Distant Worlds 2 Newcomer, Getting Started

I have the original Distant Worlds game but never got the opportunity to play it very much so Distant Worlds 2 is essentially a new game for me. I thought it would be interesting to create an article from a newcomer’s perspective about how easy it is to start, learn and how much fun it is to play. This doesn’t get very deep but does go through the some of the game basics and how to take over research when you’re ready.

Although it can be overwhelming, if you let the automation do the work for you and take over things manually as you go along the game is not too hard to learn. This game has exploration, research, early combat and exploration, all the things I like in a game that makes it so much fun!

This game has extensive in-game help plus a user manual for more advanced stuff, which is unique in this day and age. Most games don’t come with any type of manual anymore, at least not the ones I’ve played.

Galaxy Size and Shape

When you first start a game, it has all the options you’d expect from a game of this caliber. You can set the galaxy size, galaxy shape and even the nebula density at the “Galaxy Shape and Size” screen. You can go to the galaxy settings and set the galaxy expansion from pre warp to old. You can also set the starting tech level, AI aggression level, difficulty level, whether to allow tech trading or not, and all kinds of other neat stuff.


The Threats screen is all about pirates and space creatures. This is where you can set the number of pirates in the game, their strength, their proximity and decide how many space creatures you want in the game.

Colonization Settings

At the Colonization screen you have four settings you can customize. “Colony Prevalence” impacts the number of planets and moons in the galaxy, which increases the number of likely colonizable planetary bodies as you increase the setting. Settings range from “Very Rare” to “Very Abundant.”

“Independent Colonies” determines how many alien populations there are in the galaxy, settings are “Very Rare” to “Very Abundant.”

“Colony Influence Range” effectively determines how far your empire’s borders will extend from your colonies, with 300% being the highest setting.

The fourth and final setting is “Colonization Range Limit” which determines how close to an existing colonized planet or moon of yours it must be before you can colonize it. This option can also be turned off, meaning there is no limit.

You can see my video about Distant Worlds 2 Colonization and gameplay here.

Race Screen

There are seven races to choose from at the game start, each with its own pros and cons. For example, the first race, the Acckdarians, gets a 20% bonus for settling ocean worlds but don’t do so well when colonizing desert planets, which makes sense. Each race has personality traits, colonization modifiers, bonuses, what their predispositions are toward other races, what their preferred government types are, what government types are allowed and what their default infantry types are.

I started with the human empire simply because I already intuitively know some basics about them, like what kinds of planets they like, so that makes the game a little easier for me to learn.

Empire and Government

At the “Empire and Government” screen you can name your empire plus choose your flag and flag color. There is also a dropdown list for selecting your government plus a tooltip showing all the pros and cons associated with that type of government.

Starting Situation

There are four selections to choose from. The first is the favorability of your home system. The higher the setting the more likely it is that you will have a higher population on your home planet, more resources in the system and more colonizable planets or moons can be found more frequently in your home system.

“Expansion” is simply the starting level of your empire when the game starts. As you move up the range from “Starting” to “Old” you’ll have more colonies and a more established empire.

“Tech Level” determines how advanced your research is. PreWarp means there is no tech researched, higher levels grant you more unlocked technology at the start of the game.

“Starting Location” is exactly that, where your empire is located at in the galaxy. It can either be “Deep Core,” “Outer Core” or “Far Regions.”

Other Empires

At this screen you can either allow the game to autogenerate the other empires in the game or you can do that manually, plus set the number of AI empires in the game.

Victory Conditions

The last screen is the “Victory Conditions” screen. At this screen you can set the thresholds for a Territory victory, which is the percentage of colonies you must control to win the game, population you must control and the economic level you need to be at to win. You can also enable or disable race specific victory conditions and a “Victory Threshold” percentage, which is “The percentage of Victory Conditions that must be fulfilled to win the game.”

I’m not exactly sure what that means but I assume it means that if that percentage is set to 40%, then achieving 40% of each victory condition will win the game, but I’m not positive about that.

You can also enable or disable start date year, ending year, race specific story events and colony events. Once you’re happy with everything just click “Start Game.” After doing that a screen will pop up saying that it’s generating the Galaxy. Once the game is done generating the Galaxy you get a pop-up box that says “Let’s Get Started” with a little background information. When you click on “Let’s Get Started” the game will start immediately.

Game Tours

Before I get into talking about the game, I’d like to make two general observations. At the start of the game, it’s best just to take all the defaults and get started. Secondly, and this is really a minor disappointment for me but it’s a disappointment nonetheless and that’s the soundtrack. I really like the background music in the games and this one seems to have a little bit lacking.

The game starts out with a basic tour, and it has tours for almost anything that can be activated at almost any time during the game. I like this, it’s pretty helpful. This game also has some in game documentation and also has a manual for more advanced features of the game that most games lack nowadays, and that’s a big bonus to me.

This game starts out almost completely automated meaning the AI handles almost everything for you so if you want to and you can simply sit back and watch the game play out. You have the option of taking over specific operations as the game progresses.

Turning Off Automation

Once you’re to the point of wanting to try a few things on your own click on the empire overview button in the upper left corner. A sub menu comes up and then on the right side of that sub menu click “Policy Settings.” From there you can open “Advisors and Automation” and you have four choices for numerous items that you can select from, “Manual,” “Suggest, “Suggest & Execute” and “Automate.” I’m not very good at taking suggestions, you can just ask my wife, so I’ll take anything that’s set to “Suggest” and bump it up to “Suggest and Execute.” In the heat of the game, I’m liable to miss or ignore a suggestion and I’d rather have something execute an order than just sit around and be idle.

Taking Over Research

I really like doing my own research so that seemed like a good place to step in for my first “take over,” so I set Research to manual just to see how it would go. Even items that are fully automated can still be customized at this screen, like exploration. You can leave it at the default setting or send a team down when hidden items are present. You can make changes to colonization like deciding what the minimum suitability is for planet be colonized at. For my current empire the default is 20% but I could change the suitability percentage up or down if I wanted to. There’s plenty of detailed customization that can be made at this screen but that’s better left for a more detailed article at a future date.

As new player to this game I’m wondering what kind of alert it will give me once research is done so I’m anxious to see what happens.

I’ve also encountered some pirates, The Dark Army and the Ghost Fleet, and they’re both not very happy with me so that may influence my research choice when I choose my next item.

First Research Item Completed

When my first research item, “Research Labs,” was completed at the top of the screen I had a message stating “no research projects,” plus I received a popup that the Research Lab research was complete. Those a pretty good indicators for me in case I forget about assigning something.

After looking at my research options I finally decided on Railgun Weaponry to help me deal with pirates. Railgun Weaponry gives me three types of Railguns when completed. One is for Fighters and a small and medium sized one for my ships. That will help take care of a pirate or two when it comes to close-in combat.

I’d really like to find something to beef up my scanners so I have a better chance at finding out where the pirates are and eliminate them but I’m not sure what to research since I can only see what the next technology available is (that can be changed in the game settings). Since I can only see what the next level of technology is, so I will settle for the railgun weaponry for right now.


As I played the game my fears about the pirates came true, they raided my mining station, so wanted to get some protection to my mining station somehow.

I sent a ship to defend my Mining Station but it arrived too late to prevent the raid. But it did encounter a lingering pirate ship so my first combat in Distant Worlds 2 began. My ship engaged the pirate ship and combat looks pretty cool, there was a massive explosion when the pirate ship was destroyed with parts flying everywhere! I am also suffering more pirate attacks in other areas, so it looks like these pirates are going to be a real problem. Since my frigate didn’t have much trouble handling the pirate maybe I can focus my research more on scanners or something like that so they can be tracked down.

My combat ships encountered pirates and once again it looks like they’re not having too much trouble handling them, so maybe I can focus on finding them or set up a truce with them, or just ignore them for now and take them out as I run into them and work on colonization instead, but I really would prefer to take care of the pirates first.

Diplomacy With The Pirates

Since I want to deal with and eliminate the pirates somehow I tried negotiating with them at the Diplomacy screen for some kind of truce or tribute payment. When I go to the diplomacy screen it looks like these guys are really furious and don’t like us at all but I’m going to speak with them anyway. I offered them a treaty but nothing is available because, well, they don’t like me enough yet. I’ll take a look at sending them a gift which they would gladly accept but I’m not sure I want to do that quite yet. I looked at trying to negotiate some type of deal but once again they don’t like me at all so no deals are available.

I’m stuck with sending them a gift which I tried. It helped a little but not enough to make any real difference, probably a waste of money.

Creating A Fleet To Deal With The Pirates

Since I can’t work out a deal with the pirates I thought I would create a fleet and assign it to defending the mining station. When I started to create a fleet, I discovered that the AI had already created one for me, so the automation seems to be working very well, at least in this area. As for assigning a fleet to protect the mining station, I didn’t see an option for that. What I did see is the fleet stance is already set to “Defend” so that looks like the best I can right now to deal with the pirates.


Once my Railgun research was completed I decided to allow my scientists the option of researching two items at the same time since I now have two research stations. This should allow me to get things done a little more quickly. I decided to improve my ship engines so I could get to the scene of as battle a little more quickly. For my second option I decided not to ignore my economy and started research on “Expanded Space Stations.” That should give me higher outputs and a better weapons range for my space station.

What’s Left?

Don’t forget to visit my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcWU6qxVisK93h5guKRVtdg

So what’s left to learn? Well for me almost the entire game is left for me to learn. I just touched on some of the game’s setup tasks and research options. When I look at the game screen and as I scroll out I see I still have an entire galaxy to explore and subjugate. I just touched the tip of iceberg, so this is really a great game in my opinion. I’m going to have a lot of fun playing and even more fun learning it and writing more articles about it.

Rich Gallien

I've always liked board games like chess and PC games, especially space based strategy games, which lead to the creation of this site. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it and updating it with new games!

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