Stellaris launches Update 1.6, hands out birthday DLC

Happy birthday, Stellaris [official site]! To celebrate the first birthday of their space strategy game, Paradox have released a new update and are giving all spaceguests party favours in the form of free cosmetic DLC. The pack of species portraits offered as a pre-order bonus are now free to all players, and Paradox have thrown in some colourful new ones too – like that ↑ spacepeacock. As for Update 1.6, nicknamed ‘Adams’ after the interactive fiction writer, that’s smaller than many updates but still brings some good changes. The game has come a fair way over the past year.

Slide on over to Steam to download the Anniversary Portraits pack. It contains the pre-order bonus portraits along with the new Fairy Dragon, Peacock Avian, and Larvae. They’re pretty enough! Even if you don’t want to play ’em yourself, they do add extra variety to the galaxy.

As for Adams, it’s a patch tweaking, refining, and fixing things rather than one adding big new features – the latter tend to launch alongside expansions. I’ve only started playing Stellaris in the last few weeks but many changes sound sensible and welcome.

The full patch notes are this-a-way and are worth reading in full so you’re not blindsided by changes and can spot new opportunities. Here are some bits that caught my newbie’s eye:

  • (UTOPIA) Added Devouring Swarm civic to the game for Hive Minds
  • (UTOPIA) It is now possible to find and repair ruined Megastructures in the galaxy
  • It is now possible to terraform inhabited planets if you have researched the new Ecological Adaptation tech
  • You can now set taxes for Energy Credits and Minerals on sectors separately
  • The cost of species modification projects is now based on the difference between the traits at the start and end of modification, rather than on the sum of the trait cost
  • The Prethoryn Scourge crisis will now show up more often and the Unbidden less often
  • More than doubled the base strength of the Prethoryn Scourge invasion fleets
  • Doubled the base strength of the Extradimensional fleets, and their initial fleet has been more than quadrupled
  • The power of crisis fleets now scales to the size of the galaxy
  • The power of Fallen/Awakened empire fleets now scales somewhat to the size of the galaxy
  • Increased warp wind-down time
  • Boosted the damage output, shield hit points and hull points of military stations and frontier outposts substantially
  • Increased the distance at which military stations have to be built from each other
  • Hive Minds now get a +25% Pop Growth Speed
  • Hive Minds now get +10% habitability
  • Symbol of Unity building and related technology have been removed from the game
  • AI now devotes more resources to building up a force of assault armies before declaring war

Plenty of the other changes are noteworthy too, mind. Which are your favourites, spacegang?

Saves from version 1.5.1 should be compatible with version 1.6.0 but, if yours prove troublesome, you can revert to an older version. Oh, and when you do load up a save, remember to re-set your tithes from Sectors – they’ll be back to the defaults.

Paradox have also launched a new Digital Anniversary Edition of Stellaris. This includes Stellaris plus its ace expansion Utopia, the smaller but decent Leviathans Story Pack, and a plant-y cosmetic pack for £56.75. That’s a saving of £6.31 on buying them separately. Given that Utopia and Leviathans are worth getting and the take-it-or-leave-it Plant pack costs £5.59, hey, this is a better option if you’re planning to dive right in. And one imagines this will be a convenient package to pick up cheap in future sales.

With 1.6’s Hive Mind changes and the new spacepeacock portrait, I’m already planning my next game. We’ll be a charismatic and firmly insistent hive mind of spacebirds who dazzle all species with their feathers then add them to our hive mind, which they definitely do want to join because of course they want to join why wouldn’t they join? That or I’ll play the Fairy Dragon, who looks like a bit like my beloved Puck from Dota 2, as an empire of show-offs who are inevitably set back by hubris.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    This is great, I’ve been enviously staring at those preorder pictures for ages.

    Time to start again.

    Little scared by all that empowering of the unbidden though. They kick my face in pretty easily already.

    • brucethemoose says:

      Not sure how long it’s been since you played, but awakened FEs and normal AI empires all react to crisis fleets pretty aggressively now.

      Last game I played, a few enormous fleets from some neighboring empires (who weren’t allied at all, 1 was a slaving despot and the other a ruthless capitalist) destroyed the unbidden portal before my fleet even finished upgrading and made it to the system.

      In the game before that, an awakened FE wiped out the scourge invasion instantly. That was partially due to a bug that just got fixed in Banks, but still. And just before that, the “mutual threat” bonus was enough to bring a large, stubborn empire into our federation.

      Crisis fleets need a buff now. They’re already huge fleets, yeah, but large galaxies fight back pretty hard.

      • Rizlar says:

        Can’t remember if it was in this dev video or not, but they have talked about scaling crises to galaxy size, which makes a lot of sense. Large galaxies might kick back hard, but the two times I have faced the Unbidden it has not been pretty (the second time I just about managed to fend them off, but at that point I had annexed half the galaxy, had a massive fleet, military traditions and the ‘defender of the galaxy’ ascension perk).

        • brucethemoose says:

          That is, in fact, one of the things Adams added:

          * The power of crisis fleets now scales to the size of the galaxy
          * The power of Fallen/Awakened empire fleets now scales somewhat to the size of the galaxy

          • Rizlar says:

            Sweet. \o/ So the fleet size buff is pretty meaningless without seeing how the scaling works.

        • brucethemoose says:

          Also the unbidden/scourge fleets are much easier to deal with if you specialize your fleets.

          Scourge just needs a ton of battleships with particle/tachyon lances on front and 1 fighter and 1 bomber in the middle. Fighters deal with the missiles and strike craft, while the lances and bombers widdle them down from range so that, by the time they make it to your battleships, they can’t do much damage.

          Unbidden need all gauss artillery, mega cannons and energy torpedoes (so cruisers, battleships, a few corvettes). Again, that will widdle the fleets down enough from range to at least save your battleships.

          Not sure about the AI or the shroud crisis… never actually dealt with them.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        I last played this morning.

        But yeah, I’ve never seen anyone react at all to the unbidden. People just mill around having standard wars despite the relatively minor mutual threat bonus, and the unbidden slowly eat everyone unless I kill them myself.

        I’ve seen a fallen empire awaken one time, and that was because it was mad that I had a decent fleet. It awakened and immediately did its level best to eat my empire.

        But, new portraits! And what the heck. Might be fun starting again. I’m finding that no one likes a hivemind, and my current game is not going well.

      • EvilMonkeyPL says:

        Interesting. My last finished Utopia game had the Unbidden show up in the middle of the biggest empire in the galaxy (roughly 1/3 of territory was theirs, out of 1k systems). Since I had sensor link with them I could watch how they did nothing as pathethic 40k stacks wiped planet after planet after planet… Even after I destroyed the portal the remaining Unbidden continued to purge their planets and expand their borders for a couple of decades.
        Also soon after the crisis began one FE awakend, immediately declared war on another FE, trashed their fleets, humiliated them and buggered off to their own space to sit on their hands again leaving a delicious, unbroken ringworld free for the taking. Third awakend empire stayed quietly in their corner of the galaxy.
        Not saying it wasn’t fun, but kinda underwhelming.

        • brucethemoose says:

          It depends on the state of things. That’s the fun of Stellaris.

          The FE near the prethoryn invasion just happened to awaken with the “protector” personality, and since it was in my territory, a bunch of smaller federation fleets chased the colonizers around before they could expand.

          With the Unbidden, the nation they popped up in didn’t actually do anything, kinda like you mentioned. But their 2 neighbors did. I think the fleet size needs to be above a certain threshold for other nations to even try and pursue other fleets, so if they come too early or if the surrounding nations are small, they’ll just get eaten.

          Also, I’ve never actually seen a War in Heaven. Not once :(.

  2. brucethemoose says:

    Does anyone here ever play Stellaris MP? Does hot dropping in/out of a game work?

    MP is always something I’ve avoided in RTS games. But since I’m waiting on a bunch of mods to update anyway, I think I’ll give it a shot.

    • Sakkura says:

      We’ve had a weekly RPS Stellaris campaign going on since Utopia and 1.5 arrived.

      Hotjoining works, mostly.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        Where would someone join to play this? And ‘weekly’ meaning what, here? Stellaris takes way too long to play to have like, a few hours a week going on.

        • doodler says:

          I usually have one hosted, it has been randoms and a couple regulars the past few times but generally I just host the game 1-2 days a week usually starting at 6pm EST going until around 9-10pm with a 30 minute break at faster speed. I set a password after the first day because of the constant join requests I get but Once the game is started we’ve been fairly democratic about how late we can go and what day is best for everyone but everyone is free to just not join up in the game the next session and continue playing single player or even come back a couple weeks down the line and see if your civ is still alive. Probably be starting a new one tonight for this patch, usually titled “weekly game 6pmEST” or something along those lines

          • brucethemoose says:

            So the AI takes over when you leave, and when you come back you can resume as the same nation?

            What happens if you hotjoin later in the game? Do you start as a tiny empire, or do you just take the reigns of one of the AI nations?

          • doodler says:

            Won’t let me reply to you directly but yes the AI takes over when you leave. One of the first patches made it so that the AI won’t make any drastic changes for the first 10 years of its “regency” like sector changes or diplomatically. They will still colonize and stuff but once the 10 years are up they are like any other AI. If you join later you see a list of all the current empires but no details so you can hotjoin and pick one at random. You might get lucky and choose one of the advanced start AIs or one surrounded by FEs. Kind of a crapshoot there :P

        • Sakkura says:

          It was set up in the Paradox subforum. This campaign’s been run with a 3-hour sessions each Saturday night (which is perhaps a slightly awkward spot). In 5? sessions we’ve gotten pretty much to the endgame, with two of the four fallen empires in the galaxy being wiped out, and the unbidden crisis handled.

          As it’s so late in the campaign it might not be much fun to join now. But maybe there’ll be another run once this campaign is over.

        • Rizlar says:

          Try here and the RPS discord.

  3. Sakkura says:

    Already? Holy crap, that’s great.

    Another major change is the ability to grab resources from your sectors, at the cost of some influence.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    A year already?

  5. Herring says:

    I love this game. Doesn’t look like they fixed the current bug / problem I’ve got though; I started a Federation with a FE and now I’m kind of boned. They won’t allow me to go to war, I can’t leave a Federation with only 1 other member and no-one will join it because they all loathe the FE.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      I’ve been able to leave 2-person federations before. There should be a button in the federation window.

      It’s a pretty heavy diplomatic penalty though, probably make the FE reach out and slap you.

  6. Benratha says:

    Adams? Surely the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” author?
    Although maybe this IS interactive fiction?

    • HothMonster says:

      He also wrote two games. One for hitchhikers guide and Starship Titanic which you can learn about by following the link in the article.

      But yes most people would know him more for his books and/or radio shows.

  7. Arkteryx says:

    It should be mentioned that Stellaris is currently the early unlock for the Humble Monthly bundle for $12. Historic low for the base game but doesn’t include the DLCs.

  8. King in Winter says:

    Oh yes, my peacock empire is going to be FABULOUS.

  9. GloatingSwine says:

    The latest patch appears to have broken the AI’s already fragile brain and it is currently unable/unwilling to declare war.

  10. Amstrad says:

    I find it likely that the Adams reference has a lot to do with Towel Day on May 25th which was first celebrated as a tribute to Douglas Adams after his death.