Hello fellow Stellaris Enthusiasts,
im Sealside, and i have a lot of games clocked in both pre-Le Guin as well as after the most recent gameplay patch. Like, a low 4-digit amount of hours. I saw that recently there have been a lot of show-off posts along the lines of "i see your 3500 hours and i raise you my 3750 hours"; i certainly cant touch these, but i can comfortably say that i played this game a LOT, and over a rather big period of time.
There are a couple of things about Stellaris that make it a stunning, beautiful and oftentimes very unique experience every game, even if you play the same empire over and over, but two of these factors are more impactful than the others.
One of these things is that you never seem to finish learning Stellaris. I've played dozends of games, watched videos, read articles, as well as thinking a lot about game theory and what i could play to improve my game experience or really just to have fun, and still, every game that i play there are at least a couple of those "oh" moments where you understand that despite your ever-growing game experience, therer is always more. Events that you thought you know inside out suddenly take an unexpected turn, a game mechanic reveals itself to be not what you thought it was, and even unique events randomly dopping in that you never had before.
Like, my last game i was facing the Contingency and the machine empire, who in previous games always became a glitched defense unit, became the Guardian of the galaxy. Small spoiler about the lore/ story of fallen machine empire ahead, read at own risk: And then, once I beat the contigency, the machine empire vanished, it completely disappeared with a small story box popping up, revealing that it was the machine empires sole purpose to destroy the contingency, and they failed the last time, leaving them in the mal-functioning state you find them in. Now that their purpose was fulfilled, they turned their ships and set sail to a target unknown, never to be seen again. I didnt know that. It was such a small thing but it still sent shivers down my spine because it added a totally unexpected, really cool flavor to this specific fallen empire, and I loved it.
The other factor that stands out, of course, is the story that each game tells, and ive never had two games who told the exact same story. No matter if you only played 4 to 5 games or a hundred already, im sure that just as me, you will immediately think about one or two unique encounters when i talk about "memorable enemies".
Maybe it was that Fanatic Purifier who spawned next to you in one of your first games and made you fear for your life from 2210 on, or maybe that Advanced Start Driven Assimilator that conquered half of the map and gave you a major headache for 150 years until you finally beat them? Or maybe until they beat you?
However, the game also has one major "weakness" if you want to call it that, and that is the sheer length of the games. It can easily take you 10 to 15 hours to reach a level of "domination" in a game, depending on your skill, luck and the difficulty you are playing on, and if you really want to play the game out, throughout the endgame and the crisis, this number becomes vastly higher, easily reaching 30, 40 hours a game. So, the amount of games you can play in a set amout of time, especially if you work a normal job and want to do some other activities as well, is mostly rather limited.
I can say that even tho i think i tend to play a lot when i get dedicated to a game, my last match of stellaris took me about two to three weeks to finish and lasted to roughly 2550. It had one of these memorable opponents, an empire that i went to war with no less than 5 times over the course of 300 years. Every time i completely smashed them, two times i took over 50% of their planets and population, expecting them to drop into irrelevance; and every time they would manage to cope, finding a way to aquire new technologies. In the end they were still one of the most powerful AI empires, and one of the wars they put up one hell of a fight even tho i had just beaten them to death 15 years before. And i thought that was really cool and impressive. So I took a screenshot of their empire – their species portrait, logo, ethics, civics and traits – and made them a custom empire. The Connisthian Alignment will get another chance to show their resilience, or maybe even grow more powerful when they dont spawn in my neighborhood. Do that with a few empires from a few of your favorite games, and all of a sudden your new games will develop a very new dynamic political landscape to you, where you dont just find random xeno empires that you have a "meh"-Attitude towards, but instead you find one of your "precurser" empires, which brings back the memories and excitement as well as the knowledge what they are capable off.
Do it. It is worth it. Spawn some of your favorite AI empires as well as some of the empires you designed, and played, yourself in the past, and you will find a political landscape that is much more engaging that the "standard" random AI empire map.
Let me know about your experiences with AI empires, or tell me one of your memorable game experiences you still randomly have to think about!
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© Post "Strong advice from a veteran player: Improve your games story and immersion by turning memorable AI empires into custom empires and spawn them occasionally" for game Stellaris.
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