The early game/exploration definitely is the strongest part of Stellaris. At this point I wish they would just move on and start working on a sequel, but I imagine they are other things ahead of that in the queue at Paradox.
Just to be clear, it’s not BAD in my mind. I think the problem I have with the game is they wind up trying to do too much and miss any focus of fun. So for any given facet of the game, it’s largely competent but other games individually seem to do each better.
If you don’t mind a music metaphor, it’s like listening to a good high school choir; the music is fairly nice and they’ll often have basso profondos all the way up to soprano tessituras, but every arrangement and every piece has been done across countless towns. Hard as they try, it’s most people can’t be Robert Shaw or Polyphony. Depending on the attempt, sometimes coming up short—being unable to hit the high notes, if you will—becomes more noticeable than the overall production.
Then you listen to the Three Tenors, and despite their relative lack of range and being so few in number, some glorious music can be heard from them because they lean into their strengths. Not that everyone can pull that off either, but give me a good, small acapella group over a large choir with an accompaniment any day of the week.
Admittedly, the closest thing I ever played to a space 4x game was probably Space Rangers 2 and that’s not even close to a 4x game lol I should check out the HD version of Space Rangers 2 though. Only played the original and I accidentally selected the “No Planetary Battles” option in the first minutes of the game so never even saw the surface of a planet. I think I might have missed out on something there haha
Yes I really enjoyed this. But tbh that’s the area of any/all 4X’s I enjoy the most.
My experience was that Stellaris is an easy game to invest a lot of time into without getting “fun” back in return.
E.g. Stellaris comes out, and I’m super-hyped to play the space-strategy version of EUIV or Victoria2. And so I learn the systems, and play through a full game, and there is no AI pushback and the sectors do not work and the end-game events never actually trigger & it turns out to just be a ton of repetitive micro-management.
Then you wait a year for the new DLC and engine improvements & design tweaks, and you learn the new systems & relearn the old ones, and then the above bad experience repeats but also the game slows to a crawl.
Repeat this process until completely dis-illusioned.
To derail for a bit, Stellaris is actually my go-to example of what Tom is always talking about, of game designers not doing their job, and just giving the players a sandbox and asking them to try and find the fun in it. Like, give us some sign-posts about how this game is meant to be played! Give us a hint as to what AI difficulty level or end-game settings we should use in order to have an actual game or to see the end game events. As is I just kept doing these 30 hour experiments with the game before finally giving it up as nothing interesting happens very slowly.
(Edit: let me not be completely negative. It is an extremely pretty game. )
Neither of those are better than Stellaris for me.
I think I came too late to Sword of the Stars and simply found it too old. Distand worlds never really said anything to me, even though I did try - also your “One man, one captain” tip wasn’t really doing anything for me.
I do LOVE Moo2 more than anything else, but its getting a bit long in the tooth as well, especially since its a series I’ve played for what…25 years or so?
As for Stellaris itself, like most other games I play, I enjoy the start the most. The exploration and the fun little stories - after that, I usually quit, find something else, and when I get back to it, I start over. It works fine that way.
What do you think is the best space 4x to jump into these days? I’m looking for something turn-based, like Civ in space essentially. Is Endless Space 2 a good place to start? I happen to own ES2 from an old Steam sale (probably), but I don’t have Distant Worlds.
GalCiv 3 or Interstellar Space Genesis are, I feel, the best modern turn-based 4X games you can get these days.
Thank you. This one sentence sums up every Paradox game I’ve ever tried. They looks so appealing but once you actually try to play them, it’s more work than fun.
Your haha there is probably indicative that you know this already, but for other readers I’ll state that no, you didn’t miss out on anything there. The “RTS” battles on the planets were pretty unremarkable.
I occasionally get the urge to go back to SR2 or rather the remaster of it, but I just never got very far in it. It was pretty cool but I obviously didn’t understand its systems too well because it seemed that after a while the repair costs were just killing me and I couldn’t make enough money to be competitive as a Space Ranger.
I never get far in SR2 either. Eventually the mission payouts are so small they make me feel like I’m spinning my wheels.
I finished Space Rangers 2 but I played it like a total pussy. I basically put all my money into upgrades and newer, faster ships and fitted everything for speed. Then I just did mostly courier runs into dangerous systems where the rewards were greater. My ship was so freakin’ fast the fastest hostile ships that tried to catch and kill me passing through their space just ended up eating my cosmic dust as I basically completed run after run of lucrative missions at great profit (which, of course, I put into faster, bigger, mo’ better ships and upgrades… repeat, rinse and repeat again). I’m not proud of it, but that’s how I played it. I managed to defeat the end game baddies with underpowered weaponry but an engine that could vroom through solar systems with speed the likes of which even God had never seen. My reward at the end of the game? A cut scene of a musical troupe of little bulbous headed aliens playing their version of space jazz lol camera zooms slowly out… fade to end credits
I desperately want “SOTS2 but good”. Or that RPG they trialled and cancelled where aliens thought that humans were an honor-bound warrior race because the first human they met happened to be a devout Sikh.
Hey friends, the dev who made the amazing Starships Unlimited is now giving it (and all his games) away for free!
I tried to give it a go but when I went to boot it up all I got was a black screen and a cursor.
Never mind, got it running, now to see what’s what.
For some reason I mix up his game with the Mac’s 4X games Stars! and that other one I forget the name of.
Yeah, the former was one of my biggest gaming disappointments, I had such high hopes/expectations after the wonderful Sword of the Stars, still my favorite galactic 4x game.
clicks link, requests account, verification fails, do it 3 more times
It can’t validate my login. Bah.
It took a few attempts for me as well. What worked was clicking the raw text link and not the button.
If you still can’t get it let me know and I’ll hook you up.