The tech tree needs a MAJOR overhaul. Reducing research requirements was good, but doesn't fix the overall boringness of it. There are a ton of different weapons and unit classes, but they're mostly minor stat changes between them. Calling something a pulse laser doesn't make it anymore interesting than a gun if it works the exact same way tactically. It's especially frustrating since there is no way to update units from one weapon to the next or from one class to the next. Research is basically a treadmill to get a +% modifier over you're enemies without any major changes to your capabilities. If you moved nukes and nano-repair into the starting era, you could lop off the entire rest of the tree with no real losses. The restrictions of what types of unit can be fitted with what weapons is also fairly arbitrary seeming. Why can't I build a flame tank? I think it actually mentions flame tanks in one of the descriptions, but doesn't let you construct one. Why is there no way to make fast moving artillery? The way things are set up now, I'd be happier to have set unit classes rather than designing my own. It just adds micromanagement without adding any real choices. I guess the trade off of of upkeep cost vs power is kind of interesting, but it mostly just deters me from wanting to build big, cool, units. Why build a mech in peace time if the cost of having it sit still for 20 turns or so is the cost of just buying one when war starts.
I'm not sure exactly how to improve the tech tree, but here are some of my thoughts.
1. Reduce it in size. Choosing research priorities every 2 turns and not being able to queue them is annoying. I didn't actually care about the results of almost all of the techs either, which makes having too many of them a particular chore. Most of them involved some level of micromanagement to utilize, without forcing me to make any interesting choices or fundamentally changing the way I was playing. When I get a major upgrade option and my first thought is "ugh, now I have to upgrade everything and reshuffle population," that's not a great sign.
2. Reduce the need to manually upgrade everything. Techs like guerrilla warfare and telepathy gave me passive bonuses, which was nice because it made things better without forcing me to do much. Guerrilla warfare was more interesting, because it actually changed the behavior of my units and added tactical depth. Telepathy was much less interesting because it didn't. Space Marine type 2 (can't remember than actual name...) tech is actually quite a major upgrade to your empire, but since it behaves exactly like space marine type 1, it just isn't very interesting. If there was a way to upgrade automatically, either for free, or for some cost, then it would make it more fun.
3. Combine techs together. It's ok to have one technology improve multiple related things.
4. Continue growing your empires tactical abilities over time. Adding nukes in the end game doesn't really count, and higher resource multipliers don't either.
5. Make techs make sense. I know it's a scifi-game, so there's bound to be positronic gobbledygook, but lets have some relationship between coolness of tech name and effect of tech. I mean, telepathy, giving a +10% combat bonus? Seriously? No major social changes, no ability to figure out why my longtime friends are declaring war on me, just a negligible change to combat?
5a. I'm also really unclear on a WHY some of these things are techs at all. How did we end up coming to this planet without having working plans for a vehicle? Or a nuke for that matter... It's not like we crash landed and had to rebuild from scratch. This was apparently a well funded, well planned, mission that should have had a pretty good grasp of where it was headed. Also, where are our factions in all of this? Shouldn't we be seeing periodic visits from earth? What's the explanation for our lack of satellite coverage of the whole of pandora? The intro shows some pretty serious colony ships coming down, no one thought to leave up a map sat?