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Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion New DLC Stellar Phenomena

By on November 8th, 2013 9:13 am

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion - Stellar Phenomena DLC

Stardock released Stellar Phenomena, a new DLC – which you can see as a micro expansion – for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion for $4,99. This is the second DLC released for Sins: Rebellion. The first was Forbidden Worlds, which added new planet types, a planet specialization system, new technologies, planetary bonuses and additional Steam achievements. Now, and according to Stardock, Stellar Phenomena adds the following:

Features list:

3 new stars: Pulsars, black holes, and neutron stars pose unique dangers.

6 deep space anomalies: Starship graveyards, antimatter fountains, and more contain both threats and opportunities.

11 random events: Stars launch volatile gases that shut down orbital operations, mobile storms wreak havoc across the solar system, and conquered factions sense your weakness and seek to reclaim their worlds.

Sins is not a new game. It’s been around since early 2008, but almost six years after its initial release we’re still seeing new content being produced, which says a lot about the player base and the game’s quality itself. Stardock has been improving its real-time space 4X game layer by layer with 2 micro-expansions (Entrenchment and Diplomacy), a standalone expansion (Rebellion) and now two DLCs.

For more on Sins of a Solar Empire check out our Sins: Trinity review, which ends after the Diplomacy micro-expansion, and Sins: Rebellion review, which reviews everything but the two DLC’s released after the Rebellion standalone expansion pack.

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24 Comments


  1. Mark says:

    I have played a little of this game recently and still find that it has two problems, both of which interfere with my ability to enjoy the game.

    1/ Enemy empires surrender too easily: Sometimes even before any shots are fired, they will sense that you are too strong and just give up. You sometimes spend an hour or more carefully building up your economy and forces and when you finally amass your fleet of doom at their gates, they just suddenly surrender. Very anticlimactic and unsatisfying.

    2/ Pirates are too strong. They are supposed to be pirates, not unstoppable juggernauts who are more than a match for an entire developed fleet. I’m aware that you can turn them off, but I don’t want to turn them off, I just want pirates to be pirates. They should be a threat to your trade, not your entire empire.

    I wish they would concentrate on fixing these two annoying, long standing issues before releasing new material. New content should be released when the game is working properly.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I kind of agree on the pirates being a bit too strong. I mean, if fear at pirates was what they were after, then they succeeded. They are absolutely dreadful. I always get anxious if I’m beaten on the stakes. Could they be toned down a bit? I guess so. But, they surely are unforgettable :)

    • Expanding Man says:

      On your first point, perhaps you should check it out again, they have made many AI balance changes. I generally find that they no longer surrender too easily (definitely not on hard or above).

      As for pirates, I agree, it is usually best just to make them “inactive”. That doesn’t mean there will be no pirates, just no roving armada of death that you have to bribe not to rape you. I find that to be a satisfactory setup.

      One of my major issues with Sins is that I find that the AI is so bad that you are left with terrible ways to scale difficulty. Hard and above cheat like nobody’s business, and I very much dislike the method of making things more difficult by somehow just making opponents super-optimal. I’d much prefer to fight an AI that isn’t terrible but has no contrived economic advantage.

      Still, Sins is probably one of the best strategy games ever made and I have played in more in the last 5 years than most other games. It doesn’t replace the more traditional 4X games, but it’s a great addition.

    • Mark says:

      I only played the game a month or so ago, so unless there have been changes since then, the AI is still giving up too easily IMO.

      The real problem is that we all have different tastes. Jeff P likes the AI to give up when it is clearly outmatched. I on the other hand like to crush my enemies, see them driven before me and hear the lamentation of the women. Knowing the AI is outmatched by my forces just makes me want to crush it all the more. For me the crushing of the AI *is* the point of playing the game, so when it gives up, it makes all those preparations pointless.

      The solution is simple, a startup option…

      Allow AI to surrender……….. Yes / No.

      That would please everybody. And while I’m at it, here’s a solution to fix the pirate problem that EVERYONE would also find acceptable.

      Another startup option….

      Pirate Difficulty Slider:

      Easy—————o——————Insane

      Apparently these simple fixes were too difficult for the Sins devs to think of after how many years that this game has been out?

      It seems that good game design is a lost art. The devs don’t have to thank me, but hopefully my check is in the mail.

      • Jeff P says:

        Here here! More choices means better gaming experiences. That SoaSE has been around since 2008, and is still evolving, means that it MAY evolve into a classic game that all players relish. Here is hoping that they read these posts and modify the game accordingly!

      • Gunlord says:

        Those *are* good suggestions. I kind of like the AI surrendering, as it gives the game a bit of a sheen of realism (IRL many states will surrender instead of prolonging a costly war they’re unable to win just to fight to the death). Perhaps a surrender slider would be good as well, which goes from “No Surrender/Fight to the Death”(hard) to “Surrender Easily”(easy), which would tell the AI at which level of economic or military disadvantage to surrender.

        • Mark says:

          Actually if we’re talking realism, why not allow the player to *refuse* to accept the AI’s surrender? As it currently stands if you decide to play on, AI just goes belly-up and does absolutely nothing. That’s not even remotely realistic. There’s no way a nation would behave that way after their surrender was refused.

          I have no problem with making things more realistic but the way surrender currently works is just uninspired crap.

          I like your surrender-slider idea. Someone should post these ideas to the devs along with our bill for fixing their game.

        • csebal says:

          Be that an option to not allow AI surrender, or an option for the player to refuse it, it does not really matter.

          If the AI wants to surrender, then its game over for them anyway and potentially even a monkey randomly clicking buttons would beat them at that point. Continuing to play at that point might please some (if there is still some shooty light shows to be had) or it might bore others (heres a mop and a bucket, go start mopping up the map).

          At the end of the day, its a matter of player preference which one you choose. Me, I would rather just like the few remaining AIs group up and try to stop me before it is too late for them, but I know for a fact that there would be players disliking that concept as well. Thats just it.. no way to please everyone.

          My best tip to combat the quality issue that AIs always pose: if the AI surrenders, just start a new game against more AIs, or harder ones, or better yet.. challenge a real opponent and play against humans. This last one might not be trivial for everyone, I for one sure as hell dislike playing against humans as I hate to lose :) but still… thats about the only way to solve the problem of uninspired opponents for good.

        • Mark says:

          @ csebal,

          “Me, I would rather just like the few remaining AIs group up and try to stop me before it is too late for them”

          Actually I quite like the idea of them doing that rather than surrendering pretty much en masse and turning the game into a massive, anticlimactic fizzer.

          “Thats just it.. no way to please everyone.”

          But there is. Sliders and options in the setup can allow 99% of players to set the game up in a way that appeals to their particular taste.

          Look at Distant Worlds. Many people thought the pirates were too tough. Some thought they weren’t tough enough. They all complained to the devs, the devs listened and put in a pirate difficulty slider.

          Now no one is complaining about pirate difficulty because everyone sets it to a level that makes them happy. The exact same thing could *easily* be done for SOASE, its not something that takes a huge amount of coding, the Sins devs just need to get off their butts and do it.

          IMO Distant worlds did not start out as a very good game. I honestly think it became so well acclaimed because the devs expanded the options and continually made changes to improve the game based on fan feedback. Many other devs don’t do that (I’m looking at you Kerberos) and consequently their games tend to suffer as a result.

        • Trent says:

          Don’t expect Stardock to fix the Pirates. People have been complaining since the original game came out about the horrible Pirate system. In multiplayer the game can be won simply by early on pouring your whole economy into funding pirate attacks on other empires that have spent nothing on defense. 20K in credits can buy far more pirate firepower than ships you can produce with the same credits.

          That’s been and likely will remain a problem with this game. Realisticly IMO the pirates need a complete overhaul, not just a slider. You should be able to put bounty or specific items, be it a planet, a station or even a capital ship and that money should be proportional to the firepower you could buy using it to buy your own ships. It’s that terrible unbalance between bounty and firepower that makes pirates so terrible in this game.

  2. Jeff P says:

    I’m playing Rebellion with the first DLC, and find that scaling with difficulty may need some work. At lower levels of difficulty, pirates are troublesome only at the beginning of the game. Later on, they are easy enough to serve as a way to level-up your capital ships with little or no damage to fleets or planets. At higher levels of difficulty, yes, pirates are terrifying.

    I’ve never noticed the AI surrendering too soon. Frankly, I prefer the AI to recognize that I’ve got an over-whelming fleet on the verge of destroying their last major colony rather than tediously hunt down every last ship.

    More content is always better. However, the description of this DLC makes me suspect that it will serve only to frustrate players (i.e., random events destroying a laboriously built empire) rather than enhance enjoyment. I’ll hold off until I read some reviews and/or there is a sale.

  3. Ray says:

    I personally kicked this game into to touch not long after buying it. Too much micro management in a race to quickly conquer planets – Becomes like a tedious click fest rather than an enjoyable experience. Pacing of events and less restrictive expansion options might have saved it for me.. but yeah, Pirates are just plainly over the top and annoying. (I realize it is a way of vamping up your experience, but frankly a better way might have been rebellions – at the very least a little more realistic).
    As for DLC I’ll skip them as I suspect the core elements of the game will still be in place.

  4. Rich B says:

    IMHO Sins has always been best with friends, get 3v3 on the go and it’s loads of fun. I personally like every man for himself but since games can go on so long, it’s a little harsh on the guy who gets killed first haha. Also, you can save the multiplayer game and reload it later which is almost unheard of in an RTS/MP4X :)

    I know many of you guys prefer playing games at your own pace and on your own, I’m not dismissing you, just my 2 imperial cents :D

    • SQW says:

      And this is what truly killed off AI development in the gaming industry – bloody multiplayers. =P

      Seriously, look at MMORPGs, MOBAs, CODs and SC2s etc – all the big names are just getting by on the bare minimum of AI and outsourcing the lion share of player interactivity to other players. Seriously, AI in RTS has regressed compared to late 90s. Micro? Are you trying to give me arthritis?

      • zigzag says:

        Singleplayer has taken a backseat, but AI in RTSs isn’t worse. SC2’s AI is much better than SC’s, for example.

        • Rich B says:

          I like sins multiplayer *with friends* lol
          We’re not turtles as such but do like to take enough time that strategy is the focus. Yes, we did pull the cheap tricks and still do when we come up with them… they only work once or twice :)

          Throwing a fleet of light carriers at an economic centre causes all sorts of complications on both sides, “Why is he doing that?” “Will this kill his culture spread?” “Is this a lure?” “Is he drunk?” “Hodor?”

          Don’t get me wrong on AI, I used to love playing against them, I just feel they are predictable by nature. Brilliant for two things but nothing more: Cannon fodder and training wheels :)

  5. SolCommand says:

    This game is great but what I’d like most is a cool and lengthy campaign …

    • JohnR says:

      Well-said Sol. I’ve always thought that SINS hinted at this really compelling story in the initial cut scene, but of course it’s really hard to develop one within the context of a sandbox-only campaign.

      I recall Mr. Wardell, in his rather pretentious ‘corporate’ report on the success of SINS, stating that sandbox games don’t lend themselves well to storytelling. To me this was a cop out for Stardock/Ironclad not doing a single player campaign, and in any case the wonderfully deep and rich single player campaign in Age of Wonders 2 proves him wrong.

  6. necaradan666 says:

    The best parts of SoaSE are the name of the game and the intro, too bad they left that cool premise of story utterly without any depth because they were too cheap to design a campaign. Something every Stardock fan should know is ‘Brad lies’ boldfacedly and especially in regards to content. The DLCs being released are too late and contain too little content for me to even think about purchasing.. the worst part was the Rebellion expansion itself, three new races that are carbon copies of the originals with nothing more than a ‘Rebels’ label.. way too cosmetic, mere stat point differences, only a handful of techs and a couple of ships all of which make very little difference to gameplay, nothing that deserves the definition of ‘expand’

  7. Timmaigh says:

    @necaradan> I completely disagree with the statement, that races are the same as in the original game. Without doubt the differentiation could be even deeper, but its certainly big enough to “feel” it ingame. And it makes the game IMHO way better than the original from 2008.

    On topic of campaign, its kind of shame the game is lacking in this regard, but it is certainly not game-breaking. It would add to the immersion for sure, but only if it was on quality levels of Homeworld, which would be frankly quite a feat to achieve, therefore not that likely to happen. Bottom line, the intro movie, while indeed jaw-dropping and exciting, is certainly not the best part of the game.

    Finally the DLCs, my opinion is, they dont really add to the game that much, getting them for me is more about having a complete experience and supporting the devs of one of my fav games. They are going to need money to bring us Sins sequel at some point after all.

  8. Loyalist says:

    You guys are babies. The game is fine. Pirates are easy at all levels of play, I have a difficult time seeing the reason for all the whine and cheese.

  9. Titan says:

    It’s ease to defeat pirates. First two wave the pirates can be defeated by one star base and two repair platform, and then with one upgrade to weapon and one to hull and gravity control you can defeat all pirates, and then you pray that the pirates come to you because they are the easiest way of getting point of experience to your capital ship and titan.

  10. Bill says:

    Just want to tell an idea about this DLC..
    i like the concept but i think it does not effect the gameplay if the player does not know when and where a randon even it is going to take place

    This random even must be like a huge wave passing slow across the galaxy and the Empire must have an ETA for this


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