Stellaris First Impressions

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Paradox Interactive
Developer:Paradox Interactive
Release Date:2016-05-09
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Strategy
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

Technology and UI

Having no experience with Paradox's previous title, I can't say if Stellaris improves on their classic UI paradigm. I can say, however, that it sports a clean and easy-to-use interface that lets the player surmise a situation quickly and access any interaction with a couple of clicks of the mouse or a hotkey press.

I do have a couple of grievances with it, however. Firstly, the tab division doesn't always make sense to me, with different subjects seemingly grouped together in arcane ways. It takes very little time to learn what tabs you have to access to, for example, genetically modify one of your species, but I still feel that it could have been more intuitive. Secondly, the fonts are simply too small. On a 1920x1080 resolution (the common standard, these days) I frequently struggled to read some of the text, which felt aggravating when half of the window was left empty and could clearly afford to house a bigger typeset.

Technologically, the game isn't exactly impressive. Planets, ships and stations are all depicted with models that are not up to the current standards in terms of polygon count and texture size. It's not as big of a deal as it sounds, however, because the camera sits well away from them most of the time. What really bothered me, on the other hand, were the low levels of performances in advanced games, especially when running at the Fastest speed (a real boon while waiting for something to finish building.) It's not a deal breaker in a game that lacks any kind of reflex-based gameplay, but my rig is still mid-range, and the game doesn't allow any graphic customization beyond resolution and anti-aliasing, so I had no chance to experiment with different graphics settings to get a less jerky experience.

I suspect it might have not done much (the fact that performance slows down in the late game leads me to believe those are mostly background AI calculations), but it would have been a nice option to have.

Conclusions

I have yet to come to grips with Stellaris. What's in front of me right now is a compelling but flawed game, that seemingly loses sight of its most interesting elements in the pursual of the grand strategy gameplay Paradox is known for. However, I'm not ready to make a final judgement yet, and I'm more than willing to dive deeper to understand how exactly this clockwork machine, made up of a myriad of little systems, works. Expect a full review with my final thoughts in the near future.

Note: This preview was based on a press copy we received from Paradox before the game's release.