A brand new DLC and update has been released for Paradox Games’ now 5-year-old game, but how does Stellaris: Nemesis compare to earlier iterations?
Become the Galaxy’s Saviour, or its Worst Crisis
As the name suggests, one of the major new features released with this expansion includes the ability to become an end-game crisis. The process for the player to begin their potential trail of destruction comes by selecting a new ascension perk. This unlocks a new skill tree for the player which is powered by menace points, these points can be gained by generally being a significant nuisance to the other empires of the galaxy, such as conquering worlds, destroying fleets and purging pops. As you progress through the 5 tiers of crisis levels, you unlock more and more powerful bonuses, such as better ship types, and then eventually the powerful Star-Eater, which does as the name suggests.
If destroying the galaxy does not match your usual playstyle, don’t worry, your potential ability to save the galaxy from threats have also seen some serious enhancements. New passable reforms have been added to the Galactic Community, allowing for the nomination of a Galactic Custodian. Being elected to this position can give you some impressive bonuses, such as the ability to produce a Galactic Defence Fleet similar to federation fleets, giving the player even more firepower to play with. These emergency powers can make all the difference against the end-game crisis, so much so that you may not wish to relinquish them, even going so far as replacing the Galactic Community with an easier to manage Galactic Empire.
Be careful however, as not everyone in the galaxy will be happy with having their freedoms taken away, no matter how strongly you feel you deserve the additional security. Rebellions can begin to form in secret opposition to the new order, as factions will seek to undermine your hold on the Galactic Empire, and seek to restore the Galactic Community. In some scenarios you may find yourself in the position of agitator, working with other disgruntled nations to overthrow a corrupt regime. These new mechanics add even more content to very late game of campaigns, and it’s nice to see this area of the game being fleshed out, adding a great deal of replayability.
Use Spies to Discover Galactic Secrets
It’s not only the late game that’s seen a lot of additions; the early game also has a drastically different feel in Nemesis. You will no longer instantly know every detail about your neighbours the day after meeting them. Now the player will have to use their envoys to initiate first contact by a series of events, similar to how scientists research archaeological dig sites. These events give the player control over how initial relations with various species take shape, for example, a xenophobic empire can perform dissections on organic species, or dismantle machine empires in exchange for a research boost at the cost of angering the target nation. This additional flavour gives a great deal of variety in exploring the galaxy, and is a much-improved system over the original generic replies when first meeting a new species.
It’s not only first contacts where your envoys will see more use; Nemesis adds a brand-new espionage system, with mechanics similar to other Paradox games, such as Hearts of Iron IV and Europa Universalis IV. As the player no longer immediately knows everything about discovered empires by default, this intel must be built up over time by use of envoys being assigned as spies. There are espionage abilities available that can be attempted once the required intel level has been achieved, this can range from stealing technologies, to sabotaging their diplomatic relations with other nations.
Increasing your intel level is important to determine how far reaching and powerful each empire around you may be. As higher intel levels let you perform actions such as sabotaging chokepoint starbases, as well as your potential enemies fleet power; essential knowledge to have before declaring a war, or for knowing whether you should be upgrading your defences. Joining federations allows you to share intel with your allies, giving another advantage to joining federations.
A Whole New Galaxy to Explore
On top of all the brand-new features available to the owners of Stellaris: Nemesis, are an immense list of new changes to the core gameplay that come with the accompanying DLC patch, released at the same time; some of these changes can be noticed immediately, others are more behind-the-scenes changes to the formula. One of the first things existing players will notice is the addition of the new Industrial type zone, these work similarly to a combination of the already existing Alloy or Consumer Goods buildings, but now being available as districts on planets. Speaking of buildings, new slots are no longer unlocked by the planet’s population size, but by the amount of Housing districts invested in, as well as various technologies and traditions. Plus enjoy 3 new excellent quality songs.
By completely overhauling many early, as well as late game features, new playthroughs of Stellaris will never play out the same way twice. These new mechanics effortlessly integrate well with the systems added by previous expansions. It is now more enjoyable and satisfying than ever to finally fulfil your dream of destroying the galaxy.
You can find out more information about the Nemesis expansion here. If you find this type of game enjoyable, be sure to check out our review of Crusader Kings 3.