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Video Game / Stellaris

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The galaxy is vast and full of wonders.
Take my hand, it's time to leave
From now on to eternity
We all know it gets hard to breathe
And how we got here's a mystery

So we leave the world we know behind
There's so much there to see
I hope you find what you're looking for
And you are not alone.

Stellaris is a Science Fiction Space Opera real-time 4X Grand Strategy game by Paradox Interactive. It was officially announced at Gamescom in August 2015 and was released on May 9th 2016; in an unusual twist for grand strategy games, it later came to the PS4 and Xbox One on February 26th 2019. The game was developed by Paradox Development Studios and uses the same Clausewitz Engine that the studio has used since Europa Universalis III.

The game begins in 2200, roughly two centuries into the future. Featuring deep strategic gameplay, an enormous and highly customizable selection of alien races, and emergent storytelling, Stellaris has a challenging system that rewards exploration as you traverse the galaxy and discover, interact with and learn about the multitude of species you will encounter during your travels. The early game consists of exploring and colonizing, while mid-game activities generally focus on diplomacy and governing an empire. In the late game, crisis events can occur that have galaxy-wide implications.

One noteworthy feature of the game is the highly customizable setting even before a game begins. From the difficulty, to the size of the galaxy, to the number of AI civilizations... the player gets to decide all these, and more.

Stellaris is under ongoing development and has DLC released regularly:

  • Leviathans, released in October 2016 (April 2019 for consoles), is a "story pack" adding several random encounters and events to the game, most notably the titular "Leviathans" which tend to fall into the Big Dumb Object or Space Whale categories.
  • Horizon Signal, released in December 2016, a free flavor pack which adds the Horizon Signal event chain written by Alexis Kennedy.
  • Utopia, released in April 2017 (Summer 2019 for consoles), adds options to radically change the nature of your civilization over time, as well as the ability to build your own mega-structures.
  • Synthetic Dawn, released in September 2017 (May 12, 2020 for consoles), is a story pack adding options and story interactions for players who are interested in playing as a race of artificially intelligent machines.
  • Apocalypse, released in February 2018 along with an update that overhauls the war system, adds planet-destroying Colossus superweapons to the game, allows players to build Titan-class starships (which were previously exclusive to Fallen Empires), expands interactions with Space Pirates note , and adds new civics that allow players to start out on post-apocalyptic Tomb Worlds or pristine Gaia Worlds. Patch 2.0 was released together with this expansion.
  • Distant Stars, released in May 2018, adds a new event chain about the mysterious L-Gates that lead to the distant L-Cluster, new exploration events, new unique solar systems, and new "Leviathans".
  • Megacorp, released in December 2018, along with an update that focuses primarily on trade and the economy, adds a completely new government type in the form of MegaCorps complete with new unique civics based on different MegaCorp archetypes and a very unique playstyle, as well as the ability to make City Planets and a unique civic to make communist empires.
  • Ancient Relics, released in June 2019, a story pack adding two new Precursor races (the Baol and the Zroni), forgotten Relic Worlds to explore, and archaeology so you can investigate the desolate ruins to uncover Ancient Artifacts and secrets for your empire.
  • Federations, released in March 2020, expands the federation system, adds a Galactic Community system that acts as a space United Nations and expands the amount of possible origins for fledgling empires that provide unique mechanics (with other origins coming with a free patch released with the expansion). It also adds the ability to build mobile starbases called juggernauts and the new Mega Shipyard megastructure.
  • Nemesis, released in April 2021, adds espionage mechanics, adds a Menace ascension perk to allow ordinary empires to become endgame crises, and allows the galactic community to designate a member as a custodian to protect the galaxy from crisis, which can result in the custodian turning the galactic community into a galactic imperium. Patch 3.0 was released together with this expansion.
  • Overlord, released on May 2022, expands the vassalization system for both overlords and their subjects. It also adds new megastructures, enclaves, and origins.
  • First Contact, released in March 2023, expands the events and interactions between empires and pre-FTL civilizations and includes new origins for civilizations visited by Ancient Astronauts in their past.
  • Galactic Paragons, released in May 2023 coinciding with the 7th anniversary of the game's release, is a character focused DLC expanding the leader system with new mechanics, traits, and interactions, including the new Council mechanic, similar to the Council from Crusader Kings, to guide your Empire as it evolves.
  • Astral Planes, released in November 2023, with new events, tech, origins and interactions with astral planes besides the Shroud to explore time as well as space.
  • The Machine Age, to be released in May 2024, will feature more options for cybernetic, machine and/or spiritual empires as well as a new Crisis.
  • Cosmic Storms, to be released in the third quarter of 2024, will expand on the cosmic storms that occasionally appear in the base game
  • The Grand Archive, to be released in the fourth quarter of 2024, will be a story pack focused on a new megastructure, the titular Grand Archive that serves as a giant museum.

In addition to the game and its DLC, there are a number of other licensed tie-in products as well:

Paradox published Star Trek Infinite in October 2023 that uses the core systems of Stellaris but set in the Star Trek universe.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

All the world's a stage,
And all the Humans merely players.
You are a player, are you not?