is a must have for Distant Worlds’ veterans. Of course, please take into consideration that the game still needs extra balancing, polishing and bug squashing. But, even considering that I think it’s still very much worth it. And, because I consider that Matrix Games has a good reputation (so far) on fixing/improving their games over time, the risk of being left with some important bugs seems fairly low.

But, what about new players? People who are interested in getting into this excellent space 4X game? The ones already familiar with 4X games, but also the ones who are not and would love to feel what it’s like to run a big space empire, and who are generally interested in the space exploration subject. Should you buy the all package, including Shadows? Or, where do you start (or stop) to have a great experience? After all this isn’t a cheap game (unfortunately). To newcomers I don’t recommend you buy the base game alone, that is to say, Distant Worlds with no expansions. If you’re going to buy the game I recommend you start with the base game plus, at the very least, Return of the Shakturi, the first expansion.

If you can go up to Legends (the second expansion), then it would be preferable because it’s really worth it, and I strongly advise that you go that far. If money is not really a problem, but only time is, then I highly recommend that you buy the full package, because Shadows increases Legends’ already ridiculously high replayability to almost infinite possibilities. And, as the full game (base and all expansions) is on sale now (at the time of this review), and Matrix Games only does these once or twice a year, this is a great opportunity to get the full Distant Worlds bundle, which, in my opinion, is the best space 4X gaming experience money can buy at the moment.

Distant Worlds: Shadows | 3rd expansion to Distant Worlds

Distant Worlds: Shadows (PC)

Buy it at the Matrix Games store.

Space Sector score:
8.8/10
great
The Good:
- The new pirate gameplay is rich in features and fun
- The new “PreWarp” option (play before hyperdrive) enriches the main experience
- The expanded ground combat succeeds on deepening the extermination phase
- New game setup options help elevate replayability to almost endless possibilities
- Substantial graphical performance increase
The Bad:
- Some rough edges and a few bugs, especially on the new pirate gameplay
- Font sizes are still inappropriately small and blurry at places, especially in the tech tree
- Leaders’ look & feel could be improved with more portraits
- Fleet management is not yet intuitive and flexible enough
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56 Comments


  1. Nick West says:

    I have yet to purchase the Shadows expansion, but I’ve played the most recent Legends patch and finally performance is good enough that the game is playable. It’s not great, but playable. Like this on launch would have been nice, especially after spending $80.

  2. jackswift says:

    In the DW:Shadows preview, I stated that I was unhappy with the pricing mechanism and the lack of a demo and that I would pass on DW until it came down in price or I won the lottery.

    It turns out something even better happened, my fiance was listening a couple weeks ago when I said that I’d love to try this game out but couldn’t afford to take the risk, especially when so many other amazing games are out there for cheap. So… she bought the entire bundle for me as a birthday gift.

    Can’t complain about the pricing now! Sad thing is that I won’t have any time to play it until next week, but oh well. Girls are awesome.

    • Jeff P says:

      You are a lucky guy. I’m the sole breadwinner in my family, so if my wife bought it for me she would be buying it with my money. Kinda defeats the purpose.

      Despite Adam’s excellent review, the game is way too expensive without a demo to reassure the more “thrifty” among us. Sometimes, I worry I spend an inordinate amount of time playing games; but both playing too much AND paying too much is out of the question.

    • Jake says:

      How much is the game?

      • Ben says:

        $69.96 at the moment, and that’s in a sale. This game looks wonderful to me, but there really is no way I’m getting it at that price.

  3. Ermdog says:

    “A note though: when you play with a pirate faction you can’t play in prewarp, that’s an imperial feature only, because, with Shadows’ current design, Pirates wouldn’t have any advantage when playing in prewarp because they would be swallowed very quickly by full-fledged empires.”

    Just tossing this out there cause it was confusing to me until I finally understood what you meant. Pirates CAN play in the “prewarp era”, aka Age of Shadows which you later on explain, but they don’t have the prewarp tech like Empires do. Pirates start off with more advanced tech, including Hyperdrive so they have an early advantage on Empires. It just seems like you were saying Pirates can’t play in the Prewarp gamemode, but later on you explained they can play in the Age of Shadows

    • Adam Solo says:

      No Ermdog. Pirates can’t play in PreWarp. PreWarp is playing with prewarp techs. It’s an option you set at game setup. The Age of Shadows is a different thing, it’s just a background story setting, with special events, where pirate empires ruled (according to the game’s backstory). If something isn’t clear enough I can reword the text.

      I don’t know if you played already, but I think there’s some confusion here about “PreWarp” and “Age of Shadows”. They are different things. PreWarp is when you play with prewarp techs, before the hyperdrive has been discovered. The Age of Shadows is a period where, according to the background story, pirate empires have the tech lead and normal empires supposedly are all still in prewarp. But, nothing stops you from going with a normal empire with tech level 2 (not prewarp) in the Age of Shadows or going with a normal empire with prewarp in the Classic Age. However, Pirates can’t play with PreWarp (or with prewarp techs, same thing), either on the Age of Shadows or on the Classic Age.

      I can try to explain this better here or on the review text itself. Let me know if you still have doubts about this. Because if you do, maybe others will have doubts as well.

      \Edit: I reworded that section to clarify the difference between “PreWarp” and “Age of Shadows”. Let me know if it’s clearer now.

      • Ermdog says:

        I guess I just considered Prewarp and Age of Shadows the same thing because when you play Age of Shadows gamemode its pretty much the prewarp era for everyone else except Pirates. That’s how it was confusing to me. When you said they can’t play Prewarp I mixed it up with Age of Shadows gameplay, but I know what you mean. I was just throwing it out there because I thought others might of gotten confused too, but it could be just me. You worded it fine and is less confusing now.

        I like the Age of Shadows gameplay but wish there was more to it. The huge thing is dealing with the pirates, but feel that its more of a delay to get to where you are when you play in the Classical Gamemode. You pretty much have to sit and just wait for your research to finish to do anything. You can’t spread out much early because of the vast number of pirates and no hyperdrive, on top of few military ships. But lord knows you can’t accept every protection request a pirate sends. So im left just waiting for research to finish while I protect my home base. I think Id rather just start with Classical and skip that part.

    • Towerbooks3192 says:

      It means that the age of shadows and the prewarp era are the same timeline but called different things in the options. In the backstory, only the pirates have hyperdrive techs and the empires forgot about hyperdrives. Pirates could not and do not start from scratch in terms of techs compared to the empire because as the storygoes, they scavenged the remaining technology from the time the shakturi destroyed everyone while the empires lost the space faring techs. This is how I understood the story though so it might be different

  4. Evrett says:

    You start out by saying shadows is the 2nd xpac..isnt it xpac #3? Original DW, RotS, Legends and Shadows?

    • Adam Solo says:

      Did I? No, I never say that Shadows is the 2nd expansion, I say that Legends is the 2nd expansion. Shadows is the third, right in the first two paragraphs. Or, are you referring to another section of the review where I may have mixed that?

  5. Towerbooks3192 says:

    I am confused about the pirate to normal empire stuff, does that mean I could be an empire once I built a criminal network on a planet? I managed to snag a colony ship and some colony techs and I managed to colonize a colony of the same race as I am but it didnt change anything, I was still a pirate faction.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Ok, perhaps I wasn’t very clear about that part in the review.

      When you start with the pirate gameplay you will always be a pirate faction. You can’t transform into a normal empire with all its abilities completely. You can however transform your pirate faction into a pseudo-empire, a mix between the two play-styles, combining the pirate abilities with some of the normal empires, the main ones.

      So, after you build the Criminal Network facility (the ultimate facility I talk about in the review) you can keep raiding and looting as you once did but you can now also build Colony ships, Constructor ships and ground troops, something you couldn’t until that point. I reworded that section a bit to be more clear.

      • Towerbooks3192 says:

        Ok so basically building a criminal network network would enable to give me a firm foothold and would enable me to mount full scale invasions since I could recruit troops.

        Last question though, once I build a colony ship and colonise a planet, will it have the options of a normal empire or I have to re do everything (base to criminal network) in a new planet(a non-populated planet) I just colonized?

        • Adam Solo says:

          It’s a normal Colony, I can confirm that. You can do with it everything a normal empire does (e.g. build construction ships, refuel ships, train troops, build facilities, set taxes, etc) without the need to build pirate bases there (in fact I don’t think you can). However you would need 500M population at least to start building colony ships there, which will take a long time. I didn’t try that myself but it should be possible as you have the option to build a colony ship there, however as I didn’t have 500M population I can’t say for sure. But it’s highly likely that that’s the case. So, the best is to build further colony ships at your Criminal Network world :)

          So, this means that you only need one Criminal Network as a seed to expand your pirate pseudo-empire with more “normal” colonies. Once you colonize other worlds you can then build more colony ships there (>500M pop) and colonize even more worlds, and so on. The trouble is to build that first Criminal Network. It’s not an easy task. It takes a lot of time and patience. A successful pirate raid may destroy all your progress, which would be a terrible loss.

          But, as I see it, building a Criminal Network is not really essential. It will help on achieving victory for some pirate-styles, but Raiders for instance don’t require you to build one. Only a Pirate Fortress is in the Raider’s victory conditions. It’s also quite doable to win without building many pirate bases, it will depend on the victory conditions you go with.

  6. Skeirik says:

    Man Solo, people be grillin’ you hard on your article. I thought it was well done, informative and helpful! In fact I’m buying it based on your review!

    Also, could you tell me what galaxy and start settings you used for the game featured in the screenshot about performance? That looks like a sweet game, too bad you didn’t write up an AAR for that one!!!

    Which colour are you?

    • Adam Solo says:

      Thanks man,

      the main settings for that game were as described in the pic’s caption: Large (elliptical) galaxy with 1000 stars and 10×10 sectors. Plus 15 other empire races. “Hard” difficulty. Option “difficulty scales” ON. Classic Age.

      As you’re interested, check this to see how well I was doing in “stardate” 2172.09.23 ;) By then I managed to take down the Gizurean completely (the yellow guys), with the help of the Ikkuro (the green guys), which were my friends (after a very long period of bribes, tech offerings and seduction) :)

      I was the blue guys. The Kiadian race. It’s a very interesting race to play with. Very diplomacy-oriented, if you like that. Victory with them depends on how well you’re doing in Diplomacy, how honorable you’ve been behaving.

      I was very close to victory in 2172.09.23, the problem was that I broke a few more treaties than I was supposed to, and didn’t have the longer-lasting Mutual Defense Pact of the galaxy. It’s very interesting gameplay, because you have to think in ways to make others behave less honorably and break treaties themselves so that you can win :) It’s a challenge, but it’s doable. I really liked to play this particular game.

  7. Mark says:

    Very nice, comprehensive review Adam, makes it very easy to weigh up the pros and cons. I know I said I was going to wait for this review before buying, but I caved in about a week ago and bought it anyway. I haven’t been sorry though, I’m really enjoying it.

    I agree with you that the pirate factions are fun to play, more so than I thought they would be, but I cant escape the feeling of impending doom while playing them. I mean you start off as king of the galaxy with all the empires easy pickings for you, but the more time passes, the more powerful those empires become. Soon they eclipse you totally and you start to run out of places to hide. Seems like being a pirate doesn’t have much long-term future unless you decide to go the empire path yourself or perhaps try to crush the empires while they are still very young. I know you aren’t directly competing with the empires for a win, but that doesn’t stop them from hunting you down and killing you.

    My favorite was definitely the pre-warp start as an empire. I love starting with nothing but a planet and then working my way up to a huge galaxy spanning empire. This one feature was totally worth the price of admission for me.

    I also agree that there are clearly many balance issues to be ironed out. In particular I found both rail guns and gravitic beams to be way overpowered. I don’t like the way that they have no defense. I think that everything should have some sort of defense even if it is difficult to attain. However the devs seem pretty good at listening to fan feedback and they are rapidly patching, so I have high hopes that these issues will eventually be sorted.

  8. Benji says:

    Awesome review, as always!

  9. sil says:

    Many thanks for this review, very detailed stuff you wrote about this expansion. It’ll certainly help many people to make a decision about buying or not this game.

  10. Edward Ryan says:

    Been playing with it now for about 4 days and Adam is right this is the best 4X game money can buy at the minute! wouldn’t it be so cool if we had Distant Worlds play Mechanic’s with Stardrive style Graphics wow that is something I’d love to see…..maybe if there is a Distant Worlds 2 :)

  11. Lens Flares Suck says:

    ‘The fonts are small and blurry, but we recommend it’.

    Right.

    • Adam Solo says:

      That’s not what I said Lens. As I said in the review, the issue was addressed but not completely. And, it’s definitely not a showstopper (for me at least). It may be unpleasant for some (some people have been reporting it to be annoying while others do not), and that’s why I included that in the review. But, the issue has been addressed, just not to the extent I feel it should have been.

      • Lens Flares Suck says:

        It’s not just the fonts. It’s the whole GUI design. Lots of tiny, teeny, ridiculous little gidgets and doo-dads.

        I really dislike that design decision.

        Games that were 320×200 didn’t have that ‘let’s make a ton of tiny little things on the screen’ and they were BETTER FOR IT.

        • Adam Solo says:

          The GUI isn’t pretty but it’s very functional. Could be more user-friendly? Definitely. But it gets the job done.

          Just to clarify this further. The point about the fonts’ size and the occasional blurriness I raised is not one of functionality but one of ergonomics. It has nothing to do with gameplay, personal taste or if there’s more or less text. It’s about informing readers that sometimes (now less than before but still not solved completely), comfort isn’t ideal because you may have trouble reading particular parts of the text, some more important than others.

          Apparently, this isn’t an issue for some people, it’s a minor issue for others, a bid deal for some. I’m in the middle.

    • Mark says:

      Font size is an extremely minor issue for me too. I’d rather they focus their efforts on firstly stomping bugs and secondly balancing the game. Even if they never get around to improving the fonts, I wont be losing any sleep.

  12. Viktor says:

    A very nice and detailed review as always, but I’ve never liked the game mechanics, or the game itself. There’s too much going on and if you put everything on auto, it’s like watching someone else play… also too much spreadsheet going on and sounds are 1/5 IMHO…

    • Adam Solo says:

      Thanks Vik.

      That’s your opinion and I respect that. But, from my experience it’s very possible to play with everything in Manual control (leaving only suggestions on), even on Large games, and don’t have the “watching someone else play” feeling you talk about. It’s how I play the game actually. You just pause often to review stuff, a bit like simulating turns, and you’ll be fine. Also, the UI after Legends (the 2nd expansion), makes the game much more enjoyable because you finally can have enough control on what’s going on. In late game, if you feel a bit overwhelmed, you can delegate some tasks to the AI, as usual in 4X games (when the option exists that is, which is the case here).

      As for the somewhat “spreadsheet” feeling, if you mean the UI look&feel, it’s one of those things you get used to after a while. Definitely not pretty but very functional. As for the sound, while nothing remarkable, the weapons’ sound effects in combat are quite enjoyable (maybe you didn’t tried them much?), nothing memorable but ok. The music is quite good actually.

      Really, this game is not about good aesthetics, which are average, but more about pure gameplay. And, as it’s so rich, you compensate that in your head with the immersion you get while playing. If the game had excellent aesthetics then it would be a 10, or close.

      Of course, these observations are based on the game after Return of the Shakturi, and mostly about Distant Worlds: Legends (and now Shadows). Distant Worlds, the original (base game) had a very poor User Interface, and many other problems, so I can’t recommend the base game alone.

    • TanC says:

      Hi Viktor, I’ve played the game on Auto once or twice and I’ve been brave to try partial automation on the third game and slowly weaning off all automation in the 4th. I’ve never completed the 1st and 2nd games so it is not as convoluted as you might expect.

      • Viktor says:

        Yeah thanks Adam and TanC, that’s probably why I didn’t go on, because I only have the base one and stopped there. I thought you can’t improve past the skeleton so I expected add-ons wouldn’t do any difference in what I look for in a game. For the sake of mentioning, I do enjoy Endless Space a lot, and I mean lots, given the so many low review scores, for me, that game is graphically beautiful and has a lot room for improvements (in a positive way) which is what I like, so definitively the improvements are coming and it will make the game more made like in this century. I’m out for hunting not old fashioned, powerpoint-like graphics but more fresh and stylish ones. But as you said, it’s opinion based and just what people like, some like to immerse in the visual graphics in the game, and some just like drawing the graphics inside their heads themselves. Sorry for my English.

        • jackswift says:

          I love Endless Space as well. It’s the prefect blend of explore, expand, exploit for me. Most times I don’t care too much about the extermination part, and ES reduces the tactical side of things to choosing cards, which is great (for me). I’m the kind of player who feels like I need to min/max everything… but I don’t want to put in the micromanagement time to do said min/maxing. ES is great for that.

          Now Distant Worlds is a whole different ballgame. I’ve only put about 20 hours into the game (Base + all expansions) so far, and it’s been an interesting experience. Usually for games with this steep of a learning curve, the community will have comprehensive ‘newbie guides’ to help players get into the game. There is no such thing I could find for DW. There’s scattered forum posts (not even stickied!) and AAR’s, some incomplete wiki pages, etc. The tutorials are okay for getting the basic GUI down, but everything else is largely left up for you to explore.

          I was pretty excited to boot up the game, I’ve been reading about DW for awhile and always wanted to try it out. I knew there was going to be a steep learning curve going in, but knowing that doesn’t prepare you for the “oh holy crap, I’m watching everything be automated in my first game and there’s players out there that do everything manually?” Is was especially daunting after reading some AAR’s from people who take years and years to complete a single game. I remember reading one guy’s about how he starts his games by starting 50 different games and then “choosing the best start” out of all of them after labeling each save according to starting conditions. I was shaking my head when the guy wrote, “Don’t worry, it should only take you a day or two and it pays off in the long run.” Yikes.

          After reading that I just said to myself, “Okay, looks like the old adage ‘There’s no substitute for experience’ is going to be especially true here. Time to just dive right in and start climbing the brick wall that is this game.” I started with a very small 4×4 sector, 100 stars, no pirates or monsters and three relatively peaceful opponents. I learned how to set up a smoothly running economy (as far as I could tell). I started another game, a little bigger, a little harder and with less automation, etc. I’m now on my 4th game and things are starting to click: how to efficiently manage my economy, how to keep track of important events, always feel like it’s okay to pause the game when you need to, how the abundance/lack of different resources affects your gameplay, how to defend your territories from pirates, etc. There are GUI windows and shortcuts to make doing those things a lot easier… in fact I feel that so far I’ve only had fun with the game after I learn how to best manage an area using the GUI and keyboard shortcuts. Otherwise it feels like I’m spending half the time just zooming out, zooming in and clicking, clicking, clicking. From all the other reviews on this site it seems like the base game did not have the GUI and shortcut tools to help you manage your empire at all, and I could see how that would be an unfun, micromanagement hell. Even one of the Matrix Games reps was posting here the other day and said that you really need the base game + the Return of the Shakturi expansion to get a good experience.

          Also, apparently the game did get a graphical update in the second expansion as well I believe. I like the visuals of ES as well, but DW so far is just fine. The ships are nicely textured, the planets look great and the weapons have a sufficient pew-pew look/feel. It won’t win any awards, but it gets the job done.

          tl;dr I love the simplicity of Endless Space, and while I’m finding DW to indeed be very complex game, the GUI and shortcut tools added in the expansions are making the game easier and more importantly actually fun for me.

        • Viktor says:

          Thanks Jack. You and Adam both mentioned my “point-of-no-sale” which is the phrase you both used: “It gets the job done” and it does just that; it doesn’t get any further. :-/

        • Adam Solo says:

          @Viktor
          My “gets the job done” phrase was concerning the UI. To a UI that’s a compliment. Sure it could be slicker, ultra fast and all that. It’s that what you mean? Because if that’s what you’re after then I guess you’ll be much happier with ES’s UI. But, what about the rest?

          But there’s a fundamental problem in this UI discussion Viktor. You said it yourself, that you only tried the original Distant Worlds version, the vanilla version. That’s the catch right there. I’m afraid we are trying to argue over completely different starting points. DW:Legends (and now Shadows) UI is radically different from Distant Worlds original in many ways. Before it was incomplete, not pretty and basically not acceptable functionally. Now, the UI, although still not pretty, is very functional, and “gets the job done”. A UI that “gets the job done” is a good UI. Could it be more responsive, elegant and ergonomic? Sure.

          \Edit: I believe jackswift was referring to graphics overall, when he mentioned his “gets the job done” phrase. But, only he can confirm that. So, for the record, we were not talking about the same thing.

        • jackswift says:

          Yes, I was referring to the graphics, but I guess that phrase could apply to the UI as well. They have the option to revert back to the old ship textures, and wow… I can see how they could be treated like an eyesore. The ship models are much nicer now (but only if you have the expansions).

          About the UI… comparing any UI to Endless Space is going to leave the competitor bloodied and passed out. I still have some wishes for future DW UI, for instance I think the ship design panel is a mess that could use a lot of improvement. It’s certainly not as intuitive as ES; it takes some time to get used to, but the functionality is there, much like getting used to a new operating system.

          What I was trying to convey earlier, and Adam as well (at least from what I intimated), that your disdain for the base game is entirely justified, but the expansions fix the UI functionality problems and include graphical updates as well. If you need a super smooth UI to enjoy a game, that’s no problem. Endless Space is awesome and I can’t wait for the Disharmony expansion pack. I’m just saying that if you choose to give DW another shot (with the expansions), there’s a deep and rewarding experience waiting that I’ve only just scratched the surface of.

          Sadly, there’s no demo out there to help you decide for yourself if the expansions are worth the time and money. Only recommendations from poor old sods like us. :)

        • Miquel Ramirez says:

          I totally second jackswift comments. The “barebones” game setup he mentions to getting started into DW is the best place to start and learn. And I also appreciate ES a lot – which I consider a worthy successor of MOO2 but designed with workable multi-player gameplay in mind.

          My only gripe with Shadows is that the crisp overlays of Legends for showing ships positions and routes are no longer so crisp: although this might be an issue with my system.

    • nec says:

      With the new expansion that ‘too much going on’ feeling isn’t a big deal. Starting a game in the Age of Shadows will let you begin with just the one planet and no infrastructure at all, you’ll learn the ropes as you go with the story event prompts giving you milestones to reach as you begin building an empire.
      There are also four very informative tutorials, going through them a couple times will give you just about every detail you will need to play the game.
      I find that playing the game heavily automated can be a handicap, the AI constantly taking care of things can get in the way of your learning how to play the game more than the complexity or scale of the game.

  13. Joel says:

    When pausing the game is it always manual pause, or can you set it to pause every minute or so?

    • Adam Solo says:

      It’s always manual pause. Press “space” and pause, press “space” again and unpause. It’s quite an easy and fluid action. So, there’s no “hunt” for the pause key in some part of the UI, or anything like that. And, there’s 5 speeds available: 0.25x, 0.5x, Normal, 2x and 4x. So, although the game plays in real-time, you have all the control that you want. What I do is play the battles at 0.25x or 0.5x speed to feel comfortable micromanaging the fleet’s actions (because I choose to). In the main galaxy map I usually go with “Normal” or 2x.

  14. CptKork says:

    this game is really awesome. if i think of the 25 eur i have spend for Stardrive versus the 72 eur i have spend for DW+rots+legends+shadows, then DW was still the better Deal (imo).

    I’ve just played 3 races so far and wasnt in Lategame until now because i restart often to incorporate newly accumulated knowledge in my play. In my last game i finally started to do everything manual(except Automations that actually do things the way i intend to do it).

    But, Ive modded a lot of buttons, pictures, ships and Icons because the base graphics arent as easy to distinguish as they should for a game with this scope and mass of buttons.

    wouldnt there be SpaceSector i wouldnt have found out about this game. Thank you!

  15. Erik RUtins says:

    Thank you for the great review, Adam!

    • Adam Solo says:

      You’re welcome Erik. Congratulations for a great expansion.

    • Mark says:

      Its very refreshing and encouraging to see the DW Devs actively listening to customer feedback and using it to vastly improve the game. Well Done Erik!

      If only the SOTS II devs would do the same thing, the potential of that game would be enormous.

      But they wont.

  16. A big thanks for the review from me, too. I envy you the time to play these games, I barely find minutes lately and strategy games demand more… At least I get to read about them.

  17. Azuran says:

    According to Patch 1.9.0.6 the Text in Research Screen has been enlarged. They have released 6 patches for Shadows since launch.

  18. Henri says:

    About small text: you cannot change resolutions inside the game, but I had to change my monitor resolutions on both my computers to get reasonable font sizes (1920 and 2550 resolutions. I found that a lateral resolution of about 1600 on a wide monitor is about right.

  19. Podnaught says:

    Took the plunge yesterday. DW virgin, bought the full bundle. Ouch.

    Now, just gotta get this inconvenient family holiday outta the way!

  20. EndlessAgent25 says:

    I just recently took the dive and purchased the whole bundle (DW, RotS, Legends and Shadows), and I can say having played the game for a couple of days now that it was well worth the price tag. I expected with a price tag like that to get quality, and I am happy to say I was for once not disappointed even in the slightest.

    This game is what I’ve been hoping for in a 4x title for years, it truly captures the atmosphere of being an Emperor, making you feel like you are truly ruling a pan galactic empire; all the while giving orders to your advisors from your throne on the homeworld, there are no words to express my gratitude to Code Force for making such a great game…I took a chance on this game with its price tag, and like I said earlier, it was well worth it.

    Also kudos to Adam Solo for writing this wonderful review, it is what made me finally decide to take the plunge and buy the game. Now, off to play more Distant Worlds: Shadows!

  21. JohnR says:

    Adam, I hate to be too critical, but although your review was good, it was way too long. In the immortal words of Shakespeare, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Seriously, I think you could have made your points well enough with about half as many words. I mean, a game review shouldn’t be like reading a George RR Martin novel. ;o) Just saying.

    Having said that, I love the DW series, but unlike the previous expansions, don’t find the additions in Shadows to be all that compelling. Wish I did. I don’t know, but from what you wrote, and giving Codeforce the benefit of a doubt considering their excellent track record, I may take a chance on Shadows.

    • Adam Solo says:

      No problem John, I appreciate your critique. Noted on the review length. Moreover, you weren’t the only one making that observation, so…

      There was a lot of ground to cover for this review but I guess I let myself carry away in some areas. Detailed and thorough reviews are one of this site’s characteristics, but even taking that into account I agree that many times the same thing can be said with much less words. I’ll do my best not to give you the feeling of reading “a George RR Martin novel” for a review again ;)

      • yochh says:

        I guess it’s a matter of taste ! Personally I like very much the lengthy reviews as it gives a better insight of the game, and your opinion is always worth the length! So, yeah, a matter taste, don’t cut them please ! :)

        Something a bit off subject here, but do you plan on trying/reviewing Aurora one day ? Though it’s a very rough Space 4X it’s one of the best i’ve ever played (DW is very close behind…). I’d be curious to read your opinion on this one, plus I do think that Aurora was a strong influence to some of the best Space 4X namely Distant Worlds (state VS public, pre-warp starting game) or Star Ruler (freeform ship design with infinite scalabity), which is a very good thing actually! Aurora is almost perfect gameplay wise, though a little overcomplicated, but the ideas are there ! :)

        • Adam Solo says:

          Thanks for the kind words. You can never please everybody with the length and the amount of detail you put on the review. Sometimes it’s not even the length at all but the pacing. However, all readers opinions are heard and taken into account.

          Regarding Aurora, there were already several people requesting that I write about it. I’d probably look into it one day but I realize it’s a very complicated game, as you put it yourself. It would probably please a segment of people looking for that kind of thing though, so, I’ll consider doing a first impressions article one day, at the very least.

        • Yochh says:

          Clearly the learning curve is steep, but with a bit of help from some people that tried it already will greatly ease your pain for that Aurora’s forum is your friend but you should also get in touch with some people from space sector that will be able to give you some pointers (including me no problem). There are some tutorials on the forum that will gibe you an insight but most of the stuff isn’t up to date.

          But since you look very interested in game design, I think it’s worth a try, it’s got a lot of good ideas from that perspective.

      • Mark says:

        If I’m going to spend my money on a game, I first want to read as many reviews as I can and I want them to be as detailed and informative as humanly possible. A little extra time spent reading might well save me a lot of time, money and angst in the future.

        Adam I find that your reviews are generally some of the best, most informative and comprehensive in the industry and quite often give me the most accurate and detailed picture of whether I will ultimately end up enjoying a game or not.

        So I’ll add my voice to those who prefer your comprehensive reviews. Please don’t shorten your them just for the sake of shortening them. I really appreciate the obvious effort you put in to get *all* the information out to us and I certainly wouldn’t want it to see it change.

  22. 4x4life says:

    Thank you Adam Solo for your review.
    The only games I really like are 4x games. Dunno why.

    Anyway, I thought about purchasing the DW but I am put off for a few reasons.
    There are 4 titles to make a complete game. That’s about AUD$120. A lot.

    Further the vanilla is generally negatively reviewed with poor graphics and cruddy UI, even by people who like the game, so I can only surmise it must really be dreadfully painful (Kinda sounds OK… I did play Moo3 after all)

    I suggest Matrix at least offer a bundle with DW+ROTS for 30 bucks I may be interested. Otherwise… I’ll just write my own… lawl?

    Cam

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