Stellaris: If there is heaven in the world, then this is the edge of sector U-0023323 in the third arm of the spiral galaxy M-86. Don’t you think so? If not, then it’s time to terraform: instead of tequila beaches, there will be ice mountains for the Intergalactic Winter Olympics, or an arid desert for off-road wilderness racing. Don’t like this too? No one bothers to flood the entire planet and open the fishing season. Who says that in space strategies there should be nothing but war? War is just a process, not the only way in the world to have fun, and Stellaris understands this very well.
Entertainment will begin even before the actual journey into space. The editor of your own space race will make you a little confused in a good choice of possibilities. Should I play as a giant intelligent marten? Or let parrots in space suits be your main race. Or shellfish. Or giant carnivorous fly agarics! There are many options, from appearance and symbolism to psychology and politics. Some of the selected parameters will remain with you until the very end, and the rest can be changed within the game itself, since no one has canceled gene experiments on their own race, as well as the change of political disciplines with national doctrines. In addition, sooner or later, migration will make your empire multi-racial – there will be strangers who will also fight to be respected, and intelligent robots who will rise up,
But back to the beginning of the game. As with many 4X space strategy games, you have to conquer a galaxy of your choice of size, and a random number generator will fill it with stars, planets, resources, events and other civilizations. Not all rivals will be space travelers: some races live on their planets in the dark Middle Ages, not even dreaming of conquering space. It is in your power to bring them out of this state and forcibly shove them into the intergalactic community, but this is still not worth doing. Space is a dangerous thing with planets rich in resources. Why do you need competitors or extra mouths on the way to conquer it? You will probably have nothing to feed your own, therefore, in the later stages of development, it is better to populate the planets with intelligent androids – this is 95% more economical than Apple’s cyborgs, and most importantly, it is allowed by the galactic president.
However, you should not roll your lip too much, because Stellaris limits expansion with all its might. Not only are there not many places in the galaxy for your colonies, but the number of planets under the direct control of the player is initially limited to five (after research, there are more of them, but you still have to live before that). In order to expand influence and populate more planets, the player will have to become a planetary senator, well, if you want, emperor. Assign a governor to any planet (except the starting one) and give him control over part of the captured star systems, breaking the galaxy into sectors. The governor himself will decide what to build on the inhabited planets and what resources to extract, and you will only have to download taxes from him.
But do not be afraid: the lack of direct control does not eliminate many other cases and problems. The construction of mining space stations, the creation of a space fleet, the recruitment of fighters, diplomacy, trade, science … In general, everything is as it should be. Keep in mind that all things will have to be dealt with fairly quickly, because Stellaris is not Galactic Civilizations, everything here happens in real time. And there is no advanced spaceship customization, for that matter. But you can form your own army from anyone: mercenaries, robots, clones … Or you can send an army of xenomorphs behind enemy lines and get popcorn.
Ideally, every army needs a general, every starfleet needs an admiral, every research ship needs a scientist, and planetary and sectoral governors should not be forgotten. Only now the number of these “important” people is strictly limited, so you have to sacrifice something or someone. For example, in order to quickly explore the galaxy, you need as many ships of scientists as possible, but these same scientists are also needed to develop technologies in three industries at once, one smart guy for each. This means that for the sake of a quick transition to the conquest of stellar systems, you will have to abandon the development of a couple of areas, put the specialists employed by them on spaceships and send them to look for new civilizations, resources and anomalies. Without the geniuses on board, a powerful space research vessel is more like a piece of metal with a warp drive.
When the galaxy is mastered, the neighbors are found and, it would seem, the universe itself is explored, the game does not end at all. The most interesting thing begins – the choice of the path to victory. Both peaceful and military approaches here are incredibly complex. Many of your competitors appeared on the map long before you, they already have influence and armies and are called fallen empires – they are very strong, very conservative and strongly reject expansion. Young empires are also not a gift: they are trying with all their might to get rid of competitors and constantly crush the player either with their migrants or with the army. It will not be possible to cope with banal pressure with both those and other rivals, because the extinct ones are too strong to take them on the fly, and the young ones are too arrogant not to respond to your every aggressive action. In addition, internal strife cannot be ruled out. various parties, nations and minorities will accumulate their influence, acquire an ideology different from the Party line, and soon you will be mired in civil strife and fragmentation of your large empire into independent galactic states. You can avoid this, limit the freedom of will, thought and action, organize total propaganda, but then your empire will develop at the speed of a space snail that hit its head and forgot how to move.
But that’s something else. Do you think that the inhabitants of the world of Stellaris have little reason to induce them to hate the player? The races launched by you in the space age will hate you for the fact that you “pressed” on them, pushing them into a brighter future. Friends will start hating if they befriend your enemies. Do you want to complete a quest that forces you to fly into the territory of another galactic state? You will have to declare yourself his “rival” and prepare for hatred in return. You will be hated simply because your army and influence is bigger, longer and more uncircumcised. They will also try to impose a war. Logics? No, there is no logic, just as there is no balance in the armament of military equipment, where several small ships with outdated rocket guns easily destroy several destroyers and battleships with beam weapons and a hull covered with regenerating skin. How so? But like this.
The authors are in no hurry to correct this balance and are only adding content to Stellaris: new political decrees, research, customization options, random events in space and related tasks (often quite funny). Without balance, it’s hard here, but war is far from the only element of this game, and therefore most of the time you won’t have to fire the developers for what the light is worth. There will be some time.