Current Addiction: Stellaris

It’s been a while since I was last gripped by a game for 5 hours straight. Over multiple days.

stellaris_map

*rubs hands together*

Stellaris is a non-Paradox game developed by Paradox. This is important because of my history with this developer. Much like with EVE, I had heard a lot about Crusader Kings 2, all sorts of crazy stories, and bought it thinking that I’d like to play the game that generated them. Nope, I played about 3 hours before uninstalling it. So when a friend of mine recommended Stellaris recently, I was skeptical. So skeptical that I ended up installing Galactic Civilization 2 (free download) and Galactic Civilization 3 (don’t even know where this came from) in order to scratch the itch that Civ 6 had left. Then, finally, a recent 60% sale on Stellaris pushed me over the edge.

I have been falling ever since.

I’m about 30 hours into my sort of beginner tutorial playthrough and I’m trying to decide whether to start over or not. There have been some noob mistakes on my part, and some additional jankiness with the game that I am coming to terms with. I was in a recent war, for example, and was prevented from claiming total victory because… an ally was occupying the last planet instead of me. This enemy civilization had zero unoccupied planets and yet they “forced” me into a truce… that still resulted in me claiming all their shit. Except that last planet, with was taken over by my ally a few in-game months later. I don’t even know if it matters – the internet is awash in outdated information on the game – but it still bothered me.

stellaris_war

Really? Really? C’MON!

Regardless, I am more excited about a game than I have been in quite some time. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s because Stellaris is a new puzzle for me to figure out, or if I’m excited about a new “survival-ish” experience of exploring and uncovering resources, or something else altogether.

Either way, I’m looking forward to figuring it out.

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Posted on May 29, 2018, in Impressions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Weird you couldn’t get into CK2 if you can into Stellaris. IMO they are in similar levels of confusing and ‘not much going on’ gameplay for large stretches.

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    • Well, Stellaris is pretty standard 4X gameplay, with ship-building, researching technologies, exploring systems, colonizing planets, etc. With CK2, I had no idea what was going on at any given point. In fact, I thought I had to have male heirs in order to continue playing the game. I mean… maybe you do? At one point I married off a daughter to France, and I had no particular idea of the implications. Could I then control France if all of my Ireland dudes died?

      It’s an interesting point about the “not much going on” stretches though. The waiting game doesn’t bother me in Stellaris at all. I think the reason is entirely the (initially weird) real-time nature of gameplay. Having to press Next Turn 20 times in Civ before something happens is more jarring and “in your face” than passively watching your fleets fly across the galaxy. The latter “makes sense” in a weird way. Plus, there’s the fact that you can busy yourself with a whole lot of micromanagement if you want to, there’s three different technologies being research simultaneously, etc.

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      • I was looking at CK2/Stellaris from the perspective that in the first 30min or so, in neither game you know wtf is going on pretty much. Then aspects start to make sense while a ton of other stuff is still going on that doesn’t. Play enough and you eventually get all the systems, and then it transitions into min/max time on higher difficulties. I’d say with all dlc, that curve is WAY longer in CK2, but the basic curve still exists.

        Funny thing about the second part, I had the exact opposite reaction. In Civ if you don’t need to do anything, its pretty clear and you hit end turn. In CK2, time is moving and stuff is happening, but its unclear if you should be watching or clicking something. Are you ‘playing wrong’ by not clicking right now? Who knows…

        I’ll say this too; I think the in-game stories that happen based on randomness are the best in CK2, greater than even Rimworld, but they take a long, long time to unfold, and you have to really let mistakes happen and roll with them, which is so hard in such games (at least for me).

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  2. Glad to see you (possibly) having found your Paradox game.

    If you ever want to ‘get’ CK2 without quite investing the time, I would suggest reading some of the After-Action-Report threads on the Paradox forums. There is an entire board dedicated to these. They range from more or less straightforward accounts of campaign gameplay to people lavishly role-playing with plenty of historical details and imaginary adornments thrown in.

    I recommend this, incidentally, over watching any videos.

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  3. Stellaris is great. Sincerely one of the best RPG experiences in gaming the firm time round. You feel completely small, alone and in the cold death of space and then it all goes kaputt.

    The little niggles will really annoy you by the end if they’ve already appeared. Being stomped by the AI makes paradox games fun. Having unexplained mechanics just grind everything down isn’t. They actually disabled planet trading (not sure if it’s back in) because people were having too much fun with genetically engineering terrible species.

    You might like Vic 2. It’s ferociously overrated on reddit for its historicity, mechanics and opaque-spreadsheets-as-genius-design (wow, just like EVE) but hilariously abusable and if you love min maxing, you can do it infinitely more in Vicky. Just make sure to have all the expansions and the HPM mod.

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