If you’ve been playing Stellaris and felt that your species just wasn’t wet enough, I’ve got some great news for you.
Type: Singleplayer, Online Multiplayer
Genre: Strategy, Simulation
Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release date: 22 November, 2021
Stellaris is the gift that just keeps on giving. As a Paradox cultist, I’m always thrilled with new content updates for years after release, whether it’s for Hearts of Iron, Europa Universalis, or even Imperator. I’ll save my fiending for Crusader Kings III‘s Royal Court for another day, but I’d even sign on to seeing more done for the abandoned Tyranny. That said, Stellaris tends to be one of the most reliable when it comes to downloadable content and each new release seems to improve the game without adding and new flaws recently.
However, Stellaris is also the black sheep of the Paradox catalogue. Yes, it’s an enjoyable strategy title with plenty of depth and content to keep you occupied, but it’s also not tied to any region or era of history so there’s a lot of room to take it in interesting directions. Often these paths revolve around its already robust empire and species designer and that’s exactly where the Aquatics Species Pack fits in. I put its tools to the test and designed both a species and an empire that adopted as many new features as I could.
The Wetter, the Better
Ocean planets have existed for as long as Stellaris has but the Aquatics Species Pack significantly expands upon the opportunities involved when harvesting their bounties. The new aquatic trait grants a species a hefty boost to their habitability, housing efficiency, and productivity on these watery worlds but carries an equally punishing penalty when these deep-sea dwellers decide to try their hand at surviving on dry or frozen planets. If you really want to double down on life under the sea, singing crabs not included in this DLC, the hydrocentric ascension perk significantly increases each of these modifiers.
Still not enough what, you say? Well, in that case, you’ll enjoy taking advantage of the ice mining stations and deluge machine unlocked by the pack as well. Ice mining stations allow you to toss the frozen celestial bodies around you into your ocean planets and melt them down so that your chosen planet grows in size. On the other hand, the deluge machine is a colossal weapon that will make you feel like an Old Testament deity as you flood non-ocean worlds. This drowns any non-aquatics on them and instantly claims the planet itself as part of your salt watery empire.
Civics and origins were thrown some impactful content with this pack as well. Two new origins, Here be Dragons! and Ocean Paradise, let you further customize your empire. Here be Dragons! spawns a powerful space dragon right into your territory. If you form strong bonds with it, you’ll secure a strong ally that you can show off to the rest of the universe. There are worse things than having a friendly leviathan at the other end of your red phone line.
Alternatively, the Ocean Paradise origin kicks off your game with an exceptional size thirty homeworld with plenty of planetary features to boost its potential. Think something akin to a Gaia world but someone accidentally left the faucet on for a billion years. It comes packaged with the promise of plenty of nearby frozen worlds and ice asteroids for further development opportunities as your technology access grows.
The Aquatic Species Pack is yet another fantastic addition to the already content-rich Stellaris. Although sea living doesn’t tend to be a theme that hits it out of the park for me, I had an absolute blast playing with these new features. Several new and exciting toys were tossed in to play around with and allow you to dive into a previously unexplored theme for your empire. If you’re already got your fingers in the Stellaris pie, this DLC is a must, even if you don’t necessarily want to dive right into the watery folk and just want some more variety in the galaxy around you. If you haven’t been indoctrinated into the cult of Stellaris yet, what are you waiting for?