A few of my friends have been raving about Stellaris for a while now, so when the new expansion launched, and it was on sale, I decided I would pick it up. I’ve been playing it for about two weeks now, typically in the evenings, with a couple of longer games on the weekends. Even still, I have yet to complete a game, and while my opinion of the game is still open, there are some things that I feel confident saying I like, and some other things I can say I dislike about the game.
First, I really like that this is a sci-fi space game. This is, admittedly, a weak spot for me, and Stellaris fills that rather well. The thing that is missing (so far) is that it fails to deliver a rich sci-fi universe. Admittedly, I haven’t completed a precursor storyline yet, but the universe, the inhabitants, and their interactions are all independent, and it feels only ankle deep as a result.
This leads me to my main gripe about the game as a whole – it feels exceptionally shallow. For me, this comes from a couple of core features that I don’t much care for, and generally leave me hanging. The one that I’ll call out, because it bothers me the most, is the randomness in the game. When I want to play a strategy game, it’s because I want to engage with a control theory simulation – one where my actions have (possibly unforeseen, but deterministic) consequences that create a feedback loop of successive correction. Stellaris feels like a Monte Carlo simulation that dampens both the negative and positive feedback loops, and takes away (for me) the enjoyment of the control theory problem.
Overall, I’m having fun with Stellaris, but it certainly isn’t going to replace my staple strategy games anytime soon. I suspect that I’ll play through it a few times on single player, but I don’t expect it’ll have a lot of replay-draw for me.