Stellaris is a fantastic 4X space game from masters of strategy Paradox Studios. As someone who hasn’t delved too far past the likes of Civilization, even I was able to pick it up within the space of one game, and have been nurturing galactic empires from their humble beginnings quite a lot. The tentpole expansion pack Utopia is also out now, and I’ve been finding out what’s so great about it.
TL:DR Quite a lot.
On your tradition window, you can unlock different perks based on how you’re running your empire – diplomacy, domination, economy. But now, Utopia is introducing Ascension Perks. After unlocking a certain amount of tradition perks, you’ll unlock the ability to pick one way in which your empire and its population can ascend itself. They can become cyborgs, psychics, and other empire-wide changes that massively affect all parts of the game.
Hive minds! A sci-fi staple, hive minds are now a choice in Utopia. All your population are now drones and have no will or feeling of their own, and also have no ethics. This is a great way to avoid any political machinations and just get down to the business of progressing your empire the way you see fit. There are other different types of government too, like ones that contain multiple-species (United Federation of Planets anyone?) or ones that just shun all diplomacy.
There are a few different types of new stations that you can build, that will cost lots and lots of minerals, and take years to build. However, they are mega, and they provide many great benefits that you can’t get from even the best colony planets. Some provide places for people to live with no drawbacks (so 100% habitation), and produce a lot of science and research. Others, like the Dyson Sphere, harness the energy of a star, providing huge amounts of energy, but making all planets in the system uninhabitable. And if you’re really good, and have the Master Builder perk, you can attempt the Ringworld, which counts as 4 planets and takes a whopping 60 years to build.
In normal Stellaris you could set up Observation stations to keep an eye on pre-FTL civilisations, and maybe one day get them to join your empire. Now though, you can be much more active in the future of these little guys. Building an indoctrination station will kick off the new indoctrination mechanic, allowing you to bring them to a state of higher being and enlightenment, or more likely, annexation and using them to support your own vast empire. Hey, if you want to run a galactic protection racket, then be our guest.
Rights (or Lack Thereof)
In Utopia you can now set the status of various races under your empire. That’s right, the class system can be implemented, but in a much more sci-fi way. You can have your full citizens, as well as residents, a caste system, slaves and undesirables. You can install a military service, or even turn slaves into military thralls to force them to fight. What else can you do with slaves? Force them to work on your production to increase food and mineral output, allow your citizens to buy them to increase their happiness, or even process them into food. Yep, you can eat your own slaves.
Have you been playing Stellaris and thinking about picking up Utopia? Which part sounds the most interesting to you? If you don’t have it, Stellaris is in our summer sale now!