Wen Paradox first announced Stellaris last year, I found myself asking if, in an already crowded category, we really needed another space strategy game. Now, after spending more than a week with the final product I have my answer.
No, we don’t need another space strategy game. Not now, at least. What we need is a slightly better Stellaris.
It’s a fantastic platform, a capable, flexible sandbox that’s customizable inside and out. But as technically competent as it is, some of its key systems are frustratingly incomplete, and the game is lacking in personality.
Stellaris is a grand strategy title from the leading developer in the genre. Set in a single, two-dimensional galaxy that’s randomly generated at the beginning of every game, it pits players against a dozen or more AI-controlled factions. The presentation of the three-dimensional objects on the map is gorgeous, with a great variety of gem-like worlds worlds that you can observe from every angle. After a few post-release hotfixes, I’m happy to say that Stellaris runs smoothly at high settings on my mid-tier Windows PC. In fact, it’s one of the most elegant and attractive strategy games I’ve ever played.
Unlike other Paradox titles, Stellaris is a 4x game, which stands for explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. Players begin on a single planet and are tasked with discovering and conquering the entire galaxy. It’s a pausable, real-time strategy game where campaigns often run past 80 hours in length.