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Stellaris just announced a new major expansion that will put your dad in the Matrix

 An alien man lies ensconced in a cybernetic pod in the trailer for Stellaris' The Machine Age DLC.
An alien man lies ensconced in a cybernetic pod in the trailer for Stellaris' The Machine Age DLC.

Stellaris, Paradox's venerable space 4X, is getting a new expansion this year. Called The Machine Age, it's launching alongside the game's 3.12 Andromeda update in the second quarter of 2024 and it will be plugging your loved ones into the supercomputer, buddy. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Announced yesterday, The Machine Age promises to be a "major expansion" that seriously buffs up Stellaris' many possible robo-dystopias. It'll add new civics, species origins, government forms and a new end-game crisis, in case you were tired of all the other ways it's possible for the galaxy to go horribly, horribly wrong.

Which all sounds good to me. It's been a while since I last sunk serious hours into Stellaris, so maybe this has been changed by other patches and updates, but I always felt like the machine ascension pathway your empire could take felt like a little bit of a cul-de-sac. It was pretty powerful—turning your society of fleshy meatbags into perfect, immortal machines has its benefits—but once you were there you were kind of just, well, there.

So a major expansion focused on what happens after you've pretty much become The Culture (but everyone's a Mind) sounds great to me. Plus, it sounds like one of the new origins lets you turn your society into a kind of massive cyborg cult, which is precisely the kind of thing I'd like to get in at the ground floor on.

As with most Stellaris DLCs, the trailer doesn't tell us much about the actual substance of the expansion—Paradox saves that for the announce post—instead it's a tone piece focusing on the specific sci-fi vibe the studio is hoping to hone in on. Like I said, this time we're going for dad-in-the-Matrix, a negative externality of cybernetic apotheosis that's been relatively under-remarked upon in Stellaris up until now.

Here's Paradox's full list of what you can expect from The Machine Age:

  • Individualistic Non-Gestalt Machine Empires​

  • Gestalt Machine Intelligence Empires (also unlocked by the Synthetic Dawn Story Pack)​

  • Three new Origins​

    • Cybernetic Creed​

    • Synthetic Fertility​

    • Arc Welders​

  • Civics​

    • Guided Sapience​

    • Natural Design​

    • Obsessional Directive​

    • Protocol Droids​

    • Tactical Cogitators​

    • Augmentation Bazaars (Requires Megacorp DLC)​

  • Two Mid-Game Structures​

    • Arc Furnace​

    • Dyson Swarms​

  • New Ascension Paths for Machine Empires​

  • Cybernetic and Synthetic Ascension (also unlocked by Utopia)​

  • Exploration of the effects of the cyberization or synthesization of society, with Advanced Government Forms for those who complete it.​

  • New Species Traits for Cyborgs, Machines and Robots​

  • Cybernetic portraits that change based on advancement through cyberization​

  • Synthetic portraits with both organic and synthetic variants that changed based on synthesization, usable by either organics or machines​

  • Two new Shipsets, Diplomatic Rooms, and City Sets​

  • 7 new music tracks synthetic and cybernetic inspired music tracks​

  • A new Player Crisis Path​

  • And a new End-Game Crisis.