Wow this got long. It was supposed to be just my experience from my first two games in 2.2.6. TL;DR: AI players in 2.2.6 still needs mayor improvements, I wish alloy production was slightly buffed and some anomalies deserve to burn in hell.
After a break since January I decided to play more Stellaris. I was looking forward to 2.2.6 because it seemed it should finally fix the most glaring issues this game had for months. I played in medium galaxy, high aggressiveness and 3x habitable planets.
Quick first game
My first game I started with Grand Admiral difficulty. I died fast. My problem was not enough alloy production so I was not capable of creating fleet big enough to defend myself in the early wars. My aggressive neighbor had military strength always Superior or even Overwhelming and I could not secure Defensive pact with my other neighbor. The resource bonus for the AI is just too strong early game. I realize part of the problem might by my skill at the game, better player perhaps could have won the war. It is a shame how this game went, I very much liked my map generation.
Problems with expansion
Second game I selected Admiral difficulty. I have colonized my first planet, secured first chokepoints and everything was looking good. I built colony ship to get my second colony and create some alloy forges … and then the planet disappeared because it was just a hologram! What is this stupid anomaly? I almost quite the game. It really screwed my over, every other planet I could see was 20% habitable which does not seem like a good candidate for a third colony. Luckily both my neighbors were xenophile otherwise I would be dead again. When one of them started claiming some of my systems I managed to get a defensive pact with the other one so I was safe. I played on 2 planets while my ally had 6 – and during early expansion I took systems with 2 more planets he could use, even one of his guaranteed ones. Unfortunately they were not for my species. And he and my rival still had system and planets they could expand to. Eventually I found a 60% planet I could get + another 60% in system with aggressive lifeforms I could not defeat yet. The whole situation was frustrating until I got terraforming technology. After I colonized first terraformed planets I got the Acropolis from Precursor event. I saved scumed just before I finished my last artefact and good thing I did. First time Fen Habbanis appeared 8 hyperlanes from my border inside my rival’s territory. Reload, please fix! Second time it was revealed in a reachable spot so I could take it. Luckily the acropolis planet was not a hologram! That would be rage inducing, hilarious and it would explain why the First League is not around anymore. However I am interested in knowing whether it can have the holograph anomaly!
AI in need of fixing
At 2267, while I was getting more colonies, I noticed my AI ally is no longer Overwhelming in fleet power even though I was not building that many ships. So I saved the game and manually edited the save file to increase difficulty to Grand Admiral. AI clearly needed some boost. Now is the year 2309 and I have Equivalent fleet power to him. He has more area, more colonies for much longer, he is Superior in economic power, neither one of us waged a war. How is that possible? I checked some of his ships and they are still armed with Red Lasers, first type of mass drivers and starting shields. Also all his ships have icon for upgrade but AI is clearly incapable of actually upgrading the ships! Why is that? My assumption: AI empires don’t have enough alloys. With all the high difficulty bonuses to production they can produce corvettes just fine early game but they just can’t support higher alloy demands. I will have to check how many alloy foundries my ally has on his planets. Also AI empires are equivalent in technology. Before 2.2 every AI (on higher difficulties) was at least superior to my empire, always, until the very late game when I sort of won (basically I knew I can crush anyone I want with my military). And The Great Khan can appear from year 2300 but my fleet is not ready for such thing nor is the AI. I think I last played in January and the AI looked very much the same. I don’t doubt there were changes for the better but AI still fails at playing the game mechanics of 2.2.
My ideas what still needs improving
Most importantly AI still needs some work. Clearly it does not perform the way it should.
Personally I think alloy production should be buffed a little (again). I would also like some buff to rare resources – perhaps some late technology which increases production. Also I want the Resource Replicator building back! Give us some way we can produce minerals on habitats and ringworlds please!
Precursours needs balancing! First League is so powerful and unique and with satisfying result I don’t bother playing if I would get something else. As an idea: Cybrex should give one colonizable section of a ringworld (with many tile blockers). Precursor homeworlds should always spawn with access only to the player.
Holographic planet anomaly should be possible only on planets that are not colonizable.
Well this was a bit longer than expected. Stellaris is a great game with amazing potential it fails to fulfill now. I like most of the changes in 2.2, I actually like the micromanagement of planets in my empire (I have not done resettling though). Yet I can’t fully enjoy the game as it is now. It gets very hard at the beginning and quite easy late game. It was the case in 2.1 too (or in most 4X strategy games I played) but it feels even more pronounced now.
Thanks for reading this far!
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