Paradox Interactive’s newest is Stellaris a 4X grand strategy space game. As a newly space faring race you explore and conquer the deep and complicated system that is this game. This game was developed and published by Paradox and it is available for $39.99 (€35.35) on Steam.
There is actually no story except for the one that you create with your race. The journey as your race travels the galaxy and explores new races and planets. Whether you are a warmonger, scientist, or a diplomatic race. These bring the game to life. Along with you can make your own race right out of the gate without screwing yourself over as with some other custom race available games.
First off is the customization of races is quite excellent since I straight up made a race before I had even actually started a game. Then I went into a game with a preset race just to get used to the game and the basics of the game. You could say it is not needed as the game gives you a very good tutorial bot that will give you quest and teach you the basics. If you played a paradox or a 4X before, you kind of don’t need him but it’s good to find out what all buttons do.
Mechanics that makes this game different is the time system it uses. Unlike other games it uses as a clock for the players. This clock influences everything, even the age of your leaders. A day in game is a second, a month is about 30 seconds, and year is six minutes. Most things are calculated in months, but you don’t have to wait that long since you can always speed the game up to 3x. I recommend using 2x but even then I am not happy since most AI will gain the upper hand on me. You will also need to keep track of three resources Energy Credits, Minerals, and Influence as you will earn them each month.
Energy credits are your money in this game it is literally used for almost everything. You use it to clear areas on the planet, pay for maintenance of all building and space stations, and as a fee for a fleet. This would not be a problem except there is almost no way of obtaining energy except for building buildings on your planets. This alone with some space stations, gives energy if you find the resource, which is not that common compared to minerals.
Minerals are the essential building cost for buildings, space stations, clearing areas, and ships. They are also used for maintenance of fleets, but you aren’t really taxed that much for it. Even at the beginning you use about 55 minerals and more to build anything. The price just increases as you research more.
Now Influence is that resource that in concept should be the least used resource as it is barely used for anything. Since there is a 5-planet cap on on the number of planets you can have, your Influence move very slowly as there is no real way to increase the influence other than colonizing planets and getting frontier outposts. This will be more explained when I talk about the victory methods. Otherwise, you use Influence to hire new leaders, make frontier outpost, give orders, influence your races governments, and build some special buildings. So it makes sense that this resource is the one resource that can’t be produced other than using special buildings or research.
The research of the game is different compared to the most games as it allows you to research three different technologies. There is one catch this research has to be from either Physics, Society, and Engineering. For each of these to progress you need three science leaders to keep them going. Otherwise you will get stuck as the game takes too long to research something. At the beginning, a research takes about 4 years or so of in-game time. As you progress should take less time, right? Wrong! in this game unless you focus all of your resources into research it will take you still 14 months of in-game time to finish it. This is about eight hours of real-life time.
This is not to say that you can get screwed over by the research anyways. It is randomized but not enough to keep the things balanced. In one of my playthrough, I couldn’t get the research for a colony ship until I completed five or six researches. Now compare it to my other playthrough. There, I got it after the second try. This is because there is a set research tree for each field which is never available to you, so, you can’t find that crucial research you need. While another race can have a research 3rd try, while it takes your race 5th try.
Also, any special research will require one of your main research branches to stop all research and focus on the specialized research. This does not include your research vessel with another leader having to be there for the research to happen most of the time. So, those two science leaders are useless and pause the research that takes forever to be completed.
Leaders are crucial to your empire at least the scientist are, but these are a resource that you have to spend 50 influence to replace them when they die. As I have been stating time is a big deal in this game so your leaders age and die around 80 years of age. Which doesn’t happen much, but when it does you have to get a level 1 leader to use again. For research you would need at least four. Three to keep the research going and one to actually go and survey the planets in the science vessel. Which is highly ridiculous as the science vessel is completely useless without the science leader in it. If you don’t want to use a science vessel, well, you have no way of finding new resources or even new planets to be colonized.
Now the victory methods which are fairly simple considering there are only two. The first one is rather simple and all games have it conquer all of the other races. Second controlling 40% of the galaxy which is up most a drastically long or impossible task. The reason is as there is a colonize planet limit of 5. which will not progress your 40% capture even close to even being 10%. Don’t worry though there is a research that increases your planet cap, but when you can get it are on the unknown side since I am trusting the game on this as after my time I played I did not get a chance to even research something like this. I can’t even figure out if I was just unlucky or if I research the wrong thing. In any case I spent most of the time trying to get more minerals to build stations and buildings, while I try to keep my energy credits positive for the game. If you go over the planet limit it penalizes you not 10% of your overall energy income but of every individual place making it. This game is not afraid of going into decimals, but this hurts you a lot more than help as energy is a very valuable resource.
While not paying any care to my influence which isn’t a big deal at the beginning, but later on oh do they count. As each frontier outpost cost 200 influence and then take what little influence income away from you. So if you happen to forget a frontier outpost that ends up in your controlled area then you have little or no influence coming in. Influence is said to be able to increase it with research, which I got mine to a total of 5, but with building too. I again did not get the research for this buildings to gain this increase to influence. Let’s just say also you would rather spend that influence on replacing you dying off leaders and buildings that allow increase output of resources and science. So the chance of obtaining it is long.
For the first victory conquer the other races is so simple it hurts. As the AI are completely stupid as you invade them they will hardly defend, except to defend against your initial fleet. After that, they will just bugger off and not come back or even try to defend again. So when declaring a war, you get a screen asking what your goals are for this war one of the options are subjugated the other race. Pretty much make them your vassals. Which you just need to conquer one or two planets and the AI will give into your demands. When you have 5 planets and earning enough material and energy to not care what you make then it is so easy to conquer a planet.
Diplomacy is very like Civilization’s diplomacy screen or any other games, except for that the game will actually tell you whether a trade agreement is good or they will accept being allies or not.
It is a classic keyboard and mouse game with hotkeys to make things easier. You can though play this game with just a mouse, but with one complaint of this that you can not go to the Galaxy map by the scroll wheel. Otherwise the controls are responsive, except for sometimes the ship or fleet will deselect or not do what you say when you are going from system to system.
The graphic options of the game are little underwhelming with the only feature to change the resolution, display mode, refresh rate, and multisample level. Otherwise the art cards are beautiful and the in-game graphics run smoothly without any problems. The graphics are not taken down for the ships even with a mass of them are fighting each other. It is a shame there is no way to follow one ship around as it fights the other fleet. As this will cause for some beuatiful capture of the ship combat.
To be honest the music is nice, but gets very repetitive as games can go on for 10 or so hours. After about 4 hours of listening to it, I turned on my own music and played the game. You may want to keep the in-game music going as it is a soothing mood. There are audio in-game sliders for music, effect, ambient, advisory, and master volume.
Stellaris is a game with some faults, like the research system and the AI being non-aggressive. But I will play it again as the reason because I can create a new story with new experience. With mods coming to the game this allows for my problems and other peoples problems to be fix in due time. There is a mod already out to fix the non-aggressive AI. The mods along with a already good gameplay Stellaris is a very good buy from the Steam store.