Stellaris Review

Stellaris was developed by Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interactive. Stellaris was released for Steam on Monday 9th May 2016. The price is £34.99/$39.99. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels.

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It was a groggy morning when I was on Steam browsing around for upcoming games to see if any of them caught my attention. I suddenly stumbled across this title ‘Stellaris’ which instantly grabbed me by the font of the text upon a very abstract image. Upon closer inspection my cravings and demands for a space exploration game suddenly peaked as soon as my eyes browsed the pictures and videos behind Stellaris.

I have never before been interested in tactical space games and this genre is new to me. Starting on a planet and then exploring space nurtures the fear of the unknown and the fear of not knowing what is next. I was very scared because I am new to the whole Space Genre and 4X game type. Before I knew it twenty hours had passed on this game. I’ll share my thoughts on both my likes and dislikes with you now.

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What I liked:

Guided hand – The tutorial on this game comes in three varieties Full tutorial, tips, and none. I am so grateful for the fact that this tutorial really does help and without it I would’ve still been left swimming with the fishes on Earth. It’s completely voiced over by an AI robot who is eager to help you with every menu click and move you make. Once you feel you know the ropes of the game you can happily turn him off in menu and he will disappear into the void.

Shoot me to space – The graphics of this game and the universe are indeed beautiful to look at. From the Sun in the center of the solar system to the swirling dust clouds on the surface of each planet, I want to be instantly shot into space to the beautiful colors that surround me. Some systems which you explore have Black Holes, Yellow Dwarfs and other vortexes which are really stunning to look at.

Lively Galaxy – With a Galaxy size ranging from 100 stars to 1000 stars and with up to 39 AI Empires, the whole galaxy really feels alive and the game suddenly becomes life with the amount of interaction and size. I have yet to scratch the surface of a 1000 star scenario and I’ve been playing for around 15 hours on that one save. The level of AI interaction is also staggering and adds tot he feeling of a living universe.

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Customization – The customization for each empire is crazy. From the character portraits to their traits, names, visions and planet names you can really have a heavily customised empire. You can also go and edit the preset empires to slightly change them too.

M and Ms – The magic m’s are definitely on this game. Multiplayer is a really really good experience. It plays very similar to single player, the only difference is that only the host can pause and move the time. A really great super feature is that you can also save games online and then come back to them later. The other magic M is mod support, the game has extensive support for mods and they said “every aspect of the game is moddable”.

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What I disliked:

Maybe just a week of playing – The fact time flies when playing this game means you will need a lot of spare time. This game requires a lot of time investment and could easily cost you your job or family. Okay… maybe not that bad… but it still does suck your life away.  I swear it was only an hour I played or at least it felt that. Before you know it your day has disappeared. The game has a special talent of taking away that time you have.

Easy? – There is no easy difficulty on the game. Just Normal and upwards. For newbies to the genre like me starting from normal is almost suicidal. Even with 20+ hours invested in the game I have not got to a point yet of seeing if I can actually take over the AI so I cannot comment so much on that but I believe they won’t be a push over. The several jousts me and the AI have had with the combat had ended in me losing mostly although it was not by much and pretty fair.

Settings and sliders – The settings in the game are pretty minimum and there are in fact no graphic settings. I would’ve loved to have options for low, medium, high and ultra but the game seems to have only one setting. The game still runs fine for me however but I believe people who have a lower specified computer will have more issues trying to play the game with no options of lowering quality for play-ability.

Campaign or Story Mode – I feel a story mode or scenarios which puts you into situations like being outnumbered or two massive Alliances with a back story fighting each other would’ve been really good. The game does have some story in the situation log however but I feel a more dedicated story mode would’ve been perfect for this game

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I came into Stellaris as a novice and was very scared of being unable to handle it. I was delighted however to be able to easily grasp the basics and progress to a point where I did not want to sleep and continue playing all night long. I played a single player game and a multiplayer game in the time I spent playing Stellaris and even though I spent a chunk of time playing the game I did not progress too much into a point of conquering enemies. In fact I only went to war with one of the thirty seven nations and only made contact with 8 in the whole time of me playing the single player game.

The game is real fun and addictive however, so much that I highly recommend it to all my friends, family and viewers. Paradox have really blown my mind with this game and how much I can get lost in the galaxy and far beyond. I would avoid this game however if you wanted to spare your life… but then again… go for it! It’s definitely worth experiencing and I highly recommend this game.

Score: Buy it now

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