Distant Worlds is a pausable, real-time 4X space strategy game. The game features a large variety of different systems: combat, research, building, ship designs, and other areas.
Unlike most 4X games, DW has many automation options, almost allowing the game to play itself save for decision making and diplomacy. This allows the player to learn the games different systems individually, easing the steep learning curve. The player can choose to control (or automate) ship building, ship design, diplomacy, military actions, trade, colonisation and research.
DW also separates empire management between the State and Private sectors. State sector objects include military ships, fleets and planets and Private sector ships include trade station, and freight ships. The Private sector is completely automated.
The player can achieve victory in many ways. Aside from basic 4x objectives (such as controlling a large percentage of the map, or having a set percentage of the galaxy's population/trade/research) each race has a race specific objective that allows them to strive for the completion of a task that best suits the strengths of their chosen species.
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 mechanics, and almost everything present in the game, such as planet types, weaponry and government types.
The game is 2D top-down, and uses a mix of sprites and vector/drawn art. It is highly moddable, using .txt and .jpgs for much of the game.
DW has 4 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) - 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.
- Universe (23 May 2014) - the latest expansion, which also includes the base game and all previous expansions added modding and customization support along with a new official storyline. It also marked the first time the game was available on Steam and saw the game receive a significant price deduction. Significant effort went into expanding to modding capabilities of the game engine. The game comes with example mods that can be activated and deactivated at any time.
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)