We, a group interested in multiplayer 4x, have played several games of SE and here's some feedback.
1. First, there is no multiplayer :). It's nice that PBEM is available and thought out at basic level, but:
1.1. It is extremely slow as turns are sequential. We use a shared folder synced over the internet, but still multiplayer games in SE are exhausting and lengthy ordeal only for the most dedicated players.
1.2. It is not secure. Save file format can be unpacked easily and edited/viewed/scummed. The "anti-cheat" included can be easily worked around as well.
I don't see how good non-sequential multiplayer is possible anyway with current gameflow. Modern solution is players giving orders, then all of them being processed simultaneously (freeorion, Dominions). This would even be possible without touching network, with information for the current player and their orders encrypted separately. But in SE it would require restructuring whole combat so I guess it's at best an idea for SE2.
2. Without multiplayer, there is not much of an interesting challenge. Major AI is very basic and it is usually just spams infantry squads with all-out stance rushing you. If difficulty is turned up, game turns into semi-interesting zerg rush defense, but start gets very random, slavers/AI neighbors mean restart. Majors are never developing zones or building logistics either.
3. Game is filled with arcane knowledge, manual helps and it clearly was a big effort but it instantly became outdated with the first patches.
4. Now onto the good stuff, combat is great. It is a delight to fight a fellow human, planning logistics, unit groups, doing recon and using artillery properly. Combat system, while hard to understand, works great. Only problem is absence of battle logs. Ability to review at least the "detailed" version of battles that happened between turns is a must have.
5. Logistics (with pull points) is great, except when it breaks. Then abandon all hope of fixing it.
6. Graphics, while weird, have an endearing quality to them. The setting is interesting and suits the gameplay very well.
7. PP seem to be overused but the system kinda works.
8. Public/private economy and regime profiles are very interesting and well-implemented features.
Overall, I find SE a very interesting project, but the fatal part is absense of either multiplayer or good AI.
< Message edited by Voker57 -- 10/2/2020 9:58:24 PM >