Some thoughts on the state of Habitats, as of 2.2.5

stellaris 2 - Some thoughts on the state of Habitats, as of 2.2.5

Habitats have been in a weird spot since 2.2 released. Their size was halved, they can no longer be used for basic resource generation (having been decent for food and energy before), and suffer from arbitrary restrictions. They still have uses, but Voidborne is a really mixed bag now. I'm not opposed to Voidborne not being a no-brainer, but I think that should be by virtue of the other perks being equally tempting, rather than the perk itself being unattractive.

Unlike 2.1, habitats can no longer be used to generate basic resources. No solar panels, no hydroponic farms (well, the building version is present, but come on), no asteroid mining. The first two in particular seem like arbitary restrictions, especially since the game describes habitats as theoretically self-sufficient. If Paradox thinks that habitats shouldn't have agriculture districts, I think an alternative solution would be to reduce (by at least 90%) or entirely remove food consumption for pops on Habitats. To avoid abuse, this would only apply to pops living on Habitats who have housing, so players can't simply put all their jobless pops on the habitat and forget about them. As for the other districts, I'll get into that a bit later.

Dev Diary 124 claims that habitats would have fewer, but more efficient districts, supposedly great for tall empires looking to stay within the admin cap, and would be able to support most regular buildings. That's simply not the case. Their housing districts are better than regular ones, but the other districts don't provide any housing of their own, whereas planet districts always provide homes for the jobs they generate. Additionally, luxury housing buildings are also not available, so players also can't specialize in habitat districts and use the buildings for housing. Stronghold habitats are an exception, since strongholds provide housing for their soldiers. Oddly enough, habitats have science districts, which end up being 50% better than a basic research lab, but players can't build regular research labs on habitats for some reason.

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All these hoops make it difficult to use habitats to their full extent. Building slots are tied to pop count, so if you want all building slots, you'll need to dedicate all your districts to housing (and even that's only enough with the free building slot tradition and Master Builders). That in turn causes difficulty actually providing jobs for all your pops on the station, since most habitat buildings provide less than five jobs (unless you use domestic slaves or livestock, and that's restricted to authoritarian and xenophobic empires). Again, fortress habitats are an exception, and that's one why reason why they are so good.

These issues could be solved by either allowing the other buildings (or at least most of them) on Habitats, increasing Habitat size back to 12/15, and/or giving the specialized districts their own housing.

Stellaris only allows habitats to be built around celestial bodies, whereas things like gateways can be placed freely outside the system's gravity well (not that it really matters in that case). Since the game restricts habitat placement in this manner, this choice should at least matter.

I think what a habitat can and can't do should depend on where it is built. A habitat built near a black hole could get a passive boost to physics (and maybe engineering, depending on whether or not anyone can come up with another source for it) research conducted on the station. One built near a star should get powerful energy districts. Habitats built around uninhabitable planets and asteroids should be able to mine them, with gas giants potentially providing a source of exotic gases.

Since habitats are also a stepping stone to the proper megastructures, I think they should also gain unique functionality if they are built near an inhabited planet. In addition to a society research bonus, I propose that such a habitat should act as an extension of the colony it is built around. That means resettlement cost between the two is reduced by 90%, and while they are still separate colonies with their own buildings and districts, the two could share housing, jobs and amenities. This would allow players to move their research labs from the planet to the habitat, for example, or provide additonal jobs for an Ecumenopolis (or, I guess, a ringwold segment, if Paradox decides to allow building a habitat near them).

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Tl;dr: Habitat placement should matter, restrictions on their abilities shouldn't be arbitary.

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