We’re just a few weeks in, but 2018 is already looking like a very exciting year for Stellaris fans. Paradox Development Studio is already working on the largest update ever for the space-based grand strategy game: the Cherryh Update, also known (even officially) as Stellaris 2.0. It’s a big one. At the same time, Paradox is working on a game-changing new DLC called Stellaris: Apocalypse that will include planet-destroying weapons and all kinds of other new features. In the latest Stellaris dev diary, we learned about two other new features that will be part of Apocalypse: Marauders and Hordes.

 

Stellaris: Apocalypse and the Hordes of the Stars

 

Last week, we learned about Titans, Ion Cannons and the world-cracking Colossus, all with a very heavily science fiction feel to them—as befits Stellaris. This week’s dev diary, though, will feel very familiar to fans of other Paradox games like Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis. That’s because it introduces Marauders, which are essentially the space-faring equivalent of nomadic empires. Unlike pirates or Primitives, they control their own systems, have some level of technology, and wield not-inconsiderable fleets, but they’re still disorganized and don’t form stable empires. Instead, they demand tribute from their neighbors, and if you don’t comply, they’ll invade. You can even bribe the Marauders to raid your enemies.

stellarismarauders1Marauders in Stellaris: Apocalypse                                               PHOTO: PARADOX INTERACTIVE

 

Stellaris is famous for its end-game crises: game-changing situations like an invasion from beyond the galaxy or even beyond the dimension. In Stellaris: Apocalypse, we’ll get something a little different: a mid-game crisis. This will take the form of the appearance of a Great Khan, a terrible warlord who unites all the factions of a given species of Marauders into a truly powerful empire that will expand violently in all directions. The strength of a Horde will make them difficult to stop, but if you can’t stop them in battle, you can swear fealty to them and become a satrapy and simply try to wait them out: when the Great Khan dies, the empire will collapse, either into anarchy or into a new democratic Federation. So you’ll just have to find a way to kill that Khan!

stellarisgreatkhanThe Great Khan rises in Stellaris: Apocalypse!                PHOTO: PARADOX INTERACTIVE

 

Both features will only be in the paid Stellaris: Apocalypse DLC, but should add a great deal of extra flavor to the early and mid-game. Space pirates are also getting a revamp, which will be in the free Cherryh update: instead of being totally random, they’ll tend to congregate in the wild frontiers of your empire—especially in unclaimed systems surrounded by your empire, creating an incentive for you to fill in the holes and build a cohesive space polity.

Also, here’s a quick tease from game lead Martin Anward. This one wasn’t part of the dev diary, but it’s tantalizing nevertheless:

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PHOTO: PARADOX INTERACTIVE

There’s still no release date set for Stellaris: Apocalypse or the Cherryh Update, and we’ve got at least a little while to go yet. But it’s already shaping up to be the biggest set of changes since the game first came out!