Title: Stellaris: Console Edition – Leviathans Story Pack
Platform: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Developer: Paradox Interactive
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Price: £8/$10 (DLC pack only)
Release date: Out now
TL;DR: It’s worth it for the Ether Drake alone.
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Since I wrote my original review last month, I’m pretty confident in saying that I’ve invested over 100 hours into Stellaris. None of it was intentional (honest!) but this game has a strange time-altering effect that sees a quick 30-minute stint turn into a four hour, planet surveying, empire building marathon. So when I got the opportunity to review the Leviathans Story Pack, it seemed like an excellent excuse to play more.
You may not notice much of a difference at first when you start up a new game with the Leviathans Story Pack enabled. But as you begin to expand your empire and you send your Science Ships further afield, you’ll come across other entities that have taken up residence in the universe.
‘Guardians’ come in a number of different forms; some will be hostile and unlike the alien swarms or pirate ships that you’re used to encountering, these won’t show you their military power so you won’t be immediately sure whether or not your fleet is powerful enough to take them on.
Luckily, Leviathans also adds a number of new, friendlier space inhabitants which you’ll discover as you go about the day-to-day business of surveying systems, colonising planets, and farming resources. As you discover these enclaves of traders and artisans (or do they discover you?) they’ll be added to your list of contacts and you can interact with them to form trade deals, gain new buildings, or aid you with your empire’s research.
The first hostile Guardian I encountered was an Ether Drake – a huge, space-borne dragon which is actually kinda cute if you zoom in to get a good look at it. I left it alone for a while as I was certain my fleet was nowhere near powerful enough to take it down. I’d encountered one or two of the new enclaves by this point but it wasn’t until much later when I was having a good look at what these traders had on offer that I noticed a “Tell us about the mysteries of the Universe” option. It turns out that if you’ve encountered one of the Guardians on your travels, these enclaves are likely to have information on it and will even tell you if your fleet is sufficient to take it out.
As it turns out, I had more than enough firepower to take down the Ether Drake and did so surprisingly easily, yielding a generous amount of resources to mine, as well as an ‘Ether Drake Egg’ research option. Once hatched, the Ether Drake Hatchling joins your fleet as a rather powerful (and kinda cute) military force in its own right. Soon after, I encountered another Guardian, this time an Automated Dreadnaught; essentially a huge battleship that had been abandoned by its makers but was still very much operational – and also angry. Once defeated, I was able to send my Construction ships to repair it and add it to my fleet.
Not all Guardians are out for your blood, however, and The Infinity Machine falls into that category. When I first encountered it orbiting a black hole, it didn’t give me any clues as to its purpose so I left it alone. It made contact shortly afterwards and, depending on how you respond to a number of (entirely confusing) conversations, will trigger a chain of events which can give you additional technologies and resources.
Now, despite the many hours I’ve spent playing Stellaris, most of the wars I’ve been involved in have seen me lose miserably and it’s no different with the Leviathans Story Pack. The new endgame crisis, War in Heaven, means that two fallen empires can go to war with each other, leaving you to choose sides and hope your empire doesn’t get wiped out in the process – and of course, mine did. Clearly, I need to brush up on my war tactics.
While the Leviathans Story Pack doesn’t add an immense amount of content, it does manage to make the universe feel more alive. It’s exciting when you don’t know what you’re going to encounter out there and you’re unlikely to see it all in a single playthrough, meaning you’ll have a good excuse for another game – or three.
- Adds some interesting (and detailed) new enemies to take on.
- The traders give you a use for your excess resources.
- The Elder Drake is cute!
- RNG will determine what you’ll encounter in a game, so you’ll need more than one playthrough. Wait, is that bad?
As with the base game, there’s nothing unsuitable for children here, though they will be in for a lot of tutorial reading if they hope to play it!
Disclaimer: This review is based on a copy of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.