More points of diversion from the OTU norms.
First is the alien presence. The OTU and its adventures always seemed to me to be very anthropocentric, with most NPC encountered in OTU adventures being Human and most cultures dominated by the cultures of one or another Human subspecies. While Humans are still the most common species in the new Alkonost setting, there is a sizable minority of Celirans on most worlds, and a few worlds even have a Celiran majority. Celiran culture and religion has also influenced many Human cultures (and Human culture and religion have influenced many Celiran cultures). Other aliens such as the felids (temporary title) and the Inheritors - as well as others (possibly?) - are also present, but are usually a much smaller minority.
The second is the attitude towards technology in the old days of the Consortium. The Alkonost ATU was somewhat less conservative towards technology than the OTU Imperium. Genetic engineering, cybernetics, terraformation, robotics and AIs were much more common than in the OTU. Of course, at the present time, after 35 years of Second Civil War and 150 years of Dark Night, most worlds have reverted to a much lower level of technology and are, generally speaking, incapable of doing much in these fields. But high-tech relics from the Consortium era, not to mention genetically-engineered subspecies (such as heavy-world Humans and aquatic Celirans), are still present.
The third is social UWP characteristic distribution during the Consortium era. Most worlds in the Alkonost Reach (Alkonost and Risar subsectors) were settled for two centuries before the Second Civil War. Therefore, most people choose the comfortable - or profitable - worlds to live on and avoided the hellholes; the economy was also well-developed, leading a a more uniform tech-level; and the Consortium had limits about which types of government and amounts of law enforcement would be tolerated. So most Terra Prime (i.e. SIZ 5-9, ATM 5, 6 or 8, HYD 4-8) Gardens had POP 8-A, most non-Terra-Prime Gardens had POP 7-9, most marginal worlds had POP 5-8 while most hellholes had population 7 or less (with Phai Lung being the main exception - a metal-rich ice-capped world with POP 9); almost all governments were GOV 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 or 9; almost all worlds had LAW 1-9; and almost all worlds had TL 8-15 (with TL 12 being the average and 16 being a rare science-station world).
Of course, now that the Second Civil War and the Dark Nighthave caused so much damage, death and chaos, things are A LOT more varied, with much more variance in population, technology, government and law and with TL 7, rather than TL 12, being the average.