I’m AC, I’m the Community Manager for Stellaris, and Stellaris: Console Edition! I would like to start off by saying that you console players are not forgotten - we are aware that it has been a bit quiet on our side since February due to the ramp up to the Federations release.
However, that being said, here we are!
With new exciting things coming to the Console Edition in the near future we want to provide you with some Console Edition focused content that hopefully will provide some insight and information for what’s about to come. As of this time, we are not expecting delays related to COVID-19, however, I would like to remind you that this is a challenging time for all of us, and with everyone working from home processes become a bit more difficult and time consuming.
These dev diaries are a rehash of selected dev diaries from the PC, as many of you know, the Console Edition is the PC version ported to work on console. However, they have been updated with new screenshots and to accurately reflect the game as it stands in the Console Edition release! For those of you who have played the PC version, you will know most of these things, however for the people who have only played on console, this will be brand new! (Including shiny potentially-not-final gameplay screenshots and UI).
Please note that the pictures below might not represent the finalized product.
The old border system was arbitrary and often didn't make sense, as you could own a system you have never been to, or cannot even reach. While it did have some nice features, in the end it needed to be reworked for all the other changes that are coming (more in later DDs). Ownership of a system is now determined by who owns the starbase, except under certain conditions that we will discuss later. Borders are now a reflection of system ownership, rather than a cause for it to change.
Starbases are a space station orbiting the star of a system, each system can only have one starbase, but this can be specialized and upgraded over time as new techs are unlocked. Starbases now have module slots and building slots, starbase buildings are different from planetary buildings, and modules and buildings often work together to help specialize a starbase. Starbases are also the only way to build ships in the console version of 2.2.
As starbases now determine system ownership, it will not be possible to simply invade primitives in the 2.2 Update, first you will need to survey the system and build a starbase. Since building starbases now costs influence, we have removed the influence cost for colonizing and invading primitives, more on this below.
With borders from colonies gone, empires now start owning only their home system, with a starbase already built around the star. To expand outside of their home system, empires will have to construct outposts in surveyed systems. An outpost is a base-level starbase that will need to be upgraded in order to build modules or buildings, but also does not count against your empire’s starbase capacity. The cost to build an outpost in a system is determined by how far it currently is from your borders, based on the number of systems the new construction is from your current borders. It is often cheaper to expand in a line versus skipping several systems and building an outpost.
Upgrades and Capacity
Each empire will have a Starbase Capacity that represents the number of upgraded Starbases they can support. There are five levels of Starbases:
Outpost: A basic Outpost that exists only to claim a system. Costs no energy maintenance and does not count towards the Starbase Capacity, and cannot support buildings or modules. Outposts will also not show up in the outliner or galaxy map, as they are not meant to be interacted with at all unless it is to upgrade the Outpost to a Starport.
Starport: The first level of upgraded Starbase, available at the start of the game. Supports 2 modules and 1 building.
Starhold: The second level of upgraded Starbase, unlocked through tech. Supports 4 modules and 2 buildings.
Star Fortress: The third level of upgraded Starbase, unlocked through tech. Supports 6 modules and 3 buildings.
Citadel: The final level of upgraded Starbase, unlocked through tech. Supports 6 modules and 4 buildings.
Regardless of the level of the Starbase, so long as it is not an Outpost, it will use 1 Starbase Capacity and will show up in the outliner. Overall, the design goal is for the vast majority of Starbases to be Outposts that you will never have to manage, with a handful of upgraded Starbases that are powerful and critical assets for your empire. Going over your Starbase Capacity will result in sharply increased Starbase energy maintenance costs. Starbase Capacity can be increased through techs, traditions and other such means. You also gain a small amount of Starbase Capacity from the number of Pops in your empire. If you end up over Starbase Capacity for whatever reason, it is possible to downgrade upgraded Starbases back into Outposts. It is also possible to dismantle Starbases entirely and give up control of those systems, so long as they are not in a system with a colonized planet.
Shipyards and Ship Construction
Starbases fully replace Spaceports in the role of system/planet defense and military ship construction. Spaceports still exist but are no longer separate stations but rather an integrated part of the starbase. To build ships you will need a Starbase with at least one Shipyard module (more on that below). Starbases also replace Spaceports/Planets in that they are now the primary place to repair, upgrade, dock and rally ships.
Modules and Buildings
All non-Outpost Starbases can support Modules and Buildings. Some of these are available from the start of the game, while others are unlocked by tech. Some modules and buildings are only available in certain systems, for example the black hole research lab can only be built in a system containing a black hole.
Modules are the fundamental, external components of the Starbase, and determine its actual role. Module choices include Trading Hubs (for improving the trade collection range of your starbases), Anchorages (for Naval Capacity), Shipyards (for building ships, duh), and different kinds of defensive modules such as gun turrets and strike craft hangar bays that improve the Starbase's combat ability. There are no restrictions on the number of modules you can have of a certain type, besides the actual restriction on module slots itself. This means, for example, that you can have a Starbase entirely dedicated to Shipyards, capable of building up to 6 ships in parallel. Modules will also change the graphical appearance of the Starbase, so a dedicated Shipyard will look different from a massive defensive-oriented fortress brimming with dozens of gun turrets.
Buildings represent internal structures inside the Starbase proper, and typically work to enhance modules or provide a global buff to the Starbase or system as a whole.
One of the fundamental problems with the military stations in the previous version of the game is that they simply do not have enough firepower. Even with impressive hit points and shields, a station with at most a dozen or so guns simply cannot match the firepower of a whole fleet. Another issue is the ability to build multiple defense stations in the same system, meaning that no single station can be strong enough to match a fleet, as otherwise a system with several such stations will be effectively invulnerable. For this reason we decided to consolidate all system defenses into the Starbase mechanics, but not into a single station. Starbases come with a basic array of armaments and utilities (gun and missile turrets, shields and armor, etc), with the exact number of weapons based on the level of the Starbase. These are automatically kept up to date with technological advances, so your Starbases won't be fielding red lasers and basic deflectors when facing fleets armed with tachyon lances.
Additionally, Starbases have the ability to construct defense platforms to protect them. Constructed defense platforms will form a 'fleet' around the Starbase, supporting it with their own weapons and giving Starbases the firepower needed to engage entire fleets. The amount of defense platforms a Starbase can support may depend on factors such as starbase size and modules/buildings, technology, policies, and so on. The design intent is that if you invest into them, Starbase defenses will scale against fleets across the whole game rather just being completely outpaced in the late game as military stations and spaceports currently are in the live version.
One last note on Starbases: For a variety of reasons (among them to avoid something like the tedious rebuilding of Spaceports that happens at the end of wars) Starbases cannot be destroyed through conventional means. They can, however, be disabled and even captured by enemies. More on this below.
In one way, the current system in the live version of the Console Edition is extremely unrestrictive, allowing you to declare war on anyone for any reason to take any planet, no matter if said planet is on the literal other side of the galaxy in the middle of enemy territory and could not feasibly be held by your empire, and then demand that planet in the peace even if none of your soldiers had never set foot on it. On the other hand, the restriction to only being able to take planets meant that you had a fairly limited control over your actual borders after the peace, and might be forced to take planets you had no interest in just to get that system with a resource or colonizable planet that you *actually* wanted. Other issues include a lack of an ability as an ally in a war to affect what gains you were going to get in the peace, and that wars were very 'all or nothing' affairs with no real mechanics for any other outcome than total victory for one side.
With the change to borders discussed above, system control is now separated from planets, and so allows for systems to be conquered and traded even if they do not contain a colonizable planet. This, in addition to all the previously mentioned issues, means that we need a new wargoal system that can handle both limited wars fought over a few border systems, and massive wars that result in dozens of systems changing hands. The way we have decided to solve this is to completely rework wargoals, peace negotiations and to add the concept of claims
Claims reflect your empire’s territorial ambitions - an empire claiming territory for whatever justification they can come up with. Claims on systems will cost influence, the cost of which is determined by how built up the system is -- systems with a colonized planet cost significantly more than systems with just mining and research stations as well as the system’s distance from your current borders. This cost can be mitigated through techs, traditions and civics. It is also possible to claim a system multiple times, useful in the case of a system that both you and an ally are interested in.
Casus Belli and Wargoals
To go to war in the 2.2 Update of the Console Edition, you will need a Casus Belli - a reason to go to war. The simplest Casus Belli is the Claim Casus Belli, and is gained by claiming a system belonging to another empire.
There are other Casus Belli, Humiliation is always available, there’s also Subjugation, Tributary, and a few others that will be available or become available after certain traditions or ascension perks are unlocked.
Some Empires (such as Fanatical Purifiers, Devouring Swarms and [redacted]) have special Casus Belli that usually allow them to conquer their neighbors at will, ignoring claims altogether, but are vulnerable to be similarly conquered by others who see them as a threat to the entire galaxy.
War Exhaustion and Peace Negotiations
As wars can now be anything from a small border skirmish to a massive war of conquest (depending on the wargoal and number of claims), we felt that the Warscore system so common to our other games was inadequate for dealing with this variety, and tended to turn every conflict into a massive war with one undisputed winner and another, utterly crushed loser. As such, Warscore is gone in the 2.2 Update. Instead, we have introduced the concept of War Exhaustion. War Exhaustion goes from 0-100%, and measures the total weariness and attrition suffered by all empires on one side in a war (psychological and logistical). War Exhaustion goes up from having Planets and Starbases occupied by the enemy, suffering losses during Space and Ground Combat. When a side's War Exhaustion hits 100%, they can be forced into a Status Quo peace (more on this below). The speed at which War Exhaustion accumulates is influenced by factors such as ethics, traditions, technology and the amount of claims being pressed - an empire that is fighting to hold onto a handful of border systems will tire of a costly conflict quicker than one whose very independence is being threatened.
There are three ways a war can end in the 2.2 Update: With the surrender of either side, or with a negotiated Status Quo peace. When an empire Surrenders, it is usually either because they have been completely defeated, or because the war aims are limited enough that they view it as more costly to continue the war than to end it.
Surrender means that the victor's Wargoal (for example, to humiliate or vassalize the loser) is enforced. Surrender can only be forced on an enemy that is entirely or nearly entirely defeated - an empire can never be forced to cede territory that the enemy is not able to take control of with their military.
Status Quo means that the war has reached a point where total victory is unlikely for either side, and both sides agree to stop hostilities and settle for whatever gains or losses they have suffered. Under a Status Quo peace with the Claim wargoal, all occupied systems claimed by an enemy empire are ceded to the enemy with the strongest claim. This is where multiple claims on the same system come in - if you and an ally are both claiming the same enemy system, you can continue to invest influence into 'trumping' their claim so that you are the one given the system rather than your ally. In the case of a tie, whoever has the oldest claim on the system is considered the stronger claimant. As mentioned above, a war side that is at 100% War Exhaustion can not reject a Status Quo peace.
Starbase and System Occupation
In the 2.2 Update, a system is considered occupied only if the starbase and all colonized planets are controlled by the occupier. Taking control of an enemy system will also give you the income from all the mining and research stations in that system. Similarly, once the system is occupied are able to be used by the occupying forces - allowing you to reinforce and repair your ships at captured enemy shipyards, making systems containing shipyards important to defend, and captured enemy defenses can be turned against their builders, helping you keep control of occupied systems.
So, hopefully you enjoyed this dev diary and there will be more of these in the future, so stay tuned!
That’s it for this week, join us next week when we talk more about the planetary rework in the upcoming 2.2 Update for Stellaris: Console Edition!