Your favorite science-fiction RTS has received yet another major game mechanics overhaul, and a brand new expansion. Here's my Stellaris MegaCorp review.
Stellaris was just updated to version 2.2. In the same breath, Paradox also released an accompanying expansion, MegaCorp. The expansion, as the name implies, gives you the opportunity to play as the CEO of a megacorporation, and it adds a new city world planet type, more megastructures, a couple of new ascension perks, and access to the galactic slave market.
The MegaCorp expansion goes hand in hand with the significant changes to the Stellaris economy model, and planetary management mechanics.
It’s Time to Relearn Everything.
In many ways, Stellaris is a new game. The changes in 2.2 is even bigger than in any of the previous major patches. The introduction of several new types of resources, changes the way you have to think about expanding your galactic empire. While you previously had to make sure you had enough of six basic resources - energy, minerals, food, unity, research, and influence - Stellaris 2.2 adds several more to the pool: Consumer goods, alloys, amenities, housing, and trade value. The latter is converted to energy automagically.
Some of the new resources can’t be mined from asteroids or planets, but instead have to be created from other resources. The way strategic resources work has also be changed. Previously, strategic resources gave your empire certain modifiers. Now they work pretty much as ordinary resources, and they are required to build and upgrade advanced ships and buildings. Some of the higher tier buildings also require strategic resources upkeep. This makes upgrading some of the buildings harder than before, and makes claiming systems with strategic resources even more important.
Planetary management has also been changed, and it’s pretty much unrecognizable. The planetary management mechanics are now way too complicated to describe in detail in this little review. Let’s just say you can just forget everything you knew about planetary management, and prepare to learn it from scratch.
For Better or For Worse?
Is Stellaris an even better game than it was now that’s version 2.2 and MegaCorp is released? The short answer is “no, quite the opposite”. It’s still a game I would recommend if you’re into science-fiction themed RTS games. But the modified game mechanics makes it a far more complicated game than it was. It’s fair to assume that the game is harder to pick up for new players, and that was one of the things I liked with Stellaris. It was rather easy to pick up and master.
The main issue is not the increased complexity, though. Even though the game mechanics are more complicated, I’m sure I’ll be manage to master them eventually. The main issue is the speed of the game. Or rather the lack of speed. The game is so slow now compared to how it was pre-2.2.
The way it is now, the game almost grinds to a halt mid-game in a medium sized (600 star systems) playthrough. Each in-game day takes roughly 2 to 3 seconds to process. As an example, construing a new building often takes 200 to 300 days, and that’s a lot of waiting.
The game speed increased marginally with the release of the 2.2.2. But I still find myself tapping my fingers on my desk, waiting for stuff to happen.
And that honestly puts me off quite a lot.
Just hours after this review was posted, Paradox released a 2.2.3 patch to their experimental branch on Steam. The patch fixes the speed issue for me, but I’ve seen other people report that they don’t see any performance improvement at all. Also, while each day in the game now goes by in a flash, I experience quite a log of lag third or so second. But I’ll take lag over snail speed any day.
This review is based on 214 hours of gameplay with the following DLC and expansions installed: MegaCorp, Distant Stars Storypack , Apocalypse, Humanoid Species Pack, Synthetic Dawn, Utopia, Leviathans Story Pack, Plantoids Species Pack, Creatures of the Void, and Horizon Signal.