Paradox Interactive and Paradox Development Studio have just announced Stellaris at Gamescom, Paradox’s attempt to break away from their molds of history and push their Grand Strategy genre into space. Formerly known as Project Augustus, Paradox has teased many times that some sort of science fiction game was in the works, and though the company’s publishing arm has published them in the past, this is their first in-house attempt. The game’s lead developer is Henrik Fahraeus, a veteran of the company and the designer behind Crusader King II; he also worked on many other projects as well.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Paradox brand of Grand Strategy, they are pause-able real-time (though not to be confused with traditional RTS, as commands can be issued while paused and the game’s speed can be changed in mid-play) strategy games with a focus on the finer arts of governance such as internal management and wars serving as political tools as well. Despite their real-time nature of lapsing time, Paradox games tend to have a pace that is much closer to a turn-based game.
Information is still scarce but from the information that has been shown and revealed along with the presentation during the livestream it is clear Paradox is planning to keep their legacy of the Grand Strategy model alive in space. This said, the elements of the 4X genre will be present as the player will explore and expand as the game will have a strong focus on these elements in the early game, and then the age diplomacy and warfare comes as contact is made with other empires.
Here is a short list of features from the Official Website:
- Discovery Events – Emergent Storytelling
- Deep & Varied Exploration
- Enormous procedural star systems, containing thousands of planets
- Numerous playable species, each with their own traits and engineering styles
- Vast number of Unique Random Species
- Advanced Diplomacy system
- Ship Designer (even civilian ships can be customized)
- Stunning space visuals
During the presentation some details were given on some of these elements. The game will break away from their own tradition of having an end-date and the player having no real win condition except for being number 1 or scoring the most points by the time limit. The game will have a win state and no end date. Also, they want to mix up the formula a little by having something called a “Galactic Crisis” happen in the late game. These events will be random and will often times hail from classical sci-fi tropes, such as an AI uprising.
They also stressed the game will have your typical domestic and internal political tomfoolery that Paradox games are renowned for. Your population will apply pressures on your empire and form factions that you’ll have to deal with, which can include going with the flow of your empire’s will. As you conquer and spread out, the composition of your empire will change and so will its internal affairs as a result.
It seems that diplomacy will also play a major role as relations between the empires will be an important factor of the game, hopefully giving something to the more peaceful minded individuals. Aliens will be procedurally generated and events will play out to hopefully ensure no two games is the same. Technology will also move away from using a fixed and predictable tree/web and instead focus on unlocking techs which will be less predictable.
“Those technologies are not contained within a tree. The system is similar to a deck of cards, with three departments – physics, social and engineering – each with a character placed in charge of discoveries in that sphere. When a piece of research has been completed, three cards will be presented to choose between. The techs offered are semi-random but their availability is heavily weighted by the ethics of your empire, as well as the skills and traits of the scientist in charge of the department.” – Courtesy of Adam Smith, Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
The player will also get to choose their method of FTL travel. So Star-Lane haters, there is no need to panic.
“There are three forms of faster-than-light travel and each species chooses one at the beginning of the game. Hyperlanes connect systems directly but those who use them are tied to the existing layout, turning the map into a series of nodes. Travelling through the warp is slower but provides freedom of movement. Wormholes require stations, constructed at the edge of systems, but allow for long jumps.” – Courtesy of Adam Smith, Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Henrik also spoke about how wars will still be governed by the rule of law. For those unfamiliar with past Paradox games, territories and other concessions are eked-out during a Peace Deal. This means many times a war can be fought and no territory is permanently taken as other considerations are agreed to in the Peace Deal. Till such deals are signed occupied territories are just that, occupied. Naturally annexations tend to happen to the territories you have occupied.
Overall, this is exciting news. Personally, I’ve always wanted to see these two genres (space 4X and Grand Strategy) mix together ever since I played my first historical grand strategy game and my first space 4X game. I’ve always enjoyed Paradox titles, especially their recent offerings which are much easier to get into and play as the company has significantly improved their UI design.
One criticism some space 4X fans have had is that the same ideas are constantly being rehashed. Hopefully, this will breathe some fresh new ideas into the genre even if most will be classical to Paradox itself. Paradox has their work cut-out for them as they walk into unfamiliar territory. We will keep you informed on future developments about this title.
You can go to the Official Site or Steam store page to find more information or watch the Live Stream (reveal at: 52:30 (you can skip to 54:17 if you don’t want to see the trailer) and a short Q&A at: 1:19:36) to hear what was covered in this article first hand. The game has no official release date but it’s slated for next year. Making 2016 potentially an exciting year for the space strategy genre.Subscribe RSS
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