Years ago, space empire sim Distant Worlds made its debut. It had modest 2D graphics and a rather clunky interface revealed its old-school design roots. However, at that time you couldn’t find a richer and more detailed romp into a strange and hostile galaxy.
More recently, we learned that Distant Worlds 2 was a finally coming. We’ve known about its existence for some time now, but publisher Slitherine only officially confirmed it for the current release date of March 10, 2022.
Therefore, this article functions as an expose of this much anticipated sequel, especially considering strategy games and the 4X genre in general have moved on in the past decade. New titles such as Stellaris have certainly had a massive impact, and there has been a constant stream of both indie and mid-tier space strategy games in recent years, but nothing to write home about. So yes, the pressure will be on for Distant Worlds 2 to deliver the goods.
According to the info sheet we’ve been pouring over, the team looks like it is giving it as good a shot as it can: a new 64-bit 3D engine will give it a modern look, but also help deal with an old issue where the game would struggle to handle very large galaxies (up to a 2,000 star systems).
There will be seven playable factions at release, which cover a wide range of government types for replayability. An improved AI will go hand-in-hand with a new diplomacy system, and the granular resource system has also been expanded.
The devs have created more elements to exploit and create, although raw resource nodes in general are less abundant and will require a bit more effort to extrapolate and exploit. Giving your empire a maximum population of 200 will give you sufficient space for building your characters without hindering the performance of the game. If it helps, less population means you’ll have to gather fewer resources as well!
In Distant Worlds 2, everything – from diplomacy, to economic management, to combat – can be toggled between Manual or Automated modes (or somewhere between the two) at your whim. You can cede control to the computer and take back the reins whenever you choose, just focusing on the bits that interest you most.
If you prefer to offload the bulk of the gameplay and roleplay from the perspective of your empire’s leading fuel tanker designer instead, you can do that too. Advisors pop up with suggestions now and then to provide an additional helping hand (and, once they become a nuisance, can be silenced permanently). It all feels remarkably seamless and easy. Oh, why can’t real be like that?
The gameplay loop itself will be familiar to fans of the series – a rich universe to explore and countless details to involve yourself with, everything from mining to migration, Distant Worlds 2, among them revamps to research and resource systems, and an improved ship designer, will feature a lot of other new things to discover.
Perhaps the hardest sell for fans of the series will probably be that Distant Worlds 2 has far fewer (seven) playable races right now, though we suspect more will rear their scaly/furry/chitinous heads sooner or later.
The improvements made to UI and controls are notable. Distant Worlds 2 cuts down on some of its predecessor’s clunkiness in a multitude of smaller ways. Information is presented quite tidily and the game does a particularly great job of highlighting the relevant ships, faction or star system you’re interested in, just from a hover of your mouse cursor.
In all, we’re looking forward to seeing what new things Distant Wars 2 will be unleashing on the masses when it debuts on March 10th.