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  • 8.8: IGN and PC Gamer got heat for their less-than-positive reviews compared to everyone else. The IGN review proved to be controversial enough to the point where Paradox themselves defended the site and reviewer.
  • Acceptable Targets: One early-game event takes a shot at climate change deniers — when investigating a planet that suffered a dramatic ice age, an artificially-induced greenhouse effect is listed as a possible cause... and then dismissed, because "it is unlikely that any race intelligent enough to achieve full industrialization would be stupid enough to accidentally wipe themselves out."
  • Awesome Music: The game soundtrack, courtesy of Andreas Waldetoft, has been described by one fan online as a hybrid of the Europa Universalis and Mass Effect soundtracks and with good reason.
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    • The first track you hear when you boot the game (prior to the Mega-Corp update) is the "Stellaris Suite: Creation and Beyond" which perfectly encapsulates the feeling of being a newborn interstellar civilization stepping out into the galaxy for the first time.
    • "Towards Utopia: Nova Flare" a remix that inverts the synth and orchestral proportions of the original "Towards Utopia" track resulting in this tranquil synth-laden track punctuated by moments that invoke a unique version of Playing the Heart Strings that will have you cry tears of joy rather than sadness.
  • Broken Base:
    • In early versions, a pair of opposing ethos were "collectivism" and "individualism". The question tore apart many a forum and even been given tongue-in-cheek reference in-game. The 1.5 "Banks" update renamed these ethics "authoritarianism" and "egalitarianism", respectively, which is less controversial, though arguments on the accuracy of the names still flare up from time to time.
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    • The Plantoids DLC, which added a new family (in the taxonomical sense) of races with 15 portraits, a new ship set, a city, and a namelist. Why is it a base breaker? It divided the forums into four groups. One was vocally angry with the $7.99 price tag, the feeling that several plantoids were reskins of existing portraits, and the studio manager responding to the criticisms by saying the DLC was cheap and should have been $19.99. The second group had no problem with the price, loved the content, and simply posted as such. The third said it was cool, but a bit too expensive for their tastes, and they'd either wait for the new patch to bring them back in or a sale. The fourth group defended the DLC as vehemently as the first attacked it. Many users in the first and fourth groups received warnings from forum moderators for their lack of civility. A more recent DLC, Lithoids, added rock-based lifeforms, but unlike Plantoids also came with some unique mechanics and was much better received, leading Paradox to state that chances are likely they'll go back and add some unique mechanics for all the other families as well.
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    • Strictly limiting psionics to spiritualists, as a counterbalance to materialists' mastery of robotics and boosts in science. Many sympathetic to the Materialists argue that they would just treat those like any other natural phenomenon: they'd study it, use that knowledge to improve or replace their theories of how the universe works, and look for applications. The fact that they can't do just that and are sealed off from anything involving the Shroud is a point of contention. It's also rather questionable why the spiritualists are all fine with it, no matter the actual precepts of their religion. Probably due to this, the ethics restrictions on robotics and psionics were removed in the 1.8 patch, replaced with stronger Materialist or Spiritualist factions, respectively. Psionic materialists and religious synth citizens for all!
    • The decision to significantly rework FTL travel for the 2.0 "Cherryh" update by essentially removing warp and wormhole travel in favor of hyperlanes. The reasoning was that having three types of FTL in the game made terrain strategies rather difficult: for example, in the old system building a massive starbase to attempt to stop enemy fleets was rather pointless since, well, it wasn't going to stop any wormhole or warp based empires, who could easily bypass it. The old FTL systems are still there, in a sense, but now very different mechanically: wormholes are no longer things you can generate willy-nilly but are more like Snakes and Laddersnote , connecting two specific systems. By the start of the endgame you gain the ability to build Gateways, akin to Stargates. Likewise, warp drives, now jump drives, are like a power-up, allowing you to directly travel from one system to another within a set range but only every X number of days. This was controversial to say the least. While discussion had been ongoing since November 2, 2017 (the FTL rework dev diary) on both the Paradox and Steam forums, the patch launch on February 22, 2018 immediately set the fanbase on fire. The Stellaris reviews on Steam dropped from Very Positive (80+%) to Mixed (65%) during the span of a single weeknote . The launch of the Apocalypse DLC coinciding with 2.0 suffered as well, with just as many reviews discussing the FTL rework instead of the DLC content and giving it a mixed launch.
    • The 2.2 Le Guin update broke the base almost as badly as the 2.0 Cherryh update above, mostly because it also broke the game just as badly. There are two major points of contention:
      • The update saw a massive overhaul of the population system and an increased complexity of resource management with many new resource types to juggle, making Stellaris look and feel more like other Paradox titles like Europa Universalis in being far more detailed and micromanagement-heavy. Some players are upset by this because they liked Stellaris specifically because it was more accessible than the average Paradox game, while long-time Paradox fans are happy with the game drawing from others that they know and love. A third group is simply annoyed they have to relearn the entire game yet again.
      • Balance changes that came in with Le Guin meant that previously-popular buildings and strategies from other DLCs like Habitats and Ringworlds were dramatically nerfed to make way for the Megacorp-exclusive Ecumenopolis. The new economy changes have also eviscerated machine empires, who suffer greatly trying to get enough energy to maintain themselves. It also meant the AI is now even more hopelessly inept than it ever was and has to be given even more significant bonuses just to stay relevant. Some people aren't bothered by these changes and thought that all of these things received rightly-deserved nerfs while not being concerned about the AI changes (since they often use a mod anyway) while others are fuming that playstyles and empires they liked have been rendered totally unusable and that the lack of a good, or even decent, AI makes the game too easy.
  • Crossing the Line Twice:
    • One quick line from the beginning of episode 7 of the ParadoxExtra Apocalypse stream referenced the Pringles' quote "once you pop you can't stop". What is this in reference to? Exploding planets.
    • Also from Apocalypse, neutralizing a hostile world with a Colossus shield for the first time makes the game joke about how you just created the galaxy's biggest terrarium... before it invites you to crowd around it and bang on the window. Building a research station in orbit around the shielded planet actually nets you a quite enormous society research bonus. It somehow turns the, arguably, most merciful Colossus weapon into the most cynical of them all.
  • Demonic Spiders: Apocalypse's Marauder empires quickly turn into this, especially if you're unlucky enough to spawn right next to one (or more if you're very unlucky) when the game starts. Their raiding fleets will easily overwhelm anything you can build until early mid-game, and unless you give in to their very expensive demands, they'll make sure your empire will never get off the ground. Worst of all, their ships don't even drop any valuable or unique tech when destroyed, which is the one thing that makes it worthwhile to tangle with other powerful enemies like Guardians and Fallen Empires. And if you get really unlucky, you actually claw your way into the mid-game stage, only for the Marauders to unite into their new mid-game crisis that'll steamroll over almost anything in their path, with you most likely being their first victim.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The Cybrex is only one of five extinct precursor races, but the community likes the Cybrex so much for their backstory (not to mention the free ringworld you can repair if you have Utopia and the required techs, or Living Metal if you don't have Utopia) that you would be forgiven for assuming that they're the only precursors by how little the community discuss the other precursors by comparison. Maybe this popularity is what prompted their return in 1.8...
    • The Xenophile AI advisor in Synthetic Dawn is beloved for being an enthusiastic Genki Girl, and for having an accent that is frequently compared to Tali's from Mass Effect on the Paradox forums.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Commonwealth of Man is by far the most popular preset empire, which is either because the community subscribes to this trope, or because the Commonwealth's traits, civics and general setup are more to their liking. It helps that the CoM has a unique and interesting event chain which sheds light on their backstory. They also remember where they came from, and will drop the hammer of vengeance upon anyone that hurts their UNE brethren.
  • Game-Breaker: Grown large enough to be moved to a separate page.
  • Goddamn Bats:
    • Space Amoeba sometimes wander between systems at random. This wouldn't be a problem if they weren't marked "hostile" and thus cause any civilian ship to scramble for cover, dropping whatever they were doing - thankfully, once you get a few more ships in your fleet you can put a permanent stop to them.
    • Space Pirates will keep spawning on unclaimed system next to your empire. Late game, they only spawn with ~2k fleet power which makes them hilariously weak, but in the meantime they'll go around wrecking your mining and research stations. It's the sheer annoyance that drives them fully into this trope.
      • Pirates were later changed to instead spawn on trade routes that aren't sufficiently protected from piracy buildup, forcing you to dedicate small fleets to patrolling the hyperlanes of your empire. Longer trade routes from distant stations become harder and harder to properly patrol, as only a system occupied by a fleet loses its piracy value. Pirate fleets and starbases are still no tougher than before, but a poorly-managed Space-Filling Empire can end up with numerous pirate systems harassing mining/research stations and leeching Trade Value.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Sometimes leaders just... don't die. It's not that they're strictly immortal, they're explicitly listed as having a mortality chance under their age tooltip... It's just that, despite the fact that they're over 186 years old and should be absolutely, 100% dead, they are not and basically live forever, eternally unshackled from the timely limitations of others who shed their mortal coils. On the plus side, hey, you'll always have that level 5 scientist!
    • A (now sadly patched) former bug/oversight meant that the Fleet Consciousness you gain to control your captured Prethoryn Queen counted as an admiral for all intents and purposes. Including eligibility to run for office in a democratic empire, and on occasion winning even without the player's involvement.
    • Another bug that's no longer possible is gifting a star system to Militant Isolationists. See, these guys don't want any new space, but it was possible to do it, which combined with their stance of not wanting to share any borders with anyone turned into an exploit: gift them a star system that borders a rival empire, and suddenly they'd demand that rival empire to back off. If not, they would become very, very angry. A war of extermination usually followed.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: Paradox veterans sometimes have this complaint. It's designed to be more accessible than other Paradox games, so the mechanics aren't quite as complex and opaque as usual.
  • It's Hard, So It Sucks!: ...but "more accessible than other Paradox games" is a very relative statement for complete newcomers to the genre.
    • It's also substantially more random than the historical Paradox games, and since a Stellaris campaign contains far fewer nations (major or minor), it's much easier to end up in a situation where you're at best in a stalemate with all your enemies, with no rich-but-weak targets or enormously powerful benefactors to tip the balance in your favor. Add the more complex nature of combat, and you have a game which is relatively easy to "get" on a surface level, but arguably much harder to learn the ins and outs of compared to something like Crusader Kings II or Europa Universalis IV.
    • The wrong neighbours can make it hard to survive even the very early game. The snowball effect will work just as hard on a player as it does the AI, and if you are next to say, an advanced AI start Empire of fanatic purfiers you might not have any hope at all to build up a military before the larger empire wipes you out with little trouble.
  • Memetic Badass: Mercedes Romero, a Blorg scientist in the pre-release dev livestreams, is frequently treated on the forums as a Bold Explorer and an Adventurer Archaeologist; there's even been fan art made depicting her. When she died of old age in one of the streams, the devs re-named Earth "Mercedia" in her honor; one of the game's official soundtracks (added in patch 1.5/Utopia) is titled "In Memory of Mercedes Romero", making her an Ascended Meme as well.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • On the weekly stream, even though they were running the latest build of the game, some of the dialogue that comes up is incomplete, which the chat then proceeds to joke about. "01_EMBASSY_PROPOSE", referring to an embassy proposal screen that has no dialogue for it at all, took off as a huge joke in chat and on the Stellaris subreddit & official forums, and has lead to lots of jokes and self-references such as "01_PARTY_INVITE", "01_UNFRIEND_PROPOSE" and "01_MORE_GAMEPLAY", among many others.
    • Another one from the weekly stream: a hilarious (and unintentional) High-Five Left Hanging moment between the devs became a popular reaction gif on the Stellaris forums.
    • K'Reel & Mercedes Romero generated characters achieved memetic status on the forum & streams.
      • Post-release streams about incoming patches & expansions have resulted in "HOT CODE" and "NOT FINAL NUMBERS" becoming new memes.
      • "Hotcode" has been used by the ParadoxExtra streamers since at least the Utopia playthrough whenever something is obviously messed up.
    • The "TLDR-37" asteroid is actually Welsh, but its full name would cover the entire screen.
    • Around the time Leviathans was announced, the devs ran a game "The Rad" on a galaxy full of community-created empires. One of these was called the "Ayylmao Foundation", based on the "ayy lmao" meme which quickly became a running joke, just like it does in other gaming communities, such as XCOM.
    • MUGANI? HAK HAK HAK!
    • On the Stellaris subreddit, whenever someone posts a screenshot where they show that they found a system with an abnormally huge amount of minerals, the commenters will encourage them to build mining stations there asap. note 
    • "Eat the ice cream." A thoroughly bizarre commercial that encapsulates the more negative, cynical, and common interpretation of how the Rogue Servitors are "serving" their "masters", and often shows up on the subreddit and forums in conversations about them.
  • Memetic Psychopath:
  • Moral Event Horizon: Purging an alien species is considered this by that species' empire (thus it only works when you capture several, but not all planets from a rival empire and purge the populace). You can get up to -1000 relationship penalty with that Empire (compared to maximum -100 for purging an unrelated third party), and while there's a +2 per year rebound value, the time frame required to complete it is so long it's unlikely to reach that point.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • "Research complete" or any of its variants spoken by the different advisors, which plays whenever you finish researching a technology.
    • "Invasion defeated", when you repel a ground invasion of one of your colonies. Especially if you're fighting the Scourge, who destroy all life on the planets they conquer.
  • My Real Daddy: Martin "Wiz" Anward was not the original game director (the one in charge of the gameplay and creative side of development) for Stellaris, however, he took over development shortly after release and is now the face of the Stellaris development team. Many game mechanics (for the better, most fans would agree) have been reworked under his leadership.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: 1.8 made major changes on Sectors. You are still required to set aside planets to Sectors, but they no longer cost Influence to remove, the Artificial Stupidity has been lessened (and if you're still worried of the Sector replacing unique structures, you can always disallow redevelopment), but most importantly allows you to directly interfere with what the Sector is building instead of being locked out of it.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Sectors. They were created for the sake of preventing the player from having to micromanage potentially dozens of planets at once, but the Sector AI is significantly prone to Artificial Stupidity that they're usually more trouble than they're worth and you cannot make any changes to planets inside a sector to fix the mess the AI made or make changes due to changing circumstances. What's worse is that the Core System Limit imposed a significant penalty for having to many planets not in a sector, forcing players to use it. The devs have been slowly improving them in each update, but there are plenty of players on the forums who would love to see them removed entirely, preferring to control everything themselves.
    • The War In Heaven, which comprises of two Fallen Empires waking up and starting a huge galactic war involving everyone, sounds like a super cool idea, and it sometimes can be. When it happens early in game, it results in the fallen empires kicking the lower races into the dirt while usually avoiding each other. Even late game player empires can be little more than target practice. The rewards for winning one aren't great, and it would also cause any vassal races to switch to being vassals of the Fallen Empires. Additionally, if a strong enough empire forms the League of Non-Allied Powers in response most of the other empires will move to join them and instantly score a Federation Victory for the League.
    • The Wargoal system is often seen as annoying. Originally it was implemented so the average Empire won't fall overnight from a single Declaration of War. In practice, this means even taking out a small Empire would be a chore, as you could only take at most, 7 planets at a time. Due to this, and a whole host of changes in the 2.0 Cherryh update, wargoals were basically being removed, replaced by new a system... which was just as reviled by the player base because it was hilariously unbalanced on release, often forcing warring empires into a white peace after just a few minor fleet scuffles without any territory gains or losses on either side.
    • The biological ascension path. The only advantage is that it allows you to have a more extended control over the traits of your pops, including being able to remove positive traits or add negative ones, but gene modifications are still planet-wide or species-wide and they still cost a massive amount of society research every time you want to make modifications.
    • War Exhaustion, the system that governs how close either side is to suing for peace, is reviled by many players for how infamously unbalanced it is. Placing more value on casualties than on actual victories. Meaning you can win a lot of battles and still lose, just because the enemy fleet keeps retreating.
    • The randomly-assigned research projects are becoming this as more technologies get added at the lower tiers, since the odds of getting a critical technology get lower the more technologies are in the available pool. Early wars can be entirely decided by which side gets key military technologies first, building up an overwhelming advantage while the other side is stuck pushing through techs they don't need just to thin the deck.
    • The inability to effectively manage pop job assignment. Changes made during the population rework of 2.2 (see Broken Base above) have made it impossible to move a given pop into a given job, which means there's little to no point in trying to design or breed specialized populations - you highly-efficient farming robot is just as likely to be assigned to a miner job.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Often described as "What Spore's Space Stage should have been."
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The Extragalactic Swarm, once you establish psychic communication to know more about them. They've been hunted down by The Hunters for eons, that they're so desperate to survive by devouring the galaxy and run off to another just to avoid The Hunters, and that they're last of their kinds. But it can't be helped, there's no coexisting with them, so you have to hunt them down to the last one. And once you succeeded, they are now officially extinct, thanks to you. Sure put a sad twist on the Guilt-Free Extermination War.
    • The story trailer for the Apocalypse expansion, where a pilot of the UNE narrates a parting letter to her child as her fleet fights a desperate Last Stand to defend a colony against a massive alien armada and a Colossus superweapon. Their efforts are utterly futile, as they fail to stop the Colossus from firing, and the planet is destroyed.
  • That One Achievement:
    • Last Best Hope requires you to lead a galactic war against two awakened empires (which most of the standards have sided with) with a new Federation (meaning no federation fleet) and defeat both at once. Oh, and if you don't win within a few years your federation members will unilaterally sue for peace with both and you can't get the achievement even if you go back to war later and win (because the game considers the new war not properly part of the War in Heaven). As of writing 0.2% of players have managed it.
    • There are quite a few that are simply extremely unlikely. For instance, the Outside Context achievement is for invading Earth while it's fighting a world war. So the human empire can't be in the game and Earth has to spawn at the right point of development close enough to your starting area that you get there first.
  • That One Disadvantage: Pacifists can only declare Liberation Wars, and can only force the enemy to Cede territories that used to belong to them. They're still better off than Fanatic Pacifists, who are limited to Defensive Wars only, and cannot declare War at all. They're especially shafted during midgame, where it's all about declaring war to each other for land grabs. On the other hand, they get to keep a lot more allies due to their diplomatic Influence discount, and if one of these allies is a warmonger, they can be asked to join in despite their official stance on War Declarations. After all, they didn't declare the war.
    • Repugnant becomes this from 2.0 to 2.1. It's only worth one trait point but will ensure that every empire that meets you instantly closes their borders because of the relationship malus. Thanks to hyperlanes being the only way to travel this can cut off huge chunks of the galaxy from being explored and, because of a bug in 2.0, may render Gateways permanently unusable. 2.2 changes Repugnant to reduce amenities gained from pops, which isn't great, but at least it doesn't affect relations anymore.
    • Inward Perfection has the same drawbacks as Pacifism, but with the diplomatic penalties of Xenophobia. Restricting you both in war and diplomatic options. Making for a hard game where you will be disliked by most of your neighbors, and with no way to form alliances. The bonuses to your own empire are fairly strong though.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Missiles as a whole are considered badly underpowered, due to their slow travel time and the fact that any sort of point defense effectively shuts them down. Strike craft suffer from the same travel time and crippling weakness to point defense as missiles, plus ships have a limited number of them which can only be replenished when the ships are out of combat for an extended period of time.
      • Missiles, Strike Craft, and Point Defense were all massively re-balanced in 1.8 as part of a general ship tech and combat overhaul, and while they're no longer regarded as completely useless, they are still hard countered by point defense weapons.
      • Cherryh 2.0 attempts to finally fix it for good by turning missiles into dedicated torpedo weapons instead, which means they are now strictly support, but less slots are made up with higher volume per slot, making Macross Missile Massacre finally a valid tactic again. There are also Swarmer Missiles, which flat-out ignore enemy PDL entirely.
  • Ugly Cute: One particularly alien-looking fungoid template is not, in of itself, cute. But it has become associated with the quirky and pitiably lonely Blorg Commonality, made famous in the pre-release stream and eventually made into a pre-made civilization the player or AIs can pick.


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