Galactic tyranny sim Stellaris is officially getting weird. Paradox has announced the game's next DLC—named Astral Planes—and it's promising to let you venture into whole new dimensions, where everything is topsy-turvy and the laws of physics go out the window.
Announced yesterday and releasing alongside Stellaris' upcoming 3.10 update, Astral Planes is a "narrative-focused expansion" that adds over 30 new "Astral Rifts" for you to send your hapless science ships into during the mid-to-late game, each one containing a branching narrative and plenty of opportunities for you to ruin multiple universes at once. Do you want Combine? Because this is how you get Combine.
This isn't one of Stellaris' big, game-altering DLCs, it's just a story pack, a little amuse bouche to keep things fresh while the devs beaver away in the background. That means you shouldn't expect to plumb the depths of an Astral Rift and find yourself in a whole new map with fundamentally different systems. Instead, imagine something more along the lines of the choose-your-own adventures that accompany the archaeology sites already in the game.
There is a smattering of new mechanical stuff, though. Astral Planes is introducing eight new relics, four civics, and a new "Riftworld" origin, which I'm gonna guess turns your civilisation into interdimensional exiles. There's also new music from Andreas Waldetoft and—says the blurb—new "Astral Threads and Astral Actions," which doesn't actually mean anything to me since the DLC isn't out yet.
Stellaris DLC tends to get a mixed reaction from the community, a trait it shares with almost every other Paradox game, but I've always enjoyed the narrative stuff like this. One of my favourite things about the game is the way its ram-packed with almost every sci-fi trope you can think of, meaning each new session can play out like a swashbuckling space opera, a dread-filled cosmic horror story, or something in between depending on the empire you play and the events you run into. If Paradox wants to trigger a resonance cascade to put even more stuff like that in there, it sounds good to me.
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