Stellaris

Stellaris: Console Edition (Xbox One), Initial Review

stellaris 8 - Stellaris: Console Edition (Xbox One), Initial Review
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I'd like to preface this by saying I've played hundreds of hours of Stellaris on PC, and it's easily one of my favourite games ever along with several other Paradox games. It is also must be said that this review is based upon only a few hours of game, but it's more intended to give people an idea of what to expect at a base level, rather than to critique every system in the game.

Firstly, I'll start with the controls. When I first heard about the release of this game on console, I was curious to how they'd get everything onto a controller, but I'm pleased to say, they've actually a very good job. The D-pad is used to navigate between the top bar, bottom bar, outliner on the right, and navigation bar on the left. LT and RT are used to zoom in andout, Y is used to pause the game and holding it will change your speed (well slightly but we'll get to that) and pressing in the right analog stick will change you between a view of the selected system and the galaxy map. It all flows pretty logically and doesn't leave you thinking "So what's the button for that again?" which, if I'm honest, is what I was expecting going into this. However it's by no means a faultless control scheme and certain small adjustments could certainly make it a little smoother. For example you should be able to reach the galaxy map from the local system view by simply tapping LT again once you've zoomed all the way out, or maybe even by just double tapping LT. The inverse also applies, why can't I just double tap RT too quickly view the system nearest my cursor? The change from one type of view to the other using an entirely different button just feels a little unnecessary to me. When moving from say the outliner to the navigation bar I have to press B first before I can press left on the D-pad to access the navigation bar, and considering pressing left on the d-pad when in the outliner does nothing and the inverse being true for the navigation bar, I feel it could be streamlined a little, especially considering players will spend A LOT of time in both the outliner and navigation bar. The same dynamic also applies for the top bar and bottom bar.

Performance is also something that has been talked about a lot on this sub of late, especially when reaching the end game, and with consoles being less powerful than probably the majority of PC rigs used by people in this community, I did wonder how it would run on these generally less powerful systems. To sum up it generally, it's smooth, but slow. Very slow. Even on fastest it feels like a bit of a crawl. Kinda like playing in 2500 in Le Guin if you've not purged the entire galaxy basically. However I feel like this could be by design rather than something else. I get the feeling that they had the idea in mind that console players would be less inclined to pause to do things than PC players are, so toned down each speed to accommodate this. I've not noticed anything in the way of frame drops or stuttering either, however once I get to the end game and watch some larger battles this could easily change, and I'll be sure to amend this when I get that far.

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In terms of how the game looks, it's a bit of a mix. Some of the buttons and such seem a little low-res, specifically the ones in the navigation bar. There's also some slight changes in the colours of the game, and I can't quite decide whether I prefer the colour changes, or hate the colour changes. The anti-aliasing on some things is also not the best, however it only becomes noticeable if you zoom right in on things. They've also changed some of the icons for techs and buildings a little, however I think these new designs are a little more creative than what we've got on PC, spot on with this one Paradox.

The game seems to have a mix of features. It's got traditions, but as of yet no ascension perks. The traditions are seemingly unaltered from what they originally were upon their release on PC. The anomalies and events seem to be what you'd get in the base game of Stellaris on PC, although there will doubtlessly be some deviation. There are also no alloys or consumer goods in the game as of yet, it's the classic build everything with minerals set up. Planets also do not have districts, instead they have the classical grid system. There's plenty of traits to pick from when creating your species too, again, they seem to be relatively similar to what they were when the game was new. The same applies to ethics, which is also a good segway into how territory and expansion works in this game. You don't build individual starbases in this version of the game, instead it uses the original mix of frontier outposts, border range, and planets to expand your borders. So prepare to get munched if you go super heavy on increased border range and happen to be close to Militant Isolationists that you didn't know where the until you built a frontier outpost next to them and get told to delete half your empire or die. The game also doesn't have a fleet command limit as of yet, so you can once again experience doom stacking every other empire in the galaxy with impunity. There's also manually created sectors too, which also means core sector systems again. Personally I hated this system, and much prefer the new system, however I'm fully aware that a significant part of the community liked that sectors could just be left to do their own thing and cut down on the need to micro manage their empire, and if that's you then you're in luck. However don't expect to be able to use warp drives and wormhole generators like you could originally, none of that in this version of the game, just hyperdrives.

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Overall it's a really solid start. Presuming it gets the proper care and attention from Paradox it'll be an excellent introduction of Grand Strategy into the console market. I hope to see it really flourish into something that is every bit as good as the PC version of the game.

I also want to say to the team at Paradox that put this together, you really should be proud of yourselves, this was undoubtedly an enormous task, that to many, myself included, seemed impossible to do, I just hope the community in general doesn't give you shit for the game not being perfect yet.

Please do inform me if I've missed anything that you feel I should talk about, or correct me on anything I was wrong about. And if you got this far, thanks for reading.

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