Stellaris [Review][Official Site] is getting its first expansion, Leviathans, alongside its third major patch, on the 20th of October. Among new storylines and weird creatures to encounter it’ll add another notch to the list of things that get better with dragons, and yes, 4x Strategy games in space is one of them.
Paradox hired Sunless Sea and Fallen London fame writer Alexis Kennedy to write for Stellaris, something that will further cement my perception of Stellaris as the closest thing to a Crusader Kings game in space, and Leviathans seems to be the first fruit of that. Stellaris’ beginning was specially interesting with the abundance of events and occurrences that happened alongside all the exploring, exterminating, expanding and exploiting we’ve come to expect of games within the genre, and offered a nice change of pace as between moments of expanding my empire I got caught in quests and storylines that reminded me of how vast and weird space could be.
The patch’s features include The Guardians, also known as Leviathans, which are space-dwelling creatures of immense power. These will range from biological life-forms such as the Space Dragon, which jealously guards its hoard from invaders; to a metallic orb that inhabits the fringes of a black hole, incommunicable and still; and, my personal favorite, the Stellarite, whose blurb says:
What can live inside a star?
What sort of being can withstand, and even thrive in, such immense heat and pressure?
What could be its purpose?
… what does it eat?
Other features include the War in Heaven questline, which will involve two Fallen Empires duking it out against one another and in the process dragging huge swathes of the galaxy – possibly you – into the conflict, and the Enclaves, independent outposts of traders and mercenaries with which you can interact, trade and hire.
As is the norm for Paradox’s strategy games, the DLC will accompany the Heinlein patch, which brings some significant changes to the base game. Having reached the end-game scenarios a couple of times, I can say that micro-managing things later on can be quite the hassle, and the inclusion of systems to minimize this – rally points and auto-explore – is very welcome. There’s a forty minute video on the patch features below, but if you don’t have the time for that the main features are:
- A convenient Auto-Explore feature.
- Rally points for your freshly-assembled Navy.
- The Expansion Planner Interface.
- An overhaul of Strategic Resources.
- Clearer specialization/role for ship types.
- More options for customizing new galaxies.
- New smarter Sector Governors.
Both come out on the 20th and you can purchase Leviathans for the lump sum of $9.99, or whatever that is in your region. And if anyone’s ever told you that sound isn’t propagated in space, well, apart from being technically wrong, he’d never met this: