Stellaris Distant Stars Review
Reviewed on PC
Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of the weird mushroom people and their fleet of ships. Its centuries long mission, to explore new worlds, to accidentally find new life and hopefully not get shot by it, to meekly go where it turns out lots of people have been before. Stellaris tasks players with exploring, growing and surviving through diplomacy, weird crystal aliens, and gigantic space monsters.
The way that the expansions work, for those not familiar with the title, is that each one adds in a plethora of new events to the game itself. So you aren't playing through a new story, you are changing the stories that your games can generate. You can find joy in this game by setting up your map and choosing when things will kick off, this in turn allows each game to generate different twists, turns, politics, and space jellyfish. If you think of Stellaris as a two bedroom house, each expansion adds a new feature or room, in the case of Distant Stars you've gutted the bathroom, added a Jacuzzi, then installed a hidden pool somewhere in your garden filled with creatures and you have never seen.
The matches play out like a wonderfully relaxed hike up a mountain that gets more and more crazy the higher you go. Where other strategy games have a sense of urgency at all times, this one manages to keep an incredibly relaxed atmosphere until a band of roving pirates comes in and pillages your planets and mining stations. The result of this is that each match is almost meditative in its pace and allows you to enjoy the exploration and discovery that is encouraged.
Distant Stars adds in some new Levaithans, giant space beasts who no matter their temperament, will affect your plans for expansion. You get new anomalies as well as some updates to old anomalies. There are also new gates to find and access and new systems to discover. The volume of new bits and bobs mean that you are unlikely to see them all in one game, so you will get a lot of new occurrences in games for months to come. Combined with an update coming out on the same day the story pack adds even more to the increasingly deep pool of ideas that this space faring strategy game can call on.
Each game allows you to experience something new and the stories generated, especially in multiplayer, are interesting and dynamic. From the alliances formed to the discoveries made, every aspect can be different game to game and it really makes each instance unique and enjoyable. The decisions you have to make will be vastly different depending on which events happen to trigger, or which ones you even get to experience first hand. The difference from one game to another really does make multiple games a must play and is immensely rewarding.
With the arrival of Distant Stars, the ongoing expansion of Stellaris continues, much like our own universe the game just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Despite all of the depth that can be found here, the game is incredibly accessible and offers a wide array of options that allow it to be played your way. From increasinging the speed, to changing the timing of events, everything can be customised so that you can have the experience you want. With all of this the most impressive thing is that it will always be an enjoyable one, and one that is improved by the new story pack, it is definitely worth your time and space.