I barely have time these days for video games at all, and I don't know if anybody of you folks enjoys strategy games, but I quite like this one. The graphics aren't superb, but its a lovely space strategy in the style of Master of Orion 2 (which is 21 years old in 2017, omg! ). You begin the game customizing your species, including appearance (humanoid, mammalian, reptilian, arthropod, etc.) environmental preference, political/ethical views, strengths and weaknesses as well as your prefered type of FTL: Stellaris has three starting types of faster-than-light: hyperlanes (which connect between random nearby starsystem and force you onto restricted lanes), warp drives (which are relatively free but only allow for relatively slow travel) and wormholes, which are instantaneous but require you to maintain a (vulnerable) network of wormhole generators. You explore new solar system and colonize planets, discovering the remains of previous civilizations, primitive (pre-FTL) civilizations (which can be meddled with in a number of nice and less nice ways), rival civilizations that are about as advanced as you are, and finally the so-called "fallen empires" (super advanced civilizations that are in a state of stagnation for aeons and that are better left alone unless you're really able to fight them). You can win the game either through dominance or through a cooperative victory inside a federation.
Other beautiful features include:
- there's A LOT of popular culture references that spice the game up, including for example Larry Niven's Ringworld, Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Warhammer 40k, Starship Troopers, the Terminator franchise and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to mention a few.
- You have to hire leaders that can act as governors, fleet commanders, chief scientists or generals that command armies. They're also overtly mortal, and will eventually die of natural causes, or may get killed in calamities.
- One issue that really spices up the game are the so-called "Late Game" crises. Typically, something horrible will happen in late game that will totally throw the balance in the galaxy off, be it an invasion of extragalactic invaders (loosely based on the Tyranids from Warhammer 40k, or the Zerg from Starcraft), some experiments in new FTL technologies accidentally poking a hole into another dimension, causing an invasion of extragalactic invaders, or a species generating a sentient AI that decides to revolt against their creators.
- The game is realtime (a second is approximately a day in the game, which means also that space battles carried out across solar systems typically takes weeks or even months! ), but it can be paused / set slower at any time.
- The game isn't perfect, but it allows also for the potential of creating mods.