Stellaris, Paradox’s grand strategy, 4X space effort, has received it’s most recent expansion, Apocalypse, today. As is tradition the core game also received a free, major update to both allow non-expansion owners to play with expansion owners, but also to bend, twist and tweak features. In this instance, an overwhelming amount has changed.
The free, 2.0 patch, titled Cherryh, is easily one of the biggest reworkings of a Paradox title in its modern history; with a complete overhaul of borders, colonization and unit movement.
You can read the full patch notes over on Paradox’s forum, here.
Where before there were three methods to move around the galaxy with, which players chose one of when they started out the campaign and unlocked the other two as they proceeded — post update, each faction will move around using a tweaked version of the old ‘Hyperlanes’ technology, greatly increasing the appearance of bottlenecks, and as such changing how system defence and expansion occurs. FTL technology does appear later in the game, while wormholes have been made into astral phenomenons, and large space gateways (like Mass Effect’s mass relays) litter space waiting for reactivation.
The way systems work has also been overhauled, with astral weather and environmental effects existing in some systems, damaging or effecting ships which travel through it. Colonization is now free, but can only be done within borders, and borders are now tied to who controls the system’s sole Starbase — which cannot be destroyed, only captured as to flip the system.
War has seen major shifts too. Combat has been reworked with armour turned into a non-recovering additional health buffer, ground troops density and ‘width’ influencing their effectiveness and collateral damage, as well as orbital bombardment shifts. Outside of combat, the changes in tech structuring is reflected in the post-patch ship designer, Casus Belli are required to launch a war, and the war results now revolve around war exhaustion.
Anyway, that’s the majority of the free changes. The Apocalypse expansion adds in large orbital installations, death-star style ‘Colossus’ weapons which can destroy planets; a new, larger ship, and a new enemy in pirate marauders which litter the outskirts of the galaxy.
Not only do the marauders serve as a slight risk to those hoping to skirt the exterior spaces, they can form up into a major, conquering horde in one of the mid-game crisis. They can also serve as a potential mercenary army, should you have a good enough relationship.
We’ve been playing through Apocalypse for the last while, and have a review piece in the works which should be live early next week — so keep your eyes peeled for that.