Stellar.

If you’re new to Stellaris: Console Edition – or strategy games in general – the amount of information thrown at you when you first boot up the game can be overwhelming. There’s an option to turn on a full tutorial which will give you pop-up messages whenever you open a menu; while the pop-ups themselves can be a little annoying, it’s well worth turning on for your first few games so you can get a basic grasp of what everything does.

It seems that there’s a lot to learn when it comes to managing an empire in deep space and, while this is far from a comprehensive guide, it should at least give you a good starting point.

Choosing an empire

So, the first thing you’ll need to do is choose an empire that you want to play as. You can have a random one chosen for you or you can create your own but honestly, if you’re just starting out, I’d just pick whichever you like the look of and jump straight in. If you’re anything like me, your first few games are likely to be filled with varying degrees of mistakes – ones that you’ll learn not to make again. For example, on my first game, I colonised too many planets (not realising there was a cap) and recruited too many leaders, leaving me with no Unity.

Once you’ve tried out various empires for yourself, you can build your own based on what you’ve learned and what your overall aim is.

Exploration

Science Ships are hugely important in Stellaris and you’ll start out with one at the beginning of the game, complete with its own scientist. You’ll use your Science Ship to survey unknown systems to uncover minerals, energy credits, technology research, and anomalies. So when you’re setting out to explore unknown systems, the last thing you want to happen is to stumble across a hostile fleet that completely wipes out your Science Ship – along with the scientist aboard and any experience levels he’s gained. The easiest way to overcome this, as well as quickly scout out what planets might be out there, is to send out your fleet to do a flyby first. That way, they can deal with any threats leaving your Science Ship to, well, get on with the science bit.

And while you start off with one Science Ship, it’s probably a good idea to build a second as soon as you can, just to cover more ground – err, space – and get more systems surveyed.

Resources

There are a lot of resources that you’ll need to manage when playing Stellaris and you should know what each one is used for and prioritise accordingly. The three main resources that you’ll want to prioritise at the start are Energy Credits, Minerals, and Food.

Energy Credits are the currency in Stellaris and you’ll need them for the upkeep of your planetary buildings, fleet, mining and research stations and so on. Minerals are what you use to build things such as planetary buildings and fleets, while food is what your ‘pops’ or population live on and any amount over your stored amount determines how quickly their numbers will increase. If you start off in a resource-rich area, It’s not a bad idea to focus your planetary buildings on food production to start off with, replacing the buildings once your population has reached full capacity.

Expanding your empire

When you survey systems, you’ll not only uncover valuable resources but also uninhabited planets that you can colonise. As well as giving you a whole new planet to gain additional resources, the border of your empire will grow around any planet you colonise, allowing you to collect the resources from surrounding systems. As your planets grow (by increasing the population on that planet) the border around that planet will expand, so it’s worth looking not just at the planet but the surrounding systems before you decide to expand.

The number of planets you can sustain is determined by your government type and can be increased by different Research and Traditions. You can also build Frontier Outposts to expand the borders of your empire to gain access to vital resources but while these are initially cheaper than colonising a planet, their upkeep is significantly higher.

How to speed up Technology research

You’ll always want to make sure that you’re actively researching Technologies as they can give your empire huge boosts in a number of different ways. There are three categories; Physics, Society, and Engineering and you’ll be able to research one Technology from each of these types, simultaneously. Building upgrades, new fleet powers or weapons, increased empire border range are just a few of the technologies available and as each takes quite a while to research, it’s worth keeping an eye on your notifications so you can pick the next one just as soon as your last research has finished.

There are a number of ways you can increase your Technology output. There are three types of research that can be found when you survey systems, and various planet tiles will also have them. The more research you have coming in, either via Research Stations or buildings on planets, the faster that type of Technology will be researched. Your Science Ships will also encounter ‘anomalies’ when they’re surveying systems and these can also gain you valuable Research data.

Stellaris has a steep learning curve but if you can persevere, it gets really fun, really fast. I’ve lost whole evenings to this game and I’ve barely brushed the surface. My hope is that this guide will hopefully make those first few games a little less painful for others just starting out.