Federations is the latest expansion DLC for Stellaris, Paradox Interactive’s grand strategy game set in the stars. It aims to improve diplomatic actions with other spacefaring races by adding new features such as the Galactic Community and the improved federations system. There’s also the Origins system that provides a backstory (and maybe even some unique tasks) for your faction. Patch 2.6 (“Verne”) is also a free update for all Stellaris owners.
Stellaris: Patch 2.6 freebie versus the Federations expansion
As with many of Paradox Interactive’s content add-ons, Stellaris: Federations‘ release also coincides with that of patch 2.6, also known as “Verne.” While you do need to own the expansion to experience most of the changes to diplomacy, the free update itself gives all Stellaris owners access to several features such as:
- Envoys – These free characters are able to sway your relationships with AI empires in your Stellaris campaign. Having the Diplomatic Corps civic even gives you additional ones.
- Diplomatic Stances – You’ll find this feature in your policies tab. There are six options to choose from which confer different bonuses. For instance, the Mercantile stance improves trade value and trade protection, while the Belligerent stance helps with war exhaustion and naval capacity. There’s also the Supremacist stance which is a stronger version of the latter, but you’ll earn a malus against all other Supremacist empires.
- Galactic Union – The Galactic Union is the default form of a federation, sort of like what Stellaris has had. So, even those who don’t own the new DLC would still be able to form federations with others.
You can find more information in the patch notes here.
The Federations rework and Galactic Community
If you do own Stellaris: Federations, then you’ll have new federation types that can be formed by empires that get along together. Each one also provides upgraded perks when your federation level increases:
- Trade League – bonuses to trade power; can only be formed by megacorporations or those with the Merchant Guilds civic.
- Research Cooperative – improvements to research capabilities; those with materialist backgrounds.
- Martial Alliance – increased boons for your fleet capacity; formed by militarists.
- Hegemony – available only to authoritarian empires; provides extra perks for the federation’s leader.
The federations rework also lets you change several laws from subjects being able to join, free migration, war declarations, and the like. It can take a while to unlock more of these decisions, though. Often, you’ll be at the mercy of your federations partner who may disagree with your proposals.
Speaking of proposals, the Galactic Community is one big panel filled with these. Think of its formation as similar to MegaCorp‘s introduction of the Galactic Market (which is now one of the proposals herein). Once you’ve encountered a majority of space empires in the galaxy, the Galactic Community ends up being created after a couple of years.
There are proposals that’ll benefit your trading power, increase worker happiness while outlawing slavery, and so on. In times of emergencies, you may also appeal to the Galactic Community to unite against a common foe. Of course, you could also be petty by using your envoys and diplomatic favors to bully your rivals through sanctions.
One of the more intriguing new features in Stellaris: Federations is the Origins system. Well, technically, some of these were already part of the base game as certain civics. In any case, there are 18 of these in total and Stellaris: Federations players will get some interesting choices such as:
- Common Ground – start as the leader of a Galactic Union federation.
- Scion – start as a vassal of a Fallen Empire.
- Doomsday – your homeworld will explode after 64 in-game years.
In my case, I selected the Shattered Ring Origin where all my people live inside a space station that orbits an ancient Halo-esque ringworld. The structure itself is uninhabitable until you repair a couple of sections which can be very costly.
I am the Senate!
Stellaris: Federations‘ reworks and content additions are very much welcome. From a glance, however, I felt that they came a little too late and the experience will be quite passive, to a degree. Even the Galactic Community itself feels like the World Congress from Civilization games. Much like that feature, you’re playing the waiting game until the senate is in session once more.
I feel that a better focus for an expansion would’ve been the newly-added Origins for your empires. Stellaris tends to excel when you’ve got the mysteries of the universe to solve, exploring the unknown while obtaining different objectives. Adding more details to this concept should increase replayability and the role-playing aspect.
Stellaris: Federations releases on March 17. You can purchase it on Steam for $19.99.