Distant Worlds: Universe is a standalone collection of Distant Worlds and its 3 expansions: Return of the Shakturi, Legends, and Shadows, as well as new content made for Universe. Distant Worlds: Universe was developed by CodeForce and published by Slitherine Software UK Ltd.
Distant Worlds: Universe is a pausable real-time 4X space strategy game. It includes many of the features common to space 4X games including: customizable empires, diplomacy, research tree, ship designer, colony management tools, fleet management tools, and espionage.
The game also includes "Private Enterprise" which are ships and stations not directly controlled by the player. Private citizens in the empire and the AI empires will make ships and maintain mining stations that trade between empires and move resources/people between locations within empires automatically without player intervention. This system creates a sort of virtual economy with supply/demand and allowing for mechanics like blockades around systems/stations to prevent rivals from receiving resources to build ships and buildings on colonies.
Distant Worlds: Universe also has a in-depth automation system that allows the player to either micromanage down to the smallest details or have the game fully automated with no player intervention required. The automation level can be changed mid-game at any time. The automation system can be controlled with general settings like "new player" or "advanced", as well as set to control individual settings like "Civilian Ship Designs" to be toggled on or off. Civilian ships orders/movement will always be automated and out of the player's control, but the player can control the design of the private ships and stations if he or she desires.