Paradox Space Strategy Game Stellaris Is Out May 9th

Update: There’s an in-game trailer below now too.

The game that excited me most, at announcement, in 2015 will be out sooner than you might have expected. With Stellaris, Paradox are heading away from the historical grand strategy that they’re known for and making the leap into space. And into the unknown. The game is a hybrid 4X/grand strategy game and its most intriguing feature is the procedural generation of everything from the galaxy itself to every alien species you’ll find there. I’m at Paradox’s GDC press conference and they just told us that the game will be out May 9th.

If you don’t know why this is EXTREMELY EXCITING, you probably didn’t read my preview from Gamescom last year.

I’ll have more details in the very near future.

Here’s the trailer:


  1. TheChaya says:

    You’re fast!

  2. RedViv says:

    This in May and HoI4 in June. This summer will be *amazing*.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      We’ve already had a bumper crop of top-shelf games this year. But Stellaris in May… that’s hitting the jackpot, as far as I’m concerned.

  3. malkav11 says:

    The procedural generation of everything isn’t its most intriguing feature. It’s its biggest red flag and grounds for extreme skepticism. There are games where procedural generation is used sparingly as a speedy and low-effort way to lay groundwork over which hand-crafted content is carefully layered. This is usually fine. There are games where procedural generation is used to pull together large chunks of otherwise hand-crafted content in ways that feel new and fresh for longer than they normally would. This is also generally functional. Beyond that? It nearly inevitably results in intense blandness or utter dysfunction. So using it as the basis of every single aspect of a game is utter madness. Doing it this quickly (unless they’ve been working on it for many years prior to announcing it, which they may well have been) just compounds it.

    • RedViv says:

      Nah brah I’m pretty sure they hammered this out in only nine months totes.

      • malkav11 says:

        I’m sure it was already in development when announced, but even a three or four year development cycle seems way low to actually deliver on what they’re promising here, and it doesn’t seem like companies usually wait that long to announce projects. But I haven’t seen anything saying one way or the other.

        • RedViv says:

          Work on “Project Augustus” was started around the time EU4 was being prepped for release, so it’s somewhere in the middle of 2013. These days, Paradox have a policy of really only announcing games when they are actually sure they will survive, hence Stellaris going public relatively late.
          With an already stable engine they then modified to allow for increased randomisation and procedures, this doesn’t sound like it was too little dev time either.
          Heck, even if it is not quite as shiny and all in all good when we get to play it in May – given the support they showed for their latest releases I am very certain it will reach those levels for most people a month or two in instead.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Yeah, this worries me too. With historically-based strategy games, you can throw in a name like “Napoleon” and know what you’re dealing with. Every game based on human history relies on that basic familiarity.

      A space 4x game has to create its factions from scratch, for better or worse. The writing and faction design can be creative like Amplitude does with Endless Space/Legend, or you can rely on familiar cartoon tropes (Bird People! Reptile People! Cat People!) like the new MOO. Or the writing can be boring as hell like the factions in Civ Beyond Earth. Bad faction design, or just annoying faction design, can kill a strategy game.

      If the procedural Stellaris races are drawing on a set of prefab characteristics that are well-written by good sci-fi authors, then it could work. If the aliens end up being a bunch of boring “kit built” races based on tired sci-fi tropes then it could undermine the whole project. It will be fascinating to see how this turns out.

      • Logeres says:

        I think you might’ve misunderstood the game a bit. The races themselves have no characteristics, no background info or lore (aside from a few premade ones). They are basically just portraits.

        Instead, their values and behaviour come from their combination of guiding ethics, like militarism, xenophobia or materialism. The game combines those with some portraits and voilá, you have a new empire.

      • carewolf says:

        So based on good sci-fi, or avoding tropes? You can’t have both.

        All good sci-fi ends up being adopted and copied until it becomes a trope. You either have to be original or tropy.

        They asked early on, on the Paradox forums, how we would like the races. After long consideration, I argued for the mostly anthromorphic men in masks. That is both classic, and easy to remember and identify with, and being able to have rememberable opponents and playing races you can identify with, is more important than realism. Though in sci-fi books I prefer the opposite.

    • carewolf says:

      It is strategy game. It is not supposed to have a hand-crafted story. It is the perfect place to use procedurally generated starting positions. In fact that is already standard for maps in most strategy games, they are just expanding it to more things, making the game more interesting to replay.

      • malkav11 says:

        Maps in strategy games don’t have to be inherently interesting. They just need to shuffle around resources and strategic points to present a different challenge each time. As such, procedural generation works fine and is common, as you suggest. Factions, units, research, events, and so on DO need to be interesting and have personality and distinctiveness or the whole thing becomes terminally dull. These things are usually hand-authored, even if their introduction into a particular game session isn’t necessarily. Trying to procedurally generate them is, I suspect, deeply unwise. But we’ll see.

        • Herring says:

          The only real important criteria for a strategy game is that the distribution of resources makes decisions interesting / important. This ties into the underlying game design so that certain resources are not significantly more important than others (and removing those choices).

          But, it’s Paradox. More than willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

    • Morte66 says:

      A lot of studios seem to think procedural generation is a way to pay 1-2 programmers instead of 10-20 writers/artists/designers.* This, I think, is their real motive — nothing to do with pushing boundaries or being new and different.

      * It is, in itself, but you pay peanuts and you get monkey-flung poo.

  4. racccoon says:

    This maybe a good game, my only beef is the hex, I might be able to override it as it seems the game is well formed & constructed.

  5. DoomBroom says:

    This is one of the few games left that still excites me for flat screen gaming. I will play it in SteamVR Desktop Theater surrounded by stars and galaxy’s or maybe sitting on the moon.

  6. Unsheep says:

    Wait…I thought 4X was a dead genre as far as mainstream media was concerned, why the sudden change of heart ?

  7. Christo4 says:

    Can you play as a small empire only protecting your borders and making discoveries instead of needing to expand?
    I find the idea of a small but powerful empire a lot more than the need to be a big one and expand and it seems like a lot of games don’t give you that option.

    • Dorga says:

      All the recent Paradox games do

      • Replikant says:

        True, but there is a fundamental difference: In their historical grand strategy games, the (old) world is usually already discovered. Hence, one can survive e.g. as merchant Venice, as long as one manages to balance the surrounding mayor powers and keep them from attacking (massive mercenary armies certainly help as well).
        In the space 4x games (Stellaris being no exception, I believe) all races start with one planet on the eve of discovering FTL travel and a mostly empty universe which is there for the taking. Paradox already stated that the first phase will be about blobbing. If I understood correctly they then want the game to enter some kind of balance of power phase, similar to their grand strategy titles. It would be interesting to see if an empire which refuses to take part in the expansion phase would have any chance of survival.

        • Christo4 says:

          Well, let’s say that i go and capture 10 planets that were empty, no one claimed them before, but after that i meet other empires and decide to focus only on them and expand my power and infrastructure between them. Would i be able to do that, or other empires that expand infinitely have more of an advantage?
          I think that, even in space, the more you expand, the less grip you have on other planets and if you expand too fast, then the infrastructure of those planets will also be lacking, so you won’t be able to get as much tech or money or people from it as from others.
          It seems to me that a lot of games don’t really have this… I’d rather have 10 planets that are highly advanced than 100 planets that are mediocre, but most space games make those 100 planets a lot more important than just 10 planets, even if you just discovered them…
          I mean, if it took 100-200 years over 100 planets i think they would be able to develop nicely, but they would also perhaps want independence or revolt, whereas if you have 10 planets over 50 years they would be able to develop as much as those planets and also have a better infrastructure and trade routes etc. But games usually don’t do this…
          Perhaps you need more factors in it. Like, a lot of space is just FTL from one planet to another and cap it, i think it would be good if there were several obstacles between them, so some planets would be better as trading hubs becasue you can easily get to them while others would be harder to reach (but could also be a lot easier to defend if you get them first). Maybe some space-time ripples or something would be fun to have, though i really have no idea how this game will handle it.
          Sorry for wall of text.

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        Zamn10210 says:

        Eh… sort of. You can become moderately powerful as a small country now in EU4 but because there’s very little internal empire management there’s nothing to *do* if you don’t constantly expand.

    • vahnn says:

      Well it’s important to note this is being touted a 4x/grand strategy hybrid, and is not simply EU4/CK2 In Space. Part of those 4 X’s is explore and expand, and in most 4x games, these steps are vital. Some 4x games allow you to build “tall” (a small empire of powerful, advanced territories) rather than “wide” (lots of less advanced ones). But this is Paradox and I expect them to allow a range of play styles with lots of options.

      • Christo4 says:

        Well i’m not against expanding, just as you said, i’d rather build tall than wide empires and it seems like most games mostly go for wide.
        But i guess we’ll see how it is when it launches.

        • vahnn says:

          Yeah, I’m hoping to be able to play tall, too. On Paradox’s forum for Stellaris they have a dev diary archive, up to 25 entries as of yesterday, I believe. Gives a lot of insight on what to expect regarding a wide range I’d the game’s features. Worth a look if you haven’t seen it already.

          Also, have you played Endless Legend? The Cultist faction is designed all around building tall instead of wide, and is excellent. One of the most unique factions I’ve seen in a strategy game.

          • Christo4 says:

            Thanks for the suggestion.
            No, i haven’t played endless legend yes.
            I have read about it and it seemed really interesting, i just have never played turn based games that much unless it was xcom.
            I mostly played real time strategy and lately rpg’s like dark souls and shooters like insurgency.
            But perhaps i’ll try it sometime, especially if it has factions like that.

    • zeratul says:

      I think you would be able to do something like this in Stellaris, especially given that you only can directly control something like 5 planets at the start of the game and need to appoint sector governors for extra ones you have.

    • Sephirex says:

      The developer specifically mentions building tall as an option.

  8. klops says:

    I AM EXTREMELY EXITED AS WELL! Too bad my machine most likely won’t handle this. We have come to that point in life.

    • minijedimaster says:

      Where did you exit to?

      4X games generally aren’t too GPU heavy so your machine may be ok. Unless you have a really old CPU and small amount of RAM, then maybe not.

      • klops says:

        Ha! :D I’m just cautious about every game published nowadays.

  9. slerbal says:

    My response to the release date: Fuck yeah! Day one purchase for me (and that is an extremely rare event!)

  10. teije says:

    Huge fan of both 4X and Paradox grand strategy. So this is great news – much earlier than I was expecting release.

    And for anyone looking for more info – the two dozen dev diaries on their forums have loads of detail.

  11. erbinzky says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes, yes!

  12. InfamousPotato says:

    I don’t really play 4X games, but I remember getting really excited when I read RPS’ preview (the one this article links to), so it’s great to hear that it’s coming out soon! I feel like nearly everything that comes from Paradox is special… not perfect, but never generic.

  13. NickM says:

    I suspect this will be wonderful but I think I’ll need a really good and detailed let’s play before I pick it up. That’s what got me into CK2 and the fact I haven’t found one for EU4 is what’s stopped me from getting into that (well, that at other games).

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    Harlander says:

    If this turns out as “Distant Worlds but with the rough edges smoothed out” I’ll be pretty satisfied.