While everybody discusses how hive minds and other features need rework, I feel like traditions are forgotten somehow. However, in my opinion it is one of the most lazily implemented game features. And tweaking numbers in each patch does not help.
- Each game you'll pick all 7. Could you please remind me why they are even called traditions?
- Yes, the pick order matters. That's why you will take expansion each time.
- And discovery is the second pick, obviously.
- All tradition trees provide a thin layer of +numbers/+percentages here and there. Nothing game-changing.
- Unity-sinks provide good buffs. But it is too bad that you get all of them in a batch as soon as you research the corresponding technology.
From RP point of view traditions need to represent how exactly your spacefaring civilization was shaped during your playthrough. Were they sandwitched between other empires and had no place to expand? Did they start near the old-forgotten mining drones and had to fight through them? Some of the choices will be inevitably dictated by ethics. But there should be also some freedom of action. By the way, ascension perks do this job quite well from time to time: you may accidentaly go psionic if you find Zroni or pick "Galactic Contender" if things start getting ugly.
From game design point of view, let's face it, traditions were a rushed decision, badly copied from Civilization V. There is an important difference though: first of all, some of the CivV civics were mutually exclusive. Secondly, they were unlocked at the certain moment during the game – this gave the possibility to balance the civic trees differently. Thirdly, the culture costs were high and one couldn't finish all the non-exclusive trees. The latter will be too hard to balance for Stellaris, though.
So, here's my idea how to make traditions better (everything below is for non-gestalt, non-genocidal empires):
- Make three tiers of traditions
- To unlock the 2nd tier, you need to pick 2 ascension perks. To unlock the 3rd tier, you need to pick 4 ascension perks
- Move the less interesting ascension perks to tradition tree finishers. Yes, I am looking at you, engimatic engineering.
- Make some of the tradition trees mutually exclusive
- Tier 1 should contain the tradition trees that determine your means of early expansion and affect the early-game.
- Tier 2 should contain the stuff affecting the mid-game: probably focused on economy and diplomacy options.
- Tier 3 is about the endgame and it should give some heavy bonuses for the victory path. Yes, the game lacks the proper victory options, so maybe there should be military tradition trees, maybe something buffing megastructures and ascension paths? A tree which content depend on the ascension path of the choice?
For example, I can imagine the following mutually-exclusive trees in tier 1:
- Expansion – simple "land grabbing". Cheaper starbases. Higher starbase limit. Less empire sprawl from systems. Cheaper starbase components/upgrades.
- Pioneering – getting more planets early on. Additional colonists. Quicker colony development. As a finisher – Allows to colonize 3 planets as if they had your preferred climate. Don't know how to justify this from the RP point of view, though.
- Urbanization (?) – something that gives slower start, but increases the overall planet quality. Discover a 1 20+ world of your climate nearby, get slightly less empire sprawl from discticts. Move environmental adaptation here as a finisher?
Other three non-exclusive tradition trees may be the following:
- Discovery – bonuses to exploration and anomalies. Maybe some bonuses to scientists but not that much.
- Heritage – bonuses to archeology. More artifacts. Maybe special landmarks for the precursor/archeology sites. Maybe some unique lesser artifact interactions.
- Struggle – early-game plain military bonuses. Bonuses for destroying space fauna. Bonuses against the space fauna. Maybe some terraforming buffs/discounts may go here as well.
About Machine empires: Machine empires are powerful as they are and there is no proper way to make it weaker – their economy is more straightforward and they can colonize everything they see. Therefore I suggest to exclude Machine empires from tradition system. Instead, they will need to spend unity to upgrade the hardware of their "Core AI" and "Cluster Nodes" AKA leaders. They will have to upgrade governors to support more robot population and they will have to upgrade empire leader to support more governors.
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