Gotta go with Zephro on this one. Initially I was a bit vexed and underwhelmed, but as I’ve played more, I’ve enjoyed it more and more. It’s very far from perfect, but I’ve played space empire-building games for a long time, and this is the first time in a very long time that I’ve felt the sort of weird, almost ineffable sensation where I can sort of actually envision the empire, and where I feel like there’s almost a life beneath/beyond the icons/numbers. I know there isn’t - but that doesn’t really change the feeling.
Whereas with space games, nothing since SMAC and MoO2 had really given me that feeling, not even Endless Space or Sword of Stars 1/2 (I mean, Sword of Stars was clearly trying, but it ended up so fiddly and look-shit-up-y that I lost all immersion).
With other strategy games it’s been more common. CK2 is the absolute master of this - it’s almost hard to not let it get kind of personal/real (imo). Endless Legend does a good job.
But anyway, flawed? Yes. Stuff that desperately needs expansion/improvement? Yes.
I totally agree with Zephro’s criticisms, too - the lack of muster points is kind of annoying (though the fleet merging and de-merging interface is better by miles than any other game I’ve ever played - it’s not even a good interface - just shows how the others were I guess), the sectors being hidden away is absolutely bizarre given how important they are, there aren’t enough random events etc. (easy to add more at least), and so on. Naramsin is right that other stuff could do with being added too - I particularly would like a big screen listing all the planets I am aware of and letting me filter and mark them.
Still, what I really love most more than anything else are the Ethoses and Government Types. That’s what elevates this above other space-empire-builders, I think. Not only can you simulate almost any sci-fi nation/empire etc. with them, but they feel pretty right, and all allow for and promote different approaches. I’d like to see even more politics and they say they’re adding it, so that’s good.
Definitely need more potential Mandates for democracies though. Fucking space miners the lot of them…
Personally I’d also like to see options for more “extreme” races and so on, but I’m sure that’ll be added in mods if it hasn’t been already. No-one has access to 1000-year+ lifespans as far as I can tell (which I don’t think would actually be broken given skill maxes out at 5 and people often have that by 50 or 60-something - I think it does anyway), and only being able to pick 4 traits, positive and negative, rules out a bunch of SF races.