Stellaris’s Apocalypse DLC will blow you away on Feb 22

Though the galaxy of Stellaris is filled with traces of strange and terrible events, we don’t really leave our own mark in extravagant ways. That will change a little with the launch of the sci-fi 4X strategy game’s planet-destroying Apocalypse expansion, which Paradox today announced they will release on February 22nd. T-minus 28 days later until I demolish your planets to build a hyperspace bypass, or to mine it for resources, or simply because it was spoiling my view. Or maybe I’ll trap you in a bubble to study you. Or robotise you. Options. Anyway. 28 days. Make your peace. Later taters.

Apocalyptic weapons are obviously a big feature of the expansion. It will introduce vast Titan-class flagships, able to field the new Titanic-size weapons and a whole many more guns while giving nearby ships an aura buff or debuff, along with the world-endingly huge Colossus ship class. Colossi get the new World Devastator weapons but hey, don’t let the name put your off: only some of ’em are able to wipe out all life.

As Paradox explained in a recent dev blog, there are five World Devestator weapons: a World Cracker that’ll smash a planet so the debris can be mined; a Global Pacifier putting a planet in a bubble so you can study it with a research station; a Neutron Sweep wiping out life but leaving infrastructure; a God Ray making everyone spiritualist and destroying all machinemen; or, with the Synthetic Dawn expansion, assimilating the entire population to be your robopals.

New enemies arrive in the expansion too, with the nomadic raider society the Marauders pootling about where they please. One of those Marauder Empires might unify under a Khan in a mid-game event, causing them to violently expand and counquer systems – but they’ll collapse if the Khan dies.

Apocalypse will cost £15.49/$19.99.

As Paradox do with strategy games, they’re releasing a big free patch adding new features for all players alongside the expansion. Codenamed ‘Cherryh’, version 2.0 will make Edicts better, start spawning pirates in empty systems to disourage ‘snaking’ empire expansion, improve borders and rework starbases, overhaul the Wargoal system, and… look, lots. While final patch notes aren’t out yet, you can read a lot about coming changes in Paradox’s dev diaries.

28 Comments

  1. automatic says:

    God Ray synergizes with Planet Slicer. A weapon that cuts planets into flat circles to expand surface area and increase population capacity.

    • pookie101 says:

      Awesome.. Hang on why is my population suffocating and floating off into space.. OHHHHH oops

      • automatic says:

        Even though thy planet shall not have a center of gravity beneath thee, thou will not suffocate due to atmosphere loss because that is the will of the Lord.

  2. Pval says:

    I’m really looking forward to it. After I loose my planet to the Marauders, I can scream KHAAAAN!!!

  3. Someoldguy says:

    Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!

    That part sounds cool. I’m less sanguine about the reworkings of piracy. There are very good reasons for leaving gaps in your empire and dropping piracy as a thing after you resolve the first event:
    – most stars you explore have only planets that are bad to colonise.
    – colonising crap planets is a great way to bankrupt yourself.
    – there’s a tight limit on the number of outposts you can build.
    – empire sphere of influence expands over time/tech, so it is strategically sensible to leave gaps that will seal up later.
    – playing pirate whack-a-mole is not fun and is either arbitrarily bad for the player or is going to complicate things for the AI. Annoyingly frequent but pointless rebel army stacks have been a problem in many Paradox games.
    – if the computer empires AI is decent, you don’t need magically appearing space fleets that break all the normal rules.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      The way capturing systems and outposts work is completely different in 2.0 so I suggest you read a few dev diaries about it because a lot of your complaints no longer apply.

      • Someoldguy says:

        You’re right, I wasn’t completely up to date on the other posited changes coming in 2.0

        That outpost system built by spending influence on every system you need to cross in order to find the nearest decent colonisable planet (or suffer penalties for not doing so) and charging more influence for distance, when that first colonisable planet could be a long way away, sounds awful. That’s just doubling down on how crap a poor starting location is going to be and making it even harder to scout outward until you can find somewhere better to build up your core.

    • bills6693 says:

      Its not like that at all, as the way that expansion and your territorial borders are also completely changing now.

      Instead of a ‘sphere of influence’, you build an outpost in a system to control it. Its not destroyed by normal weapons, but instead is captured when another empire takes control of that system.

      There is no sphere of influence from colonised systems, and you can’t colonise a system without an outpost there.

      There is no maintenance for outposts, and no limit on building them – it is simply like planting a flag in the system to say ‘this is mine’. Each one costs influence, but influence costs have been taken out of many other things like leader recruitment and the system rebalanced to make it work cost-income wise. Claiming systems far from your borders costs more influence, while claiming systems next to you costs less, encouraging you to expand naturally but allowing you to ‘snake’ if you are aiming for a particularly valuable system, at increased cost and with increased piracy risk.

      The full details are in this dev diary: link to forum.paradoxplaza.com

  4. zulnam says:

    Guess i’ll be getting this along with Synthetic Dawn, then.

    Would’ve been nice to add a zerg-type WMD, in which you unleash ravaging beasts on the planet. Oh well.

    • BaaBaa says:

      That’s what the xenomorph armies are for. 2.0 comes with extra collateral damage even!

    • SaintAn says:

      They said they’re making it so modders can easily make new planet killers. So bring your idea up somewhere like Stellaris Reddit or a forum, it sounds like something a modder would find interesting too and make.

      • Alberto says:

        ¿Like, say, microwave the core of the planet to make new volcanos appear? That is so nice.

  5. Solidstate89 says:

    I can’t wait for the 2.0 update. Everything it adds is a huge deal, but the biggest thing I’m looking forward to is finally having fleet management abilities akin to the army manager in Hearts of Iron IV.

    That one thing alone is going to make managing large fleets so much easier. I no longer have to try and guess what the makeup of my fleet was before the engagement, I no longer need to try and guess how many destroyers I lost, and frigates and battleships, etc. It’s all handled by hitting a single button to reinforce the fleet.

  6. Viral Frog says:

    Ah, shame this launches on my birthday. I’ll be away from home for the night and, most likely, far too hung over for Stellaris the next day.

  7. Jaybird says:

    Man, they announce a Stellaris DLC two weeks ago, and soon after they now say it’ll be released in a month; but they announce a Hearts of Iron IV DLC two MONTHS ago, and they haven’t even given us a release date yet, let alone released it!

    • Hyena Grin says:

      Weeell… they have been talking about Cherryh since late October, and it was a given that it was going to drop alongside a DLC (because that is how Paradox do). I haven’t been able to figure out exactly when they soft-announced a DLC, but it was long before they announced Apocalypse. They did occasionally allude to an ‘upcoming DLC they weren’t ready to reveal.’

      So the full reveal may have been closer to release, but I imagine the actual development time and how long the community knew it was coming, was similar.

      • Lord of Beer says:

        And HOI4 have been talking about their update since August.

        I think Paradox’s strategy is to dump the base Stellaris game on Humble Bundle, then get the actual revenue from DLC. I guess that’s how you explain Stellaris having 1.5m owners vs HOI4 1.0m owners, but HOI4 having the highest average number of players of any Paradox game.

  8. teije says:

    The Cherryh free patch underlying the DLC has massive changes to core gameplay. It’s a must have, and from reading all the dev diaries should significantly improve some of the current pain points with Stellaris. It really is the 2.0 of Stellaris.

  9. Phantom_Renegade says:

    Thing I’m most excited about is the Wargoal stuff. I bought and played it last year, but haven’t touched after my first game because of it.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Same here. Wargoals is a stupid system brought over from their historical games, and it’s a poor fit for sci-fi 4X.

      Judging from what I’ve read though, I’m not sure it will feel any less arbitrary and restrictive. They’re removing war score and replacing it with war exhaustion, which yet again sounds like a European history-centric mechanism. Why would a Saberhagen Berserker or Kzinti civilization feel “war exhaustion”? In many respects it sounds just as arbitrary and non sci-fi as the current system.

      • bills6693 says:

        I understand what you’re saying, but I bet there will be massive bufffs to war exaustion (or rather, to resisting it) for certain ethics, traits or traditions. An uber militaristic society probably doesn’t baulk at mass casualties in a huge war of attrition, and authoritarians probably quell public discontent with a war, wheras pacifists or egalitarians are probably more sensitive to casualties and public perception.

        Hopefully this will mean a militaristic empire can keep launching wars and forcing a settlement even against a larger but more peaceful one.

        Even the kzin stopped fighting, licked their wounds, and then attacked again.

        • Zenicetus says:

          “Even the Kzin stopped fighting…” yeah, but that was simply due to attritrion, running out of ships and losing planets. As a hyper-aggressive species they always started wars before they were ready, which was their fatal flaw. Attrition isn’t the same thing as societal exhaustion. Kzin would never grow weary of war; their whole society is built on it. Neither would a Berserker or Geth type of machine civilization.

          Too much of Stellaris feels like Euro-centric human civilizations wearing superficial alien masks, which I guess is my overall complaint about the game. It still has potential though, and it’s one of only two space 4x games worth playing now (the other being Endless Space 2). So I’m not giving up on it yet, and will buy this DLC.

  10. Sly-Lupin says:

    Cherryh does indeed contain massive changes to the core gameplay… not all of which are for the better. Some of the more problematic changes (in my estimation, obvs.).

    – Only science vessels are allowed to travel to unsurveyed systems.
    – Magic FTL sensors let you see what’s happening in nearby systems even without any stations or ships (or anything) in those systems.
    – Home system is pre-surveyed, which presumably also means zero home system anomalies.
    – And what I personally think is the WORST change, FTL methods are now arranged in a linear path, as you upgrade from one to the other. So instead of a cool game where everyone has different FTL methods with different strengths and weaknesses… now every empire plies the stairways the same way.

    Hopefully they’ll at least retain the option to limit a game to only one kind of FTL, as personally I have little interest in playing any hyperspace games.

    • mariandavid says:

      I too regret having just one, rather than three, methods of movement: But the developers have made it clear that this was necessary for AI competence (if that is the right word!)

  11. Neutrino says:

    Seems overpriced to me. 1 new race and 5 new weapons, that’ll be the price of an entire new game, thanks.

  12. Stonehead says:

    Looks cool, but I’d be thrilled if they included more peaceful options too. My playstyle is focused more on peaceful expansion rather than obliterating organics from the faces of their planets.

    • aseth says:

      They’re indeed adding options for less murderous governments. If you’re a more pacifistic sort you can encase your enemies forever within an Ur-Quan Slave Shield to happily live their lives out beneath an impenetrable barrier. (Same game result as blowing up the planet, more or less, but much nicer about it.)