Distant Worlds Universe Review: Distant and Deep

Sections: Exclusives, Genres, Originals, PCs, Reviews, Strategy, Windows

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Distant Worlds Universe
Price: $49.99
System(s): Windows
Release Date: May 2014
Publisher (Developer): Matrix Games (Code Force)
ESRB Rating: N/A (Everyone, most likely)

Distant Worlds Universe is a sequel of sorts to Distant Worlds, a real time strategy “4x” game where you expand, explore, exploit, and exterminate the whole universe. Generally, you start with one planet, pick an alien race (or boring ol’ humans), and everything past that point is up to you. There are many games in this genre, but Distant Worlds Universe is as “kitchen sink” as it gets, I’m hard pressed to think of anything in another 4x game that isn’t present, at least on some level, in Distant Worlds Universe …except for multiplayer, which is a problem in real time games like this.

Perhaps sequel is too generous a word; you’ve have Distant Worlds and all three expansions, then you have a solid 80% of what this sequel has to offer. That said, it’s a worthy extension. Let’s take a closer look.

DistantWorldspaceThat’s no moon, it’s a learning cliff

While “it has everything” is a plus to some, there’s a big drawback to a game this expansive: a steep learning curve. You begin the game with half a dozen or more ships, satellites, miners, planets, and whatnot, and they’ll start whizzing around and doing their own thing immediately. In the beginning, it’s all you can do to just hope they’re doing what you want (they usually are).

Mercifully, each aspect of Distant Worlds Universe, from setting up trade routes, tourist destinations, mining stations, or whatever, can be automated, and while the universe progresses in real time, you can always just smack that pause key to give your orders–you can even speed up time, but it might be a few hours before you’re comfortable enough with the game to do that. If you want, you can automate the whole game, put it on fast forward, and just watch the universe play out.


What do you want to know and when do you want to know it?

As a sequel, Distant Worlds Universe contains everything the “old” game (from 2010) has, just more. That means the research tree (just an eense thin before) is fleshed out a bit more, giving a few more choices than the handful of “must haves” of before.

That’s actually the theme of the whole game – everything from before, just more. The sheer size of Distant Worlds Universe (if your computer can handle it) is flat out nuts–up to 1,400 star systems and 50,000 planets. At some point, assuming you don’t have an incredible lifespan, you’ll need to automate your space generals and space admirals and and space ship designers and space tourist managers or you’ll never get anything done. The key to the game by far is automation and delegation of activity.

One of the more interesting options is become a space pirate, instead of an actual race; it’s a neat choice, although ultimately I’m not sure it’s much of an addition. I guess it’s a good option for those that have played out the rest of the game.

DistantworldsconqThat much to conquer a planet?

Ultimately, Distant Worlds Universe is a game for the fans. That’s not saying it’s a bad game, but, if you’re not already the kind of person willing to devote a full afternoon to a game just to get a rudimentary understanding of what’s going on, then this isn’t the game for you. On the other hand, if figuring out a thousand little details before going for an invasion is your thing, then you probably already have played the older game.

In short, newcomers to the genre should probably just get the old game, and see if they want more before plunking down the $50 (that’s AAA title pricing there) for a single player game. Fans of the old game should waste little time in upgrading, as in all ways this sequel is an upgrade (and Matrix has a program where owners of the old game can get up to $40 off the sticker price).


Product Page [matrixgames]

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