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Distant Worlds: Universe Launched and First Impressions

By on May 23rd, 2014 8:47 am

Distant Worlds: Universe | 4th expansion pack to the real-time space 4X game Distant Worlds

Distant Worlds: Universe, the all-in-one package for Distant Worlds, a real-time (pausable) space 4X strategy game by CodeForce, Slitherine and Matrix Games, is now available for the PC.

DW:U is a standalone expansion pack. So, it includes all content released so far, which includes the Distant Worlds base game and the Return of the Shakturi, Legends and Shadows expansions. On top of the previous content, it brings new modding capabilities, a scenario built with these modding enhancements and a bunch of new techs. It may have received a few balance tweaks and other improvements as well, but I’ll need a bit more time to see how noticeable those changes, if any, really were. I’ll let you know more on that on our review, to come out in the next few weeks.

But, in the meantime, I’ve been playing a DW:U preview build for the past few weeks, so here’s some first impressions on the new content, and on the entire series as a whole.

Modding improvements

Ok, first of all I have to say that I’m not much into modding myself. What I mean is that I don’t usually play mods. But, I do get why so many people do. The possibility to play your favorite games using your favorite setting (e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek), or to simply play a totally different setting, or even different features from the ones available, can help generate a substantially different experience. I totally get that. But, for me, and you can call me old fashioned, it’s all about enjoying the experience that the game’s designer had in mind for the game in the first place.

But, I guess modders, and people who enjoy mods and Distant Worlds, will probably rejoice for what Matrix Games and CodeForce have prepared for you in Universe. From what I understand, just by looking at the game’s files and the modding guide, it’s now possible to change much more about the game than before, which includes redesigning the tech trees, create new technologies, new resources, modify almost all the images in the game, UI icons and even sound effects. This all done through text files manipulation, which are exposed in the game’s directory structure.

Then there are other things you can change, like planetary facilities and wonders (not sure if you can create new ones from scratch though), alien races, and their race families (e.g. humanoid, insectoid, machine, and you can create more if you want), characters, governments details, and others.

Now, I wouldn’t say that the modification process is very hard but I don’t think it’s that simple either. I had a look at the files, and while many aspects are very easy to change, like changing names or other text, if you want to create new things, like a new tech or new components, there’s a lot of references (ids and stuff) that you need to tweak to make it happen. I think the modding guide helps you there but even if I’m not very experienced in modding myself I’d say that the modding capabilities are there yes, but if you’re not experienced just don’t expect to be creating new techs on-the-fly. That’s for the amateur and professional modders. Of course, it should be simple for them, so, judging from previously available mods it shouldn’t be long until you see new more comprehensive mods popping up.

New ingame customization

In the game itself there are also new customization possibilities, accessed through the ingame editor. While the hardcore modding (the one explained above), you do outside of the game, this editor is a tool you can use while you play. You could change many game aspects in the previous expansions already, like creating new planets, change their contents and all other sorts of things. But, the interesting new part is the possibility to add ruins (which I think were not present before) and the possibility to setup custom events on planets and other objects. Custom events work like story triggers that you can define on specific map objects. And you can define a lot of actions associated to such events, like for instance if you investigate a ruin, you can setup automatic declarations of war, the establishment of treaties, characters getting killed, you can learn techs, make empire contacts and many other actions. There’s a lot of these possible actions, just see for yourself (click on image below to enlarge).

Distant Worlds: Universe | New event system for storyline generation

So, you can ultimately define your own storyline with this new event system, if you wish. Also new is a feature that allows you to load a previously saved map that you can use again for a new game. You can then even tweak previously generated maps at game startup if you want, since the game allows you to tell the game to generate different resources, space monsters, or ruin locations. So, I guess this storyline customization and map replay can be useful for people who like to share custom maps and create stories around them, and perhaps then share them with friends, that sort of thing.

So, if you’re really not that much into the hardcore modding, perhaps there’s something useful for you to justify the expansion’s price, if you happen to own all previous expansions, that is. I for one find this new event system quite useful if you want to spice up things a bit. This is probably something I see myself experimenting with in a next game. As for the hardcore modding itself, the one you need to tweak files, I leave that to the modders. But, if there’s an interesting Star Trek or Star Wars mod out soon, perhaps I’ll give it a try.

The Ancient Galaxy storyline

Along with the modding and the new customization features, DW:U comes with a new theme called “The Ancient Galaxy”, which is actually a mod, I suppose. This built-in theme was designed by the devs to serve as proof of concept for the modding capabilities. It portrays the events in the first war between the Freedom Alliance and the Shaktur Axis, according to the Distant Worlds’ lore. In it you’ll find a slightly different tech tree which allows you to have access to the “planet destroyers” and “Xaraktor virus” techs.

Distant Worlds: Universe | The Ancient Galaxy storyline

As you can see, there’s a lot happening already when you start to play the Ancient Galaxy scenario, so this will not be a good place to start if you’re new to the game. But, it can be interesting for veteran gamers wanting to experience something different.

It’s worth noting that you can customize your own games using the Ancient Galaxy theme itself. So, even if you don’t wish to play the Ancient Galaxy scenario, you can always customize a game using the new techs and other modifications that the theme provides. Actually, that’s how I played most of my games for this first impressions. I didn’t notice anything remarkably different using that theme, but I did spot a bunch of super techs by the end of the tech tree.

A few more notes so far

I’m afraid to say that one thing that has been haunting the series since the very beginning, and even after three great expansions have been released, which have addressed the issue reasonably well, is the font issue. The readability has been increasing with time, for sure. So, it’s not so much of a big deal as it once was. But, some parts of the UI are still not particularly easy to read, especially on the diplomacy and research screens. The readability at game customization time can also be a bit blurry at places.

Some other areas like ship design are ok, but not great. Etc. I’d say that the font issue is not a critical issue anymore, especially after the font sizes have been addressed, the selection panel enlarged and many other important areas have been sharpened out, like the Empire Summary screen which is now presented crystal clear. I understand that the devs probably did the best they could, but it’s something that the player needs to be aware, especially if very high resolutions are used, as I’ve come to understand throughout this time. Personally, the fonts don’t give me much trouble, but I’ve seen many people complaining about this in the past, so, consider yourself warned.

Distant Worlds: Universe | Diplomacy. Not so readable as it could be.

As for other changes in this new expansion, I feel that I didn’t play enough yet to be certain if other aspects have been improved, like overall balancing and AI. But, I found the pirate gameplay experience to be smoother now (it was a bit buggy when Shadows was launched). Of course, I have no easy way to know now if that was already addressed with patches or if it was fixed by this new expansion.

Then there are other things which are just feelings and hunches at this time for the amount of hours I played, like I feel that resources seem to be dispatched more efficiently than before. Before this expansion it was not that that rare to find yourself lacking a resource and having to wait ages for that resource to be transported to the place it was needed. Now, when I lacked two resources in two different times, my private sector freighters, and the independent freighters, seemed to have addressed the resource shortage more efficiently. That and my smuggler freighters now being much more diligent (I feel) when I accept a smuggling mission to supply an empire with some particular resource.

Distant Worlds: Universe | Pirate Gameplay. Private sector seems more diligent now. To be confirmed.

Another issue I had with the previous expansion (Shadows) was with fleets, and fleet management, which I still thought was not that intuitive and flexible enough, at least for the type of player like me who likes to play the game with everything in manual. Fleets seem to obey my orders better now. But, I reserve more on this when I play more for the review. Other hunches include resources being scarcer now and other AI hypothetical improvements, but that could be just my imagination. Anyway, I’ll let you know more details in the review but I feel it’s important to tell you all this now, since this is a first impressions article after all.

Closing Thoughts

Distant Worlds has come a long way since the series’ inception in 2010. In my opinion, the game didn’t start well. But, CodeForce and Matrix Games redeemed themselves with the release of the first expansion, Return of the Shakturi. And, by the second expansion, Legends, Distant Worlds became a great experience, the best space 4X experience since Galactic Civilizations 2, in my opinion. Shadows, the third expansion, brought, among other things, the pirate gameplay and the very important PreWarp experience, which made possible to have the experience of developing from a very, very humble beginning, where exploring and exploiting a star system seems like a galaxy in itself. This was a very cool addition in Shadows.

Now, new players have a lot to experience with Distant Worlds: Universe, but also a lot to learn. This isn’t a simple game. Distant Worlds is very complex and as deep as can get while still being approachable to a large audience. The UI has improved dramatically over the expansions, especially in the second one (Legends), which made things a lot easier. There are ingame tutorials that help you get started, but reading some parts of the manual will most probably be required. And, if you want to master the game you’ll need to consult the ingame encyclopedia frequently, and perhaps make a few visits to the game’s forums to ask some of the veterans there what something means or is used for (oh, I know because I did that a lot myself!). So, you’ll need a while to get a hang of things.

And, the game’s scope can be quite huge. Of course, you an setup a galaxy as small or as big as you like, but there will be a lot to do still. You can automate certain aspects of the game at first and then progressively turn that automation off, when you feel you’re ready. So, the game can feel quite daunting at first. But, the learning curve is totally worth it, in my opinion.

How to upgrade

If you already own the base game and any of the expansions, Matrix Games has created a system for you to upgrade to Universe. You get a $10 discount for every game/expansion you own. This means that, if you own Distant Worlds plus all the three previous expansions, you get a $40 off coupon to buy Distant Worlds: Universe. Combined with the $10 release discount, that allows you to upgrade to the latest expansion for $10 (a bit more than that if you buy the physical box product which comes with a printed manual).

These are Matrix’s instructions to get the coupon:

In order to generate this coupon, you must register your Distant Worlds content on the Matrix games Members Club. After you have done this, click the “My discount coupons” button on the right side. Here you will be able to get your coupon.

Note: Make sure to register ALL your Distant Worlds content before generating the coupon. It can only be done once, so if you do it before you registered all Distant Worlds keys, you will not be able to use the full discount!  -Matrix Games

When you generate the coupon you can buy the game here (both physical and digital download versions are available) and then enter the coupon when required. Note that the Matrix Games store’s version is DRM-free (or at least you only need a serial key to install).


If you buy on the Matrix Games store you also get a Steam key.

Everyone who buys Universe from our own stores will be able to redeem their Steam keys as soon as the game is released there. In order to do this, you must register you copy here. Next you can click the “Steam Keys” button in your profile page and press “Redeem Key”. You now have a Distant Worlds: Universe key you can activate on Steam.  -Matrix Games

Distant Worlds: Universe is a standalone package containing all content for the real-time (pausable) space 4X strategy game Distant Worlds, and is now available on the Matrix Games store for the PC (both in physical and digital download form) with a $10 discount within the first week of release. The game will also be on Steam soon. Our review should be up in the following weeks.

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  1. StarMate says:

    i am sorry, distant worlds is my favorite 4x space game, but i see no reason to buy this expansion pack! i am no modder so why should i bother buying this?

  2. Mark says:

    For pretty much the same reasons that Adam described in his article, I’m not into playing mods so I wont be buying this expansion. If I ever discover that it actually provides some useful content (like AI improvement?) then I will almost certainly fork out the $10.

    • Icemania says:

      Mark, I’ve asked Erik Rutins over in the Matrix Forums to provide a more detailed changelog from the last patch of Shadows. He has responded to say he will compile. This may help once he provides the detail.

      I’m interested as well. Adam might be useful for your review also.

      • Mark says:

        Much appreciated Icemania, If they claim that the AI is noticeably improved and it is borne out by SpaceSector’s review, then that will definitely be good reason to upgrade.

        • Gary says:

          I’ve been reading the Distant Worlds forum at Matrix, and have already seen references to improved AI. Example:

          OzoneGrif: “The AI is so much smarter now, it actually does stuff, and almost smartly, wow :)”

          Just fyi :)

        • Icemania says:

          Here is some info from the Developer Elliot Gibbs regarding AI improvements

        • Icemania says:

          My first Universe game was the new Ancient Galaxy Storyline.

          After many hours of playing Distant Worlds I wasn’t expecting to watch two of my worlds get destroyed while a third had a very narrow escape. Even better the enemy fleets were co-ordinating their attacks i.e. with other races in their alliance.

          I’m really looking forward to seeing what the community can do with the new abilities to set-up storylines and events that were demonstrated here …

        • Icemania says:

          Mark, recent patches have a number of noticeable AI improvements. A number of these improvements were considered following community feedback and ideas.

          Refer here for patch notes:

          Those discussions continue as per the Distant Worlds AI Thread on the Matrix Games Forums and elsewhere.

        • Mark says:

          @ Icemania: Thanks for the heads up, its certainly encouraging that the devs are releasing patches so fast, clearly they’re committed to supporting the game.

          By now it seems obvious that there have been some AI tweaks, but I’m still far from certain how obvious or significant they are compared to Shadows. If Someone were to sit me down at a computer with both Shadows and Universe installed, randomly start one up and launch a game would I even know which one I was playing? If the answer is no then I see no point in spending money on the universe “expansion”. If it isn’t obvious that you’re playing an expansion then something is seriously wrong.

          I’m happy to wait for the SpaceSector review to find out if the AI tweaks are truly noticeable.

      • Adam Solo says:

        Yes, having a more detailed change log from Shadows would be helpful. Of course, if the changes are significant they will popup naturally. But, hypothetical balancing improvements, AI enhancements and other small tweaks are hard to grasp in a game like this. At least not without playing the game for days straight.

      • Icemania says:

        Mark, refer to this post from another experienced player that I would agree with

    • Mark says:

      I can confirm that I’m hearing some very good things – from multiple sources – about the improved AI with Universe. Hopefully its not all just hype and wishful thinking. I’m wondering why they wouldn’t advertise such an improvement since for me at least it would be the *only* reason for buying.

      Anyway it sounds promising but I’m happy to wait for the Spacesector review before deciding.

  3. Anthony says:

    I have my steam key and waiting for the game to be unlocked! Since I stopped buying at Legends, it will be interesting to experience the new stuff for a relatively cheap price. Being able to download from steam is appreciated, too.

  4. killias2 says:

    Holy shit is the process frustrating to get the Steam code!

    1. Make sure all four games are registered to your Matrix account
    2. Get the coupon
    3. Buy DWU
    4. Create a SEPARATE Slitherine account
    5. Register your serial AGAIN on a new account
    6. Ask for Steam code

    In addition, slot in the following steps between 4 and 5 in my case JUST BECAUSE:
    4.a. Go insane as the account you just created doesn’t recognize the password you logged in with
    4.b. Try to request a new password just to be told the account you just created “doesn’t exist”
    4.c. Try any number of things, including ripping one’s hair out

    Here’s hoping I’ll still get a frickin’ Steam code out of this.

    Edit: Dear God, I finally got my password to reset. The website seemed to think I had two accounts for some reason? Even though the only reason I made an account was because it said I didn’t have an account when I put in my email. Jesus God.

    • Anthony says:

      I sympathize. Had to request a new password from Slitherine, too. But success is at the end of the tunnel.

    • piderman says:

      I thought it was my password generator that tripped the site but apparently it’s not just me. But it’s one of the reasons I bought Universe, now it’s on my Steam account and I know where to find it and I don’t have to to through those “less-than-optimal” sites of Matrix and Slitherine again.

    • RandomBlue says:

      Yeah, the process sucks and Slitherine’s website is horrible. Even after logging in there was no link to my profile page and I had to come back to this news article to get the proper link. The icing on the cake is that it’s not available in Steam yet. *sigh*

    • Stormwaltz says:

      After fighting with Slitherine’s wretched login system for 20 minutes, I gave up. I’ve got a downloaded copy, they can keep the damn Steam key. It’s not worth the frustration of dealing with their website.

  5. dejagore says:

    Exactly as killias2 said – to be able to register DW:U on Slitherine site You need to reset Your password there after registration. If You don’t You will get info that the password is incorrect.

  6. lammaer says:

    I think this preview was too early – lots of text without actual useful information.

    1. Most of the preview is about “I didn’t have time to play, so I can’t say any useful yet” written in various forms.

    2. Two paragraphs about the font issue? 4 paragraphs about the modding, where you claim you don’t care nor have experience with, and then write clichés without actual meaning: changing a name is easy, creating a new component is harder…. come on, this is space sector with USEFUL content :)

    It smells like a paid (?) advertisement. Really, hope you won’t get offended and I’m looking forward the USEFUL review worthy to the Space Sector.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Oh, no offense taken, I understand what you mean.

      A proper review isn’t possible at this stage. I’ll need a few more weeks with the release version to be sure on things, in particular important things like balance and AI. The standard procedure, as we don’t rush reviews.

      So, at this stage there really isn’t much to tell about this expansion unless I enter into the technical details of modding which I don’t think many people would be interested in. What people will probably be interested in is the mods themselves, in time to come.

      And frankly, there isn’t really much more to say about the expansion besides the modding at this stage, and, well, the pricing, upgrade procedure and other release details, etc. This is a modding expansion after all. And since I’m not into that, I did the best I could.

      I hope the review will be up to your expectations.

    • Laird says:

      Kind of harsh, Lam. Best not to assume bad faith.

    • Eidyx says:

      Learning about fonts is more than useful. The fonts in this game are atrocious. That’s what has kept me from getting into this game before. I came here expecting this question to be addressed in the preview. And it was, so good job.

    • Njordin says:

      i actually like this short preview.
      You get a 10$ discount only for 1 week after release and this article helps mit deciding either to buy or not.

  7. ashbery76 says:

    I bought it because.

    I like tweaking modding files.
    The expansion has supposed better performance late game and A.I.
    I get a steam key.
    Universe will be getting the future support which has been good based on previous expansions.
    It only cost me £8.I pay more for ciggs.

    I like to support the developer.One man made a better 4x than most studios.

  8. Evil Azrael says:

    What a mess… I search for the Steam Key Link in my Matrix Games account. Until reading this post I haven’t known that i must register at Slitherine to get the Steam Key.

  9. Alien JD says:

    The Sliterhine process to get a steam key is fraught with peril. What I had to do:

    1) Create a new account at slitherine. they email you an activation link
    2) Activation makes you reset your password. Try to reset my password–doesn’t work
    3) Go to login page, choose to reset password — they email you a password that lets you login
    4) On slitherine page go to resources – register a serial
    5) register the serial – it doesn’t add a button to redeem steam key (or didn’t for me)
    6) On slitherine page go to resources – my page
    7) On my page click the button for steam keys
    8) Look through the list for DW Universe
    9) Click the button to generate your steam key
    10) That key activates on steam but you can’t install the game until it unlocks later today or tomorrow depending on region.

    Good Luck.

    • JD says:

      O My God… this sounds terrible, just terrible.

      • Alien JD says:

        It wasn’t too bad. I was also using their original instructions from the forums which were a bit off. The updated instructions in the article mention having to go to your page at slitherine to get the steam key and tell you where it actually is.

      • BTJ says:

        TBH, it literally took me 90 seconds, including registering a new Slitherine account. But if you type it down so detailed in numbered steps – yes, it looks complicated.

        • Laird says:

          Exactly. You can make opening a can of soup appear complicated if you break it down into its constituent steps.

        • killias2 says:

          I told my story above. To put it plainly, don’t be so dismissive of other’s issues. It took me about half an hour to get this going. That’s not such a long time, but it was all frustrating and headache inducing time. “Okay, so now I have an account.. but it’s telling me my password is wrong? But I just put it in? Okay, I’ll reset my password.. now it’s telling me I don’t have an account? But I’m logged into the account I have. How did I log in with the wrong password to an account that doesn’t exist? OH MY GOD MY HEAD IS EXPLODING”

          Now it’s working fine, and, since I have an account, I’ll doubt I’ll have issues in the future. But.. I’m just saying. It wasn’t painless for everyone, and even the base process is a bit complicated. Why are the Steam codes with the Slitherine account, while purchases are made with Matrix? Needless confusion.

        • jasonbarron says:

          Don’t be so dismissive, Laird. Some people really do have trouble opening cans of soup!

      • Laird says:

        Took me all of two minutes, although I have a Slitherine account.

        • RandomBlue says:

          The problem isn’t so much how long it took, it’s that it’s entirely disjointed and unintuitive and you pretty much have to follow someone’s instructions to figure out how to do it. That screams bad design.

          Anyway, I got my key, so I really don’t give a crap other than it being a minor annoyance.

    • Chris says:

      Just thought I would mention that my experience was much easier. I already had a functional Sliterhine account, so I simply needed to register Universe with the account, then generate and grab the Steam key. Game is still locked for me though.

    • RandomBlue says:

      This is about as bad as Square’s process for buying and registering FF14.

      • Laird says:

        I see your point–it could be smoother. But how bad can it be if you can figure it out and execute in two minutes or less. I think we gamers just like to have stuff to complain about.

      • Chuki792 says:

        OUch! I haven’t played ff14 in months because of this, and not in protest, I actually cant use the card I used to buy and sub for 3 months any more, and none of my other cards will work!

    • Ermdog says:

      Yeah the process sucks, but i got it in less than 3 mins. I just DL the game from their site, created an account on Slitherine, put in my key, and that was it. You are over exaggerating it by a lot. I didnt have to reset my password like you did. Steps 4-9 is really just one step, but you make it seem like its extra work, lol. So all in all it was like 3 steps

      • Alien JD says:

        The instructions were written for a friend who gets frustrated and frightened with computers very easily. The early instructions on getting a steam key were slightly wrong and there was a bug in the Slitherine page at launch when the activation process asked you to reset your password.

        If it just worked for you or you easily figured it out then you don’t need super simple step by step instructions :D

  10. Alien JD says:

    If you download the game from Matrix web site and install it does it upgrade your existing version of shadows and keep all the mods or does it do a whole new install?

    Does anyone know if I can keep my copy of shadows but install the steam version of universe so I can continue my Shadows game w/ mods and try DW: Universe?

  11. Gary says:

    With my $40 coupon, it was an easy choice to decide to purchase Distant Worlds: Universe :)

  12. Gary says:

    Instructions on redeeming your Steam key:

  13. Laird says:

    Thanks for the preview, Adam. Got my discount coupon, registered on Steam, and am good to go. Very happy with the Steam key–I’d lost my base game due to computer malfunctions and really hated requesting a fresh dowload. Really nice to have a combined package that can be retrieved easily no matter what happens on my end.

  14. David Walsh says:

    I managed to get my Steam key…after jumping through a lot of hoops with password resets etc…pretty standard by the reports I read here and on the Matrix forum.

    I am delighted Distant Worlds will be available outside Matrix.
    In my opinion Matrix has a rather non-user-friendly character.
    It used to be you had to pay extra to download a game you bought if you didnt download it within a few days. I think they changed that now – but their download policy when I originally bought Distant Worlds made a really bad impression on me.

    On a positive note I predict Distant Worlds will sell well on Steam; and I hope the developers will get their just rewards for creating this outstanding game.

  15. Jeff P says:

    I noticed something odd: Distant Worlds: Universe is not listed under Steam “New Releases” or “Coming Soon”, and you need to “search” for the game to find it. Even then DW:U isn’t available for purchase (or pre-purchase) on Steam at the time of this writing (@3PM Pacific Time Zone).

    Is Matrix/Slitherine merely using Steam as a distribution source and not a purchase portal? As of this hour you must buy the game directly from Slitherine. If that is the case, then my plan (waiting for the inevitable Steam price break near holidays) won’t work and the insane Slitherine/Matrix pricing scheme will continue to dissuade us (cheap) first-timers from buying the game.

    • Happy Corner says:

      If it makes you feel any better, Distant Worlds is still a controversial game, quality-wise. Even on this site, there are both people who love it to death and people who think it’s the most overrated shit ever.

      The game will sell on Steam, but if you read the Steam forum for DW: Universe, you’ll see – unfortunately – that the developers openly despise the idea of their games getting discounted as deeply as most Steam games do. The price it has now is probably the cheapest it’s going to get for a long, long time.

      • Jeff P says:

        I followed the original development of DW, and elected not to buy when I saw all of the bugs and memory leak problems that persisted long after launch. I check back periodically, but have been disappointed that so many issues remain on a 4 year old game with such an outrageously expensive pricing scheme.

        I had hoped that the game’s migration to Steam would at least mitigate the cost. Matrix/Slitherine’s resistance to the Steam model does not bode well.

    • Keith Turner says:

      I’m not sure why it wasn’t showing up when you checked. Maybe Steam was preparing to transition it to a released status. For some reason, the release time was about 6 hours later than when I typically see new games released.

      As of right now it is in the top sellers list at #9. That is not bad at all for an older title at a relatively high price point (4th highest of the top ten). What I can’t say is whether or not these are new purchases or just Matrix/Slitherine customers redeeming their keys. In either case, being in the top seller list is a good way to get noticed.

  16. Edward Ryan says:

    I’m looking forward to this and will get it as soon as my psu arrives cos I made a free space 2 mod for this game and am looking forward to updating it.

  17. Ermdog says:

    Is there new music in the game? I never cared for it in the first place, so I would put on my own Space Ambien music, but playing Universe I like what I hear. Was just curious if they added new music.

    • Adam Solo says:

      No, the music tracks are the same from the last expansion (Shadows).

    • Happy Corner says:

      Just out of curiosity, Ermdog, what music did you use? I happen to like “space ambient” type music. ;)

      • Ermdog says:

        John Serrie has a lot of good stuff out there. He’s probably my favorite. He does nature ambient as well, but his “space” ones are really good

        Jim Butler is another fav of mine, he does a lot of dark ambient as well. You can get hour long tracks from him on amazon for 99cents.

        Steve Roach and Robert Rich are also good ones. I also just search under Dark Ambient or Space Ambient on Youtube and just create a playlist.

  18. Evil Azrael says:

    Just run the first tutorial. It’s one of the worse kind. It does not explain anything. Build a Space Port… Ok, but how? And i am supposed to start time and wait it is constructed before clicking to the next box. What are these thousands of buttons for? Oh some pirates offering me “protection”. Is this part of the tutorial?
    Oh, small fonts in this planet box in the lower left corner…

    • hakkarin says:

      I ran into this problem also when I first played the game. Just use youtube tutorials/videos to help you instead. That is what I did. Also, the game isn’t actually very complex, it just LOOKS complex because of the insane amount of stuff going on at once in the game. The actual game mechanics however, are really very simplistic.

    • Suikostinger says:

      The tutorial is barebones, but like Hakkarin said, the game isn’t very complex. Mainly because of automation. There are a few things that might be a little daunting, but for the most part the game is simple once you sit down for maybe 30 minutes or so. The only thing truly complex is maybe the component/resources in the game. But even then when you understand it a little, its simple. IMO this is THE one 4x game I keep coming back to. It’s simple, but at the same time it does have some complexity to it. The main reason I enjoy it is because it feels like a story is evolving around my gameplay.

    • Glynn Carey says:

      I found DW really complex at first and really frustrating, but it was worth it and it’s really easy to play once you understand the controls. In particular, it’s worth learning how to get fleets to auto-defend sectors. Once you know that, you just build stuff, build fleets, give them areas to defend and keep a fleet or two for your attacks / manual defence. It’s a really fun game, just fairly hard to get into.

      As suggested, use Youtube or the forums to learn the extra fiddly bits, like how to build the best ships etc.

    • Hertston says:

      The trouble is, it shouldn’t be listed first. Try the rest in order.

      The ‘first’ tutorial is actually broken at release in that pirates should have been excluded; as is it’s just frustrating. The idea of starting the player in that era is sound, though, in that nothing is going at the start so you can find your way around just clicking on stuff and looking at tooltips at your leisure.

      It will get fixed; in the meantime try setting up you own game with the same parameters turning off the pirates.

  19. Samwell says:

    Has anyone tested late game performance yet? Love the series, but never finished a game because even due to my monster pc, once youve reached the late game stage on a massive map, things slow down to a unbearable crawl.

    Will upgrade for sure, if only the performance has been fixed

  20. Jorus says:

    I’m trying to buy the game, and had already purchased the three earlier DW releases – so I got the $30 coupon OK, but cannot get seem to get the early purchase discount of $10 also. Anybody else have this problem?

    • Alien JD says:

      You have to buy the game through the Matrix web site to get the discount. Add it to your cart and then apply the coupon on the order page. That gives you the discount. To get the Steam key you sign up for a (separate) Sliterhine account and register the game there. Once you do that on your profile page at Slitehrine there is an option for Steam keys.

      • Jorus says:

        I am at the Matrix website. I get the $30 discount (should be $40, but I forgot to register DW itself) but do not get the extra $10.
        As far as Steam is concerned, if it is easy I’ll do it but will not spend much time on it.
        Thanks, J

      • Jorus says:

        Oops, I see my mistake. the $49 already has the $10 discount included, it will go to $59 in a week. Problem solved. J

  21. Jeff P says:

    Steam is selling DW:U for $50 until May 30, and StarDrive for $9 until May 26. I know both have fans (and detractors) on this site. Given their current price-points, and their current development status, can anyone having both games advise which would be the better deal? I’m not asking which is the better game, but which is the better “bang for the buck”?

    • Personally I have no problems with either games. However, StarDrive’s development has formally ended. It gets the odd patch to address bugs and the like but nothing major at this point (though sometimes something small gets added in but that has been while). The developer is working on its sequel.

      It should be noted owners of StarDrive get a discount for StarDrive 2 when it will be released. Mathematically speaking this discount might actually be equal to or more than $10 dollars. Of course, this revolves around the aspect that you’ll enjoy them.

      Overall, I do believe StarDrive is worth $10 (though I am certain some will claim that is $10 too much), but I seen games that offered way less for $20+.

      DW:U the full price tag if you are a new adopter is daunting, especially for a game which I affectionately say looks like it runs in Power Point. However, if you a big fan of the genre and like games that have a large scope with a lot of things happening at the same time, and do not mind having the AI administer things for you (you can go full manual but now that will be hectic); then the game is definitely worth every penny.

      Check out Adam’s review of the previous expansion Shadows if you want a better idea. It definitely a top game for space 4X titles (but like with everything, it might not be up your alley if there are certain things you prefer or don’t like).

      The only thing that I would hold against DW:U is the price point, even with the rebate it may be too pricey for some since the game does appear dated.

      In summary, DW:U is a complete game and there will probably be some post release support since it was just released now. SD does have a bit of an unfinished feel to it. It definitely is worth $10, however, some people do have a 0 point threshold for ‘unfinished’ products. It should be noted, the ‘unfinished’ nature will only be apparent if you know about the game’s history

      Personally, I really enjoyed both but I like DW series more and even when factoring in price I would still lean more towards DW:U.

      As side note: You realise you are asking if DW:U is 5 times better than SD? Since you pretty much asking which one’s Quality-Value/Price, or QV/$, is better.

      • Jeff P says:

        Thanks for the quick reply! I usually hold off buying games until they are bargain priced (which means they are usually patched and optimized as well) but it doesn’t look like Distant Worlds will ever reach a reasonable price point. I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to get a bargain (SD) while waiting for a better sale on Distant Worlds.

    • Ermdog says:

      DW: Universe at 17% off is the better deal. This series hardly goes on sale so I would get it while its still on “sale”. Stardrive will be on sale again, I’ve seen it go on sale many times. Definitely get DW:U while its at its lowest price, because the price won’t change for a long time I’m sure.

    • Keith Turner says:

      You’ve gotten some good information and responses thus far that cover the important points of consideration. I’ll just add that either way you go, as long as you enjoy the game you choose, you should easily be able to cross the < $1/hr threshold. Any game that reaches that level I consider to be a fantastic value.

      I was watching a review today for a console "game" and realized how lucky we are as PC gamers. This "game" was around 4 hours long (though could be beaten in < 1 hour) and cost $30. This made me really appreciate just how many hours of enjoyment I can get for my money from a game like StarDrive or Distant Worlds.

    • Jeff P says:

      Thanks for all the replies! I’ve been watching several DW “let’s play” videos, and am leaning toward buying Universe. In the past, I’ve been tempted to buy DW during its various holiday sales, but couldn’t justify the outrageous cost. All of the supportive responses to my question give me confidence I won’t regret the purchase at its current more palatable (but still expensive) price.

    • Glynn Carey says:

      I love DW, though it is expensive.

      I liked Stardrive at first, it’s much simpler but that’s almost preferable at times because you have a better idea of what’s really going on. The battles are also really fun to watch. The problem I had (and the reason I don’t play Stardrive at all now) was with the enemy invasions of your planets. They’re literally impossible to stop. They just fly in and head straight to your planet and you can’t shoot them down in time before they’ve landed their troops. I don’t know if this has been fixed, I’m sure it will be in SD2 but in the meantime, I found it unplayable because of this single issue.

      Oh, but I would add, that for $9 I’d definitely get SD. It’s fun in the early stages and maybe you can stop the invasions on the easier levels, or if you’re smarter than me. Besides, I don’t mind supporting developers at that price, hopefully he can sort it out for SD2.

      • Chuki792 says:

        Absolutely agree on the SD point, this was one of the (many)reasons i stopped playing that one, I’d always said SD was an inferior version of DW but with better graphics and i stand by it. SD2 will only prove how much/little the dev has listened to his supporters/ detractors (no pre-order and no purchase from me til i see a review!)

  22. Keith Turner says:

    I noticed today that Pandora: First Contact is also on the Steam schedule for release on May 30th with a 10% discount. It’s good to see them finally adopting the platform after countless forum posts and questions about it.

    EDIT: I see that it includes a free content update as well. Very nice.

    • RandomBlue says:

      I beta tested Pandora and liked it but never bought it, partly because it wasn’t on Steam. Now that it is, I just bought it.

      • Keith Turner says:

        Given Distant Worlds’ now #7 top sellers position (it’s been climbing!), I’d say they are going to realize the error in their ways over these past few years. I think there is a larger market for in-depth strategy games than they anticipated. At least, their sci-fi and fantasy ones. I don’t think historical games sell well unless they involve FPS, zombies, or have Civilization or Total War in the title.

        • Ermdog says:

          I was reading the forums on steam and people were complaining about the pricing and one of the devs reponded:

          “…this comes up time and again. We know our market and know what works. Every game on steam has a thread moaning about the price no matter the price. Our job is to maximise the revenue from the game so the developer can continue to make the games and expansions. We’ve explained it numerous times. We are one of the fastest growing publishers because we know what we’re doing. There isn’t really any more to say and these threads just end up with players and non players fighting so I’m closing it up. It is not going to change anything!”

          Obviously they know more than me, but I find it hard to believe they know what they are doing. Letting DW sit in the shadows for so long and at that price is not smart imo. Just sayin.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          Didn’t Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4 sell pretty well?

        • Gary says:

          BlueTemplar, Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4 games are from Paradox, not Matrix.

        • Keith Turner says:

          @BlueTemplar – Paradox has done pretty well with their historical grand strategy games on Steam. I probably should have included them in my list alongside Civilization and Total War. Paradox Interactive designed games are quite unique, which I think combined with frequent heavy discounting and bundling, has helped them build a strong following.

          Off topic, but I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen more CK2 style dynasty games from other publishers given its popularity. I know I’d be interested in trying some that take place in a different setting.

      • RandomBlue says:

        I hope so, but they still have some work to do. StarDrive hit #1 on Steam:

        I’m sure it’s partly due to the price, StarDrive was $27 at the time compared to Distant Worlds at $50. I’m surprised (pleasantly) that it broke the top 10 with it’s price and graphical quality.

        • Chuki792 says:

          reminds me of this post

          There are a lot of complaints on steam about the price but i think they are mostly from those who have never heard of the game or its history. If you ask me £37 ($45?) is fair considering you would’ve paid £100 ($160?) for the individual expansions. I have to say, i’ve not played anything since this was released, which is strange as i’ve had it for years, but never really gave it the attention it deserved. TBS is my forte but this is still the best 4x game out now (with space empired 4/5 a close second)

    • Ermdog says:

      I’m glad they are making that move. Pandora:FC has been on my radar for a long time, and now that its coming to steam with a discount, I’m sure I’ll pick it up.

  23. niks says:

    Cool game :)

  24. ashbery76 says:

    Some thoughts after 10 hours..The resources seem much better balanced in the game.There is a lot less available.I am very happy this has finally got attention.

    The A.I is also a lot better at attacking and uses allied invasion fleets a fair bit.

  25. Chuki792 says:

    Love this game. I own all the previous ones and want to see what 4 years of support looks like and to give a thumbs up to the devs. So far I’m impressed with it, its cleaner more responsive (i no longer get frequent lock-ups) and the mods that will be created for this game will be amazing (based on what i hear is now moddable)
    The AI is a lot better now, i found this out when i declared war on that weakling bunch of reptilians… who turned out to have a defensivve alliance with three other races… i then spent the next few turns under sustained, and co-ordinated attack from three sides, often facing two fleets from two of the four allied nations at some of my better defended worlds! I lost a very valuable and densely populated planet and a silly number of mining stations and monitoring stations as a result before i could negotiate a peace with them (individually) and my treasure took a beating trying to replace my losses. They weren’t even that advanced technologically but they always seemed to hit me where i was weakest.

    I planned to start a new game out of frustration but i never thought i’d be so happy to have been beaten so soundly, its been a while since a game offered any kind of challenge that actually made me consider any other tactic than steamroll mode.

    • That is good to hear.

      I always liked when a game’s challenge came from the AI reacting properly or coordinating properly against you. I was never fan when the sole way to raise the AI’s challenge is to give it more resources so you basically are ‘grinding’ against it.

      Thinking of all the ramifications and dealing with them and seeing the AI use it against you is good to see. Can’t wait to start a game soon.

  26. Definitely a must play at some point.

  27. MReynolds says:

    Picked this up after many recommendations. I like it. It’s got a grand scope and a cool scale. It all feels a bit dated. I want to see someone take this game’s concepts and marry them to some better graphics.

  28. Icemania says:

    How goes the Distant Worlds Universe review Adam? It must be a great read given how much time has passed!:)

    • Adam Solo says:

      Oh, not necessarily. I’m on my final stretch now, but I was caught up with things, so, don’t judge it by how much time has passed :)

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