Review: Stellaris

Along time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there wasn’t a clash between the dark side and the light side. Oh no, what existed was the fledgling Tibrim race struggling to form a new galactic imperium in a vast universe.The Tibrim are a feline-like nomadic people, travelling from planet to planet in order to acquire resources. They worship the suns and stars as their deities due to there life bringing and life taking abilities. Though they still practice slavery in order to sustain themselves, they are capable warriors and brilliant engineers so are far from a primitive people.

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The noble Tibrim Hegemony as shown in the race creation screen.

Stellaris is the latest offering from Paradox Interactive (publishers of Cities: Skylines). It is part of the grand strategy genre that Paradox is well known for. Having played previous titles in this genre (Europa Universalis IV, Victoria II and Crusader Kings II) it is safe to say that Stellaris is the most new player friendly making it very accessible if you have never played a grand strategy game before. While the game does offer some preset species to start with, the true charm is the ability to make your own species. Pretty much everything is open to customization, from your leader’s traits to the simple matter of how your ships travel through the universe. There are three ways to travel, the easiest is Warp Travel which allows you to jump from system to system freely but is the slowest. Hyperspace is faster but you can only travel using hyper lanes and the last one is wormholes which is the fastest but obviously requires wormhole gates for your ships to move around.

I had the Tibirm race starting in the Tibrim system with a home planet of Tiberium (not exactly a healthy name if you know your strategy games). The first thing I had to do was to stabilize the economy of Energy Credits and Minerals by placing structures on the planets surface and having populations to run them. I also built mining stations in Tibrim and neighboring systems. To be able to harvest resources and colonize planets you must use your science ships to survey systems. It was on one of these survey missions that Captain J’zargo of the science ship Moonsugar discovered the first alien contacts of my game. J’zargo managed to flee the confrontation with the so called Beta Aliens, though that made me realize the need to create the Open Circle Fleet. This grand fleet would protect the emerging Tibrim Empire from all threats internal and external.

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Just one of the many space armadas I have witnessed. Fleets can be huge if empires are not kept in check.

As mentioned earlier, everything in Stellaris is open to customization including the ships. Everything from armor, power Generators, shields, engines and more can be upgraded through tech research in the fields of Society, Physics and Engineering. The Tibrim started off with mass drivers (other options include lasers and nuclear missiles) so to begin with the Khajiit Class and Elsweyr Class corvettes were a little underwhelming at range though were able to combat the Beta Aliens under the leadership of Admiral Maiq. This opened up the possibility of colonizing a planet in the now secure Lando system  (and no I didn’t name that one.) Swiftly a colonization ship was built (after a long time waiting for research) and the settlement of Sanctuary was founded on one of the desert planets, though I discovered that my colonists weren’t alone on that planet. A primitive bird like species was also living next to my colonists. Now the Tibrim are a Xenophobic people and enjoy the luxury of having slaves, so of course I let the colonists enslave them! Things were calm for the next few years as the Tibrim researched new technologies, improving the economy, upgraded the fleet to include Emancipator Class destroyers as well as exploring the galaxy and meeting other lesser nations. Then disaster! An asteroid was sighted hurtling toward Sanctuary, I had a limited time period to prevent it from impacting the planet. The Open Circle Fleet poured all power into their warp drives to reach the colony. They barraged the asteroid but yet it slammed into Sanctuary. The settlement survived but had no power or food production at all. It seems all is lost, but maybe just maybe I can recover it.

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Just one of the many space armadas I have witnessed. Fleets can be huge if empires are not kept in check.

That is where I stand in my current game, though I’ve been warned to be on the look out for end-game event such as robot uprising (Yes Skynet can happen people) or an extra galactic invasion. I’ve also yet to discover a Fallen Empire, which I’m eager to do because they sometimes own ring worlds. I’m not going to sugar coat things and say this game is perfect. The early game is full of action as you establish your empire, gather resources and try to prevent those mushroom people from coming to murder you. The Mid to Late game can be rather slow with long periods of little action as you try to take other empires without making enemies who could crush you. You’ll end up researching everything and having a good economy while wondering what on earth do you do now. I’m sure future updates and free content will fix this as is common with other Paradox titles.

The game is also designed to support mods so I’m waiting for a full Star Wars conversion. For now a Warhammer 40K mod is in the works and I’m hearing rumors of a Mass Effect mod. Paradox has been highly supportive of modders in their past games so I can see this game having a long lifespan. Paradox has also stated that there will be plenty of DLC in the future which I thoroughly look forward to seeing. Now if no one has any objections, I have a settlement to rebuild and a galaxy conquer. For Kharjo!

Rating 9/10

Available at: Steam, Website

Price: £ 29.99, $39.99

Minimum:

  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Processor: AMD Athlon II X4 640 @ 3.0 Ghz / or Intel Core 2 Quad 9400 @ 2.66 Ghz
  • Graphics: AMD HD 5770 / or Nvidia GTX 460, with 1024MB VRAM.
  • OS: Windows 7 x86 or newer
  • Internet: Broadband Internet connection 
  • Hard Drive: 4GB free Hard disc space

Recommended:

    • Memory: 4GB RAM 
    • Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 850 @ 3.3 Ghz or Intel i3 2100 @ 3.1 Ghz
    • Graphics: AMD HD 6850 / or Nvidia GTX 560TI, with 1024MB VRAM
    • OS: Windows 7 x64 or newer
    • Internet: Broadband Internet connection 
    • Hard Drive: 4GB free Hard disc space

 

 

 

 

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