I love Distant Worlds and can't wait for the sequel. After playing some more recent 4x/grand strategy games, I have a few wishes for the sequel:
1. The living universe, with independent civilians and pirates and a sophisticated-enough economy to give them a reason to exist, is one of the two things that set Distant Worlds apart from its competition. I'm sure it will be a performance hog in 3d, but please don't compromise the living universe for the sake of graphics.
2. That being said, please do streamline/adjust the economy so that it works in a more transparent way. It can be really hard to understand in Distant Worlds where income, expenses, and bonus income come from and why they shoot up or drop off abruptly. For example, maybe more parts of the economy could be based on yearly fees (that could still be disrupted by the destruction of mining stations or civilian ships) rather than one-off payments?
3. The second thing that sets Distant Worlds apart from the competition is the freedom of travel, restricted only by fuel - your ships can travel as far as their fuel tanks allow in any direction. While I'm not averse to having additional FTL types, please don't go hyperlane/space lane only like Sins of a Solar Empire, Endless Space, and now after its most recent update Stellaris. I get that some people like to have chokepoints in space, but I hate it, and there are plenty of games for those who like it already.
4. Mod support in Distant Worlds was OK, but it would be amazing to have mod support on the level of Stellars- being able to use scripts; create custom events, event chains, and missions; create custom systems in detail; add custom 3d models for ships; modify not only sounds and visuals but the conditions under which sounds and visuals occur, and have multiple possible sounds for the same condition, etc.
5. The long-term missions of newer Total War games and Endless Space 2, and the random events of Stellaris, add a good amount of motivation to keep playing that could be lacking in longer matches of Distant Worlds.