Until you get Kinetic Artillery I’ve found using all railguns to be good enough almost all the time!
Also, I don’t think Stellaris is a bad game (à la SOTS 2), I just don’t believe it to be a good game. Given the dearth of large budget expansive 4X games and Paradox’s track record at making complex, nuanced and engaging grand strategy games, that’s all the more disappointing.
Reading between the lines, it sounded like the Great Recession at the time caused Kerberos’ financing to dry up, which forced them to cut staff and they fell far behind schedule. It seemed at the time that the state of the game wasn’t communicated well to Paradox and the latter didn’t do their due diligence in monitoring the project.
It’s too bad, too, because while SOTS2 was a mess, there was a lot of cool concepts I really liked. I still think that there could have been a good to great game there, with enough iterations.
At least publicly, their goal was to have something more accessible/less complex than their other games. I think they saw the 4X DNA as an opportunity to bring new players in, as it’s easier to strip things down and start simple with a single planet/spaceship, as opposed to starting out as the king of France.
For me personally, there were two main areas where Stellaris fell short: Empire building choices and combat/FTL. Diplomacy, while nowhere near as good as something like EU4, felt on par with other 4X games, so I was mostly OK with that (although I would like more, of course).
Unity took care of one of the two major areas for me. I have a lot more fun now when customizing and building my empire, and I feel like my choices matter more. Playing Pacifist vs Militarist feels a lot more distinct now than it did to me at release, whereas before it felt inconsequential. Unity also added more interesting decisions for me to take in the midgame, with traditions, ascension, etc.
The main area for me where the game still falls short are the FTL methods and warfare in general. Wiz has said that if there was one single thing he could change about the original design of the game (which he wasn’t part of), it would be the decision to include the three different types of travel, because they add very little to the game and are a balance nightmare.
I am hoping that the second expansion will revamp FTL and war, along with some diplomacy enhancements. Ground warfare in particular needs to be completely rethought, because it’s uninteresting and very tedious from a UI perspective right now.
For me, while I enjoy Stellaris with the Utopia expansion, it’s still a ways behind something like EU4. I think that’s understandable to some degree, since EU4 is the fourth iteration of the game and has received 3.5 years of post-release support on top of a fantastic (IMO) base game. If they can really nail a war-focused expansion, I think it will elevate the game to the next level, for my personal tastes.
Seeing as Wiz has said numerous times how badly he wants Hyperlanes-only to be the default game mode with Warp/Wormholes as some kind of late game techs, I’d be kind of surprised if it doesn’t happen. He’s also said he knows it will upset some people, but I figure if he keeps it as a menu option the only people who will be truly offended are the ones who can’t stand anyone disagreeing with them.
As has been pointed out, Warp and especially Wormholes make it ridiculously easy to just skip static defenses altogether. Though it is truly a bit baffling to me why they have never even attempted a bandaid interim solution like just buffing defense stations by 50% or something. It isn’t like with their placement limitations that defense stations are ever going to decide a war even if they were buffed considerably.
With Hyperlanes only enabled (though Fallen Empires still get Jump Drives even on that setting), I don’t really find the gameplay vastly improved, but only because static defenses are still pointlessly weak for their cost. Even if you modded them to be powerful it wouldn’t help anyone but yourself as the AI doesn’t build them in any intelligent or meaningful way.
I mean, I see how a hyperlanes only style could hypothetically improve the game once a number of other issues are resolved, but at the moment I feel it just adds a bit more randomness to the game, which can be fun or not, depending.
It’s also trivial for fleets to jump. An enemy fleet jumps into a gravity well where my fleet is orbiting a planet - there is almost no chance my fleet can reach them by sublight before they are two jumps away.
There are a lot of similarities between Stellaris and Alan Emrich’s original plans for what MOO3 was supposed to be. MOO3 was going to have the player delegating control of parts of their empire to the AI, multiple methods of FTL travel, and pops very much like the ones in Stellaris & Victoria. I wonder if Paradox thought they could take ideas from MOO3 but execute them better.
Something like that happened in my game. I was to the southwest of the galaxy with four core systems and had expanded two remote systems to the northwest. These distant worlds were very near two fallen empires. If I compared the galaxy to a clock, the grumpier fallen empire was at 9 o’clock and the adorbs fallen empire was at 11 o’clock.
The weird extradimensional guys jumped in with a 50k stack. I was using hyperlanes. The system they jumped into had only one linked hyperlane, and that was through the grumpy fallen empires’ territory. There was no way I could reach their beachhead. Apparently they were fine using warp, though, and made a beeline towards the southernmost of my distant colonies. They quickly entered the system, and demolished the 2k fleet I had hanging around there. My main fleet was only about 20k so I knew I wouldn’t be hanging on to that planet, and probably not its neighbor either.
Right after I lost my piddly defense fleet, I contacted the grumps and gave them my world, free of charge. They didn’t do any due diligence, or maybe they didn’t care that the planet was about to be harvested by space ghosts, all zones from coast to coast. The fallen empire’s territory expanded wildly as it absorbed my erstwhile colony. And then it was gone, the colony was destroyed.
I hoped that would get the fallen empire to take care of the enemy for me, as there was no way I could do it on my own. Then the enemy fleet was spotted coming in towards my last remote planet. I sighed and contacted the other fallen empire, and deeded the colony over to them. Their territory expanded and returned to its original borders in the same fashion. I started building up my fleet, slowly, suffering from the massive loss in resources, but knowing I was too far to be next once again on the Harvesters’ menu. They had to go through a few other empires to get to my core planets.
Suddenly I got a message saying the grumpy fallen empire had destroyed the gate or wardrobe or whatever that the alien menace had slipped through, and the galaxy was saved. Then I got a message saying that the other fallen empire, the cute ones, had become very freaked out about the space ghosts and were stirring from their slumber. By this point, with the loss of those colonies, I was pretty far from the top empire in the galaxy. I wanted to throw in on the side of the cuties.
They didn’t want me though. I thought they didn’t like my empire’s stance on slavery, so I started making enormous social changes. My Golden Flock of Seagulls, led by Star Emperor BIRD PERSON, changed to an oligarchy ruled by clerics. Slavery was outlawed. They still didn’t want me fighting alongside them. I think it might be because earlier I gave them one of our population units to live in their menagerie planet so we’ll be preserved after our glorious avian race is inevitably wiped out; now they feel custodial toward us and don’t want to be the cause of the genocide they predicted. I was actually hoping to become their vassal. I’d love to actually finish a game of Stellaris instead of abandon it.
I really wish there were about 15 more end game events. My last few games I was just playing with a self-imposed victory condition (pop the victory screen by 2300 or you lose) because the end game is still pretty boring after you’ve done it a handful of times. Can only kill the interdimensional space ghosts and the extra-galactic tyranid swarm so many times.
Yea I just read that. Took care of a number of major pet peeves of mine… pointless military stations being one of them. Severe nerfs to happiness stacking, Enigmatic Fortress (good luck winning a 1.5 multiplayer game if it spawns in a military civs territory), taking weapons off mining/research stations, science ships no longer auto-exploring war zones, Hive Mind buffs so they aren’t just an extremely bad version of Fanatic Purifiers.
Overall I’m pretty happy. The only real obvious balance issue I see left out is that Cybernetic admirals inexplicably give 30% fire rate bonus and Synthetic ones give 15% I think in 1.5. At any rate, there really isn’t a satisfactory reason to switch to Synthetic if you are going for a conquest victory, which is pretty silly. Maybe they just left it out of the patch notes, though.
I’d also like to see about 4 more Tradition trees added to the game, just so your choices there feel a bit more empire defining and to remove any real possibility of running out of stuff to do with Unity. Though typing that makes me sort of wish for another use for Unity that competed with spending it on traditions. Hah.
A small patch, but out quickly and definitely satisfying for how short of a wait it was between Utopia and this.
Yes, it’s nice to see a quick bundle of fixes. I still hope that a few more significant changes transform the character of the game. There is always the sense that some features are just nice in themselves while some have a strong synergistic effect.
Agreed. I have to say though, I’ve been pretty happy with Martin’s stewardship of the game. It’s been going in a good direction since he took over, in my opinion.
Now that the traditional post-expansion balance/polish patch is out, I’m looking forward to hearing about the next DLC. I can’t imagine it not being focused on a warfare/fleet overhaul, but it’d be nice to hear what is on deck.