Your empire is split up in two sectors
I think this was Distant Worlds freshest idea on the 4x genre. Dividing these two into something controllable, and to something uncontrollable, was pure genius. Completely awesome, I hope that the dev team has payed attention to this game for completely showing how awesome 4x games can still be fresh and exciting, and there are still a lot of features we want besides just graphics.
Update: I realized when revisting the thread that I didn't fully communicate my idea. This is just a copy paste of something I posted in response, but I feel is important to people who are visiting the thread for the first time.
Sorry, for some reason I wrote my post assuming everybody has played DW before (it was late at night okay). Basically the private sector is autnomous. In GalCiv 2, you get credits per turn for a planet. Well that is just a shorthand for the what DW calls the Private sector. The ships just do their own thing like mine resource and earn you credits. But it is interesting because the enemy can create trade blocks, preventing your private ships from commuting. It an also be more interesting because they can run into random events for you, like discovering new planets, or derelict mining operations. In DW there are literally hundreds of random events that can happen which is what makes the game so interesting.
HOWEVER You can take it even further. Which is what I meant by there being a lot of features besides just expanding on existing ones.
For example, if you built the right system. The private sector can cause problems for you because these are effectively your citizens. For example, maybe they have been trading with another race for a long time, so they REALLY dont like it when you go to war with them, so you need to convince them with a propaganda campaign that the other race is evil, or you risk revolt depending on the type of government you are running. Or if you're Drengi you have a totalitarian empire, so you dont need to convince them at all. Maybe you have bad relations with the Drengi, one of your private citizens takes it on himself to sabatoge or attack a Drengi ship. Now you might have a war. That would suck. But it makes for really interesting gameplay I think. Because maybe you are actually trying to sabatoge them, but you convince the enemy it was a private citizen you had 0 control over. Also, I think the implementation of the private sector with ships moving around, makes it seem much more immersive when these 'random' events happen. The private sector is what makes DW feel so 'alive', which is what people describe it as. There is a lot more to it than that, but this is the critical component of that.
This is about adding valuable game systems, and enhancing immersion to feel like you're managing an empire.