From: Vermont, USA
This is not an exhaustive, comprehensive list, but it's a good summary and starting point of some of the key changes. I'm sure we'll add more stuff as time goes on before release, partly as we remember it.
Major Improvements and changes from Distant Worlds: Universe:
- 64-bit multi-threaded 3D-based Engine and completely new architecture and code base removes previous memory limitations and performance bottlenecks, allowing large galaxies and better performance overall as well as excellent compatibility with modern hardware and operating systems.
- A vast, immersive and dramatic galactic environment rendered in 3D with ships, stations, weapon effects and animations all a major step forward from the classic 2D Distant Worlds.
- A fully scalable and re-designed User Interface, fully integrated with the map view to allow the player easy access to relevant information and much better awareness of all the activities going on in and around their systems.
- Improved AI both for AI opponents and player AI assistance and advisors
- Seven playable factions at release, each with a full 3D ship and station set as well as full animated character art: Humans, Ackdarians, Mortalen, Zenox, Boskara, Teekans and Haakonish. These were chosen from the original factions to cover a wide variety of playstyles, especially when combined with the available Government choices: Democracy, Feudalism, Republic, Monarchy, Mercantile Guild, Military Dictatorship, Technocracy, Hive Mind.
- Improved Diplomacy, including many possible first contact outcomes and more options for trade and treaties as well as tracking of diplomatic reputation by empire.
- Expanded Resource system with resources varying in rarity and luxury resources offering other bonuses beyond just colony development. Resources are also somewhat less abundant and require more effort to extract. The more rare Construction resources allow you to unlock the best technologies and components. Additionally, with access to enough of the right luxury resources, significant benefits can be gained including pushing colony development well past 100%. Resource stock levels can be automated or controlled in full at each planet at station.
- More fine-grained exploration, including sensors that in the early game can’t fully cover the width of a system. Ships may be visible but not identifiable. Unexplored systems in sensor range may show how many planets are there but require actual exploration to determine type and resources. Specific locations can now contain both what can be seen on the surface level as well as other hidden ruins or bonuses that will only be found with additional exploration (though improved scanners and better survey teams, or ongoing mining or colonization).
- Galactic nebula clouds form difficult barriers, giving natural 'geography' to the galaxy. Ships navigate around these by default because hyperjump movement inside nebula clouds is much slower and other damaging effects can occur. Hyperdrives now also have a maximum jump range for a single jump. This means traveling to distant locations often involves “star-hopping” through multiple star systems rather than just following a straight-line route. This creates additional challenges and choke-points in the galaxy.
- Expanded influence over state funding choices, allowing prioritization of maintenance and reserved income as well as bonus funding.
- More options for automation, now down to the ship role level. For example, Construction ships can be set to Full Automatic control, to Auto-Build Mining Stations or Auto-Build Research Stations or Auto-Salvage, etc. Exploration ships can Auto-Explore, Auto-Scout or Auto-Spy on Enemy systems. In addition, at the Policy level you can now choose whether your Advisors Suggest and Execute (they’ll act on the suggestion unless you tell them you disagree) or just Suggest (no action will be taken unless you explicitly agree).
- A more detailed damage model for space combat. Components can now be partially damaged but not destroyed, weapons can have bleed-through damage against both shields and armor, shields can have resistance allowing flat damage reduction as well as a chance based on the shield type to allow some damage through. Ion weapons now have specific damage against different component types, intercept weapons (point defense) now have different ratings against multiple target types and can engage seeking weapons, fighters and bombers and even direct-fire or full-length beams if they have that capability.
- Research by default is both blind (only see the next projects that link to the ones you have already researched) and has probability-based pre-requisite and fall-back paths (alternate paths to unlock projects) which means that each time you play, the Research tree can vary and the paths many not be the same. This can also be changed in the setup options to allow for full visibility and fixed paths for more predictability.
- Research bonuses now not only speed up research in a particular area, but also are required to unlock key technology threshholds to progress further in the research tree. You can gain these bonuses from research locations built at important scientific locations. For example, progressing to Fast Jump Hyperdrives now requires a 20% minimum research bonus in Hyperdrives. Research projects may also now require an initial investment of credits or resources prior to initiation.
- Ship and Base Construction will now only commence once all required resources are available. This prevents incomplete construction waiting for resources to be delivered.
- Population policies can now be set for each species at each colony.
- Independent colonies now often have unique bonuses and otherwise non-playable species and will engage in diplomacy with you for trade and possibly to join your empire. Alternately, they can be conquered and assimilated by force, but no longer will just sending a colony ship be enough to bring them to your side.
- Fleets and Armies can now have defined templates and ships within a fleet will act according to their roles in fleet engagements, with some ships attempting to form an outer perimeter while close escorts stay with the capital ships focused towards the center. Fleets now also have more tactical settings and options to help fine-tune their control and automation.
- The interface is now designed to work alongside the galaxy map. Only the ship design and research screens are full-screen. You will find that when you have a part of the interface open, let’s say a list of ships, the objects in that list will be highlighted on the map and hovering or clicking on an item in the list will “ping” the map at its location or give it an extra highlight. This makes it quick and easy to get a sense of where everything is and what it’s doing.
- Full 3D Ship Design with ship hulls that unlock up to a certain size and have a variety of component bays. Components can be placed within a matching bay and external bays, such as for weapons, are fully visible on the model when a component is placed there. Typically it is difficult to fill all slots for a particular hull, allowing for specialization choices within the maximum design size available. Ships hulls now also have a separate hull and armor rating, which can absorb some of the damage that gets past armor and shields but whic may not hit a component. Compared to Distant Worlds 1, ships are generally more durable and require more effort to destroy.
- New weapon firing and hit effects, including particle effects, to bring your custom-designed ships and 3D space battles to life!
- A new Message system with full message filtering settings as well as a complete message log and the usual alert and pop-out messages depending on the importance of the event.
- New Map Overlays for Resource Flows, Migration Flows, Tourism Flows, Location Badges (which summarize most of what you want to know about a system or planetary location at a glance) and Diplomatic Relations.
- A new Storyline which calls back to the original Distant Worlds, but with new previously unseen threats in each era of the game and more for each faction to find and explore about the lore of the Ancient era of the galaxy and the specific role of their ancestors as that history unfolded, leading to the cataclysm that destroyed the Ancient era, brought on the Age of Shadows and eventually the current era, where planetary civilizations are venturing back to the stars again.
< Message edited by Erik Rutins -- 1/26/2021 9:15:25 PM >