The FFA relations system went through a stage where the AI would all team up against the player fairly quickly, to the Diplomacy stage where they would never ally and now we have this update where to me it seems that the surviving AI will ally together after some time depending on the difficulty. This seems preferable to the first two, but it is scarcely sophisticated enough to justify an entire expansion.
I doubt that the player has the ability to split the AI once allied. The modifer for combat actions is too small, even if the AI will accept missions against their own allies. Also, once the AI achieve ceasefire you get to a take-off point where they add in envoys and trade, and if I am right it would be impossible for the combat modifier to shift this back below cease fire level. Further, one of the genuine improvements that has been made in this patch is that the AI seems far quicker to get to the general research upgrades, from the limited testing I have done. This is also a factor in their eventual and inevitable alliance, the research bonuses are just so much more significant than any combat events.
With the research and AI bonuses the AI are far more competitive in the Diplomatic Victory stakes, which just makes it rather more evident how empty the entire Diplomatic Victory condition is. You get points from factions that hate you, and if they hate you less than your rivals, you can end up winning on that basis. No other game will ever use this system. It is silly, it should be ditched.
What you would need to split up the AI might be sufficient weight attached to combat and diplomatic actions, and also to adjacency. There should also be penalties for the fleet and economic #1 and #2 spots. What the update seems to have done is to minimise these factors so that they don't get in the way of the first cease fires, which are achieved with sufficient research and AI bonus. However, once minimised they cannot then affect the game as it progresses. It might be an idea to scale these factors along with the AI bonus, that might help considerably.
If the relations system takes game events like adjacency, strength and combat as its most significant elements, then it will be more sensitive. If it relies more on the progression of research and the additions to the AI bonus then it will be more a matter of time than actions.
I haven't tested this update enough to be able to come to final conclusions, these are my impressions. However I doubt that the small update team have had much opportunity to playtest either. I know what I saw on the playtest I ran, the factions being eliminated were giving positive points to everyone in terms of Diplomatic Victory and the determining factor in their survival was going to be whether research and AI bonus factors became large enough before they were defeated. To make it clear, even though these factions were on the brink of being eliminated, military actions were not a significant element in their diplomatic relations. That is just wrong.
One major problem is that there have been few indications of how the relations system is supposed to function, so it is difficult to help to debug. I'd particularly like more detail on adjacency and combat. For example, how is adjacency measured, is it updated during the game? Also which of the relations modifiers degrade over time? I know that the effect of credit donations degrades, but do any others? Is this 'HUMAN' feature on the relations details screen meant to be there- wouldn't 'DEFEATED' serve the purpose better? HUMAN made me wonder if it was referring to the Humane Society...