Review

Written by Alexander Leleux | Edited by Rachel Mangan

In a slew of new expansions, Paradox Interactive has once again taken us to the far reaches of the galaxy in their Sci-Fi empire simulator, Stellaris. Paradox Interactive is a well known company in the PC scene that really needs little introduction with their vast repertoire of historical simulators. As the only game set in a fictional realm, Stellaris stands apart from its kindred as you become the guiding hand of your nascent alien empire, exploring the stars and meeting other races for good or ill. With the newest Federations expansion, Paradox has set their sights on completely reinventing the game’s political system and providing their players with a whole new method of dynamic interaction. 

Where We Come From

Along with the Federations expansion arrives the new origin system. This is an additional segment of the race building phase that provides a unique flavor to your race’s startup. It’s important to note that this is a mechanic available for everyone, but only a few origins are available in the base game. Instead,  new value has been added to the existing expansions, providing you with unique origin options based off the theme of your owned DLC. A few are slightly tweaked versions of original civic or racial options, like my oh so favorite Post-Apocolyptic,  because who wouldn’t want to start off on a Tomb World after your home has been BAPTIZED IN HOLY ATOMIC FIRE!? Ahem... Excuse me. Other origins provide entirely new options, allowing you to start off with a pre-existing federation, a Gaia world, or even a Ring world for all you Halo lovers. Their choices can provide a surprising level of depth and nuance to your campaigns, some more obvious than others, but they’re all quite enjoyable. 

Together To The Stars

It’s certainly no exaggeration to say that Stellaris’ federation mechanics have been incredibly bare bones since the game first came out in 2016. The only real benefit of them was in the military value of federation fleets that used mixed technology and resources from the respective allied races. Other than that, it was little better than a group of allies with absolutely no other interaction. With the Federations expansions, Paradox changes all that. As its title would suggest, this expansion provides a complete overhaul for its namesake mechanic. Rather than just one blanket federation, there are now a total of five options when you seek to create your alliances. They each have wildly different benefits from one another and even have some differences in how they function. Federations now also have a leveling system that requires some degree of effort from the part of its members, leaving you to decide on whether you’d rather cultivate your personal empire or your federation. This element of the DLC provides a level of interactivity to the system that the game was sorely missing from its alliances. 

I Am The Senate!

The final new addition alongside the Federations update is that of the Galactic Community, and this is certainly where the update shines. Where the new federations add a level of diversity and depth to alliances, the Galactic Community allows you to mingle with other factions from across the galaxy as you present and vote on challenging decisions. Almost everyone has a part to play, and it requires time to nurture your political power. With patience and cunning, you too can rise to become the senate itself with some incredibly game changing decisions to place at the community’s feet. Why not outlaw all AI? Who needs those filthy robots anyway? 

Along with the galactic community comes the commodity of favors. Much like in the Crusader Kings series, favors can be bought and earned from other empires. While they provide no monetary value, these favors can be used to swing a vote in your favor as you buy out all your competitors on that critical decision. Alternatively, if you wish to separate yourself from all the bureaucracy and obnoxious sanctions that keep costing you more resources, you can just leave… Forge your own path and throw an obscene hand (or whatever appendage you have) gesture to inter-galactic progress. Leaving the community is a genuine option to separate yourself from the sanctions and politics, but be prepared to sustain yourself, because connection to the galactic community now means connection to the galactic market. No community? No market. It does provide an interesting new angle of trying to maintain stability as a nation on its own. It can be somewhat challenging with the rarer resources, but fun in its own regard. 

7

The Verdict: Great

Stellaris: Federations is an absolutely fantastic rework of the game’s core mechanics with new and interesting opportunities. 

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