Distant Worlds is a real-time 4X game, much like Galactic Civilizations. Most of the game is in-depth - combat, research, building, ship designs, and other areas.
Unlike in most deep 4X games, DW has many automation options, almost allowing the game to play itself save for decisions and diplomacy, thereby allowing players to get over the steep learning curve, choosing to play as a ship captain, fleet commander, or be in control of just Diplomacy.
DW also separates empire management between the Government and Private sectors, with the Government sector being the fleets and planets and other facilities you would normally use, and Private sector being trade, transport and other businesses that effectively micro-manage expanding your economy by itself - at the cost of losing some of the income.
Also unlike other 4X's is that not only can the player achieve victory through a few basic objectives (Eg: % of the galaxy map controlled), but also through a set of Race-Specific objectives, for example the Human Race can achieve a point by controlling a large portion of Private Trade.
Like the Civilization series the game has an in-game editor, which can be switched to at any time, as well as a Galacticopedia, featuring a deep set of tutorials and explanations for the game concepts, and almost everything present in the game, such as planet types, weaponry and race government types.
The game is 2D top-down, and uses a mix of sprites and vector/drawn art; and is highly moddable, using .txt and .jpgs for much of the game.
DW has 3 expansions so far:
- Return of the Shakturi (16 Dec 2010) - which added new ship types, redid the tech system and adding more techs, it improved the UI and Fleet system, and added in windowed support along with other minor tweaks.
- Legends (23 Nov 2011) - which improved how characters (Admirals, Generals, Agents, Etc.) worked and improved the AI, Diplomacy and Fleet systems; it also increased support for modding the game and added more to the tech tree
- Shadows (23 May 2013) - the latest expansion, this added in the ability to play as Pirates, added in an alternate start time when empires are weaker, and improved AI, game performance, the graphics engine, and in general extended and improved the Ground combat and tech tree for it.
Due to the game and publisher being very Niche, it is quite expensive, with the base game and expansions each costing around $40.
The game plays like most 4X games: a main view where you look and keep track of your empire with it, the mini-map and a list, with Research and Management opening in pop-up/separate windows.
Starting a new game is more in-depth than most other 4X's, with the player being able to define Galaxy Age, Pirate Intensity and other specific options; this also includes defining how victory can be achieved, with the percentage of the basic objectives (% of Galaxy controlled,% of total Trade controlled and others) needed, as well as percentage of the Race-specific objectives needed.
State and Private Empire
This is where DW simplifies expanding the infrastructure of your empire: instead of manually setting orders to direct trade at this system, a group of private traders will go and automatically trade what they can, instead of having to transport people or goods, private ships will do so automatically.
The main difference between the two is that the Private side purchases ships and designs from the State, who run colonies, military vessels, and space bases; the Private side can also build extractors and refineries of their own, running goods transports for the State anyway.
Automation options also allows for the State side to be run automatically.
Much like other 4X games the game allows the player to get a simple look at how his empire is doing through a basic management screen, with options for detailed explanations.
Divided into 3 separate sectors: Weapons tech, Defensive tech and General Empire Tech; each sector researches an item at once, with the tech tree being much like Galactic Civilizations II in terms of layout.
Different to other space 4X's this works by choosing the ship role, the ship image used, and then picking the components in it, with no need to worry over tile placement, instead having to consider mass, energy power and the limits of what the ship can do.
As part of the automation options, the player can set the game to take control over ship design entirely, or take over retrofitting and upgrading, or take control of specific ship designs.
Space and Planet Combat
Space combat is very simple in that it has ships fire their weapons and does a runthrough of checks and equations to see how much damage has been done.
Planet combat is different to other games in that the defenders must have brought or trained troops of their own to defend a colony, save for the militia, and the attackers bring their troops, leading to a smashing of the two forces to see who wins. Other forms of planetary combat include attacking with ship weaponry, as well as the standard nuking being an option.
OS: Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, Windows 7
CPU: Pentium 4 @1.5 GHz
RAM: 1Gb RAM
Video/Graphics: minimum 1024 x 768 resolution, 32 bit
Sound: DirectX 9 compatible
Hard disk space: approx 500Mb
CD-Rom: not required, except if installing from CD
DirectX version: 9.0c or later
Peripheral hardware: Mouse
Anything else that is needed: Microsoft .Net Framework 3.0 or later (will be included with installer)