Over on Reddit, someone has posted some leaked screenshots of Stellaris, the upcoming space strategy game from Paradox Interactive.
Paradox Interactive is known for making large-scale strategy games, such as Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4. Space Strategy is a new frontier for them; typically their games are based on historical time periods on Earth.
Challenges to making Stellaris a great 4X Space Game
Paradox has always done a good job with the political aspects of their strategy games, but combat has always been very weak. The test is not whether they can pull off compelling interstellar diplomacy, but whether they can create a fun and complex space combat system. Unit variety and usefulness has also been an issue.
With science fiction and a space setting, people will expect compelling and visually appealing space battles. Battles with a visual component have never featured in a Paradox Interactive game (as far as I know) and is often times reduced to sets of numbers basically “attacking” each other until one side’s numbers hit zero. Not exactly exciting per se.
Endless Space, while being robust, was incredibly weak with their combat system, which was akin to rock-paper-scissors. Compared to the incredible space battles available in the Homeworld series, many space strategy games fall far short on space combat.
Ultimately, Paradox will have to push themselves. While a space 4X strategy game is a new direction, it isn’t something revolutionary, or even a novel idea. If they wish to continue to evolve as game developers, I believe they need to finally address and produce a meaningful combat system, and I think Stellaris is a great place to do it.
Personally, I welcome another Space 4X game. There are a few out, but many lack strong gameplay and characteristics that would make a game iconic. With Paradox Interactive’s robust resume of strategy games, there is no doubt they will put out a compelling game. The question is whether it will simply be Crusader-Kings-2-In-Space or a fresh take on a
February 16th, 2016 is the listed release date, but that may be subject to change.