Stellaris Review

How good is the Stellaris story?

60
Droniac (after 3 days 10 hours play time)

311 days ago

Stellaris is primarily about the stories you create. You colonize new worlds, discover anomalies and precursor races, forge alliances and federations, or fight wars with vast alien empires.

Within that framework there are a lot of small stories. Every anomaly you find can be scanned to uncover a little story and some sort of bonus. There are races of aliens living in space that can be friendly or hostile, depending on luck and your choices. There's a precursor race that can be investigated. There are worlds with some of the strangest modifiers and stories behind those. There are ancient Fallen Empires with vast warfleets protecting worlds of unimaginable splendor and strange ideologies.

Stellaris' story is primarily about discovery and player agency. If that sounds like your thing, then it's very good indeed.

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

Asking how good the story for Stellaris is, wouldn't really do it justice if I just said "Awesome." Because there is so much nuance to the lore in Stellaris that you can't just say it has one basic story. From little missions, to the faction you create, there are many different stories happening here. Aside from everything else that I love about Stellaris, this is in my top reasons for giving it such a high rating. Because even when things are going slow in development (during a game), there's almost always something interesting or surprising to read.

167
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

225 days ago

Stellaris is about emergent rather than proscriptive storytelling. From the fates of individual characters, to galaxy shaking cataclysms, each time you play the narrative develops uniquely and organically. Sure, there are certain key events (associated with the end game) that are recurrent in each play through, but even these shake out differently each time. By the time you're finished, you'll be regaling friends and family about the time you brought the mighty Whalartian Collective to heel with naught but three battleships and a clutch of Corvettes... just prepare yourself for one or two funny looks

3
Glothrenite (after 11 days 7 hours play time)

149 days ago

The story 'pieces' are compelling enough that I am interested in them, good enough that I feel like the game could use more of them.

2
Ulli (after 1 day play time)

318 days ago

There is no story behind. You have to build an stable and powerful empire. Make war and peace and later you have to push back an invasion... thats it.

24
Malentor (after 14 days 17 hours play time)

308 days ago

Currently, the game feels solid, but it has a lot of unfinished aspects such as the diplomacy and the war goal system. The sector management AI is abysmal, but improvements have been promised, and with Paradox's previous track record, I am positive they will manage to get these things fixed eventually. For now, you'd be better off sticking with one of their previous titles, if the grand strategy part is what you enjoy more than the 4x part.

31
bshanZz (after 1 day 16 hours play time)

307 days ago

Its not the focus of the game, and there isnt really a main story, just multiple chains of events that you have to react to. It's all dynamic and very well done

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

I love the free, gameplay focused storytelling. If you like the way games like FTL tell its story, you'll love this.

UntrustedLife (after 9 days 6 hours play time)

28 days ago

Its great, it generate sits own story

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

No real story to speak of, just "random" events... by which I mean the same 5 events every game.

Armoured Bard i5 (after 16 hours play time)

225 days ago

I got lost in the world of Stellaris. Where do we come from? Why are we here? What do we want to achieve? After 5 long exploratory hours I came to an answer... I am the destroyer of worlds, the darkness in the night, devouring civilizations in the quest to find the answer to a question I don't know.

While the combat is limited, the pure depth of this game is unfathomable. You WILL create a story that fits the civilization you create, and if you take the game at a slow and steady pace like a great John Scalzi novel you will love every minute of your time here. Convert civilizations to your cause, manipulate the universe to your bidding and truly explore the vastness of space with all of it's consequences.

If you want something a little more fast paced and nuclear stick with Civ5 but if you want to jump into a true Sci-fi novel try this out, it's worth it.

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How much freedom does Stellaris give you?

2
Ulli (after 1 day play time)

318 days ago

It's an 4X game so you have a lot of opportunies. Want to be bad or good? Hegemonial or submissive? Mongering War or be a peace keeping force.

60
Droniac (after 3 days 10 hours play time)

311 days ago

More than you would expect from a 4X space strategy game. Normally those games tend to come down to economies and conflict, but in Stellaris diplomacy is a very valid option due to the Federation mechanic. And there are many ways to differentiate your empires: leader traits, racial traits, empire policies, ideologies, buildings on planets, upgrades in spaceports, etc.

As a result when you start a new game with a new race it won't just look different, but it'll probably play very differently as well.

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

Seems to me the Devs have thought of damn near everything you could want to do.

167
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

225 days ago

The aim of the game in Stellaris is, as in most 4x games, to become the dominant power in the galaxy. However, you've got substantial freedom in how you go about doing it. You could, if you wished, spread across the stars like a galactic plague, striking down everything and everyone in your wake. Equally, you could rely upon diplomacy, climbing to the top on a ladder built of treaties and alliances. Those are just two examples, Stellaris has more than enough breadth to allow for any number of play styles.

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

I wouldn't say you have the freedom of a sandbox game, but you almost have the freedom of a sandbox game. It's 4X so some limitations are to be expected, but the amount of directions you can take, things you can do, strategies you can use and even in how you create your empire? It's pretty amazing.

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

Decent amount, but then again not as much as you might think.

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Does the setting of Stellaris feel original?

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

Not that original, but feels great and can truly be customized and modded to your liking.

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

It's not an entirely original setting, but there's also nothing wrong with space 4X games, especially since smaller studios don't always do them as polished as Stellaris is.

167
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

225 days ago

It doesn't... and that's no bad thing. Stellaris is a veritable catalogue of Sci-Fi tropes. While some might grumble that this leaves the game feeling a bit hackneyed, in reality it let's the player experience, first hand, many of the genre's defining scenarios and themes. This is made all the more enjoyable by the game's writing, which is straight out the top drawer.

2
Ulli (after 1 day play time)

318 days ago

It is like all the other 4x sci fi games... Did you ever play Master of Orion or Endless Space? Then you know the setting.

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

No, but solid

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How strategic does combat in Stellaris feel?

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

Not very strategic, but with all thats going on in this game thats probly a good thing, its visually exciting, and easy to tell what your odds of winning are before you jump into combat. Overall I like the combat, but its not the star of the show.

60
Droniac (after 3 days 10 hours play time)

311 days ago

Not very. Your ship design determines everything, so it's more like a pre-determined game of rock/paper/scissors. And if you have equivalent designs, then numbers win the day. There's no fine control over fleets, special abilities, or anything like that. But it does look pretty.

167
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

224 days ago

Fleet combat is one area of the game that needs serious sharpening. The only element of strategy is in deciding on optimal ship load-outs. However, even this goes out the window in the late game when certain, massively overpowered weapons become available.

Fortunately, the developers are aware of this issue and are working on a complete overhaul of the game's combat mechanics (due in October 2016).

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

It feels as though how you build your ships, how you command your fleet and what combat types you use ultimately determine the power of your military. I've seen more strategy involved in both RTS and 4X games, but for me Stellaris has that sweet spot where you don't have to really overthink things when you're in the heat of battle.

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

Just one blob vs another blob. There's a little bit of strategy in weapon types, but late game it all boils down to Tachyons.

3
Glothrenite (after 11 days 7 hours play time)

149 days ago

I don't agree with people saying its not strategic. I do understand why people say this. Yes you can simple tank rush beat your opponent with superior forces, easy mode. But with the use of well thought out engagements, retreats and specifically tailored weaponry you can overcome much greater power values in direct combat.

garginator (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

242 days ago

Not very strategic at all. It mostly boils down to one blob of ships taking out a smaller blob of ships.

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How complex is Stellaris to learn?

60
Droniac (after 3 days 10 hours play time)

311 days ago

It's a little below average for a 4X space strategy game. Something like Sins of a Solar Empire or Sword of the Stars is more difficult to pick up. And if you already have experience with either of those games, or Endless Space, then Stellaris will be a breeze.

Stellaris is much easier to pick up and play than any other Paradox grand strategy game. Yet as a 4X real-time strategy game it's by its very nature going to be more complex at first glance than your ordinary real-time strategy experience, such as Homeworld, Command & Conquer, StarCraft, etc.

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

Not complex to learn at all. If you jump into a game (and I recommend doing so with a friend in multiplayer), you'll likely have the hang of things within an hour. But there is always more to learn.

2
Ulli (after 1 day play time)

318 days ago

Much. The first 10 hrs you will make every failure possible. After next 10 hrs you know how to handle all the imponderabilities.

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

Complex it is, but very easy to get into and learn while you playing, in fact probly the easiest of its genre to get into.

167
Silentius (after 1 day 6 hours play time)

223 days ago

Paradox's otherwise excellent titles are renowned for their awkward learning curves. It took me weeks of play, much of it spent metaphorically banging my head against a castle wall, to understand Crusader Kings well enough to fully appreciate it. With Stellaris, by contrast, the Swedish developers have made a real effort to be as accessible as possible. Early game, pop-up tutorials explain most of what you need to know to build and manage your empire. Note that I say 'most'. Certain areas, notably ship construction and diplomacy, remain relatively arcane until you've run through a bit of trial and error (or have turned to Google).

Overall, if you're looking for an 'easy in' to Paradox's particular breed of grand strategy, then Stellaris is the game for you.

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

Somewhat. You really need to sink a lot of time into it to get a handle on it's systems, it's not very well signposted or tutorialed.

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How open is Stellaris to explore?

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

It depends on how large of a galaxy you start with. You can toggle it all the way up to 1000 star systems, and you can colonize all of it if you can get that far. I've done up to an 8 hour game so far and only made up about a quarter of a medium sized galaxy. Suffice to say, there's a lot to dominate.

167
Silentius (after 1 day 6 hours play time)

223 days ago

Early game Stellaris is a joy to explore. Encountering a wild variety of cosmic phenomena as you 'boldy go'; Paradox have really captured the space pioneer vibe of shows like Star Trek. Unfortunately, the focus on exploration sort of dries up during the mid game. By this point you'll be bordered on all sides by competing, often aggressive, empires, and discovering 'strange new worlds' naturally gives way to interstellar warfare and intergalactic politics (an entirely different species of fun).

Again, this mid game shift in emphasis is something the developers are looking to remedy with their October 16 update. They've stated that they're going to permit automated exploration after a certain point; meaning that your voyage of discovery need not end when the serious stuff begins.

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

Depends on what FTL method you choose! But essentially, there is literally a while galaxy to explore.

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

Even in the smallest of galaxies, there plenty of exploring to be had.

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How realistic is Stellaris?

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

Sort of? It's not hard sci-fi to be certain, but it tries to look at politics realistically.

167
Silentius (after 1 day 6 hours play time)

223 days ago

Stellaris is not realistic and nor should it be: it's pure escapism. That said, Paradox have done a good job of making the game's diplomacy and economics believable. Also, a semi-random tech-tree means that progress isn't the straight arrow often portrayed by other, similar games.

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

I'd say it's about as realistic as it can get with a space opera strategy game set in the far future. There are little bits of humor scattered throughout and some things that aren't entirely realistic, but it also doesn't really seem to care to try and be hard-scifi (which is fine, because you can get that in Elite Dangerous).

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

Well its Sci-Fi, but I feel the whole political and technological atmosphere feels pretty believable.

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How active is the Stellaris mod scene?

167
Silentius (after 1 day 6 hours play time)

223 days ago

Pretty active from what I can gather, though I haven't downloaded any yet.

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

Judging by the Steam workshop it's growing rapidly.

garginator (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

242 days ago

Now 2 months after release, the Steam workshop is chock full of mods. A lot of of them add say Mass Effect civilizations to the game which is cool. Some of them improve visuals and the UI to take better advantage of the screen space. Some of them tweak gameplay, such as one where your homeworld is always max size or one that makes sure each empire on the map starts out an equal distance away from each other. Overall, the mod community is active and updates mods frequently for each patch.

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Would you recommend any good Stellaris mods?

garginator (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

242 days ago

Beautiful battles and Max homeworld mods are recommended.

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

I would at least grab the added symbols and portrait packs.

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Have you bought anything in Stellaris? How happy were you with your purchase?

167
Silentius (after 1 day 6 hours play time)

223 days ago

I'm a sucker for DLC so I immediately bought the Plantoids species pack. Encountering a xenophobic, isolationist, shrub republic certainly adds flavor to the game, but it's purely cosmetic.

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

No, Paradox DLC is rediculous

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How fair is the free-to-play model in Stellaris?

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

It isn't.

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How good are the graphics in Stellaris?

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

For a game that is largely menu driven, I think the graphics and art are just fine.

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

Decent

167
Silentius (after 1 day 6 hours play time)

223 days ago

The graphics are functional, but pretty... which I suppose makes them pretty functional (Boom Boom).

31
bshanZz (after 1 day 16 hours play time)

307 days ago

They are ok. The view is quite large so there are no place for really small details, but the graphics get the job done, and the whole thing is really pretty

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

The graphics are decent. You can zoom in real close to a planet or a star and it looks relatively great, almost as if you were drifting by a star in Elite Dangerous or something of the likes. Although, of course, textures are scaled down in order to compensate for the immense amount of lag it would cause having everything at 2 and 4k textures. All-in-all they are totally fine.

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How good are the sounds in Stellaris?

31
bshanZz (after 1 day 16 hours play time)

307 days ago

The sounds are great, without being too much original.
The soundtrack, on the other hand, is a masterpiece.

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

The sound effects are top notch but I really have to give an applause for the music, which is reminiscent of Mass Effect and 2001 A Space Odyssey.

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

Decent sounds, great soundtrack. Too bad there's only 4 songs played on repeat.

167
Silentius (after 1 day 6 hours play time)

223 days ago

The game has a good range of generic 'spacey sounds': which is a bit of an oxymoron given that space is a vacuum... ... ... Seriously though, the sounds are good; the soundtrack is even better.

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

Music in this one is a real standout, great tracks that enhance the mood, and get stuck in my head.

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How does Stellaris run on your PC?

60
Droniac (after 3 days 10 hours play time)

311 days ago

It runs well in early to mid-game, particularly after the first few patches. The late-game, particularly in large galaxies, tends to get bogged down with random freezing or stuttering. And that's on a hexa-core i7 5820K at 4Ghz.

This appears to be a known bug / issue that Paradox is working on. Given the fact that they've resolved similar issues in Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4 in the past I expect they'll manage it for Stellaris as well.

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

My PC is a quad core, 2gig gpu with 8 gigs of ram and it runs flawlessly at around 60 FPS at all times.

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

Great. Flawless.

167
Silentius (after 1 day 6 hours play time)

223 days ago

So far, so good!

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How active is the multiplayer community for Stellaris?

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

Since it's such a new game, the multiplayer community is quite active, although I would personally only recommend playing with friends, as strangers can sort of mess up your fun if that's what they feel like doing.

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What do gamers think of Stellaris after many hours of playing

21
Jett_Blackk (after 21 hours play time)

270 days ago

Most overall enjoyable 4x/Grand Strategy game, I've ever played, I highly recommend it!

562
TsunamiWombat (after 1 day 9 hours play time)

235 days ago

I think I probably burned myself out on it in a weekend and ~ 20+ hours. Which is decent for a 30 dollar game.

167
Silentius (after 1 day 6 hours play time)

223 days ago

Endless Legend is still, in my view, king of the 4X castle, but Stellaris is a great game and I'm really enjoying it. Paradox are well known for their long term content roll outs, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the game develops.

Why do gamers keep coming back to Stellaris

32
Akeldama (after 3 days 2 hours play time)

305 days ago

My deep love for everything scifi and space involved, and my newfound appreciation for anything 4X and strategy.

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5 reviewers answered 7 questions