When I said I needed more consumers, I didn’t mean a devouring swarm. My corporate empire can sell its wares to democracies, slave states and even some robots, but a hateful hive mind inclined to eradicate all other sentient life is bad for business. Worse, they border my best customer, a hapless race of egalitarian slugs who cannot confront the swarm alone. Joining the federation that eventually defeats the Savix’Qast Swarm protects my profits and, I suppose, my customers’ lives.
MegaCorps are great fun, an excellent headline feature in an expansion (and accompanying update) which greatly improves the galactic economy of Stellaris, the aspect of the game most in need of attention. It has taken some time, but Stellaris is now the best space strategy of its kind. MegaCorp is a major reason why.
The immediate impression Elite Dangerous makes is that it’s a very complicated game. The core of the game, flying a spaceship from station to station, easily becomes lost in the sea of systems the game drowns you in when you begin. What I love about Elite, though, is how accomplished flying is. It’s supremely satisfying to drop out of warp, to request docking permission from station security, to execute the perfect landing, to plot the optimum route to your next stop. Elite is a game of routine so it’s a good job Frontier, the developer, have done such a stellar job making every part of that routine the best it can be. I played Elite Dangerous in 2017 but it was first released in 2014. This year saw the game change dramatically plus it was released on PS4, so I feel comfortable including it here.
Turning my citizens into robots was a long-term project. Just to enhance my population with cybernetics, I had to acquire mountains of Stellaris’ new resource, unity, to invest it in traditions, plus I needed to research advanced robotics technology. Then, to put the cybernetics into effect I had to research a special engineering project so gargantuan it consumed half the lifespan of one scientist. It took decades after that to acquire the necessary technologies, traditions and finally to manufacture robot bodies for every cyborg before I could go digital and upload most of my empire to their new, immortal, perfect bodies. Paradox have come up with a brilliant answer to Stellaris’ flawed mid and late game: take the best thing about the game, namely the way in which you create a species and define it through play, and spread the process out across the whole game. Stellaris’ new free update, Banks, and the accompanying paid expansion Utopia do a superb job of catapulting Stellaris into the top tier of space strategy games.