The chaotic wonder of distant worlds 2

Something is too catchy distant worlds 2the continuation of the niche success of 4X games developed by Code Force and published by publisher Slitherine, 12 years after the first version.

But what is that exactly? It’s probably not this avalanche of notifications that, especially in times of war, causes alerts to scroll far too quickly, as well as requests for orders, galactic announcements, questions about your economy, etc.

Nor is it that sometimes strange, abstruse and labyrinthine interface. Or that graphical (and probably statistical, mechanical, etc.) engine that often struggles to display thousands of ships, hundreds of space constructions, and certain interstellar phenomena without making the game appear as fast as an old inkjet printer.

What is the secret of this success? What makes it that this journalist can be glued to his screen for hours following the development of his empire, at the risk of spending a sleepless night making sure his civilization dominates the others, or at least once and be done? for everyone by weeding out that pesky neighbor who’s been a thorn in your side since the beginning of the game?

Perhaps it’s that happily renewed and even more impactful sense of actually being at the helm of a stellar empire than in the first title in the series. There are many other such titles including Stellarisbut the game of Paradox seems almost amateur before gigantism distant worlds 2. After all, the “normal” size of a galaxy in this game represents 500 stars … Each of them can contain several planets, asteroid belts … In fact, it’s probably not for nothing that in Normal mode again you have to start developing your own solar system (and research into hyperspace propulsion technology) before setting out to conquer the skies.

Another peculiarity, trade exchange, both internal and external, is represented by a private economy that has its own cargo ships, ships that will actually travel between the different corners of your empire and will visit your more or less distant neighbors. It will also be for them that the player will be challenged to build a series of mining stations that will not only provide the materials needed to craft space stations and “government” ships, but will also feed that private economy. The latter, in turn, pays part of its profits to the Treasury, which will then be able to fund its operations.

So close… and so far

In fact, the teaching of distant worlds 2 is the impossibility of grasping everything, understanding everything, controlling everything. Of course, it’s entirely possible to place all your war fleets in manual mode, explicitly decide where the construction ships will build their stations, select the stars to analyze with exploration machines. But only the obsessed (and obsessed again with lots and lots of time) would dare embark on such a process.

For regular gamers, the idea is to let the computer decide for itself. Fortunately, this usually goes smoothly, but this artificial intelligence is certainly not omniscient. For example, the choice of technologies to research often forces the player to make his own decisions, only to unlock a progress deemed necessary, especially with regard to the functioning of the economy.

The same applies to the missions and other choices that this electronic advisor proposes: we can easily understand why we are offered, for example, to build an administrative center on one of our planets, but why offer us to declare war on one of our neighbors without to give another explanation? Why are we being suggested to dispatch multiple fleets within a few seconds to solve the same problem? In the middle of a war, why send much weaker ships to attack a much more powerful target? Some semblance of an explanation would be particularly appreciated by this AI, which can end up controlling almost the entire workings of an empire that spans dozens of planets and more than a hundred billion inhabitants.

And yet… and yet distant worlds 2 is fascinating, fascinating, surprising. Corrections would certainly be desirable, and perhaps a better grip – at least a grip that doesn’t require us to somehow throw ourselves into the interstellar void in hopes that we understand the basics enough to get by.

But other than that, for all its imperfections, this 4X is probably one of the finest examples of its kind. Slowly but surely being discovered.

distant worlds 2

Developer: CodeForce

Editor: Slitherin

Platform: Windows (tested on Steam)

Game not available in French

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