Is Stellaris, Worth Playing?
Stellaris is so far ahead of its competitors in the genre that it would take a jump to lightspeed at this point for them to catch up.

The Lowdown.

Product Details
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 9 May, 2016
Supported Modes:

Paradox Have Experience.

Paradox is the undisputed king of the grand strategy genre, considering it owns almost every major franchise in the genre, including Stellaris, Hearts of Iron, Crusader Kings, Victoria, and Europa Universalis.

While Paradox has made some pretty noticeable missteps over the last few years, most noticeably the disastrous Europa Universalis IV: Leviathan DLC (90% negative reviews) and several poorly reviewed titles such as Empire of Sin and Imperator Rome, they have shown they are willing to work to improve such releases tirelessly, and even when they fail to do so, their willingness to admit to mistakes is why Paradox titles even worst often have a higher level of polish and more content that most titles released by other publishers in the same genre.

Do I recommend every Paradox game? Not, however, at least as of April 2024, there is no better grand strategy publisher, and all but their most disappointing releases are worth considering for fans of the genre.

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Role Play Potential.

Stellaris may not have a single overarching narrative. Still, it is at its core a narrative title, albeit one that is created by the player, whose interaction with the wider galaxy can influence the greater cause of events, from galaxy-spanning empires that expand through war to small secluded galaxies that use diplomacy, technology and espionage to rule from the shadows.

In Stellaris, there is no such thing as an “invalid narrative”, and players are free to play whatever role they wish in the grander scheme of things, even if that role is that of xenophobic fish people who wish to be left alone in their watery corner of the galaxy, while everyone else does their own thing.

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Origins.

Stellaris allows players to select an origin for their empire, which essentially sets the background for what your race was doing before it became an empire.

Unlike many games with similar systems, the origin of your empire can have a huge impact on how you play the game and interact with others, including starting the game as a vassal of a fallen empire or with an allied Sky dragon that feeds on the population of your capital in exchange for its protection.

As of April 2024, there are over two dozen playable origins and a further six unplayable origins only available to endgame crisis and AI factions.

In games with randomly generated AI empires, most Origins are unique, meaning only one empire with that origin can be generated.

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Vassal System.

Owners of the Stellaris Overlords DLC gain access to an enhanced vassal system that allows for the creation of specialist vassals, which benefits both the overlord and vassal, such as the Bulwark vassalization option, which makes starbases and defences cheaper and stronger for the vassal, while increasing the speed and reducing the cost of starbase upgrades for the overlord, in addition to reducing the spread of crime via relay networks.

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Events.

Like most Paradox games, Stellaris contains many random events, some of which allow the player to choose from several ways to address it often; this takes the form of offering the player a small bonus now or risking it in exchange for a greater reward, such as scrapping an alien technology for resources, or further studying it, which can lead to an even greater reward such unique technologies or an increased payload of resources.

Victory Comes In Many Forms.

Stellaris, like Crusader Kings, is the type of game where you do not have to “win” to have a good time; rather, players are free to exist as part of the galaxy and accumulate victories and defeats as they do so.

While some players may find this lack of structure off-putting, deciding your victory conditions is fantastic. It makes it very difficult to go back to more traditional games, with liner victories conditions after having been shown a new and frankly better way of measuring success.

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Value for Money.

Stellaris offers players such a huge variety of content and a massive list of faction types that completing the game in a traditional sense would take the average player well over 400 hours, which is a conservative estimate.

That being said, for players who like to game in smaller doses, a single-player through on standard difficulty lasts around 12-15 hours, more than enough time to re-enact the Fall of the Republic, Rise of the Empire, and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers while you are at it.

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DLC.

The Paradox Interactive business model is almost entirely focused on annual DLC releases that include substantial content and new mechanics for buyers while updating the base game with the quality of life changes and minor mechanics that help keep their games fresher for longer.

As a result, Stellaris, like all Paradox games, has an abundance of DLC available, ranging from small cosmetic packs to larger expansion packs that add new mechanics or radically enhance base game mechanics to a new level.

Are all of these DLC necessary to enjoy the game? Yes and No; while the game is a solid 8/10 in its most basic form, and owners of the base game will in no way feel “cheated,” purchasing DLC such as Stellaris: Federations or Stellaris Nemesis helps to make gameplay more immersive. And who doesn’t want to declare themselves the Emperor of a “United” Galaxy after skillfully manipulating other empires into signing away their freedoms in exchange for increased security against mid- and endgame crises?

Stellaris FAQ

Stellaris is a strategy video game developed by Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interactive, it was released on 9 May, 2016 and retails for $39.99.

Platform Availability.

Stellaris is available on the following platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.

How Long Does Stellaris Take to Complete?

On average Stellaris takes between 50 and 999 hours to complete.

  • Main Story: 50 Hours.
  • Main + Side Quests: 100 Hours.
  • Completionist: 999 Hours.

Estimated completion times are derived from various sources and may vary based on the skill level of each player.

What Peripherals Are Supported?

The following peripherals are officially supported:

Is There Any Mature Content?

Stellaris is rated PEGI 7+ and contains the following:

  • Violence

Final Verdict.

Paradox is the king of Grand Strategy, and Stellaris is without a doubt the king of space-age grand strategy, a genre that for too long was dominated and therefore stagnated by Galactic civilisations; it an undoubtedly a fantastic franchise, albeit one that rested on its laurels while the competition passed it by.

While Stardock still has a horse in the race, and Galactic Civilisations 4 could one-day rival Stellaris, for now, it is a one-sided contest. I fully recommend Stellaris to all fans of real-time and grand strategy games.

Is Stellaris Worth Playing In 2024?

10
Honest Video Game Reviews has given "Stellaris" a rating of 10/10, indicating that it is genre-defining and essentially unmissable. While it may not be 100% perfect, it comes close, and the average gamer is likely to both enjoy and recommend it to others.

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