First, before we start digging into the way psionics will work Utopia, we should clarify that we are not removing any features from the free version of the game. If you have the Banks update but do not own Utopia, psionics will continue to work the same way they currently do: As technologies that you unlock. The only difference is that psionics can now only be researched by Spiritualist empires, though it is entirely possible for an empire that does not start out as Spiritualist to acquire psionics by shifting their empire ethics to Spiritualist over the course of the game, and once you start down the Psionic path it is possible to continue along it even if you stop being Spiritualist. This Spiritualist requirement applies whether or not you own Utopia.
If you *do* own the Utopia expansion, most of the psionic features will no longer appear as technologies. Only Psionic Theory, the very first psionic tech, is still researchable. To get access to the rest of the psionic path you will need to pick the 'Mind over Matter' Ascension Perk to start your empire on the Psionic Ascension Path. Picking this Ascension Perk will unlock latent psionic abilities among your primary species. A certain percentage of your leaders will have the 'Psychic' trait that grants a variety of advantages for the different leader classes, you will get access to Psionic Armies and also the special Psi Corps building. As with all Ascension Paths, you will need to have at least two Ascension Perk slots unlocked to pick 'Mind over Matter'.
After picking Mind over Matter, you will need to continue amassing Unity and working your way through the Tradition trees. Once you have unlocked your fourth Ascension Perk slot, the 'Transcendance' Ascension Perk becomes available. This is the second stage in the Psionic Ascension Path and represents the full Psionic awakening of your species. From this point on, your entire species will get the 'Psionic' species trait and all leaders from this species will be full-fledged Psychics. In addition to the advantages granted by these traits, from now on there is also a chance that other species in your empire will psionically awaken, first as latent Psychics and then as fully awakened ones much like your own.
The Shroud (Paid Feature)
Not long after fully awakening, your species will become aware of The Shroud. The Shroud is the realm from which psychics draw their power, a strange dimension very unlike the material universe, a place of opportunity and danger alike. To begin exploring The Shroud, you will need to complete a special society research project that once completed will give you access to The Shroud in the contacts view. Each time you wish to enter The Shroud you will need to expend a considerable amount of energy (in the form of Energy Credits), though this cost can be reduced by having access to the Zro Dust Strategic Resource.
As for what can happen while exploring The Shroud... quite a few different things. We will not give them all away here, but some examples include unlocking psionic technologies, asking the spirits that dwell there for a boon, or even forming a Covenant with one of a number of particularly powerful spirits... a pact that will give great benefits, but may come at a terrible cost.
That's all for today! Next week we'll be coming back to Factions and how you can use them to change your Empire Ethics. We'll also be talking about Indoctrination. See you then!