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Home » Stellaris: Distant Stars Story Pack Review – A Fine Addition to a Modern Strategy Classic

Stellaris: Distant Stars Story Pack Review – A Fine Addition to a Modern Strategy Classic

Stellaris: Distant Stars Story Pack
Paradox Interactive

I’ll just say right off the bat that Stellaris has been my favorite space strategy game for some time now. With all of the post-launch content that its developers, Paradox Interactive, has released it has totally eclipsed (pun intended) Endless Space 2 and most assuredly Galactic Civilizations 3. The latter almost seems sophomore-ish now compared to how epic Stellaris has become.

With the last updates, which introduced hyperspace-only modes of travel and many more offensive and defensive options for your solar empire, Stellaris has become much more of a true strategy experience. Since the magnificent 2.0 update, I’ve had some of the most interesting multiplayer (and AI) battles I’ve taken part in a long, long time.

For instance, in my last game, I was playing as a surly band of “don’t tread on me” type aliens who were mainly pacifistic but would roll out when they were pushed to. That day came sooner than expected when some of the new Marauder enemies began invading my stellar civilization’s borders. These enemies were so powerful that they backed my forces up to my homeworld. But I lured them close to a type of star which zapped all ship’s shields within its solar system. Since these particular Marauders relied so heavily on shields for their ship’s defenses I obliterated their main fleet and sent them packing.

While I personally loved the recent Apocalypse DLC, many people complained about it being too focused on warfare and not much else. They kept insisting that their mid-to-late games sort of lagged out and that there wasn’t much to do. This really confuses me because those periods are the tensest—you and your enemies are all built up and are usually slugging it out on a galactic scale because of all of the massive naval forces involved (and the hyper-dangerous tech of the later game stages).

I’d originally thought that Paradox would be releasing a DLC that focused on revamping Stellaris’ trade and diplomacy mechanics. However, when I first saw the trailer for Distant Stars (and a fine trailer it is I might mention) I knew that they had something special in store for all of us science fiction strategy nuts.

What is interesting about the developer’s choice in designing their new Distant Stars DLC is that they seemed to have regressed—but not in a bad way in the least. Indeed, one of the main selling points of Stellaris has always been its sense of adventure and exploration during the early game periods.

Whereas in other science fiction strategy games the opening acts usually consist of quickly locating and colonizing planets, in Stellaris everything is much grander in scale. Since I play on normal speed (as opposed to fast) it usually takes me an hour or so to explore my surrounding star systems and am lucky if I even have a single colony up and running.

Distant Stars goes back to this feeling of wonderment and discovery. It adds fifty percent more anomalies right off the top. Each anomaly is also more interesting now as well. This makes things a lot more interesting as you wander around an encounter strange new elements and storylines, which in turn gives each game more random twists and makes the universe feel more alive.

There is also a new major addition with what are called L-Gates. These mega-structures are technological wonders which were built millions of years in the past by some mysterious alien race. When researched properly (later in a game) they can be re-activated. Once turned on (spoiler alert) they lead to a hidden constellation of systems that contain…well, I can’t say that of course, you’ll just have to find that out for yourself. Let’s just say that things there could be good or bad depending on each individual play through.

But that’s not all. Distant Stars also introduces new types of Leviathans, which means that there may just be more space monsters you’ll have to contend with (depending on a game’s settings that is). In addition to that, there are new kinds of star systems as well. Some systems even contain two or three suns within them.

The Stellaris: Distant Stars Story Pack is a real treat for fans of the base game. It introduces content that may seem subtle at first but really pays off with each sequential play through because of how randomized all of its elements are. It’s the perfect addition to an already excellent modern science fiction gaming masterpiece.

SCORE: 88%

Stellaris: Distant Stars Story Pack features outstanding graphics that make its space strategy gameplay truly shine. 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:

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