Stellaris: Ancient Relics Review05 Jun 2019 0
Stellaris: Ancient Relics Review
Released 04 Jun 2019
Truth be told, I expected Ancient Relics to be quite disappointing. 'Archaeology' felt like thin ground for Stellaris to cover when it announced its next DLC, especially given how non-existent the concept was in the base game. Turns out I got it wrong -- this little story pack is less about expanding an existing feature, and more about adding a bunch of narrative events under the general theme of exploring the past.
The latest DLC on Paradox’ only 4X sci-fi title follows the same mould of Leviathans and Synthetic Dawn, bringing more tailored content to what is already a pretty event heavy game. Ancient Relics is mainly focused on the exploration side, expanding the number of plotlines uncovered by your science ships and adding an interesting, lengthy late-early/mid-game group of chain events in the form of excavation sites.
Taking the shape of archaeological digs on planets, these sites are part of a new mechanic that generates a quest-like series of events after being surveyed by a science ship. They range from decrepit, deserted worlds to ruin-strewn planets, and can have a scientist assigned to oversee the dig and uncover the history of its previous civilization.
One of the best aspects of Ancient Relics is how it makes excavations non-micromanaging. Every few months, an excavation phase is completed -- similarly to how historical Paradox’ games handle sieges. If a phase is successful, things happen, and you get to progress through the excavation “chapters” until their final, often very rewarding conclusions.
These excavations can give you anything from resources and buffs to ships and relics, the latter of which was added in this DLC. Divided between minor relics -- a currency-like item that can be used to generate resources, set up empire exhibitions, or trigger planetary effects -- and major relics -- vastly powerful and unique items possessed of both passive and active effects.
Those effects grant empire-wide bonuses such as increased jump drive range or instant 50% progression on a tech research, and the more powerful ones can be activated (via a button weirdly called “Triumphs” for some reason) and remain exclusively in effect -- you can only activate other relics once the effects of the previous one have expired. While I get the balancing reasons behind that decision, it does tend to limit player choice due to the long, 10-year long super situational durations. However, given how hard the relics can be to obtain, I expect not all players will have a vast majority of them available for a while.
As always, this Stellaris DLC brings with it new music tracks to keep the game’s amazing soundtrack from becoming rote. Two of those are very string-based -- a good departure of Stellaris’ more synthesizer heavy score -- while the other two continue the heavy, electronic keys compositions of the general soundtrack. interestingly, Ancient Relics change the Main Menu theme, replacing it with “Abyss” -- one of its new tracks which sounds noticeably similar in general structure to Jesper Kyd’s Ezio’s Theme from Assassin’s Creed II (which is a great thing in my book).
Truthfully, I was pleasantly surprised by Ancient Relics. It adds a noticeable amount of content especially to the late-early and mid-game, building up on Distant Stars’ ridiculous number of scientific events to prevent the game from drying up. If you like the idea of uncovering alien mysteries or just wants more story things to do in Stellaris, Ancient Relics is definitely worth a look.