Eww, bugs! But wait, you’re the bugs, or at least you could be in Paradox Interactive’s console release “Stellaris”.
The current generation of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers have never had an experience quite like “Stellaris,” a member of the PC-famous grand strategy genre.
Although I say famous, the strategy genre has been stagnant for years. The grand strategy genre is even more niche than its less stressful and time-consuming parent genre.
The core concept of a grand strategy is simple, you are given control of a population of people who inhabit a massive world.
You then must manage your population effectively as to not run them into the ground.
Then, after you don’t kill yourself trying to run the area you’re expected to expand, which presents its own challenge, such as dealing with invading enemies along your borders.
The premise of each game is that you are a member of a certain civilization, like a bug or fungus or just a simple humanoid.
This leads into the creation of your species having different traits, such as people having long or short lifespans, and if they are adaptable to different atmospheric environments.
After you create your species, you can select what kind of “civics” or morals to uphold. Are your people xenophobic militarists who want to simply crush all other space faring civilizations, or xenophilic pacifists who want to hug?
But wait, there’s more. You also get to select the type of government based on those civics for your species. For example, you can have a global mega-corporation government that is only interested in money.
This brings us to the start of the actual game. Congratulations, its Jan. 1, 2200 and you have just discovered light travel that allows you to join other aliens as you all traverse the stars.
It is clear from the beginning that you have various options on gameplay.
This allows for many different playing styles as well as tweaks to player interaction and world building that other strategy games do not have.
This leads to an extensive leadership system, where you can recruit members of the population to be your scientists, governors, admirals and generals.
These separate leaders can be set to do specific tasks in your galactic empire. They also have traits similar to your species, making them better at certain tasks.
The leaders perform basic roles that are pretty self-explanatory, like scientists researching technologies to benefit your civilization. This allows you to truly control how your galactic empire operates within itself.
As the leaders perform their specific actions, they gain levels, improving their ability to perform such tasks.
After each level, these leaders have a small chance to gain a new perk that can either have a positive or negative effect on them.
The type of government and ethics of your civilization will define interaction with these new aliens.
Sometimes this leads to creating a galactic federation of allies, but you will have to combat their politics on the galactic stage for all other civilizations to watch and react.
After you survive meeting your new galactic companions, you will come to the realization that you need more territory.
That requires you to generate enough minerals and energy credits to form a colony ship.
The colony ship can be sent to a habitable planet and that world and the surrounding space territory will become yours.
This is how your resource collection and subsequently, your people can grow and prosper.
These resources will be spent on several things like buildings, upgrades, star fleets and various resource collectors amongst your territory. You can also use various resources in trade with other civilizations.
There is for sure a lot more to unpack in this game, but most of it contains jargon that would need context to understand.
This may sound unappealing to those not looking for a game that requires a lot of time and effort, but every moment is wonderful fun that warrants the time required to learn and enjoy it.
The game is simply fantastic and relatively cheap at $39.99. The console port is done well with no major hitching or control issues. I wholeheartedly recommend this for anyone who enjoys tough but rewarding time-syncs.