IN THE EARLY GAME, STELLARIS EXCELS AT MAKING EXPLORATION FUN.
From the very start, Stellaris overwhelms you with options. The empire creation system allows players to select from mammalian, reptilian and avian species. There are even spider-like creatures, hard-shelled mollusks and a race of sentient fungi. Each empire can select from a small assortment of positive and negative traits that will, for instance, boost their engineering talent or render them physically repulsive. You can even customize an empire’s attitude toward other races and ideologies, opening up avenues for unique and challenging political structures within your empire.
Would you like to play as a race of bird-like creatures who can only colonize dry, rocky desert worlds and prefer a collectivist society that worships technology? Then maybe try your hand at a ruling science directorate, an oligarchy of eggheads elected every 50 years. Perhaps next time around you’d like to conjure up a society of floating, spore-like creatures who are fanatic, warlike xenophobes. If that’s the case, you can explore the challenges of managing a military republic with a five-year election cycle.
For completionists looking to experience everything the game has to offer, expect many challenging campaign playthroughs.
Once you’ve winnowed down your options, Stellaris uses each of these traits to spin a unique tale for you and your society. The way your people react to discoveries, events and other races is tailored to choices that you’ve made in the pre-game setup. The result is an experience that encourages role-playing on a grand scale and rewards players with early-game technologies and buffs for leaning in to those roles.