In grand strategy games, you usually have to buckle in and get ready for hours, if not days of play. Stellaris is no different. But for those looking for quicker games with the same grand strategy excitement, Stellaris Nexus is set to offer just that. Stellaris Nexus is developed by Whatboy Games and published under the Paradox Arc publishing initiative. A turn-based 4x strategy game set in the Stellaris universe that focuses on giving players an in-depth 4x experience in about 60 minutes, the game allows players to take control of an intergalactic faction to expand, develop, and explore the stars of the universe.
Stellaris Nexus takes players into the Stellaris universe to take control of the throneworld of Nexus, located in the center of the galaxy. This can be accomplished through developing technologies, forging and breaking alliances, and/or brute military force. Players select a leader from one of the five factions. The game can be played solo or with up to five players. In our hands-on preview, we got the chance to play one playthrough with five players.
Each game can only have one of each faction, so when playing with others, it really is a first come first serve. These factions have their own unique traits and playstyles, which traditional Stellaris players will be quite familiar with from their time with that game. Whether focusing on corporations, scientific research, or the arts of war, there are many options.
Listening to the dev team talk about Stellaris Nexus, they were very adamant that being able to play an entire game in about 60 minutes was one of their main goals, and we were able to complete our entire game in that timeframe. The gameplay itself moves quite quickly, and this is both good in terms of time and can lead to some issues. Every player takes their turns simultaneously, and there is a turn-timer that occurs for the last 30 seconds of each turn.
Each turn, players do “Actions” and pay for them with resources known as Support. Each Action costs a certain amount of Support, and they increase as players complete more. This system helps with the speed of the game and keeps things flowing as players realistically do have a cap on the number of Actions they can perfect each turn. This ultimately allows for those without time to start new campaigns to still get their hands on that 4x gameplay.
Some examples of these Actions include making Diplomatic pacts, which play a large role in Stellaris Nexus, and researching technology. That said, the moving of your fleets does not consume Action points, so players, no matter the Support, will always be able to control the fleets and engage in combat if they choose to. Outside of Support, there are two additional types of resources that are needed to complete some Actions. These are Materials that are used mainly for construction via buildings or starfleet, and Credits which are considered a “wild” resource as they can be substituted for either Support or Materials.
There is also a Galactic Council that brings all of the players together after a set number of rounds to vote and discuss items happening in the universe. These can be things like giving players Titles or deciding on different decorum that should take place until the next Galactic Council. This really gives players the option to engage with each other and add some flavor to the games.
There is so much to dig into in Stellaris Nexus, but how do you win?
Players win by gaining succession points through the game, and the first player to hold 100 at the start of a Galactic Council wins the game. Players gain succession points from making treaties, controlling Nexus, engaging in war, gaining titles from the Galactic Council, and other various objects throughout the game. There will always be a winner, and there can only be one for each game in Stellaris Nexus. This means that players will need to simultaneously work together and against each other to achieve victory. Allies and diplomacy are still a vital part of the game. Still, players must be aware that in the end, only one can win, so make sure to continue building your empire and not be afraid to backstab someone, as it will eventually happen to everyone.
During our preview, we saw how if a few players get stuck in an irrelevant war, someone can just take control of the system. Also, forcing players to be aware that there are times when while you may need to trade for supplies, trading with someone may not be the best for the overall game.
Because of the fast pacing, there is quite a bit going on each turn in Stellaris Nexus, and this is where there can be some drawbacks. Stellaris itself is a huge grand strategy game, and Stellaris Nexus has plenty of those features, only in a condensed form. This works for the most part as the game moves quickly, and there is always something happening; however, this also means players need to know what they are doing, or they can fall behind quickly and get lost. Snowballing in a game this fast is a big possibility if you’re not entirely sure about your plan to win—especially when playing with other people.
Now, all grand strategy games have a learning curve, but Stellaris Nexus can make it seem like you have to sprint at all times. There were a few times during our playthrough that I just didn’t have enough time to read exactly what each Action card did and just did things out of panic since I ran out of time. Obviously, playing solo and getting a better grasp of the game will help alleviate most of this. Still, as someone who was not as familiar with Stellaris outside of Star Trek Infinite, there were definitely times I could not read quickly enough to keep up with the flow of the game set by the other players.
Stellaris Nexus offers fans of the grand strategy genre a much faster pace and quick game experience that can be enjoyed with friends. Long, drawn-out games will always be fun and have their perks, but the major downside will always be the ability to play with others, especially more than a single person. Stellaris Nexus does seem to have all the bells and whistles of a 4x strategy game that can be completed in only about an hour. Time is a valuable asset these busy days, so being able to hop in and out can be a great addition for some players.