There seems to be a recent trend in space games to add a sentient robotic/mechanical/computerized race to play as and/or defend against. An already very good, combat-heavy, 4X space endeavor, Stars in Shadow is no exception. They have recently launched their cybernetic DLC, Legacies. Since I am already a Stars in Shadow player, I was delighted to be able to take these machines out for some expansion and conquering (I mean, greeting other races with open, metallic arms).
The Tinkers are the new major playable faction. Once humanoid, they transformed themselves into cyborgs to worship their ancient, mega-machine god, Dzibix. This sprawling deity expanded and now entirely covers their home planet. Dzibix has tasked the Tinkers with expanding beyond their own territory to meet and possibly ‘Harmonize’ (think assimilation) other cultures.
It took a little bit for me to get used to playing as this new race, although they have some substantial advantages from the very beginning. For battle, they have increased armor; for recovery, they have self-repair mechanisms! Also, they have special attributes with missiles — and fighters especially — that I will let you happily find out on your own. It’s worth it.
Since your home planet, as well as others you find, has the newly implemented Debris Rings, you can do many new and wonderful things as the Tinkers. Your base is technically in an asteroid that orbits the planet. Most notably, then, is their capacity to build mobile space stations. Among these are Mobile Bases, Asteroid Stations, and Asteroid Outposts — all of which can be moved once built. Without spoilers (of course), my early fondness for Asteroid Outposts helped me expand at a largely increased rate.
Also, since I already love the ship-building aspect of Stars in Shadow, I was able to alter the components on these new mobile stations as well. Just as you have always been able to do with ships, as you unlock new technologies, you can design these transportable base-like behemoths for a wide variety of tasks and needs. Newly added modules only add to the flexibility of these portable structures and their capacity to do a novel and wide assortment of deeds. While I generally have a pretty large list of my own ship designs, with Legacies, I easily built more variations than I ever had before.
Just as before, the Tinkers have their own genuine aesthetics, tech tree, feel, and play-style that clearly sets them apart from the other races. A point that is extremely noteworthy is the fact that since they are cyborgs, they do not need food! It is a completely different strategy starting up a new Legacies game without having to instantly worry about food supplies. However, since they are machine-based, in my first forays, I quickly found myself burning through metal at an alarming rate.
Production is actually increased a lot, though. Instead of factories, the Tinkers build Machine Altars. They are not only ‘better’ factories, but also keep the Tinkers harmonized and connected to their god. As I mentioned earlier, you can Harmonize races on planets that you take over. However, the other races do not take kindly to you putting their civilians into forced labor.
Stars in Shadow: Legacies adds many other interesting things to the game, aside from the Tinkers. One of my absolute favorites, as well as something that has been lacking all of this time, is an expandable tech tree! Now you can actually — and more efficiently — plan ahead and know where your current and future techs are leading. You can see the tech lines for forthcoming unlocks, as well as the prerequisites, and prepare accordingly. For me, this made a huge difference in how I approached all of my research.
There is a new and interesting minor race, the Arda Seed, which I will let you discover on your own as well. Even more exciting (to me) is an entity known as “The Herald”. All I will say about that is the fact that, to begin with, I kept running into them too early in each of my games. Also added are the new Researchable Artifacts and “Hyperspace Anomaly” locations, the latter of which are loads of fun as well.
Definitely, my time with Stars in Shadow: Legacies was a pure blast. The Tinkers just play so extraordinarily different that I had to make a lot of adjustments to my entire approach to the game. Even though it’s still too pirate-heavy, all of the new additions make Stars in Shadow retain its title of the go-to 4X for combat-driven gameplay. Its expandable tech tree is a huge and much-needed improvement, as well. Right now, though, there are some members of the Phidi Combine that I have to go, ummm… politely ask to work for me.