Everything you need to know about Stellaris: Console Edition

By Anna Blackwell 26 Mar 2019 0

Paradox Interactive are known for crafting some of the best grand strategy/4X games on PC to date. From the battlefields of Hearts of Iron and the courts of Crusader Kings, to the far flung future of Stellaris, these giants have thrived on PC but how do they fare on console? Well, as is fitting for the forward looking sci-fi sibling, Stellaris has bravely stepped into the console market.

Stellaris on PC is the control panel of a galactic empire. Tasking you with managing science ships, naval fleets, colonies, spaceports, trade routes, diplomacy, and research through a mostly painless UI. With so much content to keep track of, mouse and keyboard is surely the only way to go. Right? Well, as it turns out, Stellaris - Console Edition actually functions pretty damn well.

Stellaris Console 1

The real-time 4X sits somewhere in-between the nitty-gritty of Civilisation and the quick response of Halo Wars. As battles are mostly about preparation and stationing rather than fine control, Stellaris has less hurdles than the typical strategy game in approaching consoles. More buttons can be given over to UI and the pause/play nature of the game allows for a more relaxed pace without foraying into the territory of “I wish I had a mouse and keyboard” like other strategy titles have on console.

In fact, various little tweaks and concessions for the controller make certain parts of Stellaris - Console Edition arguably more enjoyable than its PC counterpart. Navigating the solar and galaxy map is handled through the right analogue stick with zooming between done with R3 (which is much easier than clicking the galaxy map button). And having the Outliner, Resources, Notifications, and Sidebar mapped to the D-Pad allows for relatively painless menu navigation and is probably one of the best 4X console UIs I’ve come across so far. Even finding and tracking ships, grouping fleets, and all the minutiae are made easy in a way I wasn’t expecting.

Stellaris Console Controls

Time manipulation (pausing and changing speeds) is both easy and a little frustrating. To pause you press triangle or Y but to speed up/slow down you hold the button in, letting go at the speed you want. It’s a small thing but I found it a bit clunky at times and would often forget to pause/unpause. (Which, to be fair, I’ve done plenty on the PC version as well-ED)

If you’re new to Stellaris or even if you’re just making the jump to console then heed my warning as I cannot stress enough how important the tutorial is. When given the option, put the tutorial to Full and go through it slowly. Stellaris tries to give you as much freedom as it can which means you can find yourself opening menus that have no context for you. Close the tutorial window when that happens but make sure not to say “don’t show this again” until you’re absolutely certain you know what you’re doing. I made that mistake with the PC version and didn’t learn about districts for 7 hours and districts are how you get money/food/minerals and housing…

Stellaris Console Planets

Beyond these little issues, the only real wrench in the gears for the console edition is that 4X games are, by nature, text heavy affairs. Even with an inflated UI, reading that much text from across a room brings on a headache pretty quickly and I’m not certain that they can fix that without cutting content or reshaping the UI completely. Thankfully I have a blow-up couch and was able to just shift myself up to the screen but if that’s not an option, you might want to invest in some reading binoculars and ibuprofen.

If you’re coming from the PC version, you’ll have noticed that Stellaris: Console Edition uses the 1.7 build for the game. Depending on your point of your this is either a giant relief or a massive step backwards, but it’s important to note that the dev team do intend for this edition to ‘catch up’ to the PC version, especially with the DLCs.

Stellaris Console Galaxy

If you’ve never played this game before, it’s important you realise what this means. When Stellaris deployed its 2.0 version (which coincided with the Apocalypse DLC), the way combat and expansion worked in the game completely change. Similarly, when the PC version hit Version 2.2 (with the MegaCrops DLC), the economic and planet management systems completely changed as well. That’s two fundamental shifts in how the game plays in not even as many years, so as you learn the game and start getting used to the system, know that you’ll have to do it all over again when these development milestones are deployed to the console.

However, since the first confirmed DLCs are the: Plantoids Species Pack, Leviathans Story Pack and the Utopia Expansion in that order, you won’t have to worry about any big changes in the short-term.

I’ll admit that I was sceptical at first when I saw Stellaris coming to consoles. I haven’t had much love for console strategy games beyond Army Men RTS and that was mostly nostalgia but Paradox have surprised me. As I said above, there are even aspects of the Console Edition that I’d like to see on PC. And while Stellaris - Console Edition might not possess the full potential of its PC sibling (gotta have them mods), it has at least opened me up to the possibilities. And hey, if the ol’ battlestation ever goes down, then I’ll be grateful to have such a meaty offering available to me on my couch.

Some Tips:

  • The only way to get achievements/trophies is by playing on Ironman mode. This means you cannot go back to an older save.
  • For your first (maybe even second and third) playthrough, turn Tutorial Mode to Full and it will give you missions, tips, and rundowns of how the game works.
  • Make use of the Queue function for science ships as manually choosing systems to survey can be tedious.
  • Selecting a system from the Galaxy map will allow you to set a builder to build all the necessary mining or research stations rather than selecting by hand.
  • We’re back to using Minerals for ships so make sure to pick them up wherever you can.
  • Don’t click “don’t show me this again” on tutorial windows until you’re sure you know what you’re doing.
  • If you didn’t heed my warning, the Stellaris Wiki is your only hope.

Have you tried the Console Edition of Stellaris? Have any thoughts or tips you want to share? Let us know in the comments! Stellaris: Console Edition is available on Xbox One & Playstation 4.



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