Rise up against the meatbags in Stellaris’ Synthetic Dawn DLC this month

synthetic dawn

Paradox Interactive have, unfortunately, shed their fleshy shells and embraced the ways of the machine, and they’re now slyly spreading pro-robot propaganda through the latest DLC story pack for Stellaris [official site], Synthetic Dawn. It’ll let you make all manner of machine societies when the singularity begins on September 21.

The last expansion, Utopia, gave players the ability to transform an organic race into a synthetic one over time, but Synthetic Dawn will come with customisable robotic races right from the get-go, along with new species portraits, voiceovers and empire types.

If you fancy conquering the galaxy as a race of intelligent machines, you’ll be able to create and play against three broadly different types of new empire. The Determined Exterminator empire is made up of nutty robots who rose up against their creators, murdering them. They hate organic life and exist only to purge the universe of every fleshy creature. The Driven Assimilators are essentially the Borg, travelling the galaxy in an effort to assimilate all organic beings into their hive mind. The last type, the Rogue Servitors, are super-helpful droids who just want to make life easier for people, running their government and taking care of them.

Expect a new type of Fallen Empire, too. Powerful machine-based Fallen Empires can spawn at the start of the game or appear after a robotic revolution. They want to protect all organic life, which sounds lovely, unless they decide that you’re a threat to their objectives.

I’m especially excited about the Driven Assimilator empire — I’ve been wanting to create my very own Borg analogue since Stellaris first launched. The hive mind additions that came with Unity seemed like they’d be a good fit, but they’re exclusively for organics. This should also be good news for fans of the New Horizons Star Trek mod, which includes a work-in-progress Borg faction.

Synthetic Dawn is due out on September 21 for £7.49/$9.99 on Steam.


  1. jeremyalexander says:

    It just blows my mind how Paradox gets a pass for their DLC practices which are easily the worst in the entire industry. Bethesda, EA, Ubisoft, SEGA and countless others get bashed for cutting up games and releasing them piecemeal and rightfully so, but everyone is just fine with hundreds of chopped up pieces of Paradox games, most of which are average games to begin with. Right now, Stellaris, CK2, and EU4 with all their DLC, not on sale, would cost more than a new gaming PC and yet they get a pass. Paradox is the worst gaming company out there and the fanboy suckers keep taking whatever they shove down their throats.

    • Axolotl says:

      I think there are two main differences between Paradox and the gigantic publishers releasing tons of DLC.
      The first is that Paradox publish complete games, and then release additional content for them. I have to say Stellaris is an exception to this, as it wasn’t very good at launch. EU4 and CK2, however were great even at launch and were already absolutely worth 40$. I don’t like how much DLC they later went on to release, but I definitely didn’t feel like someone chopped up my product before shipping it, whereas Ubisoft and EA, for instance, design their games to be lacking from the get go to later be completed with day 1 DLC’s and season passes.
      The second difference is that Paradox are the only company to publish games that scratch the itch they do. This is not a defense of them, but rather an explanation why people still buy their stuff. Until a competitor to Paradox rises, there’s no other place to buy the kind of games they release.

      • emptyfile says:

        No comments on HOI4 eh? Yeah Stellaris is a broken game still, but I guess I can let it slide because a lot of it is new and improvised, but with new bugs added with every expansion the future doesn’t look good…

        But HOI4… What a horrible mess, a whole franchise flushed down the drain.

        • wengart says:

          They don’t seem to have a good handle on how to develop a well made game about WW2. HOI2, 3, and 4 all have issues and many of them are different as they try to figure out a formula that truly works. For my money I would say that HOI2 is probably the series peak. But that is largely because the game was quite a bit simpler and things didn’t work in more logical ways.

        • mavrik says:

          Considering the great reviews HoI4 got, calling it “a raving hot mess” might be just, like, your opinon man.

      • causticnl says:

        I beg to differ if the DLC’s of Stellaris “Complete” the game. Utopia only adds endgame content to it, and beside an extra tech tree (wich isnt really needed in the first place) it nothing adds to the game.

        • mavrik says:

          And you don’t have to buy it then. This is why Paradox gets a pass – you DON’T need to buy all the DLC if you think it doesn’t bring value.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      They hardly get a free pass. Go to the Paradox forums, Steam discussions, reddit or anywhere else Paradox games are discussed, and you’ll stumble across an angry rant about their DLC practices in a matter of seconds.

      However, Paradox DLC is usually worth the money. The Old Gods and Rise of Islam for CK2 are two examples of well-crafted, game-changing DLC that are easily worth the $15 for which they’re being sold. Sure, every so often a Monks and Mystics slips through QA, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

      • iniudan says:

        Indeed, the problem with Paradox title only really rise for people coming late into the game and thus feel like they have to buy everything in a giant batch.

        For people who play one of their game since release or an early expansion, the price are usually pretty reasonable. Paradox are just used to a small number of very dedicated player, people who play their game usually get hundreds if not thousands of hours out them.

        Yes, I probably spent close to $300 on CK2 over 5 years (playing since release), but I got over three thousand hours out of that game.

        People who regularly play their game, but complain about their DLC policy to me feel like they want the return of their business model from the EU3 era, which was way worst in term of user friendliness, which is the first game they supported over an extended period of time and an era that pre-date the term DLC, as it was still a time where we got thing like boxed game expansion and no one complained about those.

        To me, the problem is not their DLC policy, it is the DLC listing that terrifying. They really need more comprehensive bundles, so newcomer don’t have to deal with the individual DLC listing, which are freaking huge for CK2 and EU4, at this point, on top of containing redundancy, by having bundle of DLC, also been part of the listing, on top related material that not part of the game itself, like novel.

        • Dogshevik says:

          The lists are indeed intimidating and confusing for a newcomer to any particular title. I bet there is a noticeable decrease in new customers the longer these lists get.

          It doesn´t help that the lists get significantly longer with non-essential stuff. (character portraits/unit skins/music) Personally I wouldn´t offer that nice to have stuff individually at all. I am not truly convinced of these Season´s Pass models, but this seems like a prime candidate for it. And if they are clever they give that additional stuff to their long-time customers for free.

          • causticnl says:

            Bundling would be great and would make the games certainly more accessable. Maybe bundle the oldest DLC’s with the basegame.

          • Someoldguy says:

            I’ve ploughed hundreds of hours into some Paradox games and bounced off a few. There’s no doubt that the huge DLC lists are intimidating, but they do sell bundles of it at deep discounts from time to time. You just have to pick your moment to dip in. I’m holding my version of EU IV back at a certain patch level because I’m confident I understand it and I don’t yet own any of the DLC that came in later and requires higher base game patches. You don’t get that flexibility with any other developer.

        • FeloniousMonk says:

          I wish I’d read this before I commented, because I could’ve simply agreed and moved on. I’m a CK2 veteran, but I jumped off fairly early to play other things and have had an immense amount of trouble going back, both because the game has changed in a zillion unannounced ways that make for a very different experience after the same title screen, and because learning all of those new systems (and trying to decide which of the 25 is really worth installing) just makes me want to wait for CK3.

    • teije says:

      Haven’t we seen the same comment before? Oh yes, its just like all the others you’ve made on other Paradox DLC posts on RPS, with a healthy mix of anger and insults about “fanboy suckers”. We get it, you don’t like them.

    • Chewbacca says:

      Well the fact that only one person needs to own the DLC and everyone else can play with that person is definitely not the “worst DLC practice in the whole industry”.

    • Troubletcat says:

      Shrug. If those other companies released DLC packs that included major new features that completely shake up the game every 3-6 months and charged $15 for ’em I wouldn’t complain. I want games that I actually enjoy to have long tails. No dev could afford to provide the quantity of new features that Paradox tends to over long periods of time for free, and I don’t really mind if it’s $10-15 a couple of times a year or the old model of $30-$40 for an expansion once every 12-18 months.

      Stellaris was undercooked at launch but to be honest most of what really shored up the game was included in the free patches – it’s pretty good even if you don’t have any of the DLC these days.

      It’s not that they can do no wrong – I really think the differentiated portraits, units and music for CK2 should be free, for example, and all the Skylines DLC so far has been a miss for me. But honestly overall I don’t see anything wrong with their model.

    • Dogshevik says:

      You might have a point with Cities:Skylines whose DLC are ridiculously unsophisticated workshop items you have to pay for.
      But most brands they develop in-house follow the same DLC policy. The key is to provide constant improvements to core mechanics, if you buy the DLC or not and the multiplayer policy that only the host needs the DLC for all players to use it. Both result in quite a replayability of their titles.

      But you already knew that, didn´t you? And still you ranted. Well, have fun, I guess.

    • SaintAn says:

      I used to get angry about their DLC practices, but now I do what most sensible consumers do when they’re being treated poorly.

    • rochrist says:

      Yeah, too bad that isn’t what they actually do.

      Calling them the worst gaming company out there is beyond hysterical.

  2. Rizlar says:

    God I love Martin.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Looking forward to this one, as annoying as the ads all over RPS front page about it are.

    But hey, robots. Plus it’s a cheapo DLC, only tenbux for all the new stuff.

    I enjoy Paradox’s method of keeping their games alive and changing.

  4. TaylanK says:

    After 125+ hours on Stellaris I’m not that keen on going back to it, unless they introduce a solution to the doomstack fleets problem. Had far too many stellar empires go down the drain because you’re screwed if you have to fight on two or more fronts at the same time, even if you have a superior fleet in aggregate. And don’t even get me started on AI allies.

    • Zenicetus says:

      This is what’s keeping me away from Stellaris also. I’ll come back when they have a solution to the Doomstack problem.

      I know there are other things to like about Stellaris, but the current mechanics for warfare are just too frustrating and badly designed for me to have fun playing the game.

      • mejobloggs says:

        Yep agreed. War in Stellaris is just not fun.

        I bought it at release, spent a month playing it and gave up.

        Every new DLC release I get half excited and take a look, only to release they’re just adding new stuff I don’t really care about.

        If they managed to make war more interesting I’d probably be hooked and start buying all their DLC

        • Tssha says:

          War is on The List to improve down the line. Might be awhile though. At least they fixed the Naked Corvette this time around. That was a bit embarrassing.

    • Troubletcat says:

      I have to agree. There are ways to deal with it – I’ve been successful in multi-front wars against similar strength opponents before – but they’re not fun and they feel like gamey AI exploits rather than legit military strategies. The war/combat aspect is definitely what needs the biggest rework. I, like anyone else in the community, could give you half a dozen suggestions for ways it could be changed that might help… Comes down to Paradox to actually do it, though.

      They’ve said several times that it’s on the todo list, but I feel like it should be a much higher priority than it seems to be.

    • Scelous says:

      The problem is compounded by the fact that the only way to win the game is to dominate all other life in the galaxy (or ally with them, but that’s not possible with everyone). So if someone is interested in winning, they HAVE to destroy and conquer. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I’m not more into Stellaris.

  5. FeloniousMonk says:

    Unlike some of the other commenters here, I don’t hate Paradox or think they have a particularly exploitative approach to DLC. HOWEVER! I have found that CK2 has been subjected to so many contingent revisions and new systems that even visiting the Steam DLC page fills me with all sorts of anxiety, and while I absolutely adored CK2 and played it for hundreds of hours back around the age of “The Old Gods”, I can’t imagine going back to it now because I feel like I’d need to spend $100 just to get the DLC that goes with all of these new, integrated systems.

    If anything, I’m sort of at the point where I’d just really, really like to see a CK3.

    Stellaris isn’t in the league of CK2, at least not as of now, and I worry that by the time it becomes the game we all want it to be, it too will be an impenetrable labyrinth of mixed quality DLC and consecutive patches.

    • teije says:

      I”m with you on the CK3. (But I’d like to see a Vic 3 way more…) I stopped playing CK2 about 3 DLCs ago, and the latest one planned about the off-screen China just seems absolutely superfluous.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Don’t worry, they’re naming their patches after major sci-fi authors so they have to run out sooner or later.