Stellaris: Apocalypse (PC) Review

By Eric Ace 25.02.2018

Review for Stellaris: Apocalypse on PC

Stellaris is a widely popular 4x space strategy game that has had a mixed past. Since its release, it has been plagued by less than stellar reviews, especially regarding its DLC. In many cases, the DLC systems are released later in modified fashion. The latest, Apocalypse, is a vast overhaul of parts of the game, while adding new traits, but this papering over a failure to fix the real problems. To read the previous DLC reviews, head over here.

The Apocalypse DLC, and its massive 2.0 update for the base game, are likely going to be very controversial. They change a lot in the game, but unfortunately leave some of the worse parts still present. At its root, the game changes itself into a slower and strategic version, which is unfortunate as the action was already weighed down by insane play lengths.

The biggest change is that all FTL systems are now gone, replaced only by hyper lanes (essentially tunnels linking each star). It is an interesting change, and feels cooler having choke points, but given the way combat goes, it unfortunately does not matter. The worst part of this is that each system has to have an expensive, slow, boring space station to allow control and mining. Meaning there is no longer any true 'influence' or anything - rather, the first to put a station there gets that specific star.

This, mixed with combat, has the unfortunate effect of slowing an already slow experience to a glacial crawl. Even with a full map, it is nearly five hours in before any meaningful combat starts. That means for over five hours it is simply building space stations and mining platforms.

Screenshot for Stellaris: Apocalypse on PC

The developer claims to have gotten rid of doom-stacks, by limiting fleets to small sizes, but all this really does is just make small fleets fly around together. The worse part, though, is the 'war score' system is still in play, and it is either straight up buggy, or vastly unbalanced. To explain, you simply cannot just mow everything in front of you down like any normal strategy game - an issue that has been present since the original - but now there is a 'claim' system where you have to have enough influence to even suggest you want the sector. On the face of it, this is ridiculous, and in practice can be game-quitting in its levels of frustration.

The claim system is a little confusing, but, say your enemy has 20 sectors, you have to claim each one separately with increasing cost; if you win the war, you get your claims - nothing more, nothing less. Only after making these claims, then can you 'go to war' and despite you having to typically mow halfway through his empire, you still often will not have a high enough score to get your claims. The reason is very odd as, among other things, the computer will sometimes catch your singular ships, kill them - which is logged as a 'fleet kill' - and you lose tremendous points, meanwhile you can literally kill 95% of the enemy fleet but because it jumps away with one ship, you do not get nearly the same points. Furthermore, the AI will spam 'peace offerings,' which are actually you losing nearly everything and this seems to have a negative effect on the score, as well.

It is very frustrating because in a 4x, things like simply killing the enemy should be easy, it should not have to be a paperwork nightmare, nor a frustration in gaming. All too often, the player can legitimately be dominating, and the enemy empire is left in ruins, but somehow still losing the 'war score.' Then, to add insult to injury, you get endless 'peace offers' of you surrendering to the enemy you have nearly annihilated.

Screenshot for Stellaris: Apocalypse on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

This new DLC, Stellaris: Apocalypse, and the major update to the base game, overhaul some serious systems, but the root problem of the title still remains. It simply is too grindy, too 'bureaucratic,' and simply takes too long to do anything interesting. The major issues that have plagued the experience are still present, so those hoping for any change to that will be disappointed, while many elements present serve to frustrate the player.

Developer

Paradox Development Studio

Publisher

Paradox Interactive

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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