After playing mods for HoI4 like TNO and Red Flood, I came to the shocking revelation that the Stellaris ethics scale and government systems are extremely barebones and at times even counterproductive to their own purpose and I think a small rework is in order then.
Firstly, the ethics in relation to the government. The most egregious thing here is the limiting of government types by the ethics of your country. Picking egalitarian ethics should not limit your choice in government, rather it should modify how government types like Imperial and Dictatorial work. History has shown that strong autocratic rulers can stand for liberal, egalitarian ideals. For example, Napoleon, Atatürk, Oliver Cromwell etc. If one was to pick an extremely egalitarian dictatorship, maybe it could be represented as a personality-driven dictatorship, or a government driven, but pluralistic society, sort of a mix between an Orwellian nightmare and an anarchic personality cult, akin to Avant-Garde France in Red Flood.
Secondly, there is a misrepresentation of extremist left ideologies in contrast to the amount of right-wing extremist ones. No possibility of an anarchist or syndicalist regime, but multiple options for martial dictatorships or empires. Nor is there any representation of a society based on futurism, the closest we get is a fanatical materialist ethic. While none of the ideologies mentioned above have ever held major sway in our planets politics, who's to say that couldn't happen on some other world?
Thirdly, the ethics wheel is quite barren in it's options. No option for Individual/Pluralist, Spiritualist and Materialist are too exclusive and needlessly clump various questions into two seemingly opposing pillars, pacifist and militarist are not opposing ethical views either and there's no option to choose an economic ethic. The spiritualist/materialist and pacifist/militarist splits seem really arbitrary and reductive in leaving the player very little as far as deciding about your governments views on complex ethical questions. I believe that additional options should be made to flesh out the ethics compass. Another problem I mentioned was the lack of an economic axis. While choosing what economic model your empire follows straight from the get-go can be limiting, so can choosing whether your government is xenophilic or -phobic. Of course, the question of whether you want to limit yourself to certain narrow ideals goes out the window when the game has a quite easy way to change your governmental ethics mid-game. Speaking of which:
Lastly, the system of adopting new ethics is horrific. The idea is sound, I don't think that needs to be touched upon, it's the fact that you can't choose which ethic goes away in place of the new one. Choosing to promote a factional ethic to a governmental one is a clever way to spice up gameplay and give the player a way to adapt to their surroundings, but it needs some adapting itself to be a properly fleshed out feature. As of now, the game prioritizes 'downgrading' the more extreme ethics of your government to make way for an additional governmental ethic. This should instead be down to player choice, not the AI deciding; "this is what you get, use or lose it."
Mods like this exist of course, and offer a much needed expansion to the system, but I feel these ideas should be expanded upon and made a part of the base game. I'm obviously just rambling about my perceived imperfections in the games political mechanics, while I try to promote a mod I didn't even create to be made into base game, but I feel that the ideas I've expressed here show how important of an aspect the ethics wheel and government forms are to the game. I know there is a part of the playerbase who'd rather enjoy an interstellar grand strategy game with as little to do with real world politics as possible, but if we are to take this game with even an ounce of realism, the political system is in dire need of expansion.
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