The Final Countdown: Stellaris Is Preparing For Launch

Stellaris [official site], the terribly exciting sci-fi grand strategy game from Paradox, is almost ready for launch. The developers are huddled around screens in the control room monitoring fuel levels and vital signs. The mission commander counts backwards from ten. It’s so close. The room bubbles with excitement as the Clausewitz engine ignites, sending shudders of energy through the facility. TEN. NINE. NINE. NINE. NINTH. MAY NINTH. MAY NINTH.

OK, so Stellaris isn’t quite as close as I’d like it to be but bless Paradox for releasing a new trailer that explains precisely why I’m so excited about the game.

We’re a long way from Jazz Boatman. This is about as serious a trailer as I can remember from Paradox. It’s three minutes of sober explanations of game features, delivered as a miniature narrative about an epic journey. From one planet to a thousand stars, and from humble beginnings to galactic imperialism.

When Stellaris was first announced, I spoke to the game’s creative director and almost immediately scurried back to my hotel room (the announcement was at Gamescom) to write down what I knew. I was as excited about the possibilities of this game as I’ve been about any over the last few years.

At that point, there was no way of knowing if Paradox would succeed in all of their grand ambitions – while it may look like a game you’ve seen before, Stellaris is going all in on the idea of creating a galaxy full of mystery. Random races, a complex and novel approach to tech, and various ways to disrupt the usual 4X flow, which sees every player moving toward total domination one way or another.

Everything I’ve seen of the game since, including a closer look at GDC a couple of months ago, suggests it’ll be everything I hoped for back when that announcement was made. We’ll find out soon enough.


  1. Lukasz says:

    I am really excited for the game but i wish there was GOG release.

  2. BobbyDylan says:

    I don’t normally preorder but PDS has constantly proven themselves trustworthy to me. I have about >1500 combined hours in EU:4, CK:2, HOI:3 and VIC2.
    Not only have I pre-ordered Stellaris (as I will HOI:4 next month), but I got the expensive £55 version full of bullshit I don’t need, just cos the awesomeness that is PDS deserves my support!

    PDS and CDPR are the only 2 studios that I’ll preorder form.

    • feamatar says:

      But please don’t forget that this is a first generation Paradox titles, and from what I have seen so far, I am afraid it is going to be like a first generation Paradox title. So please keep in mind that even if the studio made grand strategy games before it is not a paradox that their first entry into a new series will be anything but stellar. Though they aim for the stars, it is usually only the second or third iteration of their games when they universally accomplish their goals.

      • Dorga says:

        But how long has it been since they developed a new IP? I would dare to say that their streak of successes has started with EU III, they are not what they used to be.

        • Sakkura says:

          I would argue that the CK2 launch was when they really took off. CK2 was awesome at launch. EU3 was pretty decent at launch, but it took a couple expansions for it to really shine. HOI3 was awful at launch.

          • Joriath says:

            I may be misremembering here but I think Vicky II was quite good at launch. It certainly improved with A House Divided and Heart of Darkness though.

      • HopeHubris says:

        Sure, but I’ve already watched over 10 hours of gameplay on their stream.
        I’m confident enough that it will be good, that I’m willing to pre-order when I haven’t done so in years

      • vlonk says:

        It may be a first generation title, BUT Paradox is building it on their refined and powerful Clausewitz engine of its other titles and I feel this will change the possibilities dramatically compared to their other titles.
        Maybe they might not refine the gameplay experience to the limit of its potential, but… its moddable. I expect a slew of iterations with DLC opening up more depth and the modding community will pounce on this as they have already on lets say EU IV.

    • Sakkura says:

      It’s funny that you mention HOI3, which at launch was a buggy mess. I preordered it and was quite disappointed. Later patches and expansions gradually fixed many issues, but IMO it never quite got to an enjoyable state; I picked up Darkest Hour (based on HOI2) and played that instead.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        I’ll be honest I’ never pre-ordered HOI,3 I only picked it up after playing VIC2. It was still an incomprehensible mess, but after few hours of Youtube vids I managed to come to grips with it.

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      Bluerps says:

      This pretty much summarizes my feelings. I too will make an exception to my usual preorder policy. I did this the last time with EUIV and that worked out pretty well.

  3. Gang of one says:

    All Hail Blorg!

  4. BobbyDylan says:

    Love the “…and charm” at 0:56… and shows the Blorg.

    We are the Blorg, You shall be befriended!

  5. pistachio says:

    A must-buy title for me, love all Paradox strategy titles.

    But I hope I manage to :

    -not watch youtube videos or browse forums on this one; Youtubers WILL (understandably) minmax / abuse the AI. No AI can ever stand up to the internet hivemind, but the difficulty must be balanced around people that do not bother. Ignorance is bliss in single player games like these.

    -play it to bits before Paradox piles on dlc which the original game was never designed for.

  6. LuckyLuigi says:

    I already pre-ordered and everything looks great, except that the combat seems rather underwhelming so far. We’ll see.

  7. Gnoupi says:

    Do not preorder, do not preorder, do not preorder, do not preorder…. Resist the hype, it might turn out bad…

    I can do it, I can resist.
    I do not have to buy it right away.
    I…what is that, -20% preorder on some sites, already? Dammit.

    • LennyLeonardUK says:

      CD Keys are currently offering a pre order of the game for the more than fair price of 19.99 (sorry, my keyboard doesn’t seem to do pound signs anymore).

      I don’t ordinarily pre order games but I am mightily tempted at that price.

      • Gnoupi says:

        Yeah, when I say some sites, I mean legal ones which actually pay VAT. Like Gamesplanet.
        I like cheap things, but there are limits.

  8. Hunchback says:

    Gallente ship design spotted!
    I approve of this game!

  9. Branoic says:

    We are Blorg. Resistance is impolite. Love is mandatory.

  10. Phantasma says:

    ARRGH! Please stop!
    The wait is hard enough as it is. Up to date I was very proud of my newfound, ardously developed, almost Zen-like indifference towards new releases, at least until they’re properly patched up and/or the inevitable GOTY edition hits the stores (whichever comes first).

    And now Stellaris throws all of that determination out of the window and makes me feel and look like a fool. I’m even close to preordering now.


  11. Shiloh says:

    LOL @ “conolising” (1.43) Anyway, I’m not sure, isn’t this just a reskinned and updated Masters of Orion? Or am I missing something?

    • Wulfram says:

      Is Star Citizen just a reskinned and updated Asteroids?

      • Shiloh says:

        So Stellaris is just a reskinned etc etc?

        I take your point, that there’s nothing new under the sun, but I’m struggling to understand the huge levels of excitement here.

        Then again, I freely admit I’ve not been paying it much attention, so I could be entirely wrong and it might represent a huge leap forward for 4X gaming.

        I think I’ll probably stick with CKII though.

        • Grizzly says:

          You should watch the All Hail Blorg series!

          Well, the key differences between this and MOO-remixes is that this is not so much a MOO-remix but rather a marrying between two concepts: The symmetrical Master of Orion and the completely assymetrical CK2. For instance, in Master of Orion, 8 players get assigned positions in a map and all start on the same playing field (similarily to, say, Civ). In Stellaris, the starting map is a lot more like CK2 in that you have several (user-adjustable) AI empires that are further along the curve, others on the same field as you, whilst others spring to life during the game as new species discover that they can into space.

          So in a sense, the galaxy the game takes place in is designed to be a lot more natural (insofar that can be possible in a sf setting) and huge. This in itself is a big thing, as it is essentially the opposite of what MOO and it’s many, many counterparts have been attempting.

        • Branoic says:

          I don’t think that was his point at all. Star Citizen is clearly not just a reskinned Astroids and this is most definitely not just a reskinned MOO2.

    • Sakkura says:

      No, this is considerably different from Master of Orion. Being in the same genre doesn’t make it a clone.

      There is a much more straight reboot of the old Master of Orion games in early access right now. It’s called Master of Orion. Quill18 is doing a let’s play on youtube if you want to check that out.

  12. zero signal says:

    (Bearing in mind that I demonstrated all the willpower of a toddler and preordered -) I’m struggling to see major differences between this and Distant Worlds: Universe at large scale, but I haven’t seen that comparison come up very often. So what makes this game more attractive? Besides DW:U’s stubbornly high price, that is.

    • darkath says:

      There is certainly some similarities in what both games try to accomplish, but i’d say Stellaris tries to be more high level and abstract more of the small details and focus on the bigger picture.

      For instance the detailed trade and logistics aspect of DWU is inexistant in Stellaris /you wont see mining ships and freighters milling around the galaxy/ but stellaris has more detailed political aspects and internal management of your empire /each population unit have their own political views and will form factions to achieve political goals like regime change or secession if they are dissatisfied/.

      Also stellaris seems to have a good UI and looks prettier :p

      • HopeHubris says:

        The prettiness and more intuitive AI are definitely a factor.
        I tried Distant Worlds and just bounced right off, doing things was just not as simple as doing things in Stellaris seems

  13. JcDent says:

    I just wish they hadn’t been proclaiming the “single planet start” as something new. Sure, it’s new in Paradox grand strategy games, where you always start next to someone, but every last 4x game starts with you establishing your state in the middle of nowhere.

    It also looks… cheap at places. Not as impressive as, say, HoI4.

  14. vlonk says:

    This is the first time that I preordered a game in… a very long time.

    All hail the Blorg! They wish for nothing but being friends.

  15. khamul says:

    I have still not seen a 4X space game review or trailer that hasn’t just made me want to go play Sword Of The Stars.

    And then made me wish that Sword Of The Stars was a little easier to play… Or that there was some hope of ever seeing Sword Of The Stars 3.

    There’s a lot of criticisms you can justly aim at SotS and Kerberos, but in terms of depth? Nothing else comes close.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Then SotS1 (and 2) is all geared towards spacefleet combat (multiplayer recommended).

      Here it seems that combat in Stellaris will be only a small (and therefore underdeveloped) part of what the game has to offer!

  16. barelyhomosapien says:

    I ads my voice to the choruses of “I couldn’t help but preorder the shiniest version, direct from paradox no less.” Heck I’d have paid double for access to the stable-ish version they mentioned using in the office in the glorious blorg stream…

    Something about more money than sense ringing so true right now :P

  17. pfig says:

    I too have broken The Oath. Damn you, Paradox.

  18. Jay Load says:

    That’s a pretty appalling trailer in that it doesn’t convey ANY of the game’s more unique features and ideas. A trailer that finds fancy ways to describe the core features of every other 4X in existence.

    Nonetheless, I have broken my own pre-order ban and bought the game. I’m looking to get lost in this.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Well, a lot of it looked “generic space 4X,” especially the combat. But I think they did a good job of showing the huge number of different aliens you’ll run into. Most every other space 4X has a very limited number of fixed, predetermined AI factions compared to this game.

      The trailer was also enough to get a sense of what the UI looks like. I’m easily put off by an ugly UI, which is one reason I probably haven’t given GalCiv3 and some other games a fair shot, and why I might value something like Endless Legend more highly than it actually deserves in terms of actual gameplay.

      This game doesn’t look like it has Amplitude-level art direction, but it’s easy enough on the eyes that I could see myself playing it for hours. That’s important to me.

  19. teije says:

    Well, this is the game I’ve been most looking forward to the last several months, so I preordered. Which I never do. However, I knew I was going to buy it anyways, as based on the dev diaries and streams it has shaped up to be something really great.

    It marries Paradox grand strategy and space 4x – 2 of my 3 favourite genres. Impossible to resist.

    Of course it will have some wonkiness on initial release, but so did EUIV, CKII, etc. and those have turned out to awesome and always expanding timesinks.

  20. Unsheep says:

    Seems great but I’m holding out for Stars Beyond Reach. I’m not even done with Solar Empire Rebellion and Star Ruler 2, so I’m in no rush. Placing it on my wishlist though.

  21. fearandloathing says:

    Wow how time has passed, I still remember the hype when it was announced. Stellaris, I’m almost sure of, will make PDS (if they aren’t already) one of the legends in strategy gaming, like Westwood, (early) Firaxis etc. Two things worry me though, although Stellaris will benefit tremendously from upcoming DLCs, but the game might be too lacking at launch; and the real issue is whether it will be in continuous “confused” development like EU4, the amount of changes the game went through is just absurd. But Johan (when speaking on HOI4 dlc policy) told they’d learned their lesson and future dlc’s won’t be frequent and intensive like EU4s.

    Also anyone noticed how nicely priced the game is? It’s been a while since I saw a 40$ big-name game.

  22. csbear says:

    Even if they are a few hiccups early on as is expected, since this is software we are talking about, this title deserves a pre-order from me. CK2 has more hours in it then any game I have ever played. So it is a pretty safe bet pre-ordering Stellaris (same lead designer) I believe. Very excited for this! Now I just need to finish Dark Souls 3 before May 9th.

  23. pguyton says:

    thanks to steams very cool refund policy you can pre order with 0 risk:

    Refunds on Pre-Purchased Titles
    When you pre-purchase a title on Steam (and have paid for the title in advance), you can request a refund at any time prior to release of that title. The standard 14-day/two-hour refund period also applies, starting on the game’s release date.

    I think it’s nice to be able to send a signal to the publisher of the scale of interest without actual risk

  24. left1000 says:

    The tech tree actually works a lot like master of magic. Or maybe even more technically a lot like a mishmash of master of magic bred with sword of the stars 1.