I was wondering what is the best sci-fi 4x one can play in 2017. I have played MoO 2 too many times. I have been playing a lot of the other genre representatives and for most of them one game was enough.
New Master Of Orion ? Snoozefest
Stars In Shadow ? Nice, but left me cold
Armada 2526 Supernova ? playable / belongs to the better ones
Lost Empires Immortals ? It has an epic scope, but that's about it
Sword Of The Stars 1 ? Nice combat, but awful UI NAvigation and almost no planetary development
Sword Of The Stars 2 ? Just No
Distant Worlds ? Not my cup of tea at all
Stellaris ? Nice to look at, but boring as heaven
Galciv 1-3 ? Generic, okay for one playthrough
Endless Space 1+2 ? Enjoyable / they belong to the better ones / I did replay 1 a few times
As I was about giving up on the genre, a little gem found its way on my hard drive: Star Drive 2
It's much more MoO-like as Stars In Shadow and the new official Master Of Orion. You can create a creative race and the races are clearly inspired by MoO. Star Ruler 2 is a big tribute to MoO, but more fun than the other titles claiming the same.
Perhaps I lucked out with the settings for my first game, but the AI is putting up a hell of a fight and I can say I didn't have as much fun with a 4x since MoO 2. Unfortunatly the game seems to be abandoned by the (one !) developer.
Others found it to be buggy and the AI braindead. Yes, I stumbled on some bugs, but nothing too serious, that can't be circumvented in one way or the other. Give it a try. It's the best MoO clone.
Did you mean Star Drive 2 or Star Rulers 2?
If the former, the dev is on the codex
Armada 2526 seemed to be well suited to multiplayer. My copy keeps CTD for some reason.
I found Space Empires 4 quite fun in multiplayer. It has a Dominions 4 like battle system (but simpler) where you have to give basic orders to your units, and endless customization options. Not sure it is still played these days in MP, though, but I suppose it still is.
I agree with most of your other assessments.