Monday, May 9, 2016

Stellaris - Initial Thoughts

About the Game (From the Steam Store Page)

Explore a vast galaxy full of wonder! Paradox Development Studio, makers of the Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis series presents Stellaris, an evolution of the grand strategy genre with space exploration at its core.

Featuring deep strategic gameplay, a rich and enormously diverse selection of alien races and emergent storytelling, Stellaris has engaging challenging gameplay that rewards interstellar exploration as you traverse, discover, interact and learn more about the multitude of species you will encounter during your travels.

Etch your name across the cosmos by forging a galactic empire; colonizing remote planets and integrating alien civilizations. Will you expand through war alone or walk the path of diplomacy to achieve your goals? 

Previous Playtime

0 hours

What Was I Thinking When I Bought This

This should, in theory, be an easy one because I bought it less than an hour ago. But I guess it really is difficult to truly know oneself because now that it comes down to it, words escape me. I was hyped. A space strategy game from the people behind Crusader Kings II. Would this bring their characteristic attention to detail to a whole new frontier? The very thought is exciting.

But that doesn't explain why I bothered to buy it today. I have more than 80 games left to play. Stellaris will still be there in a couple of months. Hell, it will probably be better in a couple of months. Its launch bugs will be patched, there won't be competition from the other prepurchasers to slow down the download speed. There may even be an expansion pack and a sale.

It doesn't actually make sense to buy a game so early. So why did I do it?

I think it's because the release of an anticipated new game feels like an event. I like knowing that thousands of strangers are having the exact same experience at the exact same time. I like going on to message boards and talking knowledgeably about the latest thing and understanding what people mean when they do the same.

This is either extremely petty or profoundly meaningful. I can't decide which.

Expectations and Prior Experience

The closest thing I have to prior experience is watching the developers' stream on Twitch. I don't think I'm too spoiled for the bulk of the game because I missed a couple of the later ones and from what I could tell, this game looks almost as glacially paced as Crusader Kings II.

What I expect is a steep learning curve over a deep game and while the novelty of the whole thing will carry me a long way, I'm sure, I can foresee one potential speedbump. It may be that there will be a long period where I don't understand the game well enough to enjoy it. That happened to me with the other Paradox games I played. I didn't really get into Crusader Kings II until I'd played around a dozen short games where I barely knew what was going on. I still have a bit of ambivalence towards Europa Universallis IV.

I'm confident that once I clear the hump, I'm going to find that I love expanding and exploring and engaging in complex diplomatic maneuvers, but how big is the hump? How many frustrating newbie traps will I fall into before I figure things out?

That's just the price of complexity I suppose. To make a rich experience for experts, novices will have to deal with being in over their heads. I think I can accept that bargain.

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