Although Stellaris is said to be the most straightforward Grand Strategy Game from Paradox Interactive, many players still report a steep learning curve. By now, I have about 330+ logged hours playing Stellaris, and I think I am beginning to get the hang of it.
So, to get a definite answer, we did a poll among 350 seasoned Stellaris players.
Most players (43.8%) report that you can never really master the game since “it’s so complex, you never learn all.” In addition, 19.1% state that it took them over 50 hrs (but less than 100), 12.2% say it took them less than 30 hrs (but more than 20 hrs), 11.3% claim that you can never master the game because you have to relearn it each time a new patch is released, 3.5% claim to have learned the game in under 5 hrs and 1.2% claim to have needed 500 hrs of gameplay to believe in having understood the game.
How long does it take to learn Stellaris?
|it’s so complex that you never know it
|you need over 50 hours to learn
|you need less than 30 hours to know Stellaris
|you need to learn it, again and again, you are never done
|you need less than 5 hours to learn
|you need at least 500 hours
Those players who had played other Paradox Interactive games like Crusader King or Europa Universalis 4 seem to have a much easier start with Stellaris, even reporting that it is relatively easy to learn compared to other Paradox titles:
Also, gamers with loads of other Real-Time-Strategy games under their belt find it easier to learn their ways around Stellaris.
Difference between learning and mastering Stellaris
The polled players also clearly distinguish between “learning” the game and mastering it. Many notice that after a few rounds (mind you, a game of Stellaris can set you back about 30 hrs) with Stellaris, they “knew” the game but still got their you-know-what handed to them by the AI rivals.
That’s the same experience for me: By now, I would say I am doing pretty ok with building my empire and even had my first few battles (which is fun!). But I am far from really having mastered the intricacies of running my empire, managing my pop(ulations), or how to optimize my colonies for optimal output.
There are many more layers to understand for me, not to mention to learn.
So about 76 hours in, and I still watch YouTube videos with tutorials (oh, these hours I invested are not counted in my about 350 hours of pure playtime). And I guess most answers we received from the seasoned players did not include “non-gaming” research and learning time.
Is it hard to learn Stellaris?
I would say no, it is not hard. However, it is frustrating in the beginning since you have to look up everything that the game throws at you. Though your dashboard comes with your personal AI assistant, commenting and explaining every menu you open or which opens itself, all this info is too overwhelming to be helpful.
Honestly, I switched off this aide because it was just too much talking for my taste.
What I did was watch many YouTube videos, but since Stellaris changed so much over the years, many videos, even from 2020, seem outdated. At least my screens often looked slightly different.
[I played] Definitely 500hrs to become at least pro vs AI at it [Stellaris]. 20hrs yeah you learn the basics, but there is so much different games you can play with different outcomes. Thus, anyone who’s said at least lower than 100hrs is lying! You can’t play a good full game of the different species, origins, civic ethics types in under 100hrs.Tom Cole
Does Stellaris have a learning curve?
Stellaris has a pretty steep learning curve if you are unfamiliar with other (more complex) Paradox or other RTS (real-time strategy) games. I was inexperienced with other Paradox games, but I played my fair share of RTS games, and still I am glad no one filmed me in the first 15 hours or so.
Since the game has so many layers and different “departments” (contacts, research, dying personnel, fleet management, science ships, construction ships, factions, minerals, mining, alloys, buildings, districts and so on), the complexity is immense, and the first hours are completely overwhelming to be honest.
After some time it gets easier and easier, I started to understand how the different “playing grounds” are connected and how they are influencing each other.
Now after my about 70 hours real playtime I struggle less with the easier things, but have advanced to more deeper questions like “What jobs do I need to create for my colony X to keep my pop happy?” or “What building is the best to build on this planet?” or “Who is the best scientist to recruit for the late Engineering scientist?”
By the way, your personnel has a lifespan and tends to die after 80-90 in-game years. So honestly, to me this re-recruiting of new scientists and admirals after some time gets boring, and I would love to be able to automate this, too. But perhaps there is a way. I just have not found it yet?
Does Stellaris change so much you have to relearn later?
Many of the seasoned Stellaris gamers reported that each time a major update or patch is released, the game changed so much that they had to partly relearn the game. There is no reason to believe that Paradox Interactive will change this approach anytime soon, so that you will basically have to stay up to date with the game to not fall behind too much.