Stellaris Review – Dance Among The Stars

Stellaris Review

I originally wanted to make a review for Stellaris before the Apocalypse update on the 22nd of February. Seeing that there will be major changes made to the game due to the upcoming update, I’ve decided to make the review after the new update. As this is a review, I won’t be making a comparison between the old and the current version of the game.

Personally, I’m interested in the new update due to the changes it makes to the game and also because of its trailer, which can found here. After clocking in a few more hours to see the new changes, I’m ready to write this review for you to read.

Stellaris is a 4X game – Xplore, Xpand, Xploit, Xterminate – that is set in space. The universe is your stage and in its vast expanse, you are not alone. There’s a lot of species for you to select such as humanoids, mammalians, and plantoids just to name a few, but this doesn’t affect your gameplay in any way at all. You’re given a wide option of 10 preset empires to select at the start. Should you wish to make an empire of your own liking from scratch, you can do so too.

The options given to you to customize your empire is massive, but the critical aspect of this is the selection of your governing body, civics, policy, and preferred habitats. Though most of it can change during the course of the game with the appropriate research, it does provide an edge to your game and affect your play style. Having a xenophobe as a trait, one can expect to be hated by all the other races in the world, making diplomacy a less viable option due to the low chance of succeeding. Other aspects of the customization such as naming your race, selecting your flag and setting up your own lore (optional), is nothing more than to give a little flavour to your personally created empire.

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Stellaris | Paradox Development Studio

With your newly created empire or preset empire that you choose, you’re ready to claim a stake in the universe. There are hundreds of star systems to survey and doing so will show if there’s any mineable resource or habitable planet within that system with a slight chance to trigger an anomaly. Anomalies are a random event that either triggers a random quest or a boost of mineable resource in that system. Rewards from the quest vary from providing a boost in research to a flat payout of resources of credits or minerals.

Credits are used to pay the maintenance fee of your buildings and fleets, whereas minerals are used to construct those buildings and fleets. To unlock better buildings and ship class, research is a must. Research is split into three types, science, society, and technology. Each has their own set of technology to research. Doing research is like playing a mini-game, You’re given 3 option to select which technology to research and you can only pick 1. Research can take months to complete and the more planets under your control the longer it will take. After completion, you may choose another one to research from the set of 3. You may see the same option from the previous selection or an entirely new one. Due to this random nature, there is no fixed choice of technology to select from the start of every game. With the help of certain research or government civic, the number of options to select for your research can increase from the initial 3.

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Stellaris | Paradox Development Studio

War is inevitable. As you expand your territory among the stars through colonization of habitable planets, the A.I are doing the same too. With lesser and lesser neutral star system to claim as time goes on, your border will clash with the other empire, causing an unavoidable friction between the two. This is especially worst if your empire trait is a Xenophobe. HUMANITY IS NUMBER 1!!

And in that case gentlemen, it’s time for war.

Personal Opinion

For those who have played Endless Space and Sins of a Solar Empire, Stellaris is hybrid of the two.

On your first game, the user interface appears to be overwhelming with a lot of information to digest. There’s a robot attendant that serves as a tutorial guide. It will explain the purpose of every interface that you interact with and provide a simple quest to help you familiarise with it. As you played the game, you will subconsciously realize that interface is streamlined and the information you want is just a click away or two.

War is unavoidable in this game. Even if you have decided to play as a pacifist, the A.I empire will strike you down given the opportunity to do so or if your allied empire is under attack, you will be dragged into the mess of it. Before that may happen, it’s best to be prepared for war.

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Stellaris | Paradox Development Studio

Ships are highly customizable and you can create as many different templates as you like. You may design one that is solely outfitted with kinetic based weapons and another with only laser-based weapons or a mixed of both. The type and tiers of weapon you gain access to are dependent on how technologically advance your empire is. Although you may share research with other empires, boosting each other research rate, you may not take any technology which they have already research.

You may speed up or slow the rate of time flow in the game or paused it entirely. This is helpful at the start of the game as it tends to be a little bit slow and during the mid-game, things pick up pretty fast. Combat is relatively straightforward, your fleet of ships engage with the enemy fleet of ships in a massive shootout festival. Upon the complete destruction of the enemy fleet, their wreckage can be used to help boost your research slightly and may gain access to technology which you have not discovered yet. Seeing that you’re able to customize your ships, different empire have different ships loadout. Resulting in you having to send in a fleet that’s the best counter to their fleet or retrofit your existing fleet to better challenge the enemy fleet.

Playing as a diplomatic empire is a challenge as the A.I generally would not listen to the voice of an empire that’s weaker than them and would rather attack you instead if their chance of success is 100% guaranteed. And when you are stronger than them, they will willingly wag their tails to be under the umbrella of a stronger empire. Because of that, there are instances where your allied empire would declare war with another empire even if the other empire is stronger than the both of you. ( = . = )

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Stellaris | Paradox Development Studio

The music of the game is a nice accompaniment to the game. It gives off the frontier vibe as you explore into the unknown and it changes to what feels to be a righteous war-beat as you liberate worlds and spread your ideals and way of life to the other empires.

Conclusion

It’s a great space 4X game and though it appears overwhelming at first, it’s actually easy to play. Despite its simplicity, it’s a different beast entirely when it comes to master the universe.


Platform: Pc (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X)
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Rating: Great (83 out of 100)
Hours Played: 53hrs


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