Stellaris: Utopia (PC) Review

By Eric Ace 07.04.2017

Review for Stellaris: Utopia on PC

Stellaris has been an interesting title from the start, as it takes the 4X space strategy genre and creates a real-time multiplayer game out of it. Focusing heavily on exploration, then later diplomacy, it has always had a far different feel than other games in the genre. Since its release, the game has gone through a few updates that have fixed minor issues and improved the UI, among other things. This DLC and expansion - which are tied very closely together - goes a long way to breathing some life into a game that was becoming stale.

The beginning of Stellaris games is arguably one of its better points, from designing the race to first setting out to the stars. Of the 4Xs of space strategy games, Stellaris' strength was the 'eXplore' part of it. It really took the feeling of exploring an unknown universe to a fairly logically point. Being a major part of the game, there was much time spent slowly exploring star after star, and it could easily be an hour or more before the first alien was found. Even from the beginning, there is an overhaul players will be happy to see.

To be clear, there is a major update for the game, as well as paid DLC. In many cases, the DLC works in tandem as additional features on top of the existing system. The first major overhaul is in race creation. The development team has revamped the ethics system, making it more of a customisable option. For example, by picking Militarist it enables certain perks like Citizen Service, which gives the capacity to handle more ships, whereas a Pacifist would not be able to take this perk. Little flavour text, like a Starship Troopers reference to "doing your part" on perks like this goes a long way towards a feeling of role-playing.

Screenshot for Stellaris: Utopia on PC

The next major change (and this is an example of DLC adding on top of it) is a new resource called Unity. Created from temples and the like, it is a resource spent on a skill tree system where the player picks certain ways for the race to develop. This was much needed, as in the original game, after the race creation there wasn't much else to do. With this, as more Unity is gained, the player can further delineate ideals like expansion or discovery, which give bonuses to those aspects. This is very similar to the recent Civilization system. The DLC offers Ascension Perks, which are additional bonuses after a Unity skill tree has been fulfilled. These can be things such as slowly going down a mechanisation of the race to become robots, or additional military bonuses, or to build mega structures.

The biggest part of the Utopia DLC is the mega structures. They are very late game and require specific Ascension Perks to be picked. These range from ring worlds to Dyson spheres. They are massive and take typically the entire system's worth of planets, but can give big bonuses. It gives a good feeling of completion or coming full circle to strive for these. The four types are ring world and Dyson spheres for colonisation, a massive science lab, and an observation post that eventually can watch the whole galaxy.

To be fair, it is important to state that the weakest part of Stellaris has always been the 'eXterminate' part of its 4X genre, and little has changed here. The game still revolves around keeping your 'death ball' of ships alive at all costs due to both the resources and utter time it took to make. This leads to strange situations of leaving entire swaths of the empire dying simply to let the ball not be destroyed. There is nothing new under the sun in this regard, meaning no tactics, and battles are still simple affairs of 'bigger number wins.' Frustratingly, races still cannot just be killed outright, and every war is forced to go through this bureaucratic nightmare of 'demands' and invading planets, only to give them back.

Screenshot for Stellaris: Utopia on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The Utopia DLC, tied in with its major update, goes a long way to breathing life into a game that had grown stale on many fronts. The race actually feels a lot more alive, and the Unity/Ascension system gives something to work towards during the game. For more casual fans, the free update is likely enough, as it offers a surprising amount of content, whereas more hardcore fans will want to spring for additional features that especially change late game. The combat system that has been an issue in many people's eyes unfortunately sees no changes, but the rest of the game has been overhauled to a much better state. The singular problem is arguably the update gives more than the DLC, which has a steep cost.

Developer

Paradox Development Studio

Publisher

Paradox Interactive

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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