Stellaris for PC is a 4X real-time strategy game: 4X meaning explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate which refers to the actions taken by the characters in order to achieve the aims of the game, whether they are gathering valuable resources, claiming new territories, or simply kicking enemy butt.
About the Game
There are eight species from which the player can choose, and the strategic thinking should be applied right from the start. Some species are better with some pathways than others: for example, warlike races are unlikely to make good spiritual pacifists just as ethereal beings are unlikely to be able to swing a hefty weapon with any great authority! See more about the races below.
The player joins their species of choice very shortly after the invention of faster-than-light (FTL) travel has dramatically expanded their options. You can choose to be a peaceful explorer, sharing resources and information as you go, or you can be completely blood-thirsty, besting every other being you come across.
Whichever way you choose to play, there are pathways to be followed: from building military might to learning farming skills, to playing politics in order to get what you need. For example, you can land on a new planet and take their resources by force, or you can form an alliance or bartering system to get hold of those resources peacefully.
Amongst the pathways to be followed and expanded there is science, construction and vehicle building, all of which can help you no matter how militant or pacifist you have decided to be.
Technology is Available: For Some!
AI and robotic technology is available, but if you are a pacifist and spiritual species you will not be able to enjoy these. Instead, landing on any planet that already has this technology will see it being dismantled or decommissioned in favour of raising temples and other spiritually relevant buildings.
Politics comes into play too: authoritarian regimes will not permit democratic elections to be held, while materialistic races cannot bar the creation and sale of robots. As mentioned above, this means that you must make good choices early on in the game in order to enjoy the facets of worldbuilding that you enjoy the most in your game.
A Rundown of Races
- Arthropoid (insectile): the thought of playing as a sort of giant insect might be unappealing until you think about some of the positives: the endless indestructibility of cockroaches, the beauty (and wings) of butterflies, and even the tank-like structure of a beetle
- Avian (birdlike): these delicate looking beings pack more punch than you’d think at first glance. And anyway, who doesn’t want to play as a massive penguin or super-powerful platypus?
- Fungoid : mushrooms are fun guys. That’s it. That’s all that needs to be said here
- Humanoid: within the umbrella of humanoid, you can find a wealth of different features, strengths and powers, linked solely by the basic design of two arm, two legs, and a head, all attached to a torso in more or less the same recognisable order. Pick your favourite from the variations on offer, and then train them up your own way
- Mammalian: play as any of your favourite animals: or even mix and match characteristics from different creatures until you achieve your perfect designer beast
- Molluscoid (invertebrate): these fascinating creatures will allow you to squeeze into small spaces, hide from enemy eyes and enjoy a whole raft of tricksy traits as you explore the furthest reaches of the galaxy
- Reptilian: force aliens to bow down to your crocodilish overlord, recreate the dinosaurs or simply enjoy basking with the might offered by these war-like races
- Plantoid (this last was added as DLC after the initial release): want to take things slow and chilled? Maybe enjoy some zen meditation? Then a plantoid (meaning of or like plants) is the race you want to be