What a political cluster fuck. Oh, sorry. What idiotic rabble. My game of Stellaris has evolved into federation talk. In case you haven’t heard of Stellaris, the Grand Strategy game by Paradox, I’ll give you the rundown. Stellaris starts you off as a species (or a couple of species) that just grasped the torch of space travel. It’s up to you, the player who represents the mind of the governing body, to guide your empire from nothingness to a galactic player. Building mining stations, research stations, upping your planets production, managing political strife (or purging those who don’t appeal to you), and most of all, lobbying and bribery. Unless you pay attention, you’ll miss each aspect of a healthy political system that is found here. It goes without saying, however, that your politicians WILL be hiring prostitutes and doing plenty of drugs. The game even gives them character traits saying so. That doesn’t interest you in the slightest? I’ll mention the massive galactic scale wars that go on through massive navies that you feel invested in. Not only do these campaigns require your full attention, admirals you hired yourself, ships you researched every part for, and planets you’ve been working on for what seems like ever, the enemy is doing the same. Orbital bombardment doesn’t quite feel the same without an invading army to accompany it. As a great man once said, “Goddamnit, stop breaking everything.” Although, all this takes place from the galactic space frog point of view. Where strategy players get their fix is in the crawl towards their color being one of many on the screen, but the biggest.
Most players of stellaris start of choosing a species that appeals to what they like cosmetically and going from there. It goes without saying, that people will go for the furry-mammalian creatures and role-play as their fur suit character. I picked a species that was arthropod in appearance and wore clothing similar to that of a fancy Greek city state. Obviously, I chose to have the government be an oligarchy, like modern day America. You know, political elite control all the real power and rigging all the elections. Then the game asks you what governing ethics you’d like. Naturally, they didn’t have “Super Sexy Elite Citizens” so I looked through each and every one of them and found what ones I thought would show how nice my people were. Xenophile, We want to believe! Peaceful, so you know, drugs and hippies. Materialistic, because we’re headed to space with other aliens, of course I don’t want anything dragging me down. Science will be our head-front and our fallback.. When I thought that was over, I got to pick what traits my species had. “Wow.”, I thought to myself. “I have no idea what any of these will do for me.” The game gives you a large amount of traits to choose from, some of them, are negative. New players often ask, “What is the point of having bad traits?” To which any veteran player will reply, “To have more good traits.” This didn’t seem to cross my mind when I first started though, so I looked for massive dicks, massive breasts. They didn’t have that, so I picked charismatic and rapid breeders. Hopefully my economy can support all my sex craving peoples, and not become akin to a slum in and 3rd world, uh, world.
After I ran into my first empire that wasn’t my own, a species of what looked like giant flowers, my dignitary and theirs sat on opposite sides of a skype screen, talking politics. Of course, the first thing I did was see what their governing ethics were. Xenophile, Peaceful, and Materialistic. Awesome. Not only did both of our governments follow the same principles, both of our species were charismatic. We shortly went into a political agreement and very soon after, a migration treaty was signed. Their citizens got citizenship and full rights in my empire, and they did the same. Now our empires were closely tied both politically and through emotion. Time to expand! Of course, I thought it would be easy. Little did I know that a faction had started in my empire. Spiritualists. They wanted the opposite of what my empire’s governing factions were. So of course, like any president of any modern country would do. I embraced them as my own. Hah! As if. I suppressed them like a football in an exhaust pipe.
Stellaris offers a large amount of role play and replayability thanks to its frankly staggering amount of content. This, however, shouldn’t be a bad thing. Saying it is such, kind of kicks it while it is on its horse. So Stellaris focusing on gameplay isn’t a negative mark at all, but it uses text boxes to accomplish story and give background to what has happened. For the intellectual, this is not an issue that requires much griping, as it is all based on true science and is well written. For the frothy mouthed FPS Shooter, grand strategy will quickly bore or, alternatively, extremely confuse and turn away them and their kind. Being a niche game as it is, it has many of the attractive traits of slow paced, high stakes games. Carrying a great sense of achievement and investment. I’d love to say that it’s feeling of space knife-back gives it a real frontier feeling, so I will. It has the feeling of a space knife-back frontier game.
If all this talk of safe politics is getting your panties dryer than the sunny side of mercury during the summer months, then don’t come crying to me when your own investment into technology puts you in the great teeth of an interdimensional threat that is all consuming. During these crisis, your only hope is to focus military power and hope your allies do the same. Crushing these immense threats, of which there are many, with relentless naval might is the only hope you have. It seems that discussion after discussion on the steam forums is, “Nerf the this, nerf the that.” Honestly, I loved the feeling of everything I have worked for coming under threat. The whole of the galaxy knows this as well. As it goes, the enemy of my enemy must have their pizza too.
To summarize, Stellaris is a Grand Strategy game cut from a very nice cloth that still doesn’t have too many bits cut out of it. If you are the type for political strife, galactic warfare, and science porn, trust me when I say Stellaris is a sexy nerd. Of course, she looks even better with her toy, Utopia DLC.