The new real-time battle system was a big question mark prior to release. Previous iterations settled for exchanging laser-burn marks via a turn-based system. It worked well during the early game, where the player could micromanage each little ship to its full potential. On the other hand, it made the late-game massive fleet battles an absolute chore to go through.
The new system felt off at first, but settled in nicely after a few campaigns. You still have plenty of tools at your disposal from fleet formations (which give different bonuses, too) to speed matching, weapon engagement ranges and so forth. The numerically and/or technologically superior side will still win most of the time, though, no matter the amount of zigzagging you pull off. One of those thousand neutron cannons will still hit and scatter the remains to the ether.
Planning your own vessels is as interesting as ever before and offers lots of possibilities for creating your own kind of murder-fleet. Too bad only eight designs can be saved at one time, which is odd to say the least. Different add-ons and inventions look very, very similar in the design screen, too, so visible labels and/or explanatory icons are in order.
There's no denying the game's production values either. Each and every race is sculpted beautifully and the user interface is both sleek and easy to read. Large fleet battles are a joy to behold with dozens of vessels, fighters, death rays and plasma torpedoes whizzing by. Special credit has to go to the voice actors, too. You've got names like Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker and Jokeri), Michael Dorn (aka Worf, Star Trek: TNG), John de Lancie (Q, Star Trek: TNG), Alan Tudyk (FireFly, Con Man), Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger, Nightmare on Elm Street) Troy Baker and Nolan North doing the race leaders and whatnot.
Some omissions have taken place, too. There's no "super-race" from Antares to keep you occupied during the late game (the technologically impaired space pirates can't stand against you after the first few rounds). Space Eel and the gang are still there, occupying the fancier planets. Guardian is still guarding the mythical Orion and all its technological riches. Not every old race made the cut, so maybe we'll see some of them via DLC. Planetary governors and admirals have taken their leave, too. There could also be more galactic events with a more serious effect on the galaxy.
As a whole Master of Orion 2016 is a great, if familiar, game for veterans of the hallowed series. It might not be as complex or intricate as Stellaris, but it offers an easily-approachable alternative to space empire management. There's plenty of replay value by playing with a different race or creating your own. We would like to see the AI take more initiative and be aggressive, though, and more varied and serious galactic events would make the gameplay feel fresh. That said, it still has that "one more turn" magic in it. One hour of planned playtime turns easily into four. As an added bonus, the retail price is very reasonable, so your first dip or the nostalgic trip into space isn't going to cost you and arm and a leg.