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Distant Worlds: Universe – Release Date, Price and More

By on May 16th, 2014 9:25 am

Slitherine and Matrix Games announced the release details for Distant Worlds: Universe, the all-in-one standalone package for their real-time space 4X game series, Distant Worlds.

Distant Worlds: Universe will be released on May 23rd through the Matrix Games store, as usual, but this time it will also be available on Steam. The Matrix version doesn’t require Steam but if you buy there you also get a Steam key.

The base price will be $59.99 for the download version and $69.99 for the physical version (this one only available through Matrix’s store), which includes a color printed manual of the series.

There will be a release promotional period where the game can be bought for $49.99 download / $59.99 physical ($10 off). On Steam it will work as a pre-order. On Matrix’s store the promotion period will start as soon as the game releases on May 23rd.

Existing customers (owners of the base game or any of the subsequent expansions) get an upgrade path where they get a $10 discount for each release they own. So, for example, if you own everything released so far (Distant Worlds base + Return of the Shakturi + Legends + Shadows), and you decide to upgrade to Universe, the price will be $9.99 download and $19.99 physical. Matrix says that they will put up a web page where you can get an upgrade discount coupon according to how much of the game you own (through the use of the game’s serial numbers). We’ll let you know the details of how this is going to work when the game releases.

This upgrade path for existing customers will be available only through the Matrix store. So, what this means is that if you’re an existing customer and want to upgrade to Universe you should upgrade/buy through the Matrix store to get the discount.

As for any further updates to people who own the previous expansion, Matrix said that they plan to release one more update for the Shadows expansion, ” but all future modding/feature/performance improvements will be based on the Universe level”, confirmed Erik Rutins, Matrix Games Product Manager.

More on this when the game releases.

Here’s the brand new trailer/game intro.

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  1. DarthXilef says:

    Available on Steam?! *head explodes*

    • Kordanor says:

      Yep, great news. Took some time to convince them. ^^

      • RandomBlue says:

        They’re gonna be pissed they waited this long once they see the sales numbers. Steam is hands-down the best place for exposure for digital distribution.

        The plethora of early access and phone/tablet ports lately is diluting that lately though. I’m pretty much done checking their new release list as it’s 95% crap now.

        • Happy Corner says:

          I don’t even look at the new releases, I just wait until things are on sale. By then, there’s usually enough reviews, word of mouth, Youtube videos, and so forth to make an informed decision.

        • Keith Turner says:

          I agree. The Steam new releases tab is pretty much the wild west these days. Waiting this long for a Steam release has certainly cost them the exposure they could have had.

          However, if existing fans spread the word and spend some time on the Steam forums around launch time, I can still see this being quite successful on the platform. They won’t get the impulse buyers at their current price point, but they will likely gain some hardcore 4x fans who haven’t yet heard about the game.

        • Jeff P says:

          Keith: I’m a Steam fan, and while checking out the weekly specials (Stardrive is among them) I noticed quite a few Steam forum posts mentioning DW:U and recommending buyers to check-out the game when released. Your comments may be prophetic.

  2. Happy Corner says:

    I wonder when they’ll finally just move on to Distant Worlds 2 already.

    And I wish they’d released some details about the Universe expansion itself. The discount is very nice, though, I’ll grant them that.

    • Scotten says:

      I’m pretty sure that Codeforce is a 1 man band, and a completely new game is going to take awhile. This is an awesome game, even more so considering that it’s from a small publisher.

  3. RandomBlue says:

    I was getting upset about the pricing until you mentioned the discounts. I’ll pay $10 just to get it added to my Steam library.

  4. killias2 says:

    “Existing customers (owners of the base game or any of the subsequent expansions) get an upgrade path where they get a $10 discount for each release they own. So, for example, if you own everything released so far (Distant Worlds base + Return of the Shakturi + Legends + Shadows), and you decide to upgrade to Universe, the price will be $9.99 download and $19.99 physical.”

    10 bucks? And I get a Steam code? Sold.

    Totally sold.

  5. vmxa says:

    Very confusing, the preorder starts on release day for Matrix. On Steam it will work as a preorder, however the preorder is only available online at Matrix store??

    I tried to order yesterday and this morning on Steam, but no luck. All I could do was to add to wishlist.

    • Adam Solo says:

      As far as I know, pre-orders on Steam should unlock somewhere next week. But, on the Matrix store, the $10 discount will begin on release day, because they say they don’t have a pre-order mechanism on their store.

      However, that’s for the full package. If you’re upgrading (if you already own a previous version), you should wait for it to be online on Matrix, which is the only place you can get the upgrade discounts ($10 off for each release).

      • vmxa says:

        So far, it would seem there are no preorders as I understand the term. Neither site will let me order now. I seem to have to wait till 23rd to order on any site.

        As that is the release date, there can be no preorder. However all I want is the 10 dollar discount for the full package. As long as I can get that on the 23rd, I will be happy.

    • TimmY says:

      Hi everyone,

      We are hoping the pre-order here will go live shortly. We’ve asked Steam to make the pre-order pricing available, we’re just not sure how long that will take.


      – Erik

      ^^ from deveoloper

  6. Lens Flares Suck says:

    Too much for shovelware.

  7. Hawawaa says:

    Heck ya! DO want and matrix gives me a steam key to boot MANY THANKS!

  8. hakkarin says:

    I still don’t know if I will get this. I feel that this series is very overrated. The game isn’t anywhere near as complex as it seems at first, it just has a very large scale with isn’t the same. The actual management aspects are actually fairly simplistic, and using the AI to play the game for you isn’t very rewarding. There is a good chance I will just wait for StarDrive 2.

    • t1it says:

      Exactly. DW does things never done before “living universe”, huge scale [actually huge not GC2 “huge”] and several other things that makes it somewhat unique but it’s not really that deep at all can’t believe some people has compared it to Space Empire level of depth…joke…
      I find it a good bit but not much deeper than IG2.

      Still like the game though ’cause the dev actually tried to do something different and he succeed (eventually at least).

      • Alien JD says:

        I don’t think it’s as deep a game as Space Empires but I don’t play DW for it’s depth. What I like about Distant Worlds is the way it feels like you’re taking part in a huge space opera with dozens of little stories unfolding as you play. It’s like existing in the science fiction universes I grew up reading about.

      • Buatha says:

        I, for one, enjoy the automation offered by Distant Worlds and, if anything, think it is under-rated. Seriously, how many times have you reached games where one turn would take you 15 minutes to survey everything and ensure nothing was idle, needing your direct attention, or requiring your intelligence to run a battle. The game still allows granular control if you so choose. This is the first 4X game that made me really feel like I was running a massive empire as a ruler and not ALSO as the governors, generals, research institutes, etc. I can make the big calls and see how my orders are carried out through my subordinates.

    • Lens Flares Suck says:

      Careful, if you keep telling the truth the fanboys will call you a troll.

    • Jonathan says:

      Simple. Turn off the AI automation. This game is way, way, wayyyy deeper than Stardrive could ever hope to be. I was so thoroughly disappointed with Stardrive. Talk about a developer who lost interest half way through development.

    • ashbery76 says:

      Overrated? LOL This game is the best kept secret in strategy gaming.Hopefully Eliot will make the money he deserves with a bigger audience.

      DW is easily in my top10 strategy games ever made.I keep coming back to it while other games stay on the shelf for very long periods.

  9. drillerman says:

    @lens flares suck”Too much for shovelware.”

    Not sure I understand. Sorry

    • Lens Flares Suck says:

      A software company will take a collection of software which is old, not really worthy anything to most people anymore and ‘shovel’ it into a big collection to try and get a few more dollars out of it.

      It can be a good deal. But not for over fifty bucks.

  10. HectorOfTroy says:

    DW is the best 4x game in my opinion. If I was to be sent to Mars and they told me I could take one game, it would be DW.

    Now, we can all wait for DW2.

  11. Zapture says:

    Best news this year! Take my money NOW!

  12. Jeff P says:

    $50.00 for what is essentially a 3 year old game? I’m not sold on the “real-time-all-the-time” genre, so I think I’ll wait until Steam discounts DW:U to a more realistic price.

    • Mark says:

      Yes, “real-time-all-the-time” is DW’s biggest issue and it suffers greatly because of that single bad design decision.

      But overall its not a bad game and its possible to partially compensate for its problems by carefully tweaking the starting conditions.

      • Icemania says:

        Why is real time a bad design decision Mark? Distant Worlds can be paused and the speed can be adjusted. I use a lot of manual control but by pausing the game routinely I never feel any time pressure.

        • Mark says:

          The fact that the game is pauseable is all that saves it from being almost entirely worthless.

          The problem is that in the more densely populated galaxies you soon get to the point (mid to late game) that you are getting 2 to 3 or more combat notifications per second, not to mention all the other types.

          At that point it doesn’t matter if you pause the game because so much is happening simultaneously that you are GOING to miss something for sure when you unpause and let everything run as eventually you must.

          The problem can be partially fixed by choosing smaller galaxies and certain automation options as many people do. But the real issue is that you can only focus on one thing at a time in a RT game and when you have 5+ things all happening at once, you are 100% certain to miss something whether you like it or not. And that something might well have been important, you’ll never know because you will have missed it.

          This is why I think “RT at all times” was a bad design decision for such an epic game. They should have found a way to play a 1400 star game without the player having to miss anything or increase automation to the point that the game plays itself.

          That being said I still think its a good game, probably the best 4x in recent years, but like any game it isn’t perfect and the decision to go RT for everything was its greatest weakness. Instanced combat would have completely fixed the problem and they simply didn’t think of it.

        • Icemania says:

          Mark, I always play on very large and densely populated galaxies on full manual and rarely miss anything. Some suggestions to start with:

          (a) Consider carefully what Options you set for Popups and Scrolling Messages e.g. I turn off Construction Resource Shortages etc.

          (b) I only have 5-7 fleets. Keeping track of them is straight forward and more importantly fun because they are always blowing something up.

          (c) Colony defence ships I leave to themselves (with the right settings) beyond the early game. Obviously there can be a lot of these ships from the mid-game onwards. Every now and then I’ll just check to make sure they are set and positioned correctly.

        • Mark says:

          Reading between the lines of your suggestions (particularly item c. ) it sounds like you are ignoring most of the constant combat messages that don’t directly involve the 5-7 fleets you call “yours”.

          I don’t play the game that way, the entire empire is “mine” not just a few fleets. If I get *any* combat message involving any ship or fleet in my empire I like to jump there and see if my personal intervention will help my odds of success. In most cases the answer is yes.

          Unfortunately the design of DW makes this play style near impossible in a larger galaxy for reasons I previously outlined. However it *is* possible to play that way in a smaller galaxy. Maybe I’m too much of a control freak but I don’t think I could have any fun simply ignoring most of the combat notifications.

        • Icemania says:

          Early game I react to every combat alert because my intervention can influence the outcome. It’s not hard to keep up with the alerts at this point as your Empire is small.

          By mid-game I’ve cleared the local area of Pirate bases which limits the volume and size of attacks, while my Defence Ships become more powerful and will automatically attack intruders. Before long the probability that such combat is won is 100% … in which case why intervene? The only exceptions I can think are more distant mines / colonies (e.g. for Super Luxuries) where the Pirate bases may not have been culled yet … in those few cases I check routinely.

        • Mark says:

          Sadly that’s not the way it works for me. Whenever I have tried a game in a larger galaxy, by mid-game it has turned into a frantic, chaotic mess where I am being constantly bombarded by 2-3 (or more) combat messages *per second* and don’t have the faintest hope of addressing even a fraction of them no matter whether I pause or not.

          Many of my friends have complained about the same problem so I’m not the only one.

          I usually only play in smaller galaxies now and have quite a lot of fun doing so, but it has always irritated me that the RT game design essentially breaks the game with larger maps. Particularly since epic gameplay is supposedly the big drawcard of this series. I would *love* to play on a big map but for me it simply doesn’t work.

          Maybe DW2 will use instanced combat instead of constant RT so that those of us without lightning reflexes or the ability to multitask 10 things at once will also be able to enjoy epic gameplay and never miss anything.

        • Icemania says:

          Again consider the strategies I’ve already suggested as they make a big difference and eliminate the issue you have e.g. if you are on the offensive with Pirates you certainly won’t be getting 2-3 combat alerts per second.

          Have you used Message History when you Pause? I don’t need to use it very often but it may also help as you “Go to Location” for any alerts you have missed.

          Another option is to set your large galaxy up with Less Pirates.

          Or slow the game down to 0.25x speed.

        • Mark says:

          It might be worth trying the strategies you suggest just to get that “epic” feel back again. It will be difficult to let the majority of my defense fleets and other ships just fend for themselves though. Totally goes against my grain since I like to control absolutely everything.

        • Icemania says:

          Either way come chat on the forums anytime Mark, there are plenty of helpful folk around.

  13. Suikostinger says:

    Do we know if saved games wil be transferable from Shadows to this? I’m going to say yes? I want ot start a new game of DW, but if it’s not transferable, I’ll wait till this comes out.

  14. Jonathan says:

    So what is Universe? Just a complete edition or a new expansion pack?

    • Alien JD says:

      Both. It wraps up the entire game and its expansions with one installer, has a new campaign/mode of play, and introduces a ton of new modding tools.

  15. towerbooks3192 says:

    Really happy they would be reaching out through steam. Hopefully people would not be scared of the price since the game really offers a lot of depth. Game totally worth it at full price. One of the best things I have done in life is to take a shot at giving $100 to a site I never knew and ended up getting a whole lot of gameplay for my money and I got introduced to wargaming.

    Hopefully steam users would not be too stingy and give this game a chance. Its not as shiny as paradox games nowadays but is sure is a quality game with tons of replayability and that is not counting conversion mods like Mass effect universe and some things like the Distant Worlds extended with additional race, improved portraits and ship art. Best space 4x game yet

  16. Robert says:

    This is amazing news! Slithering relenting on their previous position about games and expansions, distant world’s with much more mod support, and Steam.

    They’ve given me a compelling reason to give them money.

    Price is still too high, but not by an embarrassing amount.

  17. I have the base game and all of the expansions. They cost a lot more than this is going for – but you know what – I don’t care. I’ve had hundreds of hours pleasure with the best real time 4X game I’ve ever played.
    Normally I wouldn’t touch real time strategy with a long pole (except for maybe Dwarf Fortress/Gnomoria etc) but this game is just completely brilliant.

    Well done Matrix – and finally – at long last – well done Steam.


  18. Inca says:

    I think i could be interested. I followed the development of this game for a long time, but what kept me back, was the fact that the things i love in 4x (empire management, careful planet development, managing buildings, economy etc..) seems to be secondary in DW.

    Is this true? Or can i expect a satisfying empire building experience?

    • hakkarin says:

      You can build buildings on individual planets, but planet managment is very barebones. This is macro-strategy game, not a micro-one. I also don’t agree with what some defenders of this say about it being possible to just turn of the auto-AI and play the game yourself.

      Yes, there is no technical reason for why you can’t. But the scale is so massive that unless you are playing on a tiny map the insane amount of busy work pretty much makes the game unplayable for the overwhelming majority of players.

      • Happy Corner says:

        Yes, it’s very much a macro game. In DW, making sure a planet has all the buildings it needs isn’t anywhere near as important as making sure your empire has access to all the resources IT needs. You’ll face problems like “Okay, planet X has a shortage of Y… do I just need a new source of Y, or are my freighters just having trouble getting it there?”

  19. Zero says:

    Well, nice move putting the game on Steam, but coming out the gate at $60 is a bit odd. This company has seemed a little behind the times on digital distribution. They were so terrified of Steam taking their cut that they ignored it for years, and now that they are doing it they seem again to be terrified of selling the game at a price where people are going to give it a shot. $60 is not a “let’s see how this is” price point. And I am betting that you will not see this game on a 50% off sale for a very long time, if ever.

    • Alien JD says:

      Honestly, if I was making a good amount of money selling something I wouldn’t rush to give someone else a 30 percent cut. At this point they’ve probably sold the game to most of the people who want it and are willing to buy it. So they can look to Steam and find some new users. But it would be foolish to sell a product at a discount if you can sell it for full price. I’m sure once they’ve sold as many copies through steam as they think they can that they’ll experiment with discounts.

      • Icemania says:

        Agree with AlienJD. They also have a Premium Space 4X product so the pricing should be quite different to Stardrive.

    • DennisP says:

      But at least they put out a complete game after they took my money …

  20. Buxaroo says:

    My problem with the Distant Worlds games is the crappy font and size they use, I could never figure out how to make the fonts READABLE on my 24″ monitors. I hope to hell they give us an option to change font or size for the game, because right now, the game is not great on the eyes as far as GUI is concerned. I feel like I am playing a game made for 1024*768 res instead of 1080p which most people nowadays use. Love the games they make, but they really need to update their GUI’s and fonts.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Untrue : Most people (60%) have a vertical resolution lower than 1024 pixels :

      Also, there’s always the workaround of lowering your own resolution (using multiples so it doesn’t look crappy).

      But yeah, new fonts and UI would be great, hopefully they will add a new one in Universe!

      • Buxaroo says:

        When I said “most people”, I meant gamers :P I guess I could try again lowering my res, but it seems silly to have to do that in 2014 you know? Love the company, just wished they would get with the times. At least they are taking a step in the right direction and going onto Steam, they will see a lot more customers that way, hopefully with the new revenue they will start to update their GUI/fonts with modern times ;)

        • BlueTemplar says:

          I’m probably a “gamer”, and I specifically chose a laptop with a relatively low resolution (1366×768 for 15.6″=39.62cm) (combined with a much more powerful graphic card than usual for that price range) (Toshiba Satellite L850-119) – because I considered that way I would be able to run games for longer and with higher framerates.

          And as bonus points, I realised recently that my graphic card is compatible with Mantle, so even more futureproofing.

          I haven’t used my desktop computer that much since I’ve bought this laptop, it needs a lot of space and is barely transportable, something that has been an issue in the last few years…

        • RandomBlue says:

          I was going to agree with Buxaroo that most gamers run at 1080p or greater and aren’t using laptops, but Valve’s hardware survey disagrees. 63% are running 1680×1050 or lower, though 1080p is the single most used resolution at 33%.

          So if you’re going to focus on a specific resolution you should focus on 1080p, but you should also make sure things scale well at 1366×768 and hopefully all points in between.

        • Buxaroo says:

          Well see that’s the thing, I am fine with scaling, but the fonts used in DW don’t scale well at all. I am looking at the tutorial dialog box….and the font in it is barely legible. I feel like it’s been antialiased to hell and back. I assumed that someone would have a mod out by now to be able to change such a small, but fundamental area of the game. Or if the devs would give us an option to change the font style.

        • RandomBlue says:

          I agree with the font issue. I also find it extremely hard to read. I’m running at 1920×1200 on a 24″ screen.

  21. lammaer says:

    As far as I see, there is minimal actual content in this release.
    At least according to the Steam page, in addition to the modding support (what is great but not actual content), the only thing is a new storyline – what is not a big deal in this game IMO.

    So no new features – only the hope that there is a community who will use the modding system to create actual content.

    I think this modding support came late.

    • Mark says:

      I thought the same thing. I like the game but I couldn’t care less about mods so I wont be getting the expansion.

      • Icemania says:

        I have to admit I wasn’t overly impressed at first either … I’m in the go bigger and bolder with Distant Worlds 2 camp.

        I don’t play with many mods. I tend to only enjoy exceptional mods like Star Trek Armada 3 for Sins that really deserve their own reviews … I’m looking at you SpaceSector! I have enjoyed Haree78’s mod for Shadows recently. It looks like most of the past DW modders have been working with Matrix along the way as there are some screenshot teasers on the Matrix forums. So I’m interested in what they come up with …

        More importantly though, over at the Matrix forums it’s become clear that there are various incremental improvements in the core game. I’m sure there will be many patches with further improvements. Given there past efforts to continue to improve the game, a mere $10 if you already have Shadows, is a worthwhile investment.

        • Mark says:

          Well its true that $10 isn’t much but since the expansion currently doesn’t include anything that I will ever actually use, $10 is quite a lot for nothing.

          If Matrix ever come up with improvements that actually add content then I will seriously consider forking out that $10.

        • Icemania says:

          Rather than being so closed minded, why not wait for the release, see what improvements are actually made, see what mods are available … *before* concluding Universe will offer nothing.

        • Mark says:

          Why is it closed minded to read detailed reports of what a product will contain and conclude that it has nothing that I want? I have no interest in mods for this game. None. Likewise with the tacked on story.

          I’m not going to spend money on the off chance that Matrix or somebody will eventually / maybe create real content that actually interests me. If I ever hear of such content, and the price seems reasonable, *then* I’ll spend the money.

        • Raap says:

          From what I can tell on the forums, there are also AI improvements as well as new technologies/components. AI improvements alone would be worth $10 to me, assuming they’re really noticeable.

        • Mark says:

          Now if there were significant, noticeable AI improvements, that *would* definitely qualify as something I’d be interested in.

  22. kinngrimm says:

    while i only played the first release of DW, i did enjoy it very much. The only thing back then and still i am missing is a multiplayer version. That then would also be my hope for DW2, that a multiplayer would be included.

  23. BlueTemplar says:

    Well, if even Matrix/Slitherine are doing it, I guess it looks like that it’s time to say :

    “Steam : All your games are belong to us!”

    Which might be not such a bad thing, considering that Steam did a lot of innovation in the last years, and even fixed the most annoying issues (latest to date, as I speak, the ability to decide which DLC you want to use).
    I’m still waiting to be able to postpone a patch to be able to play a game _right now_, even if an update is available, and be able to downgrade a game (useful for savegame/modding compatibility).

    OTOH, considering the recent issues with YouTube/Google, I can’t help but wonder if all corporations aren’t destined to either go bankrupt, be assimilated, or end up as a giant immoral corporation which doesn’t care about the consumers/users anymore, but only the money/power…

  24. Gary says:

    Adam and/or Keith, when will you have the review of Universe posted?

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