Stellaris is going where no 4X has gone before: a roguelite VR spin-off

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This wasn’t on my bingo card for 2022, but Paradox’s sci-fi 4X Stellaris is getting a spin-off: a VR “action-roguelite set in Paradox’s sci-fi milieu” for the Meta Quest 2. It comes from Fast Travel Games, who also made a Cities: Skylines VR experience once upon a time.

It’s called Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game, and it looks very Star Trek indeed. You play the captain of the good ship Aurora as it ventures into the void on a quest for the titular ghost signal emanating from somewhere in the unplumbed depths of space. That name should ring a bell for Stellaris players: it’s the thing that kicks off the Contingency late-game crisis in regular games of Stellaris. It’s basically a galaxy-wide genocide of all sapient life, so, you know, you’ll probably want to put a stop to that.

Along the way, you’ll meet—and probably destroy—all sorts of familiar Stellaris aliens: the trailer shows encounters with space amoebas, the leviathan Shard, and a stellar devourer all in the space of 55 seconds.

It doesn’t look like the game has completely shed its 4X roots, mind you. You can research new species as you encounter them—just like in Stellaris—and progress up a tech tree to unlock new stuff for your ship. Beyond that, though, it’s a full-on roguelite, replete with “randomized maps and reshuffled discoveries”. 

I’m kind of curious to know how random those randomised maps are. The beauty of Stellaris is that, unless you’re deliberately playing alongside the pre-generated empires, your opponents are generated from the same bric-à-brac of ideologies and physical traits that you are. Will the VR game generate new empires on the fly each time you begin a run, or will the civilisations you encounter just come from a pool of pre-generated factions? If it’s the latter, you’ll probably become quickly familiar with how each one of them behaves, which I reckon would kneecap the sense of wonder and the unknown that the trailer is clearly going for.

We shouldn’t have to wait long to find out: Ghost Signal will launch some time in 2023. If you just can’t wait to drift between the stars, though, Stellaris is still one of the best strategy games out there and it’s only gotten better with six years of DLC, the occasional dud aside. If I’m completely honest, this announcement has mostly put me in the mood to play a load more Stellaris rather than to dig out a VR headset. I guess that’s success of a sort?

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