Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn Story Pack Review – Resistance is Futile!

Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn Story Pack
Paradox Interactive

The good folks over at Paradox Interactive are hardly resting on their laurels. Fresh off of the astonishingly grand Utopia DLC, comes the release of their new Synthetic Dawn Story Pack for Stellaris. Synthetic Dawn allows you to take control of your own race of artificial beings, and purge, assimilate, or defend the entire galaxy as you see fit.

Brimming with an entire slew of new game-changing content, Synthetic Dawn definitely seems to be directed at the more hard-core role-players out there. Being one myself, I’ve had a raucous time so far with Synthetic Dawn. If fact, it’s so good that it’s been hard to break away from playing it—and ironically, even though it’s a real-time (pause-able real-time, mind you), it has that “one-more-turn” vibe that makes it hard to put down.

For instance, my first Synthetic Dawn game saw me draft my own race of robots—in this case mine were originally a military defense project that gained sentience, perceived the fleshy pustules who created it as its primary threat, and promptly wiped them out.

But I wanted to give my version of SkyNet on a galactic scale a little flair, so I opted to choose a robotic portrait that resembled the gigantic mecha-aliens of War of the Worlds. In fact, I even gave them the new robo-trait “Bulky,” which adds a hefty penalty to their resettlement costs. With a few other robot-specific choices, including Gestalt Consciousness, I sniggled like Dr. Frankenstein must have as I plugged my creations in. I’d created a race of immortal “Determined Exterminators” which had the sole purpose of purging the galaxy of all of those annoying little fleshy pustules, or turning them into so many batteries.

I began my game by sending out my drone scouts to chart the areas around my capital world, looking for valuable planets filled with resources as well as ones with colonize-able habitats. Within a decade or so, I had a couple of fledgling robo-colonies. But one thing that I didn’t understand (the tutorial is shut down for Gestalt Consciousness’) is why my energy resources, which started off high, were rapidly dwindling. Then I figured out later that unlike organic populations, you don’t reproduce and grow your colonies, you build new robot pops. Those new pops require energy. Doh!

At some point I came across a derelict destroyer long-deserted by some ancient alien race, and promptly retrofitted it in order to add to my burgeoning naval forces. I was feeling pretty smug as my dastardly droids grew in strength, and so began looking at the galaxy around me. Soon, I encountered my first alien contact, and since my robots were xenophobic, the new contacts were regarded with the utmost suspicion.

I’d assumed that once I researched communication technology sufficient enough to establish a rapport with my new neighbors, I’d be able to open up the normal channels of diplomacy just as I had when I’d played organic races in the past. Oh boy, was I in for a surprise. When I reached out to my neighbors, an avian race of authoritarian dictators who were supremely materialistic, I quickly found that they had a deep hatred of my race. They regarded us as “Murderous Machines.” Can you believe that? Basically a bird-people version of Lenin or Stalin regarding another race as more murderous than they were? The irony.

I rapidly moved my main naval force, armed with fusion missiles, to the edge of my empire which rubbed up against the agitated avian menace, and planned to turn their entire empire into bird-like versions of the Energizer Bunny within a few cycles.

I flung my entire fleet at their capital world system and expected to roll over their forces with ease. Instead, I watched on in horror as my force was obliterated. In my haste, I’d failed to scout them out to see what their ships were armed with, which were red lasers. I had no shields. The avians then rolled through the rest of my empire and took it over. End of story.

Next time, I think I’ll create a race of not-so-ill-regarded bots. And Synthetic Dawn allows for that. As opposed to my Determined Exterminators, you can also choose to play as Rogue Servitors. With this selection, your robots have subtly taken over more and more facets of the organic civilization who created them, but instead of purging them, they provide a utopian existence for their “masters.” That’s right, the droids pamper and dawdle over the organic species and consider them “Bio Trophies.” Any alien organic races that your robots come across are to be guided into this new, luxurious way of life, by any means necessary.

Somewhere in-between the two extremes is the Driven Assimilator model of machines. These resemble these current leftist, politically correct, groupthink times, as they are “obsessed with survival through diversification, the Machine Intelligence seeks to erase the line between itself and everything – and anyone – else.” In other words, artificial beings which hope to “help” organics by turning them into cyborgs so that they can be more like them. Talk about ripe opportunities for role-playing.

The only drawback I’ve noticed so far with the Synthetic Dawn Story Pack is that sadly, there aren’t any new ship models or planetary backgrounds which are synthetic-specific. The new portraits are nice though. Overall, this is an excellent batch of new content that will have me playing it for a good time. Now all I want are super-weapons and more ship models to be added to Stellaris. I can only hope…

SCORE: 81%

Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn Story Pack features great graphics that make its space strategy theme come alive. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

Visit CyberpowerPC’s website to check out all of the other great deals as well!

 

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