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Stellaris First Impressions

By on May 9th, 2016 10:45 am

Stellaris | A real-time (pausable) Space 4X Grand Strategy Game by Paradox Development Studio and Paradox Interactive

Paradox Interactive has released Stellaris on May 9, 2016. The game was developed by their in-house studio at Paradox Development Studio. The game is a pausable real-time space 4X Grand Strategy game. Paradox moves away from making historical games set within a given time period and braves the frontier of a more open-ended 4X experience yet staying true to their Grand Strategy formula.

The game seems to take lessons from past Paradox games, though it shares some similarities with Europa Universalis IV it takes quite a bit from Crusader Kings II. Yet the game does more as it adds new features with far more choices in technology and configuring your armed forces.

The game also looks good, using Paradox distinct art style to give a pleasing visual to the 2-D assets, but having the rich 3-D assets as well. It scores an epic soundtrack that gets a little repetitive only because of the amount of hours you can accidentally sink into the game, even then, I still enjoyed it. Also, despite the massiveness of the game, I had no crashes and found only a few none-game breaking bugs.

Overall, the game delivers on what was advertised and showcased in the developer diaries. A full review of the game by SpaceSector standards will take quite some time to complete despite the generous lead time with my review copy. This said, instead I will do a shorter first impressions article where I’ll also tackle some of the distinct features of the game, sharing my hands-on experience with the title. A full review will come later.

Stellaris | What is a Pop? This is a Pop.

Note: I will make references to the concept of the pop a few times in my article, this refers to the population unit you manage on your planets. Think of Civilization’s assigning citizens to tiles, or MOO’s (2 and the reboot) assigning of population. That’s basically a pop.

Unlike in those games, happiness and political allegiances are not just general statistics. Each pop will have its own happiness rating and ethics. Those who’ve played Victoria II will be familiar with the pop.

In the Beginning

The game gives the player a few pre-generated races with a bit of back lore for each, along with two human variants. The real strength comes from the customizer; the player can edit and modify one of the existing templates or create their own, and naturally modify those into new variants themselves. The player is given a wide selection of choices of aesthetics and traits, they can even name the race and civilization separately, adjectives used, their star and home planet, and even use one of the two pre-made star systems (Sol is one of them).

The system lets you design not just the race but its socio-politics in the form of government type and ethics. These have far reaching impact on the game as it will have an effect on the policies you can enact (which in turn will effect what you can do in your empire), options during events and quests, and the reaction of your pops to said policies. So if you want to make a “Rome never fell” humans or the humans from Starship Troopers then go right ahead. The alternative human faction is actually humans that survived a botched first attempt at interstellar travel.

Stellaris | Service Guarantees Citizenship!

The game itself will generate races randomly when you start a new game. You can select to have your custom races forcibly show-up in a new game. This is good if you want to recreate a bunch of races from your favourite sci-fi franchise and want to see them in the game. This does mean you won’t have fixed races you will see in each game but this also means you will never know what to expect. This can lead to interesting scenarios and sometimes not in favour of the race you designed.

Examples: one game could generate several empire builders as the game evolves into an Axis versus Allies scenario, or you can have a bunch of imperialists and isolationist fighting each other as a single Fanatical Purifier (kill all other forms of life) race successfully wages its crusades. That later one is what I got in my first game, they control the largest area and I am the only thing containing them on the northern arc.

I can see some would prefer established races, but the replayability and the fact you’ll never know what you’ll get from this format is well worth the trade-off. You can always lock races you create to always show up. What I would like to see is having a feature of flagging a race you meet in game to be saved as a custom race, if one catches your particular fancy (though nothing stops you from recreating it on your own as a custom race).

The interesting thing I noticed is I am actually interested in customising my own faction. Usually human variants I admit, but I still play with the designer a lot. I usually like playing pre-made races in other games, but the system here seems to give a lot of options for the player that are more than just picking bonuses and maluses.

Stellaris | Great! My first game and I get stuck with a Dalek wannabe.

Is it a 4X or a Grand Strategy?

The answer to that question, it’s both and it meshes them quite well surprisingly. You’ll all start off from a single world, explore, expand and exploit as one would expect. You’ll stumble across many stellar sights and colonisable worlds are not that common, especially in the early game before unlocking the other colonisation techs. However, even then many worlds will remain non-colonisable, though they can still be useful sites for mining and science stations.

Also, as your science vessels survey planets they will find anomalies, which can give one time bonuses, upgrade the planet with a resource, or even trigger a quest chain that will have you exploring the galaxy. This is above and beyond all the random events that will trigger in your empire.

Overall I liked this treatment of space, not every system is useful, not every planet can be exploited, and not every world can be terraformed and turned into an Eden-like world. There will be neutron stars and pulsars, black holes, and even ancient relics of a long lost age. The game strikes a perfect balance between having things in it, and being the great void of solitude that you’d expect deep space to feel like which you will eventually fill.

Stellaris | I don't like where this is going.

The grand strategy elements become more obvious as you get into the mid game. The diplomacy system is what you’d expect from a Paradox game, a network of affiliations. You can’t bribe your way into everything as multiple modifiers come into play, and some races are just going to be stubborn. Genocidal sociopaths and isolationists are not going to share star charts just because you have a huge bribe. Also, a given game can be very long, and there is a lot of jockeying around.

What I mean is a large empire might be forced to break up under its own weight, or you might get hit by a war you have no choice to unconditionally surrender to and be taken down a peg or two. The closest I ever seen to a steam roll are those genocidal aliens in my game, but in that case I am the wall saying no to their advance.

Another major difference is that you can’t lead a war where you take all the enemy’s planets in one fell swoop unless they didn’t have that many to start with. Anyone who played past Paradox games will know about war goals. You can always elect to turn a powerful faction into a vassal instead, and integrate them later, which does take a long time if they were too big to begin with.

This might put off those that like rolling over entire empires in one war for a quick conquest victory, but this also protects you from the same thing happening to you. Here, you need to play it a little more cleverly. This doesn’t mean there is no extermination, there is and it’s literally just that. You can enslave and purge conquered races (if you have the correct ethics) or even your own race (if your ethics allow it).

Stellaris | So much war just for a system, and a new subject!

I heard you can’t micro all your planets?

That is true, you have a control cap, beyond that you have to assign sectors and let the AI manage those regions or get hit by a scaling penalty. However, before anyone hits the panic button the system is not as bad as it sounds and is even necessary in my opinion. First, the management of which tile each of your pops go on, upgrading old tile buildings, and building new ones can quickly get out of hand fast as you have to deal with wars, random events, expanding your empire, and exploration. Once you have several planets you might actually want to pull your hair out, so sectors are actually quite welcomed.

Now I also said they are not as bad even if you want direct control because of what gets automated and what gets locked out from your control. You only really lose control of moving pops around and building in planet tiles, that’s it, but you can also set the development priority and tax rate of the sector as well.

In addition, the AI will recruit planetary (ground) defense forces and build exploitation stations, but nothing stops you from doing it if the AI is taking its sweet time. You’ll still handle colonisation, recruiting invasion forces, building up the spaceport, and building warships at said spaceport. You’ll still manage terraforming satellites and can scrap anything that is in space as well.

Overall, I liked the system. Considering that even in my current game where I’m just the third largest empire on a middle sized galaxy and I have over 20 planets that needs constant attention for upgrading and expanding; I’m quite happy for the sector mechanic. Also, assigning systems to a sector requires more planning and thus is more interesting than a simple “automate this planet” mechanic.

Stellaris | I'm not even that big and I can feel the bureaucracy growing.

Tech, Ships, and Battle!

I won’t go into too many details here for these aspects, I will save it for the full review but it’s worth mentioning it a bit. The game certainly handles these elements well. As usual for Paradox games you don’t have tactical control of your ships; of course this doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot of say on what goes on in a battle as the game gives you a wide selection of modules to design your ships with.

Many have wondered the purpose of a ship designer if you don’t have tactical control in combat; the answer is simple because it still matters. Weapons have strengths and weaknesses, which vary even within a field. A good design can be the difference between rolling over the enemy fleet while giggling to seeing your fleet that appears to be much stronger go down like a house of cards. This will ultimately be determined by the techs you have researched as well.

Overall the system is simple enough but gives a wide selection of choices as you unlock them. You have to weigh the pros and cons of each system and make sure you meet the energy needs of those systems. You can even get access to specialised weapons later in the game. There is also a function to let the AI do it all for you if you are not into this sort of thing.

Stellaris | Watch me realise this design is actually a bad one.

I should note though I lumped Tech into this part of the review, you do research a lot of techs that are not linked to ship modules, actually most techs have nothing to do with ship modules. Overall, the system is simple, and interesting. Read this dev diary if you want to know the details. What I can add is the end result provides a system that is random yet reliable enough that you don’t feel you’re at the mercy of the RNG Deities. Choosing which tech to research is always a weighed choice, which is good.

What is interesting is that any wreckage you scan with your science ships can actually lock-in the option for you to research the tech on your own, thus not needing to worry that it will appear in the draw randomly. These techs can also be outside of your prerequisite limits. This can be useful if you managed to down a few ships from a superior foe before you’ve surrendered. Thus, in the next war, you may very well be equipped with the very weapons that were used against you.

Stellaris | This won't end well.

Closing Opinions

I was fortunate enough to be able to sink over a hundred hours into the game, in one week. I think that fact alone should speak volumes about the game. Of course the fact it’s still the same campaign, though I did do a few other quick starts to see what different ethics would yield, this fact also says something else about the game.

Despite the time I spent with Stellaris, it still surprises me. This has to do with the random events that can happen in your empire, many are linked to what you are doing. Example, while trying to subvert a pre-star flight race an agent went rogue, so I had to dispatch a ship to fire a mass driver round at where he was hiding which the locals were tricked into believing it was just a meteorite strike.

Here is a screenshot of another event which I had resolved.

Stellaris | I guess the dinosaurs didn't have an evil space empire watching over them.

This is just scratching the tip of the iceberg.

Stellaris is certainly the most immersive 4X and Grand Strategy game I played to date. Also, the gameplay seems solid. However, this is a Paradox game and it uses the trappings of the Grand Strategy genre which I have discussed earlier. However, I find the mix blends well together with the 4X genre.

Then there are the little things like how you can terraform a planet before settling it, oh and it’s actually smarter to do so. Pops don’t like living on a planet that is getting its climate violently reformatted even if they hated the current one and final result will make them happier in the end. Unless they already super hated the old one, then you won’t notice a difference in their anger.

The game also comes with the most comprehensive tutorial I’ve seen in a Paradox game. The advisor is voice acted, giving you the instructions verbally, which is useful for newer player who might be turned off by reading a wall of text for everything (there will be plenty of that as it is). Also, every screen will have a pop-up to give you more details. The full tutorial gives out quests to encourage you to explore the diverse game mechanics. Naturally, you can turn it off as well.

Personally, I think Paradox has hit their mark with Stellaris. Expect the full review in the coming weeks where I will try to nit-pick the game to the best of my abilities. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions in the comments section.

Stellaris is available for purchase at the Paradox Store, Steam, Humble Store, and GMG. The game’s price is $39.99 USD.

Stellaris | Spoilers!

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64 Comments


  1. TericDragon says:

    Excellent, thank you for taking the time to put out a first impressions. I have been watching this game, hoping to see a large-scale space 4X that breaks away from the group of similar space 4X’s already out there. It seems that Stellaris might be a contender!

  2. citizenlambda says:

    Did you have any technical problems at all? The Germans have been complaining that the game stutters and hangs in mid-late game.

    • I haven’t, the only thing I experienced is later in the game the monthly update cycle is not as seamless as in the early game, it pauses for a moment like if you were autosaving. Also, fastest is not as fast. Normal is still the same speed, but speeding up the timer increases the speed less in the late game. Fastest becomes the new fast, and fast is now somewhere between.

      Mind you, I was also playing on a PC that is under the system requirements. The game asks for a Quad Core at 2.66 GHz (Intel). I am running it with a 2.4 Quad Core, so I am not surprised. Also, I used to get that in EU IV too. Actually it was worst in EU IV.

      So the question is what are their specs and how big is the map they used? I played it on a medium map, so that could have helped. Also, was it multiplayer?

      I did read a comment where someone was having issues on a high end PC even during the early game. Which is strange because I am at the opposite end for specs and I didn’t have the same issues.

      Hopefully, it’s just a driver issue with certain configurations and Paradox sniffs it out quickly.

      • citizenlambda says:

        From what I understand of the German reviews, this seemed to be happening even on high-end machines. I don’t have a very strong machine either so I was a bit worried. I’m glad to see you had few problems even with a computer under the requirements, so the issue does not lie with hardware strength per se.

      • Gary Vandegrift says:

        The stuttering was fixed today in a hotfix.

  3. Vendor-Lazarus says:

    It looks and sounds like a breath of fresh air being injected into the, nowadays, mostly stale 4X genre.
    Paradox has definitely created something worth buying.

    The only niggling doubt I still have pertains to the games Real-Time mechanic and how they solved the problem of inundating a player with events upon events as you approach late-game.
    Anyone having played Distant Worlds will surely recognize this one.

    • Mark says:

      Absolutely agree with this! mid to late game DW often turns into a frantic, chaotic hell with many important messages PER SECOND constantly bombarding you thanks to the RT nature of the strategic layer. Pause only helps so much against the continuous onslaught.

      Another RT problem is that there are often many interesting things happening simultaneously in the galaxy but you can (obviously) only focus on one thing at a time while the rest happens behind your back whether you like it or not.

      I too would love to know if Stellaris has solved these problems or not.

      • Jarkorsis says:

        It is slow RT, so the pace is not that much of an issue. You can also slow down the RT pace if you like. Pausing allows you to set up want you want then unpause. This is not the frenetic pace of Distant Worlds. The only negative I found with this game is no tutorial other than what you can find on you tube. They have a helper which will make suggestions. I am really enjoying the game so far. There are many tough decisions you will need to make.

        • Mark says:

          Thanks for the response, it sounds quite promising. I’m going to wait for Edward’s review but if they’ve really solved the RT strategic layer message spam problem with large empires then I’ll almost certainly be buying.

          About time somebody came up with a good 4x game as opposed to merely mediocre.

      • Austin says:

        So, I think RT message spam is a symptom of a larger problem, one that affects turn based games as well but in different ways: micromanaging an empire becomes hell in the late game when it’s (literally) 100x the size it was on the first turn. In all 4Xes you eventually get to a point where there’s just too much going on to pay attention to everything you should, and getting spammed with messages is just how that problem manifests in a RT 4X.

        With that understanding, the “sector” mechanic – whether you love it or hate it – is very, very effective at eliminating that whole micromanagement problem (and arguably introducing whole new problems, but that’s an entire discussion to itself). A 100-planet late game empire and a 5-planet early game empire demand almost the same amount of attention from you, because 95 of those late game planets are being micro’d by the AI governors. They handle all the economic busywork, which I personally got sick of by the time I hit 5 planets anyway, while leaving you free to manage fleet construction.

        It’s.. not a perfect system, sectors come with some “interesting” limitations and frustrations you wouldn’t have if you were managing planets personally. I’m warming up to the sector mechanic the more I play, and just hope it gets polished a bit more with patches to remove those rough spots – but even if I hated it, I’d have to admit that it solves the micromanagement problem. That is simply not one of the problems Stellaris has.. sectors won’t LET you have that problem.

  4. t1it says:

    Already playing the living s*** out of it Edward couldn’t wait like I normally do :P. Still going to read your review though.

  5. TimmY says:

    I have like 5 hours played already. I like it.
    The exploration is so nice. Too bad I have to go to sleep. Work tomorrow :(

    Game runs without any problems on my system i5 6600k + 390X + 16 gb ram but I saw that most of the players with performance issues have AMD CPUs.

    In time I think Stellaris will become the greatest 4X game.

  6. Mythox says:

    best game 2016 and i am going to play it for LOOOOOONG time !!

  7. Jeff P says:

    Looks like it is a real time-sink. One of the complaints I read on the Steam site was that there is no “Easy” setting and that players who haven’t played Paradox games (that includes me) may have a hard time getting started. As for the stuttering problem, I read a post by a Paradox developer confirming that there would be a patch out soon addressing it.

    I’m sure I’ll eventually get Stellaris but I’ll wait until some of the performance issues are addressed and (hopefully) an easy mode added for us noobs.

    Nice preview; thanks Edward!

    • It does seem the performance issue is with a specific set of configurations. Not common enough that you seen the reviewers get it, but common enough that enough people did get it.

      It’s that horrible middle from a technical issue. Not common enough you will catch it pre-release, but still common enough you will have quite a few customers that will have the problem.

      Hopefully, they fix it quickly. I hate to think some people can’t enjoy the game because of some API or driver issue.

      Yeah, I do think they need to put in an easy setting. The game’s tutorial is pretty solid at teaching the game but I expect the average new player to get a war declared on them in the beginning, see all of their planets as war goals (so a complete annexation), and then the fleet coming in is much bigger than theirs.

      Like that totally didn’t happen to me when I started to play. *whistles innocently* Great! Now I have to share the story.

      I got lucky, I lost all my colonies. Barely held to my homeworld, then someone else declared war on them (they fleet size must have dropped from the attrition at my homeworld battle), and when he had to retreat from me I peace out giving up all my colonies.

      My second stroke of luck was the Jellyfish allied with me for some odd reason, and with their help I took my planets back in the second war, broke his empire in the third, and then made the jerk my vassal in the forth war.

      I don’t deny it was luck that saved me. If I didn’t find that ally I would have never recovered, and if his other rival didn’t attack him I would have lost Earth. I can see a new player with less luck be game over easily while the tutorial is still running.

      Good news though, the game can offer a challenge.

    • Gary Vandegrift says:

      I recommend watching the Blorg videos on YouTube. That’s how I learned to play.

  8. tiny_big says:

    I almost feel bad for not liking it for a lot of the reasons mentioned.

    Planetary micromanagement is abstract/spreadsheety and unfun and the fact you can’t control more than 5 planets is only a crutch that disguises how unfun it is. UI needs a bit more polish when too many different things are stacked too close to other at the same time. War goals drive me insane. Lack of zoom hotkeys is a dealbreaker since I don’t have a mouse with scroll wheel.

    Then there are the dozen innovative things I can name right away that almost make me want to play this despite the problems.

    • Don’t feel bad mate, there is a lot that really boils down to personal opinions. There are stuff I hate that are seen as classics by others.

      Personally, I do like the planetary management. I don’t see the sector system as a crutch. The system however is one that only work manageably if you only have a few “units” to control. So either you need another system that is far more abstract so that it can be something you can manage 20+ “units” of, or a automation system that is built into the game design. They went with the later.

      A good example of what I am talking about is Company of Heroes, a really good RTT. Heck even the sequel is still pretty good (now with the expansions). However, if you had to control 20 squads and 10 tanks by yourself, the game will soon go from good to bad. Doesn’t make the individual mechanic bad, just not one that translate to having it with an unlimited unit cap. Here the solution was not limit how much the player can control, but make that control be the game’s obsolete limit in gameplay. That’s why the maps are the sizes of a small area.

      So I don’t see sectors as a crutch to cover up a poor mechanic but as one that is needed because the mechanic is one the works best if the player only has a small set of “units” to manage. They just went with option B (limit how much the player can control directly) to address this limitation.

      The unreleased Stars in Shadow is an example of a game that is trying option A (use a mechanic the player can easily manage a large number of instances of) to manage micromanagement.

      Sorry, I didn’t not mean to have a thesis written out to just say, “I disagree with you about planet management.” I just wanted to address the topic the system is a crutch. As you can see, I love a good discussion and debate :)

      However, as I said at the start, yeah you can be not a fan of the planet management system. I personally like it, personal tastes will have a huge impact on things in the end. I personally think games like MOO are actually more abstract and spreadsheet like, you can’t really just overnight shift 100% of population from industry to science… economies don’t work like that. ;)

      To me I like a system if it generates interesting problems for the player to solve and you have difficult trade-off choices you have to make that are not easy to flip the dime on. Too many games lets you build everything on a planet, and then you can switch your output overnight at no cost.

      As for the UI polish I do agree. To me the biggest issue is the Outliner is not as extensive and comprehensive as it’s in their other games. Off the top of my head I can think of several improvements to the outliner alone.

  9. SQW says:

    I’m a few hours in (plus a dozen watching youtube lets plays) and my impression is while Stellaris doesn’t do anything ground breaking mechanically – in fact, some parts like combat and ship design are actually sparse – what it does achieve is a sense of wonder.

    I wrote in a comment a few days ago here on how 4X game has become so samey that there’s no sense of wonder in exploring a galaxy with fantastic ships anymore – all we do is try to find the best planet to colonize in order to pump out the biggest fleet later. What Stellaris achieved is making the initial exploratory stage a game on its own rather than a mad dash to survey the planet with the best stats.

    I’m interesting to see whether the grand strategy component later on is also as well thought-out as the early stages.

    • I am going to be a cynic but in the other direction.

      I don’t think we will see anything ground breaking in the terms of mechanics anytime soon. We will need a shift in technology and how we play games at a core before we do see one.

      There is a reasons why cars, your fridge, and how we build a house hasn’t change much in the last 50 years. Things got optimised, streamlined, some features were improved, sometimes we even changed the chemicals we use to make it work, but in the end a mechanic from 50 years ago will not be baffled at the systems we used today.

      It will be easy to write it off as car engineers and refrigeration engineers are not innovating. But technologies reach plateaus which need to be surmounted before more innovations can occur. While other times you end up with a wheel. You can change the material it is made of, polish the edges, but in the end you are not going to improve on the concept of a circle as an object.

      Actually, techs more often then not get replaced. We didn’t improve the carriage and buggy, we replaced it with a car.

      So what I think is left now is just paths not as well explored. Like I read you often ask why haven’t more games evolved on the format of SotS instead of always using the MOO model. In this regard I think Stellaris actually succeeds, except theirs is what if EU IV was a 4X in space.

      So I doubt we will see anything ground breaking mechanically until something at the very root of gaming changes, either by something no one ever thought of or because of a shift in technology occurs. When that happens I think it will effect every genre, not just strategy games.

    • SQW says:

      Okay, I’m 20 hrs in and I must say, mid game options is sorely lacking for a Paradox game.

      There’s no trade network option (free trade, embargo, smuggling) nor diplomacy option other than the most basic (where are the equivalent of those EU vids where you scheme and play realpolitiks) and espionage (regime change anyone) is non-existent.

      There are also a noticeable number of bugs and that much vaunted sector management has some real problems at dealing with unhappy pop.

      Combat wise, I wish the fleets will maneuver a bit like using weapon range to kite targets instead of blobbing up like a ball of mutalisks. Why have weapon range at all if the AI just rush into melee range? Considering how few options you have with dealing with other empires that isn’t from the barrel of your gun, I was hoping for a little more care in this.

      The game started as 9/10 and now it’s sitting at a 6.

      • “There are also a noticeable number of bugs and that much vaunted sector management has some real problems at dealing with unhappy pop.”

        What is the problem exactly?

        My sectors have no happiness issues. I manage it all at the empire level, I know sectors don’t do edicts those are under your control even on the planetary level. You also directly control slaving and purging (you can’t use resettlement within a sector though and I don’t think the AI does either).

        Though I have seen sectors build a monument of purity (which boosts happiness on a planet). So it does build it.

        So what was the exact issue, I am curious why I haven’t experienced it and wonder what it is exactly.

      • SQW says:

        Under normal circumstances, the sector management does a competent job. However, in my 2nd game, I conquered a pre-FTL civ through infiltration and then the wheels started to come off. (Infiltration is bugged btw, as you receive the same 5yr unhappiness penalty as you would going in gun blazing).

        Anyway, the indigenous population were sitting at around 33% happiness when I incorporated their planet into a sector. a few months down the track, a secessionist faction popped up and within a year it has gained so much momentum I’m left with either acquiesce to the demand or spend an ungodly amount of influence/coin to keep it in check. I had to pull the planet out of sector management, kill off 1/3 of the pop, enslave the another 1/3 and babysit for 10+yrs before the world became stable enough for sector incorporation again.

        Whatever sector management was doing was making the the pop going from borderline unhappy to rebellious and is unable to handle the issue when it arises – it’s like a middle management that works when everything’s fine but useless when shit hits the fan.

  10. ThreeHeadedMonkey says:

    Hi Edward.

    I love the review. You really know what you are talking about and you go into great detail. It’s really appreciated.

    Some other reviewers have criticized the mid and late game of Stellaris, stating that things sort of stall out and the further diplomacy becomes more difficult as alliances appear to be almost rock solid and interactions stagnate. Specific mention was made as at this point no one wanted to attack each other. As far as the late game goes it seemed impossible to unite other empires to against the large end game story threat that appeared.

    Was this something you noticed as well or would you disagree with this sentiment?

    • That is not an easy question to answer and the main reason why this was not a fully scored review of the game and just a pre-review/first impressions.

      What I mean is that it’s not easy to answer because I never list a problem unless I know the reasons why it happens. So is there a problem to begin with at the very least. Even that is not easy to define. The short answer, there might be, it depends.

      So I will go with what I have discovered on my own.

      If you want to skip the lengthy “why I think it’s hard to answer this question” skip to the first *** break, there I will describe the game I had in more details.

      If you just want the answer, go straight to the third section after the *** *** break. Hopefully, you read my full answer.

      It really depends with what sort of galaxy you ended up with. See, I get a feeling most reviewers only played 1 game and most except for a few got to the late game. Why, because I barely got to the late game in one campaign after 120 hours of playing. Sure a good 30-40 of that is me trying new starts to test my hypothesis and see the differences in ethics have an effect on the game.

      Remove time waste and that is easily 70 hours on a single campaign and it’s barely reaching the end game. So I can safely assume most reviewers only have one game under their belts and most didn’t reach the end game except for a few (I admit I fool around a lot, so I get there slower).

      Why I can safely assume this is because I hit those play hours by laying 16 hours a day. It’s unlikely a lot of people could have played more. Even if you played full-time overtime, you probably would have only played as much as I have.

      In short all reviewers are best described as a data point of one. I don’t think a single reviewer can give a comprehensive analysis based on statistical vigour. Me included. This is why you can get a very wide spread of views on this.

      ***

      In my game, only two small alliances formed, they both just had two members each, and they both dissolved. I was in the first, I dissolved the second one by eating up one of its members, then I ate my own ally because he annoyed me. After that, everyone hated each other, and the Dalek Wannabes on the map continue their crusade and killed 5 races to date.

      There are constant wars in my game, the Dalek Wannabes are always committing genocide on someone, the three expansionist in the south are always infighting, and the two south-east empires are always gridlocking each other, and the big purple guy in the middle does nothing.

      I have reached the point only the Dalek Wannabes can attack me, but he has to go through a small corridor, which you can imagine is heavily defended. The Bothrians can attack me too but they seem to attack no one, ever, and no one around them is willing to attack them either (except me). If I were to lose my fleet the wolves will try to come at me, but they are all too busy infighting and can’t get to me either, so I am only likely to get attacked by the Dalek Wannabes.

      They actually did attack me once, barely beat them back and did a white peace to end the war.

      As you see, this is very different from what those reviewers experienced. If I were to assume my game was standard I would be like, “no alliances that last ever formed so federations seem to be something that only exists in theory.” I just quickly learnt with some of my experimentation that my game is not standard and a lot of it depends on how the RNG Deities graced you.

      *** ***

      What I think is happening as I look over other people’s experience is that it all depends on what you got as races. Races can gridlock either by being all too small and unable to get the upper hand on each another, or large alliances form and no one dares to poke at them. Eventually, you get a cold war between power blocs.

      If you are lucky, you might have allies that easily agree to your terms for war, or you get a Federation and when you are president you can start a fight. However, you might not have rivals declare wars on you once you reached a certain size unless you mess up royally. So it will always start with you breaking the peace.

      Also, you usually end up with a few belligerent races. If they get knocked out early or can’t expand, then I can see why the stagnation occurs. If one does manage to grow into a superpower, then the problem won’t happen.

      Personally, I haven’t experienced this, but from the behaviours of some of the aliens in my game I can see how it can happen.

      Very important point coming up!

      However, if you actively don’t start wars, built up so everyone is afraid of you. Don’t mess up, and then no one attacks you. Don’t complain. Why would they? Suicidal dumb AIs are worse than a passive one, you are actually getting a logical response. Do you randomly start fights with Fallen Empires or Empires that are much more powerful than you are? No.

      I only consider it an problem if you don’t see the AI star wars between themselves either, as in everyone is gridlocked. Then that’s a problem. Or if a hated rival doesn’t take advantage of a moment of weakness on your part. Once there is a chance to shift the balance of power someone should be taking it and if the AI doesn’t, it needs more work.

      I tend to separate the two outcomes from each other, because one is a logical intelligent response to a successful empire, the other is an actual problem as it’s unlikely all the AIs perfectly fall into a perfect gridlocked balance, something has to tip somewhere.

      The good news here is that from what I saw, and past experiences with EU IV, this is a relatively easy thing to fix. It’s just how modifiers affect the AI’s diplomatic and “I go to war now” behaviours. Tweaking these can have a major impact and the fix will be somewhere in those tweaks.

      That said, we will probably get scenarios where the opposite will happen, if you played EU IV, you will know AE tweaks were all over the place. I think we just found Stellaris’ 500 page thread in the Paradox Forum. ;)

      In conclusion, if this game does get continued support (and judging from the PR push they did, as long as they get good sales it will), then we will see this get addressed quickly. Probably get tweaked too much, re-tweaked, and tweaked some more. Hopefully, they will get the right balance at one point.

      On average, a supported Paradox game gets more updates than a bloody MMO. So hopefully, Stellaris will get that sort of support too.

      • ThreeHeadedMonkey says:

        Thanks for the detailed response! There are some great examples there.

        I think you are bang on the mark that many reviewers may have only be basing their reviews on one play through. Which is understandable as they probably have limited time to play. The IGN reviewer did seem to be using just the one session in his examples. It makes sense that sometimes you will get a galaxy that is more dynamic and violent than others, or very passive. A reviewer will write about their individual experience.

        Luckily, if there are problems with the end game content and AI Paradox are always keen to patch and adjust the numbers as they get feedback. It would be very hard to thoroughly test the AI in all situations in games of this scope. Nothing compares to thousands of players putting in thousands of hours to create relevant data.

        Thanks again!

  11. salvo says:

    it hasn’t happened a while now that a game has managed to keep me playing it for so long, I can’t stop it, I love it!

  12. I played about 10 hours. I really enjoyed the early game but I felt like I had run out of things to do around the 10 hour mark. I had built a few very nice fleets of battleships equipped with the best stuff I could make, and I had conquered all of my vulnerable neighbors. There was an extra-galactic scourge that invaded on the other side of the galaxy but they didn’t give me any trouble. It took forever to annex my first vassal. I didn’t really know what to do after that. I could keep annexing vassals but again, it takes forever. My empire was stable internally. I guess I won the game.

    • t1it says:

      Currently 12 hours in my very first game and the only thing I’m currently doing is exploring (still) and (very rarely) expanding. Squashed all neutrals/space monsters from my empire. Tech progress is sluggish (and I chose the science traits) and I don’t want to risk any war yet. So it’s not looking to be the most exciting mid-late 4x game ever (that belongs to SotS :)) but indeed the early (explore & expand) game is stellar (heh).

      Super-solid game, top 5 franchise no doubt.

    • SQW says:

      Stellaris suffers from a lousy tutorial and some obscure game mechanics. You basically need to have played some of Paradox’s other titles to ‘know’ what certain features do. Also, a web based help system is just WRONG – I hated it in Rome II and I’ll hate it till the day I die.

      Also, diplomacy seems to be missing a lot of the hallmarks of Paradox’s other venerated titles. I was hoping there’s more options to engage with Aliens other than just the holy trinity of trade, alliance or conquer.

      It’s a very very solid foundation for the studio to build on – much like CIV V – but it definitely has some weakness.

      • They need increase the amount diplomatic options (and even war objectives) the game has. Which is funny, because that’s what Paradox is usually good with.

        Diplomacy is the area they need to be more Grand Strategy than 4X with.

        The are already working on the 1.1 patch, hopefully the things that can be addressed in a standard 1.X patch will be touched on. Bug fixes are also coming on the way as hotfixes.

        • SQW says:

          Actually, several diplomatic options that are still listed in their official wiki and dev diary are all missing in the release build.

          Right now, you can only demand a faction to be your non-contributing vassal when there are suppose to be 2 more. Overall, diplomacy is basically non-existent – a huge over sight given Paradox built their name on grand strategy.

          This reeks of a rush job.

    • Mark says:

      Its not only you, I’ve been seeing quite a few reports about mid to late gameplay bogging down and getting boring and tedious. Hopefully its something that can be fixed with the inevitable deluge of Paradox DLC.

      • The bright side, if they use the same model they did with EU IV, a lot of the changes and mechanical upgrades that are more like fixes tend to come for free even if you don’t buy the DLC.

        The DLC you pay for will usually have a cool feature and some addition to the game to incentive the purchase, but bulk improvements are usually in the free patch.

        That waxes and wanes though, they have had DLCs that had more behind the pay wall, then others which felt unneeded because all the best parts was in the free patch.

  13. SamDog says:

    I bought it based on this review. Great game so far too!

  14. Evil Azrael says:

    I am soooo pi***d. I preordered the retail version on Amazon and a few days before release the retail version gets delayed for 2-3 weeks. I can only sugarcoat this disappointment by hoping that by this date the most critical bugs will already have been fixed :\

  15. SQW says:

    okay, 30hrs in and the verdict isn’t quite as sunny any more.

    PROS:

    Exploring anomalies has never been done so well.

    Sectors largely works and while quite inefficient, it does take your mind off micro every planet mid game. If you are a min/max player, now is time to curl into fetal position though.

    Tactical level AI is decent (although admittingly it doesn’t have to do much). It’ll hit your less defended worlds in a war and is quite adapt at avoiding or chasing down your fleet.

    Strategic level AI is very good. I’ve seen some major alliances forming to challenges the top dog (me) in a game. Although it’s a shame not to be able to ally with a neutral faction when they are in a losing war. Your allies WILL come and fight alongside you. Your enemies allies WILL come and fight you too. This isn’t CIV where allied nations takes decades to get off their arses.

    CONS:

    This isn’t Grand Strategy! Stellaris is basically 4X-lite. CIV V without 2 DLCs. Baby’s first step into 4X etc etc. While sectors remove the mid game micro (btw, hunting down your space stations in a sector is a HUGE PAIN – hotkey them), the game basically plays like Sins of a Solar Empire rather than SOTS. There’s no espionage, no trade network, and beyond forming war/alliances/federation etc, diplomacy is bare-boned.

    No cultural interactions what so ever. It’s basically WAR or not WAR.

    Strategic AI cheats. Game seems to give the AI a bonus in weapon tech. It’s understandable when two other similar sized empires have +1 level tech on their ship compared to your fleet but when someone with only 1/7th of your size/pop also shows up with fleet armed with every components also just 1 level above yours, you start to take notice.

    Tactical AI is bugged. Once I conquered a frontier world, destroyed the main fleet and set about orbital bombardment, the AI continue to trickle ships in ones and twos to be slaughtered – odd considering their main fleet did a great job of kiting mine.

    Some ship weapons are too similar to each other. Variety is lacking despite the numbers.

    VERDICT:

    A Sin of a Solar Empire clone with a very nice veneer of some 4X elements. Definitely light on content. CIV V basic level of content actually so expect to pay for another 2 DLCs at least. It’s no EU in space despite the fact Paradox traded in their rep and let people think this is a grand strategy 4X despite the fact it’s more RTS than 4X.

  16. teak421 says:

    I feel bad saying this because everyone loves this game, but I got bored pretty quick. I’ve only got about 12 hours into the game, but nothing really sticks out to me other than the great music. It also seems limiting…not many systems (I.E. trade) are active YET.

    Must be me, because most everyone else loves this game!

    teak

  17. vmxa says:

    I have been avoiding this as it I like total control, but it does seem to be well done. The price is quite good for as much as they seem to have in it. Watching a few vods to try to talk myself into giving it a shot.

    • SQW says:

      There are mods that let you have larger number of planets to directly control before the penalties sets in. It’s actually just changing a number somewhere so if you really want to play this like a micro game, just edit the current limit to 500 and you are set.

  18. SamDog says:

    Now that I have played it for a bit it does have problems in the AI and automating tedious tasks–however, nowadays no game is every really done, and there are lots of updates on the way, some we will probably have to pay for. The mod community looks pretty active on steam, so we have still more “wait and see”.

    As a company they have a great reputation of sticking with a game so considering its just a start it is a very good start.

  19. Paradox has released a post-release Developer Diary, discussing future plans for the game and responding to the more common criticisms the game has gotten.

    http://steamcommunity.com/games/281990/announcements/detail/923614034797828841

    This is looking hopeful. The first few planned patches are not going to come with DLCs, so it will all be free for everyone.

    • SQW says:

      The game was rushed. Contents were omitted so a playable build is available on the date and the new dev post simply confirmed the fact. Seriously, UI changes in the first 2 wks? Some of the ‘content’ additions are so ludicrously basic you’d think nobody at Paradox has made a game before this.

      Some of the design features also just don’t work with each other. It’s as if several different teams made their modules without outside communication and stitched everything up afterwards without testing. The MOO style micro pop/facility management is just a bonkers idea if you suppose to let the AI take over through macro sectors management.

    • Mark says:

      Definitely a positive sign. After the soul crushing experience on the New MOO forums its something of a shock to see devs actually respond by fixing things that fans dont like.

      Thanks for the update, Stellaris seems to be one of the rare 4x games with even the potential to rise above mediocrity. I look forward to your review.

    • SQW says:

      I’m far more cynical at this turn of event. Since when do we celebrate devs for fixing obvious problems they intentionally let through to the release build due to time/money/schedule? Since when did us gamers become so accustomed to being shafted that fixing beta-level UIs and an AI that completely failed to function as a core mechanic(the broken sector management) is being applauded?

      Some of the current UI and utter lack of mid-late game content combined with a great early game shows a calculated attempt in suckering customers with a base product in order to milk future DLCs – it’s basically reminiscent of how mobile games design their game to be front-loaded. I, and I believe many others, bought the game based on the first impression of youtube reviewers who understandably raved about the early game. However, few had enough time with their review copies to get into the mid-late game where the quality drops off the cliff.

      It’s one thing to have a uniformly bad game but a game that plays great in the first 5-10 hrs but turns to sh*t afterwards? That’s not a mistake, that takes careful planning.

      • “Since when do we celebrate devs for fixing obvious problems they intentionally let through to the release build due to time/money/schedule?”

        Since all games come out like this now but most developers only release a few slap-dash patches that do nothing really (if even that), and then move on.

        So is it ideal games have issues that should have been fixed prior to release, no, but the alternative is worst and the alternative is way more common.

        Now, I am not surprised issues like this exist. Even SotS the game I know you enjoyed was a mess on initial release. What most people think of SotS now is a tonne of patches and 2.5 expansions. As games got bigger with more “content” the more places it can break. The more features a game has, the more work it needs exponentially.

        However, where you see malice I just see an overambitious project that probably needed a more time. They announced the release date about two months before official release. They should have known they needed more time by then and should have picked a later date.

        The reason why they didn’t? Who knows, is it because they are going to become a partially publically traded company soon and needed to have new titles out before their IPO? Did they want Stellaris live before HoI IV came out? Who knows.

        A deadline was set, and they had to meet it. Does it excuse the short comings, no, but see malice to fleece customers is stretching it and here is why.

        I do not see malice because those fixes are not going to be behind a pay wall. From what I got from the diary none of these fixes are related to a paid DLC. So saying they wanted sucker people in so they can milk them with DLC later is false. Yes Paradox does do DLCs but these issues are addressed in the free patches. They sucker people to get their game so they can force them to pay nothing for free patches?

        Also, reviewers got the game 10 days early, so did Streamers. Streamers could start Streaming 4 days before release and even if the Embargo was lifted on the 9th for reviews, it was lifted 3 hours before release. Every review site had their review up before the game went live. Even this site. There were even podcasts discussing reviews of the game before it went live.

        People still had time to cancel their pre-orders and Steam offers a no-question asked refund policy if you haven’t played the game for two hours. Also, most reviewers, from those that gave it a 6 to those that gave it more than 9 all played the game on average 60-80 hours.

        You can think the reviewers are bought, bias, or just didn’t pay attention, but they are a lot of them and most say the same things. Even the 6 and the 9 reviews say the same things, just the issues were seen as forgivable by one and not by the other.

        So if they were trying to sneak something under the radar, they did a really bad job because the reviews and streams discussing these issues were up even before the game was released. Also, if they were hoping to fleece money for the fixes, then there too they are doing a bad job with the free patches.

        Once we see when the announce their first DLC-expansion and what is going to be in the pain version can one even remotely start making such an accusation. As things stand now, the accusation has no evidence to support and is even contrary to the evidence that is present.

        ***

        Also, Stellaris issues are common TO ALL 4X, even those that get lauded as being classics. Civ IV, SotS, even the beloved MOO. Those games manage to hid it because they give you a victory condition you can bee-line too or you can wage a war that can steamroll a large faction in a single war.

        To pretend that other 4X games have solid mid or late game is laughable. Does it excuse the weakness with Stellaris no. But to act like Stellaris dropped a ball here is ridiculous. Since hardly anyone has ever picked it up.

        MOO thankfully did have two victory conditions that you can tap to end a game before it became an issue, and though this may trigger the “hate on Civ V” crowd but only Civ V with Brave New World managed to have a late game that works without needing to have the player bee-line something to end it sooner.

        Again, this is not excuse the flaws in Stellaris. But guess what, SotS had huge flaming flaws, so did MOO 2 (oh the triggering), Civ… all of them (even the one whoever is reading this comment liked), and even *gets the bullet proof glass* SMAC. They all had huge glaring flares which I can rant about.

        It’s great people have their favourite games, that’s good. But expecting all games to tickle your fancy is absurd, even within the same genre.

        I actually hate SC2 skirmish and multiplayer, and only play it for the single-player campaign. While I am a huge fan of Company of Heroes 1 and 2, and I have hundreds of hours spent on both. There the campaign is my least favourite part, I play multiplayer and AI skirmish more. However, I don’t think SC2 is a bad RTS. It’s a good RTS, it’s just not my cup of tea.

        I also think it’s a big fat lie that all the current games are bad. Yeah there a lot of bad games, and a lot of developers that do shady shit. However, if everything is bad that could just be a sign that you’ve outgrown the hobby.

        There is no shame in that, I used to be into table-top gaming and then got fed up with it. Does it mean table-top gaming is bad now? No, just not something I find interesting anymore.

        • SamDog says:

          Edward Varfalvy;

          Its hard to review games these days, because they are never really done. As important as the game is the reputation of Paradox with their past games.

          Robocraft has been charging millions for their beta since 2014–you can’t pick on them for a bad release because they never bothered with a release. You can’t complain about a beta if you paid for it, but you can complain about a release. There isn’t much upside to releasing–all you get is a bunch of whiners–if you just stay beta everybody is happy.

        • Oh I am not shy about criticising a beta or an early access. I am a little forgiving at the start, since as you say, the game is not finish.

          However, but there comes a point where you realise the developers are not planning to ever finish a game. Sadly, there is no hard rules one can follow to know when to do that. It will be different for each person.

          But once crossed, yeah criticise the game as if it was finished and just hope that people agree with the line you used.

          To me the whole “it’s only a beta” is like a shelf-life thing. Eventually, doesn’t matter what the developer thinks, the expiry date arrives.

        • SQW says:

          Why am I being so hard on Stellaris despite SOTS and CIV all suffering the same issue? Well, SOTS was Kerbero’s first attempt so it gets a pass. Even SOTS II gets a pass from me because it genuinely attempted to break the mold but failed (the straight lying part was still a dick move). CIV V was canned for lack of content too but Firaxis built up a lot of good will with IV so ppl let it slide. Then CIV: BE repeated the same trick and that’s when players turned on the devs.

          Paradox isn’t a indie studio with no resources and it had years of experience in strategy games. Yet, Stellaris was equivalent of that CIV Starship cheap tie-in that used the reputation of the studio while delivering nothing like the what the studio was known for. Studios are suppose to learn from past experiences and not pull the same basic base game + DLC trick every time. Firaxis learnt their lesson with Beyond Earth (that game’s future prospect, and any ‘potential’ is now zero with VI announcement) but Paradox will still try this trick again given Stellaris’s sales figues.

          Also, I wasn’t implying the reviews were bought – I meant game designers are now front loading their games so the first half of the game gets the meat of development time while the rest of the game hardly matches the rest in quality. Youtubers are especially susceptible to this. We’ve seen it in FPS and most mobile F2P games but Stellaris is the first strategy game from a big studio i’ve seen that have exhibited such philosophy this blatantly.

      • Mark says:

        “Some of the current UI and utter lack of mid-late game content combined with a great early game shows a calculated attempt in suckering customers with a base product in order to milk future DLCs”.

        Its impossible to say if that’s true or not. If I had to guess I’d say it probably *is* true because many game companies release bare-skeleton games nowadays and I’d be very surprised if Paradox is an exception. But without inside information, a guess is just a guess.

        The most important thing for me is that Stellaris seems like one of the very few modern 4x space games that actually *can* potentially be rescued by patches/DLC or possibly even become great. The foundation seems very solid from what I’ve heard. Many recent games (like Polaris Sector or the New MOO) are so fundamentally broken and ineptly designed that no amount of dlc or expansions will *ever* be able to rescue them.

        I had begun to despair of EVER seeing a modern 4x game released that managed to even exceed mediocrity, so its very refreshing to see something come out with the apparent potential to rise above the generic dross we usually get. Whether it manages to do so or not only time (and no doubt lots of DLC cash) will tell.

  20. Meprun says:

    I think the games is very good as a sci fi game and has very good but simple game Mechanics. A major spoiler is the ai. It is simple not doing what it should be doing. A warlike empire wages war a pacifist empire doenst not wagen war and a trade empire trades. After playing for 100 years it is beginning to notice that all the charactaristics mean nothing for the game. I doubt even the race charactaristics. In my view building scrips for ai behavior isnt hard to do. It makes the game playable and with a random option for different ai empires in the vicinity replayable. De rest of the game is a masterpiece, but its very disappionting and a sci fi insult the programmers left a very bad ai script

    • ThreeHeadedMonkey says:

      I think war is less about who is warlike or not but based more on how the empires feel about each other. Empires with similar ethics will be more likely to get along and not fight than otherwise. I feel like having the warlike or pacifist ethics are more about your policies and how other races feel about you, and less about the decision to actually go to war.

    • SQW says:

      The way Stellaris approaches factional response has both pro and con.

      The pro is that you don’t get stuck with just generic one dimensional war-like races and sciencey races and pacifists etc. It’s far more organic for factions to respond to others based on their similarities and differences.

      The con is that Stellaris made traits so generic and ineffective, watching the star map progress just feels like a bunch of bland blobs brushing against each other due to +20 pts here and -35 pts there. The major problem is that Stellaris’s races are as utterly forgettable as those in CIV: BE so we are unable to assign personalities to them.

      Paradox actually made the same error Firaxis did with CIV: BE. Having relied on historical figures to add flavours to their other titles, both studios had no idea how to create a memorable factions once the crutch of history is taken away. Again, I need to point out how good SOTS was at this aspect. SOTS races’s distinctive lore all translated to their ships design, weapons, FTL etc; you’ll never mistake a Hiver faction for a Human whereas as I barely remember the traits of my own custom race after turn 50 in Stellaris.

  21. npu3paka says:

    It feels very unfinished. The weapon tech is equal to all, just diff names. Doesnt matter if u use small, med or large mount, they all do same dps. At some point missiles become useless bcoz of point defense tech. The power sources doesnt feel right somehow. doesnt matter if u have or dont have superior weapons, u just need to have more ships and defense platforms. No intelligence, no espionage, no sabotage, no assassination, no bribery… (WHAT???). U cant demand weaker empire to become vassal (they always refuse and there must be war) or offer to join u bcoz they r at war with some1 and they r about to lose. U cant demand (by fear) empire (even vassals) to pay u tribute or give u tech or attack some1…
    So many stuff r missing in this game.

  22. teak421 says:

    I agree, totally unfinished.

    Paradox has a totally horrible DLC policy of gouging their customers with frequent small expansions that doesn’t include everything… Like, Music.. Like sprites, etc. Just found out that HOI4 will force you to purchase tech trees for countries like Poland. Hopefully that will not be the case with Stellaris.

  23. Jotunheim says:

    Very nice and neat first impressions.

    Sounds like the 4X of the year!

    Any chance to have a real review yet with… a rate or a mark? time for the test :-)

  24. Jeff P says:

    Against my usual instincts, I went ahead and bought Stellaris. I found the game to be much less hectic than DW, but despite some peculiarities with the UI that I hope will be addressed in the future, I enjoyed the game very much. With one big caveat: late game, so much is going on under the hood it places a real burden on the CPU. Occasionally, I’ve encountered slow downs with other RTS’s when things get really complicated, but this is the first time a game actually caused my comp to shut down from over-heating. The map was only medium sized, and I limited the AI empires to 10. My machine isn’t cutting edge, but it is only a couple years old, exceeds the minimum specs by a considerable margin, and isn’t over-clocked.

    Just a warning.

  25. Buatha says:

    Is this site going to review Stellaris? It seems content has been pretty light (i.e. dead) lately.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Adam recently posted some comments in a Civ VI related article in response to a similar question. No, the site is not dead, though admittedly it is very easy to think that is the case at this point. I’m partially to blame for that as I’ve not kept up my typical number of contributions in recent months. Believe it or not, this weighs heavily on me as I don’t like to let all of you down.

      • Evil Azrael says:

        There’s nothing to blame you. It’s your life and time. There are certainly more important and more enjoyable things than writing reviews :-)

  26. Buatha says:

    Hey, man, I’m not let down. I know it’s hard to constantly keep updating content for readers. If it makes you feel better, I’ve let an AAR for Sword of the Stars lapse for over 2 years, so this is a speck:

    http://www.kerberos-productions.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=11427&sid=433011fef49bd581e0b51d8c2383d858

    I still look at it with guilt as I enjoyed doing it, but now my life barely allows for gaming (again).

    • Keith Turner says:

      That’s a pretty epic thread! At a glance I can tell it took a lot of effort to put that together. I applaud your contribution whether finished or not.

      Thanks for being patient and understanding. I’ve got a review in the pipeline for the near future, although it’s not for Stellaris as that one’s not assigned to me to cover. I own it, but I’ve been playing other things while waiting for it to be honed and refined post-release.

  27. Mark says:

    “I own it, but I’ve been playing other things while waiting for it to be honed and refined post-release.”

    I think that pretty much sums up most people’s reaction to Stellaris. Its been shelved until it gets some more meat on that bare-bones skeleton they released as a finished game……

  28. Evil Azrael says:

    After waiting 2 months for this glorious boxed edition (DVD Case, Useless DVD, Inlay with Steam Code) I played the game for a whole week and really enjoyed the time.

    But i won’t finish the game in the near future as the end game needs much better automation. Creating a fleet is very tedious as you have to build each ship by hand and then you have to merge the fleets. War is also tedious. Fly large fleet to planet, create Detachment, fly to next planet.. Have another fleet standing by to catch the opposing but always fleeing fleet.

    Diplomacy is a mixed bag. Has anybody managed to get another empire pay a monthly tribute? Not me, not a single energy credit. So I have to conquer even the weakest empire I beat 10 years ago again. So, what about threats like “Listen up little on, pay or die…”. The warscore limit of 100 makes the endgame also very tedious when you have to mop up the small star empires.

    Espionage? I do not miss it.


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Post category: Game First Impressions, Game Reviews