Stellaris: Apocalypse will let you kill planets


Too many worlds. That’s the problem with space. You develop interstellar flight and hope to find a big emptiness that you can coast around in until all of the stars fade to black, but there’s all this stuff scattered about. Planets and asteroid belts and big alien jellysquids.

Stellaris‘s upcoming expansion, Apocalypse, will let you clear out some of the clutter. It brings planet-destroying weapons into the game, along with new Titan capital ships, massive orbital installations and marauding space nomads, who can be recruited to your cause, but can also trigger a new late-game crisis. There’s some non-violent stuff as well for the gentler souls among you.

Apocalypse is coming soon – “early 2018” – and as you might expect it is mostly about blowing things up. You’ve got bigger ships, planet-killing weapons, defensive installations that blow up the things that are trying to blow you up, and those marauders flying around and blowing everyone else up.

Here’s the feature list:

That’s No Moon, neither is That One, That One Might be a Moon, Wait, No: Keep the local systems in line with fear of the new “Colossus” planet-killer weapon – a technological terror that eliminates entire worlds from the universe.

All Your Base Are Belong to You: New enormous “Titan” capital ships can lead your fleets to conquest, offering tremendous bonuses to the vessels under their command. Meanwhile, fortify key systems with massive orbital installations and secure your homeworld as an impenetrable bastion among the stars.

Pirates of the Constellation: Watch out for Marauders – space nomads who raid settled empires and carve out their lives on the fringe of civilization. Hire them as mercenaries in your own conflicts, but take care that they don’t unify and trigger a new late-game crisis!

Some Non-Violent Features: New Ascension Perks and Civics are added in the expansion, along with new Unity Ambitions that provide new ways to spend Unity and customize your development.

As is the norm with Paradox expansions, there will be a free upgrade released simultaneously, in this case bringing Stellaris to version 2.0. You can read all about the changes that’ll bring in the Apocalypse dev diaries. Everything in parts 1-8 is part of the free patch.

There’s also more detail on the specific forms of planet-killing you can enjoy in the expansion itself:

World Cracker: Shatters a planet, leaving behind a broken debris field that can be mined for resources. Available to non-Pacifists.
Global Pacifier: Encases the planet in an impenetrable shield, permanently cutting it off from the rest of the galaxy. A research station can be built to study the planet afterwards.
Neutron Sweep: Destroys most higher forms of life on the planet but leaves the infrastructure intact for colonization. Available to non-Spiritualist, non-Pacifist empires.
God Ray: Converts all organic Pops on the planet to spiritualist and destroys all machine/synthetic pops, as well as massively increasing spiritualist ethics attraction on the planet for a time. Available to Spiritualist empires.
Nanobot Dispersal: Assimilates all Pops on the planet, causing it to defect to your empire with its newly cyborgized population. Only available to Driven Assimilators (and thus requires Synthetic Dawn as well).

I haven’t played Stellaris for a while and an expansion is as good an excuse as any to spend another few weeks building space empires. Big softy that I am, I can’t imagine I’ll be killing any planets. But maybe someone will kill one of mine, just so I feel like I got my money’s worth.


  1. Faldrath says:

    I haven’t read the details yet, and while some of it looks interesting, the Titan ship baffles me a bit. So many complaints about doomstacks being the only way to wage war, and now they’re basically creating an even bigger one? I do hope I’m missing something.

    (it is nice that they didn’t forget the Pacifists and Spiritualists when it comes to planet-busting, though.)

    • pookie101 says:

      Apparently the Titans are designed to be used as flagships for a fleet and you are limited in the number you can build

    • Asurmen says:

      The patch is also taking a swing at doomstacks.

      • nitric22 says:

        YAY. I loved my 30 hours or so in Stellaris until I had to fight people. Then…blah, the doomstacks indeed. I’ve been meaning to look into some combat mods etc. I’m excited to see how this DLC/patch combo shifts things.

    • Rince says:

      I’m starting to think that I’m the only who actually likes doomstacks.

      • Viral Frog says:

        I’ve got no problem with the combat in Stellaris. I wouldn’t say I’m a big supporter of the doomstacks, but I’m definitely not one to hate on them either.

      • Asurmen says:

        They’re good if you don’t enjoy micromanagement or dislike having to think about your battles and plans.

      • Stromko says:

        I’ve never had a problem with ‘doomstacks’, either. Concentrating your full strength into one massive fleet seems like a sensible strategy if the situation allows it, and most of the solutions people have suggested to prevent doomstacks would just make some other element the new end-all be-all decider of victory.

        From what I’ve read so far, the new patch does a couple things: each admiral can only have so many ships under them, and therefore only so many ships that can benefit from their experience and trait bonuses. Secondly, outnumbered fleets will have a fire-rate (and thus DPS) bonus due to having such a wealth of targets.

        The first change might just be more bothersome than it’s worth for solving a problem that doesn’t need to be solved.. The second one, I think might be a very good change. At present, in Stellaris if your fleet isn’t going to win you just should never engage in combat because the losses the enemy will take will be a trifle at best– giving the weaker fleet a slight bonus should make wars of attrition and Pyrrhic victories more of a possibility.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        There’s a difference between disliking doomstacks and not wanting them to be the sole effective strategy in the game. Right now, a doomstack is the strongest thing you can put in play, so the easiest, least interesting strategy is also the best. That’s definitely not desirable.

        • kentonio says:

          Doomstacks make sense in terms of combat, but the reason armies or fleets don’t just move around as a giant mass in reality is because it leaves huge amounts of territory undefended. Currently that doesn’t really matter that much, because a doomstack can usually move quickly enough to drive off any smaller attackers from multiple places before they can cause any real damage. This makes me wonder if the best solution might just be to increase the warp preparation/wind-down time based on fleet size to replicate the complexity of moving such a mass of ships. If smaller fleets can crack spaceports in multiple locations before the doomstack can react to more than one or two of them, then a doomstack starts to look considerably less attractive.

          • pookie101 says:

            That is actually a really clever idea. I like it

          • LagTheKiller says:

            Well u got a brain in the right spot Sir. Problem with Stellaris is its too gentle. In 90% of stellar sims. U can bomb the shit out of some planets without the need to occupy it. Be it classical payload, bioweapon or good ol nukes. Said raid can be performed with insignicant amount of ships or even bomber alone. On the other hand in late game in Stellaris u got fukhueg empires and preventing even small AI from raiding would require tons of micro. To counter I propose a mass inhibitors preventing bigger ships from jumping in system with generator and all adjcent stars. You can only jump toward generator creating strongpoints, but corvettes and maybe small destroyers can still ignore it.

  2. Konservenknilch says:

    Ah, memories of MoO2, when in the tedious endgame wiping up phase I just couldn’t be bothered to conquer planets anymore and went full scorched earth with my death star fleet.

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      That’s not how I remember it at all.

      …I’m pretty sure they were technically called “Doom Stars” ;)

      But yeah, this expansion seems to be adding “back” a bunch of things that were in MoO2, which was by no means perfect but until Stellaris remained a far more complete and fun game than any space 4X since then. It’s very neat to see Paradox continue improving Stellaris, and stealing an aspect or three more from Master of Orion II is an entirely respectable way to go about it.

    • Eyegore says:

      Doomstacks are your only bet if you want a challenging single player experience. Look at the last dev who tackled doom stacks–firaxis in Civ5. the problem with civ 5 just isn’t the crazy mess of tactical combat in a strategic game but the fact that to take a city you have to do something the A.I. can’t– combine arms. So turn off the cheat victory conditions and just leave ‘conquest’ and your playing a game you can’t lose. What’s the point?

      Now Paradox is going down a simuliar path. Command limits on fleets might as well be 1 unit per hex civ style- and you have to manage and combine them— and again does anyone see Paradox producing an A.I. that could? They are on the 4th WWII game and their combat is wonky still.

      Stellaris isn’t getting deeper either. It’s just getting wider. Where’s the depth on diplomancy? Spying? Ground combat? Any decent 4x needs ground combat…not abstract icons. Emperor of the fading Suns did it properly. Fliping a planet was not a 2 minute operation. It was game in of itself.
      But instead we get more unit types with more powers–we get wider…and not deeper–and the same boring mid game and endgame stays pretty much as it is.

  3. pookie101 says:

    Apparently the world cracker can be used on uninhabited worlds to create a place for mining, etc

    • Stromko says:

      According to the January 11th Apocalypse announcement stream, only inhabitable worlds will yield mining opportunities when destroyed. Uninhabitable worlds won’t yield anything when destroyed.

      On the stream Wiz destroyed a barren world that could have had a research station built around on it, but after the planet cracker hit it had no resources at all. One of the devs then stated (if I recall correctly) that inhabited worlds CAN be mined for resources after destruction. I would assume that it’s just any kind of inhabitable world, not just colonized worlds, that will have some resources to be mined after being destroyed by the planet cracker.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        The diary mentions that there’s a random chance of resources appearing for uninhabited planets, while inhabited planets would guarantee resources on destruction.

  4. Solidstate89 says:

    The Global Pacifier one actually sounds the most interesting to pull off. I’ve had ways to destroy planets one way or another for a while now through mods but there were never any actual animations to show the consequences of it, so that’ll be nice to see. Also it’s good to see an actual Titan-class of ships as that’s another thing that’s been handled in mods for a while.

  5. Eraysor says:

    Global pacifier is full Star Control

  6. bramble says:

    I wonder if these super weapons and their use will impact war scores and potentially force a surrender. Think Japan after the atom bombs fell. Would give a thematic motivation for empires that weren’t insane dictatorships to use them as a way to prevent a greater loss of life.

  7. Mycenaeus says:

    Hmm. This is all well and good, but they should remember to sprinkle every DLC with new narrative and story quests and plot points. Events that could possibly change the trajectory of your species.

    But I guess since the theme of this DLC seems to be conquest (destroying planets, titan class ships) I will let it slide that there have been no new story/event content in any of the recent DLC’s. Hopefully, this changes soon. Complete conquest and domination victory is fun exactly 1 time. After that, it’s the new stories and events that keep us interested. It shouldn’t be hard to sprinkle in a few new narratives, even in a war-themed DLC.

    • Asurmen says:

      Did you miss Synthetic Dawn? That was one of the recent DLCs.

      I also don’t think they will skip out on new events.

    • SaintAn says:

      I agree, a whole lot more story is what needs to be focused on, but Synthetic Dawn did add more machine story type things recently. Like my favorite is the AI rebellion system that has multiple stories for different types of AI rebellions (one is pretty much the Geth rebellion from Mass Effect with a random robot asking if it has a soul), and when the rebellion happens it gives you a choice to switch to playing as the rebelling AI and your goal is to completely wipe out your former faction. There are different types of AI, and when the event triggers I think it is completely random what kind of AI you will be. There are Borg-like assimilaters, murderbots, custodian bots, normal friendly robots, and a few others I think.

      It’s really tough if you play as the rebelling AI if you built up a powerful faction.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I mean, conquering planets takes all of a minute. You just have transports following your fleet around and drop a bunch of guys, then take all but a few back up into space.

    Why bother destroying usable planets instead? Sounds impractical.

    • Asurmen says:

      Because not all of them actually involve destroying a planet, and the one that does actually blow up a planet can be used on uninhabitable planets to potentially gain minable resources.

      Some people like to roleplay as well, like making a militant xenophobic empire. Maybe they don’t want to use words occupied by aliens?

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        “Because not all of them actually involve destroying a planet”

        I mean, obviously I was talking about the one that does, then.

        But yeah, RP reasons I guess.

        • Asurmen says:

          Well, as I said that one is usable on all planets for potential gains, and as modzero explains below conquering a planet isn’t necessarily as quick as before.

          Maybe you want to just deny the planet to your enemy? Remember, how you own a system, and war goals and war score are also changing in this patch.

    • modzero says:

      Previous devnote covered changes to armies and ground combat. Seems like it won’t be as easy anymore.

    • Hyena Grin says:

      It isn’t always desirable to spread your empire to every backwater muckpit that every backwards species has populated.

      Sometimes desperate people inhabit crappy planets that will be more harm than good if added to your empire. But you can’t very well just leave them to breed endlessly and clutter up the galaxy, now can you.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      “Why bother destroying usable planets instead?”
      Because Fuck Those Guys, that’s why ;)
      Sometimes there’s just a race, or just one planet that really gets on your wick, and so removing them from the entire universe is the only way to go.

    • Zamn10210 says:

      An occupied planned can be recaptured. If your existing empire is already strong enough and you don’t need to expand then it could be easier to just destroy planets than have to defend them.

  9. Bracknellexile says:

    Planet destruction? Excellent. Gotta take out the odd planet if you want to build a hyperspace bypass.

    But will the new expansion include the requisite paperwork, signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters?

    • MacTheGeek says:

      That’s in an upcoming expansion, tentatively titled “Beware of the Leopard”.

  10. Zenicetus says:

    Is this the expansion where they change FTL to hyperspace lines only?

    Also, any changes to the war score system? Annoyance at how that works, along with doom stacks, is probably the main reason I don’t play this game any more. The idea that some external deity is forcing me to play by arbitrary rules in space war, never made sense to me.

    • Flavour Beans says:

      Everyone starts with hyperdrives, yes, though late-game techs will allow deviations from that, and the ‘terrain’ of the galaxy will include wormholes to stabilize to shortcut around the map, and gateways that let you build a galactic network. It takes away a bit of nuance from the game, but they’ve done a really nice job of explaining why this change opens up a lot of mechanics and content that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

      Warscore, and the war system in general, is getting changed entirely, and doomstacking is being addressed as well.

    • Stromko says:

      I think my favorite change to the FTL system is that fleets will now have to move through the system to the next jump point, so now 99% of fleet interceptions won’t happen at point blank range at the edge of a system.

      There’s also something about how we have to discover jump points with science ships, so my old tactic of just sending out disposable lone corvettes to suicide-explore the galaxy won’t be viable anymore.

      As for the war score / war rules (IE enforced peace after a war), at least it isn’t nearly as complicated or odd as Crusader Kings II. I hope it never gets that bad. As it stands, I’ve rarely had a problem with it, except for that one time (and the last time I played a public PvP game of Stellaris) when someone was able to force my people to give up our homeworld because the enemy was occupying our newest colony. THAT was incredibly dumb, especially as their new overlord immediately purged my race from their own homeworld after they forced me to accept peace due to running out of Influence to reject his peace offers.

    • Tssha says:

      The new “de facto” peace should resolve most of your war worries. Basically, each side gets the systems (and planets) they hold.

      I think you can still work towards war goals though.

    • clocknova says:

      Hopefully some intrepid modder will add warp drive back into the game. I don’t even care if the player is the only one that gets it and it breaks all of the new strategic possibilities added by the update. I’ll be holding off on this update until this happens. I HATE 4X games with hyperlane-only FTL.

      • Zamn10210 says:

        There will apparently be a ‘connectivity’ slider for hyperlanes which determines how many connections there are. Turned all the way up, every system will presumably have a hyperlane to all of its neighbours so it’ll be functionally almost the same as warp.

  11. racccoon says:

    lol planet killing weapons! come on!
    Why not make black holes and be done with it. end of game :)

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Those have been in the game since the start. Believe it or not, creating black holes or towing them around (especially in FTL) is actually a fair bit more complicated than blowing up a planet.

  12. LuNatic says:

    Wow. The sheer scope of overhauls to the core system in 2.0 is such that most fans were predicting a mid year release. I’ll be glad to see it sooner – it isn’t really worth playing it until that arrives.

  13. zulnam says:

    Interesting, will pick this up.

    Wish they’d do something about diplomacy and ground armies, though. I know they’re reworking ground warfare in the next free patch but i’m a bit underwhelmed by the new changes.

    And diplomacy at this point seems to be the weaker point of the game.

  14. Maxheadroom says:

    So what are the ‘essential’ expansions at this point for someone who only played a few weeks at launch and looking to get back into it?

    • timzania says:

      Leviathans is THE essential one, simply since it makes the galaxy more interesting and isn’t very expensive. I like the ideas in Utopia but I personally don’t care about it that much because I never seem to get around to building Dyson spheres or whatever (but depending on your scifi background that might be more important to you). And Synthetic Dawn is only necessary if you’re into space-robots. As for cosmetic stuff, Plantoids is still the best portraits pack.

      (Personally I own all the DLC because Stellaris is my One-True-Game.)