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Once again, Paradox have put out more content both paid and free for Stellaris and my love of the game continues on rather strong.

Note: DLC key provided for me.

I noted a few times in the past, how I really enjoyed Stellaris but it did often have a somewhat empty feeling to it at times. A few patches and an expansion later it’s a very different game. One I’ve poured a great many hours into and shall continue to do so.

Honestly, all the changes together have overwhelmed me somewhat and I'm still going through a lot of it. I want to be clear though, this is not a negative mark for it at all. Just that there's so much that has changed, that you have to re-learn and adjust the way you play it. If you thought you knew Stellaris—think again. I've massively enjoyed it, playing through the night before it even hit me what time it was and again the next day, that's just how engrossing it is.

A shot of the new planetary screen, with the new districts and buildings systems.

The MegaCorp expansion certainly does mix up how your games can play out. Especially true if you actually play as a Megacorporation empire type of course. Not just that though, there's the new civics, new ascension perks, space traders, new Megastructures and so on.

The key thing with the MegaCorp expansion, is that outside of the new mechanics, the basic gameplay does remain mostly the same yet it gently nudges you in different directions. If you've previously played the game as a mighty empire looking for a fight or a diplomatic federation of races, perhaps becoming an economic powerhouse might be an interesting change of pace of you. Unlike other expansions, I think MegaCorp is tailored more towards veteran players.

Funnily enough though, given all the changes here I actually found it a lot easier to build up a big reserve of resources, while also building the biggest fleet of ships I've ever been able to. The new systems in place for managing planets and resource generation might seem intimidating at the start, but it actually makes quite a lot of sense and it is a vast improvement over the incredibly basic tile system Stellaris had originally. It has more depth, while remaining accessible which I think is still a good selling point for Stellaris.

It's not just the new planetary systems that enable you to make greater use of your population for resource output, it's also the new market systems that also help greatly here. If you find your civilisation has an abundance of a particular resource, buying and selling on the market to get rid of what you don't need in favour of what you do can really easily push you forwards.

It doesn't make it too easily though, as with Stellaris the random nature of it can suddenly see you requiring a lot of a resource you previously didn't. So, simply selling tons of what you don't need right at that moment isn't necessarily the best idea for the long-term prosperity of your race.

Also, it's not exactly a major feature, but I do have a lot of love for the new pull-out UI panel on the left side of the screen. Giving super-quick and easy access to things like Contacts, Situation Log and so on with the flick of your mouse is really nice:

I often see complaints about how the game changes a lot and how the DLC makes it feel “incomplete”, however, I’ve never felt like that with it at all. Even without any DLC, the game has a lot on offer (especially when compared to the original release). As for how it changes, I see it as a strength for it to remain fresh to keep me interested. Considering how long games of Stellaris can take, having it refreshed every few months is ideal.

Paradox have a really great game here, I hope they continue supporting it for many years to come. Few developers support their games as long as they do, it’s great to see it supported on Linux and continue to expand.

MegaCorp and the 2.2 patch together are fantastic, although honestly the free patch by itself is so different it outshines the DLC a fair bit. It makes space thoroughly fresh, dynamic and exciting again and allows you to play the game in a different way. You can see a full readout of what’s new in both here on the Paradox forum. If you haven't played for a while, Paradox recommend going through the updated tutorial.

As expected, Paradox had Linux support for the patch and DLC ready for pre-release testing and it's been running very well.

Find Stellaris and MegaCorp on Humble Store, GOG and Steam.

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You can also find the release trailer here for MegaCorp, but the above overview trailer does a better job.

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theghost 7 December 2018 at 10:04 am UTC
DuncCool. I love the way Paradox aren't afraid to make major changes to gameplay after release. But (heh, paradoxically) this is also the trouble with owning too many Paradox games. You're just getting into one of them when they release a big update on another and you have to check it out.

Someone gave me Surviving Mars the other day as an early Christmas present (way better than expected, by the way; I think my reservations about replay value may be unfounded, especially with the DLC), and now I'll probably fire up Stellaris to see the new stuff and forget all about it.

Still, it's a good problem to have, right?

I like their support model a lot, so I think it's a good problem.

Fortunately, I don't like all the Paradox games the same and I usually don't play more than one game.
I mostly play Stellaris and Cities Skylines, although I got CK2 (never got into it) and HOI4 (hadn't time to play it). Surviving Mars didn't get me hooked when I tried it on free weekend.

But it's great to have so many cool games in this genre and they are still supported by Paradox with free patches.
theghost 7 December 2018 at 10:09 am UTC
GuestThe problem with changing a game substantially with each patch is that people have to re-learn the game. I understand that people who are unemployed and kids who don't care about school exist, but for normal mortals investing so much into a game is not feasible. At the end of the day, it feels like WORK. And we already have a job...

I played a lot Stellaris at the beginning (version 1.0 to 1.2), as I found the late game a bit boring I put it aside and gave it another try at 2.1. It was not really hard to into it again. Often I welcomed the changes and said myself: "finally they improved this feature a bit. makes much more sense now".
But I can only speak for Stellaris and Cities Syklines, maybe it's different in other games of Paradox.
Patola 7 December 2018 at 10:18 am UTC
SamsaiCan't have it all. Plus, I have yet to see a Stellaris version that was broken to the point of being unenjoyable, so playing a previous version is not exactly an impossible feat. I think you are just being difficult.
It gets unenjoyable if it earns the stamp of obsolescence by its publisher (by being superseded) and it also becomes unsupported. Why is it so difficult to understand? The whole point of games is something that psychologically entices you to play it. Some factors outside of gameplay will inevitably influence this enjoyment. I also stopped playing this game due to that. There is a need for a game to be a stable product in time, not constantly changing specially in terms of gameplay and mechanics.

Last edited by Patola on 7 December 2018 at 10:19 am UTC
Mal 8 December 2018 at 4:39 pm UTC
Since I already own Stellaris I gave 2.2 a try. As I imagined this is a very good patch. Finally there is something interesting to do in peace time. Developing your economy is an engaging and interesting activity. You will screw everything up if you don't plan it carefully. I approve it. Ofc there are some adjustments to do but overall it's a very solid rework.

Sadly warfare and diplomacy still remain pretty weak in the game. For the former I don't see much hope given the fact that it was remade in 2.0. But hopefully diplomacy should get a revamp in 2.4 or 2.6. When it happens I think that for me there will be enough stuff to do in peace time to make me forget about the miserable flat chore that is warfare and go back actively play the game. As for now I approve the patch but I will still keep Stellaris on froze and play the other Pdx grand strat games.

Last edited by Mal on 8 December 2018 at 4:40 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy 10 December 2018 at 10:24 am UTC
Well, I've been playing it (just Le Guin, haven't bought the Megacorp yet). I mostly like it.
I like the new planet management system. It's definitely more interesting. Kind of complex, you need to sort of plan your buildings because some of them transform resources rather than creating them, so if you want to make more research centres they use up consumer goods to make research, which means you need to make a commercial sector that takes minerals and makes them into consumer goods, which means you better be making enough minerals. The jobs thing is OK, although it can be a bit annoying when you want more energy production and you make an energy-producing zone, but then when you get more pops they're all deciding to get jobs in the entertainment sector instead. I'm finding it can be a good idea not to build something you could be building, just so the new pops will be forced to take the existing jobs you want them to take. But overall, I like the new planet management quite a bit. And I'd say it puts more emphasis back on planets; they do more production compared to all the little mining stations now, which is probably good.
And I like the revamped economy, I think. Again, you have a couple more kinds of stuff, plus trade routes of a sort.
And because of all the different stuff, you have a bunch of new techs, which is fun. Mind you, with lots more techs you need to make your economy work, it would be nice if you got them faster, but if anything it seems slower.

It would be good if the new Administrative Cap on empire size was called something quite different because it's apparently nothing resembling a cap and is intended to be ignored; it's just a new version of the same old Stellaris deal where your tech and Unity get slowed down as your grow, but not by as much as you gain from being bigger. Screwed me up significantly trying to keep under the "Cap" until I found that out.

There is one other thing that annoys me somewhat. Strategic resources are more closely integrated into the game, which should be kind of cool. But here's the deal: There are now various advanced buildings which require a strategic resource to build them. And I'm not talking hyperadvanced buildings, I'm talking the second level of your research building. But the damn resources are still just as hard to get. And they still require a technology to mine them even if you have some in your empire, so you can research your more advanced research facility or more advanced entertainment sector, but you can't build them because even if you've got the right strategic resource in your empire, the tech to actually extract it won't come up. Presumably once I've met a critical mass of empires that galactic market thing will open up and maybe I'll be able to trade for it--except I can't currently extract any strategic resource to trade with.

Overall pretty good, although damn the "Administrative Cap" was frustrating the hell out of me until I found out it was nothing of the sort.
Mal 10 December 2018 at 11:45 am UTC
Purple Library GuyI'll be able to trade for it--except I can't currently extract any strategic resource to trade with.

I'm pretty sure that you can also produce them with jobs by converting basic resources aka minerals/energy/food though ofc harvesting them directly is much cheaper. In other words you won't be stuck to lower tiers if you don't have access to strategic resources.
Purple Library Guy 11 December 2018 at 6:51 pm UTC
Purple Library GuyI'll be able to trade for it--except I can't currently extract any strategic resource to trade with.

I'm pretty sure that you can also produce them with jobs by converting basic resources aka minerals/energy/food though ofc harvesting them directly is much cheaper. In other words you won't be stuck to lower tiers if you don't have access to strategic resources.
You can, sort of. Far as I can tell, there's a technology each for converting at least all the main strategic resources from minerals (maybe not weird stuff like dark matter, but that's fine), at rates that although steep are actually cheaper than I might have figured. Two problems: First, you have to get the technology, which means it has to come up. I haven't seen them come up much, although maybe they'll start soon--but I mean, the buildings that require the stuff have been coming up, so why not the tech for either extracting or creating them? Like, I haven't seen the mining techs at all yet, and I've seen one creation tech once.

Second, the technology doesn't let you do the conversion, it lets you make a building in which to do the conversion. And specialist buildings are one of the key bottlenecks now; you can make a building on a planet every time you get 5 population, and you need them to balance your economy, to keep the public happy with "amenities", to produce Unity, to make the "Alloy" stuff you make ships with now, to do research, eventually to keep down crime (I presume--haven't had any yet, my people are pretty happy)--you want lots of buildings for lots of things, and a slot only comes up on a planet every 15 years or so in the early game--maybe faster later as you get more pop growth techs. So, having to devote one of these buildings to something like making strategic resources can seriously set back your economic/research/unity plans, and you might have to wait 10 years or more to do it at all.

On the other hand, in terms of the rarity of the strategic resources themselves, I've just noticed it's not as bad as it seems. I'm used to those only existing in space, but it looks like some planets have them too, so it might be worth colonizing a more marginally habitable planet than you normally might if it has a strategic on it.

It'd be nice if the technologies would come up, though. Overall, I feel like it's more true than before that there are things you just can't do if a technology or even a few different technologies working in concert don't all come up, which makes the semi-random nature of tech development feel like more of a roadblock. Before with tech I'd be like, "Oh, I got a tech, let's see what the options are for the next one, is there something cool?" Where now I'm more, "Oh, I got a tech, please please please let this tech I need be in the options to research--damn." The whole random card-ish thing for technology (rather than your ubertypical tech tree) is pretty neat, but if technology is going to matter this way maybe we need to supplement it with a wishlist or something, where you can pick a few things you hope for and they have a higher chance of coming up, except "transcendence" path technologies are immune--so, you can't put psi or genetic engineering tech on the wish list.
pete910 19 December 2018 at 1:50 am UTC
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Well to give an update after having a good few hours in 2.2.

I've gone back to the 2.1 Niven version. There's just too much to worry about when you expand, The sector changes are just plain daft as the rulers don't actually seem to help with the balancing of the planets. You can no longer group sectors from what I can see either, Have over 30 now as seems random oh how it decides what's grouped with what.

Productions in general can swing from +400 to -1000 in a month, and no it's not due to edicts that have expired
Having to manage pops on 3,4,5 planets isn't a problem, when you have 40 odd + it just get plain boring/frustrating.

Some changes are for the better I admit but on the whole when deep into a game it becomes a chore. I dare say a few players like it but for me it's taken the fun out of it now which defeats the point of playing a game in the first place
Purple Library Guy 19 December 2018 at 5:20 pm UTC
One thing I've concluded, still in early-mid game at this point, is that I can't always get away with upgrading buildings even if I have all the resources needed and can afford their energy upkeep. The thing about the jobs is, there's two kinds of jobs--the basic ones, in the "districts" for food, minerals and energy plus the clerk jobs in city districts, and the advanced ones in the "buildings". The buildings do things in themselves sometimes, but mostly they make jobs available doing specialized building-things. The upgraded versions make more jobs. So like, most of the basic buildings have two jobs associated with them, while the first upgrade goes to 4 or 5 and the serious upgrade might provide 10 jobs.
All fine so far. But here's the rub: The population seems to fill the specialty jobs first. And you get a building slot every 5 pop. So if you build and upgrade all your building slots on a planet to serious 5-job versions, that means the buildings are providing enough jobs for the whole population. Everyone will shift away from mining, farming and staffing power plants to doing the snazzy stuff! Your economy would go poof. So the upkeep on those buildings is if anything the small part of the equation, the bigger issue is balancing basic production jobs with jobs in the buildings so you keep making enough basic stuff to support the researchers and alloy-forgers and Unity and "amenities" producers and whatnot.

I agree with Pete910 that the sectors are weird and pointless now. And small. And the cost of leaders is what grows most rapidly with empire size, both acquisition and maintenance. As you grow it's no longer clear to me that sector governors' general production boost makes it worth having them on most sectors. Presumably worth it if you're going "tall". I know it's a balance thing, but it doesn't make a lot of sense--why if you're a massive empire is the manager of some dinky planet in the boonies suddenly worth the upkeep on a bunch of ships, where when you're small the governor of the core systems costs peanuts?
Mal 19 December 2018 at 7:33 pm UTC
Sectors are basically gone. The only function they have is that you can assign a governor to get his bonuses on (well, you can try to use AI and let it develop the planets... but pdx has a horrible history on AI programming and I didn't even try. Given the flame threads on their forum I think you shouldn't either). Just forget about them, turn them off from the map. Only use it late in game when you swim in energy to exploit governor bonus traits (you're no more leader capped, so you can indeed hire 50-60 governors if you can afford it).

The new economy instead is interesting since, as you already figured out, developing a planet is not a matter of mindlessly fill tiles and click the upgrade button. Now buildings consume strategic resources and produce nothing, they only unlock jobs. Jobs that require actual pops before producing something.

So mission accomplished here! Finally you actually have to think what to build and when to build it (and also, what to build first and what to replace it later).
The bad news though is that worlds in 2.2 require this attention consuming babysitting all time long and as you move to later stages of the game managing like 50 or more worlds becomes is an impossible chore. They really need to figure out a sensible way to delegate a competent AI to planet development for later stages of the game.

Which also makes me think that nobody at paradox actually tested the changes for other kind of empires that are not corporations or some kind of pacifists variant. Anything that is not vertical build just get out of hands later in the game for the sheer crazy amount of babysitting you have to do give to planets and their economies. Not to mention the crazy bugs and regression they had for previous paid DLC content like Utopia ascension paths or Synthetic dawn machine empires. Seriously, I warn you here. Don't try ascension paths or machine empire unless you're in for some miserable gaming time. Neither expect interesting rewards from leviathans or DLC events either as before.

And this frankly speaking is a despicable move. The game now is unbalanced when not just plain broken for the majority of empires you can play... except the ones released in the last paid DLC! As it now it seems only mega corps and little more make for a pleasant non micro hell experience. It shouldn't be like that. As a developer you should show respect also for customers that already gave you money, not just customers that still have to. Pdx has very loyal fans. Sometimes some of them sound like zealots more then customers to me. But admittedly I too like their great strategy games so much that I'm fine in forgiving some missteps on their side. But as they continue to expand their customer base I dunno how many of their new, less fanatical customers will be so forgiving.

Now for automatizing planet management for large empires, let's get real: I don't think there is anything quick they can do. Developing good and performing AI is a long trial and error process. It's better if they take their time and do something that works well in 2.3. But I hope that at least they fix up the previous DLCs content in the coming patches because as of now this to me this looks like a gratuitous lack of respect.
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