It’s the classic B-movie image. Alien ship crash lands on Earth. Farmer comes out with his dungarees and shotgun. There’s a tense moment, where the fate of both species seems suddenly on a knife edge – terrified by the extraterrestrial’s sci-fi get up, will the Earthling shoot, and thrust everyone into war, or will the two lifeforms somehow get along? First Contact, the new Stellaris DLC set to hit the Steam strategy game next month, throws you headlong into this dilemma. With new origin stories, interactions, and a tasty slice of unexpected tech, either you’ll win the hearts of less-advanced societies, or terrify them into violent panic.
First Contact is focused on your exploration and interactions with pre-FTL civilizations. First off, there are three new player origins. With ‘Broken Shackles,’ you didn’t choose to become a galactic explorer – you were captured by aliens, and dragged out into the stars against your will.
‘Payback’ casts you as the survivor of a planetary conquest, a grizzled resistance fighter who helped repel an alien invasion of your homeworld, before venturing out into the big black yourself. Finally there’s ‘Fear of the Dark,’ a highly mysterious character backstory where you’re frantically superstitious about… something hidden in the galactic depths. One way or another, the new origins will shape your Stellaris game – but that’s not all.
Now, when you encounter pre-FTL societies, you have a whole-new range of possible interactions. Depending on their level of technology and how aware they are of your existence, it’s up to you to either calm these worlds down and make them allies, or petrify them with your advanced tech, and send their civilization into disarray. You’re the alien. They’re the long john-wearing farmer. Tread carefully.
Thankfully, there’s a new, techy ace up your sleeves, courtesy of a surprise gadget that makes your ships invisible. Yep, cloaking devices have made it to Stellaris, meaning you can observe your nervous pre-FTL neighbours via invisible observation posts before making contact. Naturally, though, it works in reverse – you’ll want sensors and scanners running at full capacity, because your enemies can cloak, too.
First Contact launches for Stellaris on March 14, but you can already pre-order the strategy game’s DLC over on Steam. It will release alongside the next Stellaris update, ‘Canis Minor,’ or, to give it its technical and less-colourful name, update 3.7.