The galaxy is a chaotic and dangerous place and only true unity can bring peace and order to it. Will you work through the galactic community for it or will you simply be the last one left to guide the future?

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player, Multi-player
Genre: Strategy, Simulation
Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release date: 15 April, 2021

Overview

Stellaris and I have a long relationship. For the most part, our courtship has been an enjoyable one, though there have certainly been some bumps along the way and it seems to reinvent itself every so often. Gameplay mechanics come and go, though it always seems that each new update further improves an already impressive strategy title even if something that seemed promising is lost once in a while.

Nemesis, and the accompanying ‘Dick’ update continue this trend. New mechanics allow for additional options and possibilities that further what’s always been the most compelling part of this simulation, empire/species customization and the elements that allow intricate roleplaying scenarios to unfold.

I Am the Senate

Navigating galactic diplomacy is nothing new to Stellaris, but being able to take an official role at the head of it certainly is. In times of crisis, you might be able to get yourself names as Custodian by whispering in the right ears and greasing the right palms. Though this role is meant to be temporary, it grants the holder significant weight in the galactic community chambers. Not only can you change its galactic focus without the senate’s support, but you can also send your fleets anywhere in the galaxy that you wish. Speeding up resolutions that you like while bogging down those that you don’t is another nice benefit that helps you shape the political landscape as you see fit.

Of course, if you find yourself enjoying the role, why not throw off the reins and keep it? Reforming the community into a galactic imperium offers significantly boosted influence generation and effectively cranks up your capability for making the galaxy yours. It’s good to be the king, but you might find out that not everyone is quite so happy and you’ll have to find a way to keep their nose out of your business.

What could go wrong? …Right?

Space Eyes, Ears, and Mouth Pieces

The most recent update brought us an espionage system that is further built upon by Nemesis. Envoys are new additions to your toolbox that have a duality to them. On one hand, you can send them out to improve your standing with the galactic community, while on the other you can task them with everything from establishing spy networks to inspiring acts of resistance against a corrupt galactic emperor. The latter can lead to exciting galaxy-spanning wars, though the former brings a notable change for veteran Stellaris players. A spy network is absolutely necessary if you want to see the details of another empire, like their comparative tech and military power. Without setting your espionage foundations, you’ll be going into your wars blind since such intel is no longer accessed without a little legwork.

Your spy network lets you keep an eye on the galaxy and assists you in the ever-present question, “who do I purge next?”

Scream If You Love Dick

The free ‘Dick’ update brings its own changes to keep the Stellaris improvement train chugging along. Population growth has been reworked in a way that prevents a massive amount of pop management from overtaking your late game. Thanks to a system where growth tapers off as the planet nears its reasonable capacity, I found that increases usually slowed once my housing was full and fewer employment opportunities were available. Industrial districts were another hit for me as they offered a new way to produce consumer goods and alloys without having to use up building slots on your planets.

Secondary to these improvements are the systems for intel and first contacts. We’ve already discussed espionage as it tied in nicely with the Nemesis content, though first contact is a nice addition even if it’s relatively minor in comparison. Meeting new aliens now allows you to interrogate or even murder them with plenty of flavor text to keep you invested during each phase of it. It’s not mind-blowing, but it’s a definite improvement as the previous system was barely a system at all. My only complaint is that the AI still seems to be going through its growing pains and doesn’t provide much of a challenge unless you’ve poked the Fallen Empire bear too early or crank up the difficulty settings to bizarre levels.

My God, it was you all along. Who doesn’t get a thrill out of being the big bad?

Verdict

Stellaris has been one of my go-to strategy games for half a decade now. Its customization options for empires and species have few, if any, competitors that can stand alongside it and each update only deepens these systems. It’s a title that started off good and has only become progressively better as more passion has been poured into it.

Nemesis is the most recent to push it forward with its desperately needed endgame content additions. It’s a must-have package of depth especially if you’ve always dreamed of pulling a Palpatine and heel-turning on the galaxy when it’s trusting you to do the right thing. This expansion and update combo is now a needed part of the Stellaris experience and once you give it a shot you’ll keep coming back for more Dick.

Written by
Aurumlamina
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