Yesterday, the proletariat peoples over at Paradox officially announced a new major expansion for our 2016 Game of the Year, Stellaris. Called Utopia, the expansion will add a number of new features to make empires more unique and give prospective galactic emperors even more options as they carve up the galaxy. This new expansion will also be complemented by a free update to the vanilla game: version 1.5, known colloquially as “Banks.”
That name is fairly telling for what’s to come. The namesake of the addition, Iain M Banks wrote a variety of science fiction, but is best known for his creation of “The Culture,” an advanced space empire portrayed as incredibly evolved with both positive and negative consequences to their society and the galaxy around them (Which is putting it mildly. Seriously, go read the books. They’re great.)
For now, based on what’s been announced (and covered in the developer diaries), we can tell you that the big change coming with the paid Utopia content will be the introduction of Ascension Perks. These seem to work like the Civics in Civilization VI where you’ll earn the right to choose certain bonuses as your race progresses, although you probably won’t be able to change your choices in Stellaris.
Per today’s Steam announcement, Utopia will also offer:
- Megastructures: Build wondrous structures in your systems including Dyson Spheres and ring worlds that will bring both prestige and major advantages to your race
- Habitat Stations: Build “tall” and establish space stations that will house more population, serving the role of planets in a small and confined empire
- Rights and Privileges: Set specific policies for which of the many species under your thumb will have the rights and privileges of full citizenship. Choose to build an egalitarian paradise or follow a caste system
- And even more improvements and updates, including (as is traditional with all of Paradox’s paid content releases) free updates for every Stellaris owner
As for Banks, we’re still learning more. The developers have talked about a new system of traditions and a new resource, called “unity,” that is used to acquire them. This seems very similar to how the Ascension Perks will work, and even though they are being offered in different content sets, it’s hard to imagine how one will work without the other.
There will be seven new tradition trees (and if you play as Plantoids, you could BE a tradition tree):
- Expansion: Focuses on growth through rapid colonization
- Domination: Focuses on maintaining control over your population and subjects
- Prosperity: Focuses on economic growth
- Harmony: Focuses on maintaining a happy and diverse population
- Supremacy: Focuses on growth through military conquest
- Purity: Focuses on strength through homogeneity and dominion over other species
- Exploration: Focuses on exploration and scientific discovery
Banks will offer a slew of new options for species rights, the freedoms (or, ummmmm, not-freedoms) you can give your various diverse populations. This will allot players a lot more options for dealing with the many different races that may live under their flag, allowing them total equality with the primary race, a caste system, slavery, or even deportation or forced extinction. Again, the way this unpaid content will interact with what is offered in Utopia is unclear, The two seem so intertwined that it might be hard to get the most out of one without purchasing the other.
Of course, Paradox is still slowly letting information leak out and we’ll no doubt learn more about these updates in the near future. No official release date has been announced for Banks or Utopia (though the dev diaries suggest it might be a while), so be sure to come back often for even more Stellaris news!