Review: Stellaris: MegaCorps

By Alexander Williams 06 Dec 2018 0

Review: Stellaris: MegaCorps

Released 06 Dec 2018

Developer: Paradox Interactive
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Available from:
Direct
Steam

Finally, that most wondrous of days is here. The day where all of us lay out our burdens, focus on the one thing that matters in life, and give our all in the pursuit of a better existence not only for ourselves but for teeming billions. The day when we transition to a proper free and open economy, joined by those of all social classes, no matter the faction. The day when trade between you and your fellow being becomes meaningful again. For the first time.

Okay, it's just the release of Stellaris: MegaCorp, the biggest redesign of a game that's already been out since the last redesign of a game that's already been out – which was also Stellaris. As one commentator said, "get ready for everything you know about the game to be wrong for the second time in three years."

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Luckily, for you, dear reader, this will not come as a surprise. You've read our previous dev entry rundowns (both parts one and two) as well as the release notes straight from Paradox, already. You are a devoted player! You've even read the "What They Really Mean" parody release notes, because you are an incredible devotee.

So I'm not going to break down every little point of change coming out in this patch. There's plenty of places to get that. Instead, I'm going to break down the most important things that differentiate what you get if you throw a little money at Paradox and actually purchase the MegaCorp DLC. Along the way, I'm also going to toss in a few things that I've learned over the last week in getting to play MegaCorp a bit early.

Pay to Win

How about we start with what you get if you engage in righteous commerce? These are not things that you're going to get for free but what you're actually buying if you get the expansion.

Government Type: MegaCorps

Not surprisingly, the name of the DLC also is the core thing you get if you pay for it. MegaCorps join democracies, imperiums, hive minds and the like, as another government form. Predictably, they come with a number of unique civics which allow you to be different kinds of MegaCorp. This is your core selling point. For extra spice, civics let you shift between 'Galactic prosperity church' and 'hive of scum and villainy criminal family' variants as well – and there's no reason you can't put them together to become a Subversive Cult (and/or Scientology).

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MegaCorp Civics: Brand Loyalty, Criminal Heritage, Franchising, Free Traders, Media Conglomerate, Private Prospectors, Ruthless Competition, Trading Posts, Gospel of the Masses, Indentured Assets, Naval Contractors, Private Military Companies

Those custom civics you wanted? Here they are. Whether it be because brand loyalty increases the drive to Unity, franchising lets you run larger vassals and wider nets of branch offices, or a focus on trading posts let you have more Starbases, the selection is broad. There are even civics which require you have a specific ethnic (like Private Military Companies which require that you have some degree of Militarist).

Ascension Perks: Arcology Project, Xeno-Compatibility, Universal Transactions

Have you ever wanted to build Coruscant? A planet which is just a giant city? Here's your ascension perk. It won't be easy, but you can do it. Have sex with any creature in the galaxy with the chance of viable offspring? Make your MegaCorp just generally better at establishing branch offices in other governmental entities? Here's your ascension perks.

Civics: Byzantine Bureaucracy, Merchant Guilds, Shared Burden

New civics for multiple occasions; from the government that exists to give jobs to members of the government, to the ability to employee merchants for free in your capital buildings, to the counterbalance of megacorporations – Shared Burden, available only to fanatical egalitarians, which puts all of the new social classes on the same footing and keeps them roughly equal. It's Space Communism for the idealists in the audience. (If you want real Communism, that's over in Fanatical Authoritarian.)

Mega Structures: Matter Decompressors, Mega-Art Installations, The Interstellar Assembly, Strategic Coordination Center

Brand-new mega structures to allow you to create ridiculous amounts of various things in exchange for ridiculous amounts of different things.

Megacorps 2

New System: Slave Markets

Self describing, but one of the amusing things I noticed is that you can buy slaves even if your empire has banned slavery. They're expensive, I assume because you're doing very illicit business, but it appears that you can buy them and then set them free. Which might be one way for the truly rolling-in-money-types to pursue their dreams of a slave-less galaxy. (Or it might just encourage the slavers to sell more slaves. Consequences!)

If you already own Utopia, there's an extra bonus in the form of Hive Worlds. Now those hideous robots won't have all the fun; you too can control the very forces of the planet to convert it into a teeming anthill of your hideous people.

Free to Be

Now that we have all that messy commercialism out of the way, what do all the free riders get? Bloody everything else.

The entire tile system, the very classic placing of population on various squares which have resources in order to extract them? Gone. Replaced with a much more abstract but more flexible system of jobs, job slots, social roles, and districts – which are roughly equivalent to making buildings in the old system, limited in number by the size of the planet and its resources. But you can still create buildings which themselves have a limited number of slots which are unlocked by the planetary population hitting certain breakpoints, but the new buildings generally function to create new kinds of resources or entirely new kinds of jobs.

This whole set of changes probably requires its own set of articles to really get into the meat of what's going on. Don't expect to jump in and immediately have a grip on it.

Megacorps 1

MegaCorp For All Seasons

Let me end up with a few gentle suggestions for someone coming into this real, radical change in gameplay.

  • The Administrative Cap Is a big deal. Try not to exceed it, and if you do, not by much.
  • Each district on a planet counts against your Administrative Cap. If you want to hold a lot of planets, you won't be able to develop each of them to the max.
  • Don't forget to pay attention to how much housing and employment infrastructure is in place on any given planet.
  • Robots are a useful addition to your workforce – but you don't need an endlessly growing workforce in every planet. Replace your robot manufacturer use with something else when your worker jobs are full.
  • Diplomacy via the 'biggest stick' method always works.

For me, there's really no question on whether to buy this or not. Doing a complete overhaul of the population mechanics, adding in trade as an important system, allowing you access to being megacorporations or mega-cults, throwing in a little slave trade while you're at it? For $20 US, it's a solid purchase.

Review: Stellaris: MegaCorps

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