Lift Off: Stellaris Rolls Out First Major Update 1.1

The first major patch for space-flung 4X-meets-grand-stategy ’em up Stellaris [official site] is now live, bringing with it a fair wad of changes and improvements. Update 1.1, otherwise known as Clarke, casts its intergalactic net over UI improvements, tweaks to sectors and diplomacy, and AI behaviours. It also adds platypuses.

Much similar to how developers Paradox tend to handle long-term support for the rest of their catalogue, Stellaris is expected to receive running updates free-of-charge alongside paid expansions moving forward. The next few months will focus on the former, say the Swedish outfit, and that starts with Clarke. While there’s quite a few changes – full patch notes can be found this-a-way – sectors can now manage spaceports, and AI has been improved to give your populace a better sense of what they should be building at any given time.

Likewise, aggression and diplomacy have been tweaked meaning strong AI are far more likely to attack weaker neighbours. As a result, they’re also less cautious about waging interstellar war. Lucky you.

Conversely, AI are now more inclined to open their borders to civilians, meaning you’re less likely to be penned in by stubborn adjacent nations – something I’ve found really frustrating in previous games. All told, these changes should make for a much more fluent game and, crucially, make Stellaris’ mid-game more interesting – something Paradox identified as an issue post-launch. Patch 1.2, ‘Asimov’, plans to work on border treaties further still.

The Empire Builder has also been expanded. Which means platypuses*. Here’s the word on that:

“We also took some time to add a pair of highly requested features to the empire builder. Namely, the ability to write a biography for your species and empire, and the ability to customize ruler titles.

“Ruler titles are customized separately by gender, and will remain even if you change government type, so long as the new government is of the same type as the previous one (so changing from a Monarchy to another Monarchy will not clear your ruler titles, while changing from a Monarchy to a Democracy will).”

Stellaris has split opinion here at RPS Towers – Adam can’t get enough; John tried, but unfortunately failed, to use it as an entry point to the strategy genre; and Alec proclaimed it a Great Strategy Game With Infuriating AI. Perhaps update 1.1 will change his mind?


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  1. Ufofighter says:

    All three final crisis were bugged? Seriously they released a game with three late game crisis and all of them had potential bugs? That has to be a new record, even for Paradox.

    • HopeHubris says:

      I’ve only had one, but it doesn’t seem to be bugged, Prethoryn Scourge (could have been fixed by the time it triggered for me, I guess?)

      • Ufofighter says:

        That’s the bug invasion? It was bugged yes, many players reported that they were unable to retake the conquered planets by any means, or that they had the queen but nothing happened.

        During the robotic crisis the IA made robotic units to fight the rebel robotic units, you can imagine what happened the exact moment the new units left the production queue.

        And the extra-dimensional invasion was bugged too, passive IA, quest bugged…

    • mike2R says:

      Ha! (Yes, I did buy Hearts of Iron 3 at release)

      That said, Paradox basically get a pass from me. They do keep working on their games until they shine, and I really really like their games. I’m not going to moan much about what route they take to get Stellaris to where it is going to end up.

      That said, Stellaris’ launch is a bit of a step down in release-quality from their last few. Though nowhere near the “wait 3 patches before its even playable” of the old days.

      • Cinek says:

        Tell that to my Sword of the Stars II. It’s still shit. Playing Stellaris is oddly reminiscent of SotS][ flop.

        • Sian says:

          Not really, SotS ][ was way, way, way worse at the start and only slightly improved over time. I daresay the lack of support was due to Kerberos and Paradox parting ways shortly after release.

        • mike2R says:

          For me, I only really care about the Paradox developed games, rather than the ones they just publish. Though they only have themselves to blame if they publish games in the state of Sword of the Stars II, and that damages their reputation as a developer as well.

    • Laurentius says:

      That’s far, far from Paradox record. Many may not remember but Europa Universalis was released without working “Save” function. So it will be really hard for them to outdo themselves in this department.

      • carewolf says:

        Well, maybe they could remember EU3 that was unplayable until the first expansion and back then you had to PAY to for the expansion to get the bug-fixes. (or HOI3 that required two)

        Or the pre-steam days, when keeping bug-fixes in beta and only accessible to registered users was used as a form of DRM.

        I love Paradox, but QA has never been their strong suit, and even with Stellaris it is still a lot better than it used to be.

  2. kharnevil says:

    After 30 hours of Stellaris, I have to say, it’s not even a scratch on Endless Space, in terms of detail or depth.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure, (in fact I know) that Paradox will improve it with DLC. But at the moment it’s well and truly empty.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      I partially disagree. While I was disappointed with Stellaris, I found it a lot more engaging than Souless Space.

    • Chiron says:

      Funny because I tried Endless Space and it felt very very fast paced and very boring and very simplistic.

      Stellaris has a lot of problems and will benefit a lot from the next few months patching but is already more interesting and the mods are shaping up to offer you whatever experience you like out of it.

    • Stillquest says:

      Interesting. I actually felt the game has huge potential, more so than any other spacey-4X I played. A potential that is sadly held back by lack of balance and under-active AI foes. Nothing that can’t be fixed.

    • Grendael says:

      I think endless space was fun for a time, but pretty shallow overall. A fairly typical moo-like imo. and lacking an appear that i found with stellaris.

    • ramshackabooba says:

      Disagree. I’ve tried Endless Space several times and I for one reason or another, never played more than 5 hours. Stellaris is clocking at 80 hours and counting.

    • Neutrino says:

      I tried Endless Space when it was on sale a while ago. I couldn’t deal with the solar system view where the planets ‘bounce’ to the foreground everytime the mouse passes over them. It drove me nuts, searching the web I found that scores of other people had had the exact same issue, going back years, but the devs never felt inclined to offer an option to disable it. That pretty much did it for me after only a couple of hours playing it.

      The whole feel of the UI struck me as overly flashy and unnecessarily animated. I prefer a more atmospheric and considered feel to the UI in my space strategy games.

    • Malarious says:

      Have… have you played Endless Space recently? I loved Endless Space to bits when it first came out, but it’s really not aged well. Stellaris has pretty much every system Endless Space does, and then a dozen on top of that, so I’m not sure how you can compare the depth of the two. Endless Space had rock-paper-shotgun card battles though so I guess there’s something.

    • Jane Doe says:

      Endless Space is like a fast food version of MoO2 where you play cards instead of space battles. I did enjoy it, but it is one of the most limited 4X games I’ve ever seen. If you’ve played it once, you’ve seen everything.

    • RED says:

      That is funny because Endless Space has neither of those things. It is your typical 4X space monopoly.

    • mouton says:

      Stellaris has plenty of problems but I bounced off Endless Space quite hard. Some of its problems persisted in Endless Legend, but seeing how they improved I am rather hopeful for Endless Space 2.

  3. Asurmen says:

    Noticed this change straight away.

    Galaxy has been stagnant for like, 100 years as all the empires merged into Alliances and Federations. Beta patch came out, and suddenly everyone was recalling embaries, declaring rivals and insults left, right and centre. My Alliance declared war on another and we liberated the lot of them. No more enemy Alliance.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      That could be fun to see in my game – if the performance issues are ever fixed. I have 5 neighbors, all of which are part of the same Federation and even combined, I have a far larger and more powerful fleet. Three of the species are terrified of me and just want to be left alone (which I am happy to do as they have nothing I want). However two of their federation allies for whatever reason, still see me as a target and are hugely hostile to me. In turn, I’m hostile to them as well as they have nice planets and resource rich systems that I want.

      In the last war I had with them, the leader of the Federation happened to be one of the 3 pacifists that wants nothing to do me, and she kept spamming with me a peace agreement for 3 of the 5 planets I wanted to liberate. Probably once every minute or less she sent over a peace agreement, pleading desperately for me to take it.

      It’d be interesting to see if the more aggressive empires leave the federation, or if the pacifists leave to form their own. It would make my life easier if either were to happen so going to war against one of the Empires that hates me doesn’t result in going to war against literally every neighbor I have.

  4. Stillquest says:

    * Collection of strategic resources on planet tiles is no longer suppressed by buildings

    Thank god. This one drove me crazy. Also, upping the AI’s aggression is a welcome change.

    • Asurmen says:

      The UI still says it does. It was in beta so I assume it would be corrected in live and nope, still says building will supress resource.

      • timzania says:

        Is that for regular resources or strategic resources (not so often found on planets)?

        • Asurmen says:

          Yeah, reading fail on my part. I’ve never seen strategic resources on a planet tile before.

          • MiniMatt says:

            I *think* the little “xeno pets” are planet tile based? Think I saw them on one of my worlds, but playing happy clappy space lizards (karma chameleons) I was not in need of extra fluffy based happiness modifiers.

  5. Solidstate89 says:

    My biggest issue is the late game performance. I can honestly deal with the frame rate drops in large fleet battles – it’s annoying, but I don’t really care. What has made the game absolutely unplayable for me is the stutter. No, not framerate stutter – the game literally suffers from these micro-pauses. Even just panning around on the galaxy map, the game will “lock” every 8 seconds or so.

    Even worse is during fleet battles. I was taking on a Fallen Empire and right as our two fleets got into engagement range – everything in the game just froze. The game itself was still “running.” It didn’t become unresponsive, I could still actually pan and zoom without any issue. It was like I had hit the pause button and everything in the game just paused. That literally lasted for about 4-6 seconds and it happened once a minute or less during the fleet battles.

    I’m loving the actual gameplay, and I just the Unbidden show up (and want to crush them with my awesome fleets) but I’ve reached the point where I haven’t played in almost a week just because the late-game because an unplayable stuttering and pausing fucking mess. It’s just like Sins of a Solar Empire – the engine only uses one or two cores AT MOST and it’s only 32-bit. It sucks so much, because it’s a game I’ve been enjoying a lot.

  6. Commander Gun says:

    One stupid question probably, but is Stellaris turn-based or does time goes on while you play? I rly would have loved to enjoy Europa Universalis and such games, but i play slowly and hate to freeze the game every time i want to do something.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      Real-time with pause. It’s not like Gal Civ which is turn based.

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        Captain Narol says:

        However you have 4 possible speed levels and the slowest one is really really slow…

    • HopeHubris says:

      Real time with pause

    • Cinek says:

      In Europa Universalis you can make game auto-pause on any event requiring your attention. But other than that yea, it’s RTwP, the best system for any large scale games.

    • Zamn10210 says:

      You “freezing the game” is probably the wrong way of looking at it. When I play EUIV I do nearly everything with the game paused, then let it run until I need to do something else.

      Think of it like the pauses are your turn and the unpauses the AI turns in a turn-based game.

  7. Someoldguy says:

    It’s a nice list of improvements, but until there’s an easy way to search a 600+ star system universe for planets owning those strategic resources you just unlocked, I think it’ll sit dormant awaiting more updates. No new map modes included in this one and we badly need a few.

    • vlonk says:

      The ommission of the map modes baffled me too. I cannot remember those little popups about who joined what alliance in a medium sized galaxy with dozens of empires. I want a visual representation of the current powerblocks with a press of a button.

    • Cinek says:

      Select a construction ship – it will show you icons with the resources under each planet. Yellow = used, white = go there and build a station. You could also switch a view to one that shows all the details on all the system.

      But yea, it doesn’t have half of the features other grand strategy games from Paradox had, it’s not just view modes that are missing.

    • SuperFlue says:

      Hold alt on the empire map, and it will show a lot more information. There is even a well hidden check box down right that enables this view by default.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Captain Narol says:

    I’m close to finish my first game (only 2 galactic kingdoms left to take down, and surprisingly no endgame crysis yet) and at this point I’m torn between starting a new one right after it to test the Clarke changes or waiting for the Asimov update in hope of more midgame content…

    • Rich says:

      I’d wait. I think I’m going to keep at my current game until Asimov.

  9. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    For those wondering what is next for Stellaris, here’s what Paradox had to say. Asimov is scheduled for end of June from last account.


    Border Access Revision: Borders are now open to your ships by default, although empires can choose to Close their borders for another empire (lowering your relations, of course.)
    Tributaries: New diplomatic status and corresponding war goals.
    Joint Declarations of War: You can ask other empires to join you for a temporary alliance in a war against a specific target.
    Defensive Pacts.
    Harder to form and maintain proper Alliances.
    More war goals: Humiliate, Open Borders, Make Tributary, etc.
    Emancipation Faction. We had to cut this one at the last minute. Needs redesign.
    Diplomatic Map Mode. Much requested!
    Diplomatic Incidents: This is a whole class of new scripted events that causes more interaction with the other empires.

    Past “Asimov”, I can’t give you any kind of specifics yet, but I am currently leaning towards honing in on the following general areas for the “Heinlein” update (these are not promises!):


    Sector and Faction Politics: We are working on a design for this. I always wanted to make Factions more closely tied to Sectors, for example…
    Federation and Alliance Politics: As a player, you need more ways of interacting with the other members, push your will through, and get elected, etc.
    Giving Directions to Allies and Subject States.
    Strategic Resource Overhaul: You should need these and search for them far and wide. They should be extremely important.
    Battleship Class Weapons. Some Battleship front sections will be repurposed for an XL size weapon slot. There are currently four ship sizes but only three sizes to weapons, creating an imbalance. Also, Battleships should have fewer small weapon slots and have to rely on screens of smaller ships.
    Fleet Combat Mechanics: Formations and/or more complex ship behavior is needed.
    Mid-game scripted content: Guarded “treasures”, mid-game crises, colony events, etc.
    Living Solar Systems: Little civilian ships moving around, etc.

    • Zenicetus says:

      “More war goals: Humiliate, Open Borders, Make Tributary, etc.”

      The game needs war goals like “Exterminate” and “Enslave” that require no diplomatic interaction at all to complete a conquest.

      That’s one of my major gripes about the game (although I’m enjoying it overall). The whole “war” thing doesn’t feel like bug-eyed aliens in space conflicts. It feels like transplanted European history. If you want a war steeped heavily in diplomacy and conditional surrender, fine. But there should be other options too.

      • Chiron says:

        Aye, I’m sure a few alien species would all act like the end game crisis ones towards each other, no peace, no trade, no embassy only a chill silence and a careful probing of borders.

        A lot of forum users are also looking to get things like attrition or fuel in, which from a gameplay perspective makes some sense but from a tech level makes no bloody sense at all. We’re using Zero Point reactors, playing with the atoms of the universe. We don’t give a fuck about fuel or ship range.

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      daktaklakpak says:

      Fleet Combat mechanics – please please please yes. Right now it’s a total micromanagement nightmare. We need to be able to design a fleet just like we can design ship setup and loadout. It takes forever to pick through a large fleet post-combat and figure out which units were destroyed, and it’s then even worse trying to queue up all the replacements and send them out. Let me automate that mess. With a fleet definition, I should be able to select one or more ports and tell them to rebuild the fleet, and they should (intelligently) allocate the work amongst themselves and send the new ships out to auto-join up with the damaged fleet.

      While they are at it, fix the idiot AI for allies when you are in a war. It’s nice that they send fleets to follow you around, but currently they follow your strongest fleet. This has a nasty habit of getting you deep into enemy territory, and then when your fleet takes a little damage, all your partners turn around and run back into your controlled territory to join up with one of your defensive fleets (because it’s now “stronger” than the one you are using to attack with).

      Also, let me see a list of fleets for my allies. They show up on the map, but I have to hunt around for them, hovering over all the little blue ship icons to see what it is. The AI allies can clearly see all mine, since they find my strongest fleet to follow (before abandoning them in their time of need, of course).

      I’m really enjoying the game, but it quickly becomes overwhelming with all the fiddly details you have to take care of yourself.

      • Asurmen says:

        Ugh. I was that follow you around thing was off completely. I don’t find it nice at all. I can’t defend all my territory without help, but as they just follow my main fleet around, I can’t. And yes, while on the offensive them buggering off despite fleet strength being far higher than my enemies means we can’t kill their doom stack.

      • Normy says:

        My allies hang around with my biggest fleet, but they’ve abandoned me in the middle of big, decisive battles – battles we were winning! – more than once.

        I’d like some tactical control of my fleets as well (formation control would be awesome!) I had problems a couple of days ago when the corvettes and destroyers I was using to screen for my battleships took off after a new fleet that’d just turned up and left my battleships to the mercy of the guys the little ships were supposed to be getting in the way of. And forget about holding a rearguard action as you get your expensive ships out of the gravity well…

  10. ooshp says:

    UI Scaling! Hooray, I have to run it in a horrible resolution on my Surface Pro 4 just so I can read the text.

  11. derbefrier says:

    Been enjoying the hell out of it though I have a severe case of restart syndrome. I get into mid game and get the overwhelming urge to start over on a new game to apply the things I learned from my last game. Got a good game going now though the Chthulu Space Sovereignty is quickly becoming feared throughout the known galaxy.

    • DeadCanDance says:

      I know the urge. It really kills some games for me…

    • Jeremy says:

      I am having this exact issue right now with my first play through. I feel a sense of ownership, since it’s my first run, but also wanting to start over and “do better”. Still, I like the ragtag first effort, it really seems to create a lot more drama as I fail and continue to learn how the different systems work together.

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      teije says:

      I’ve restarted many times just to try out new ethics combinations and also because I’m finding the mid-game drag the most significant issue ATM. The early game is awesome, end game crisis is fun, but mid-game is not so much. But they know about it and plan to beef it up so I’m hopeful.

  12. DeadCanDance says:

    I have to ask. How is the compatibility with old version saves? I don’t want to leave my game.

    • RedViv says:

      Did work out fine with the beta patch, minor jumbling of colours and logos in the empire flags aside, and the AI needing a year or two ingame to adjust.

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    Nauallis says:

    I’ve recently been enjoying playing as repugnant militaristic d-bag space bugs with wormhole travel, but I’m enjoying it slightly less because as far as I can tell there’s no way to either bombard planets or exterminate alien populations. All that I’ve been able to to is vassalize other empires, which is sort of helpful, or acquire the planets and add them to sectors.

    Does anybody know if extermination is even a built-in option?

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      Nauallis says:

      Clarification on bombarding planets: I know about posting a fleet in orbit to destroy fortifications; I’m talking about destroying the colonists from orbit.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      Nope, no practical means of extermination.

      Colonists will slowly die out as you bombard. But it would take decades to wipe out a planet.

    • timzania says:

      You can purge pops (right-click on them I believe) but you have to win the war and own the planet(s) first.

  14. Replikant says:

    In it’s current state, Stellaris is overpriced. I won’t be paying for DLCs until they fix the basic game.

    Mid game content is waiting for research bars to fill up, endless boring micromanagement of planets, hunting for colonizable planets, fleet micromanagement, etc.

    The UI is so stripped down that I could possibly called sleek but I can certainly be called disfunctional.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I know Paradox has said they’re working on improving the mid-game, but I think one reason it’s a noticeable problem is that there is no espionage. And trade networks are just a thin sketch. That’s the kind of thing you’d typically be working on in the mid-game, once you’ve met the other factions and the borders are firming up in a 4x/Grand Strategy game.

      I haven’t heard what their plans are, but as a wild guess I’d bet that Espionage and Trade Empires will arrive as DLCs later on, so we’ll have to wait for this.

    • Replikant says:

      What a great typo:
      “The UI is so stripped down that I could possibly called sleek but I can certainly be called disfunctional.”
      should read:
      “The UI is so stripped down that it could possibly be called sleek but it can certainly be called dysfunctional.”
      Apparently, calling myself dysfunctional wasn’t so far from the truth.

  15. Chiron says:

    I am truly baffled why there is no Ledger in this game, you may not use it often in the other Paradox games but when you do it saves you so much time.

    I recently unlocked some resources (only took 200 years of research…), can I find the bloody things on the map? Can I buggery and none of my existing systems has them.

    A ledger saying what is where would help so much.

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    Edgar Allan Poes Toes says:

    Actually the most correct plural for platypus is platypodes. Respect monotremes man.

  17. Chris Cunningham says:

    A fun thing to discover late on in an Ironman game is that if you’ve used up all of the arbitrary number of save slots the game permits you (in non-Ironman), your Ironman game will not be saved. With no warnings.