Today, we are going to look into the options available in terms of researching Technology in Stellaris. Technology in Stellaris is accessed and advanced slightly differently than most other games of the 4X genre.
For one, rather than a ‘Tech Tree,’ Stellaris runs on a ‘Tech Card’ system. This means that each time any technology is researched, the player is given a choice to research one of a limited number of related technologies for the next one.
The Tech Algorithm
This is how it works in Stellaris when it comes to technologies. When you research something, you will be given multiple random options (cards) as to what you can research next. By default, you get three of these options, although you might be able to access more than three once you have researched a specific Technology that unlocks this extra option.
Also, what technology also ends up being included in this limited number of options will be determined by a somewhat complicated algorithm that takes into account factors including:
- Weight – The relative chance that a specific piece of technology might appear. The higher the weight, the higher the chance of the tech appearing. Technology that has already appeared before will have its weight halved when they are not selected by the player.
- Cost – The higher the cost of any tech, the longer it will take to research.
- Tier – The level of the tech, which is divided into five tiers. Only after you have researched a certain amount of tech on a specific tier (the default is 6) will you unlock tech from the next tier.
- Areas – The specific type of tech you’re researching (Physics, Society or Engineering)
- Prerequisites – Tech you need to have researched before a specific piece of tech can be unlocked.
- Reverse Engineering/Anomalies – Some technologies can be found wholesale from battle debris, anomalies, or other in-game events.
- Field – Other than divided by areas, each tech will come with a specific field. Matching a scientist with the same field increases the weight of a piece of technology by 25%.
- Rarity – Specific pieces of tech are considered ‘rare’ by the game and will automatically have their base weights halved.
With all these out of the way, let’s see which specific pieces of Tech will be worth looking out for (or worth skipping). To help make things easier to reference, I have divided the tech into its specific areas: Physics, Society and Engineering.
Top Physics Tech to research:
Administrative AI (Tier 1)
Administrative AI is invaluable to research as it increases the amount of tech available for you to choose from by +1. It should be the first tech you should try to find.
Blue Lasers (Tier 1)
If you haven’t been given the Administrative AI tech, Blue Lasers are a decent alternative to pick, as it enhances the weapons and unlocks the higher energy weapon tiers.
Auxiliary Fire-control (Tier 1)
Allows effective use of medium weapon slots on Destroyers/Cruisers and above.
FTL Inhibition (Tier 2)
Makes the enemy unable to FTL travel past your starbases, increasing general defense. Very useful in early-game.
Zero Point Power (Tier 4)
A prerequisite for Mega-Engineering, Jump Drives, and many other higher-tier pieces of technology.
Interplanetary Research Initiative (Tier 4)
Increases research speed for Organic Empires. Requires Colonial Centralization (T2 – Society).
Singularity Core (Tier 4)
Increases research speed for Machine Empires. Requires Galactic Administration (T4 – Society)
Jump Drive (Tier 5)
Unlocks Jump Drive Travel, which increases fleet mobility in general.
Any Shield / Sensor Tech (Tier 2-Tier 5)
Either one of these paths is required to be able to reach beyond Tier 3 for Physics research. The general approach would be to give up shields for sensors and pray that you discover a wormhole when exploring (to increase the weight of Wormhole Stabilization).
Top Society Tech To Research:
Genome Mapping (Tier 1)
Notable in that it is one of the Techs that you should skip (or block). Skipping this locks you out of the biological tech ‘path’, but allows you to research other (arguably) more useful tech for habitability, farming and terraforming. Unfortunately, this also locks you out of the Regenerative Hull Tissue tech.
The Hydroponics ‘Tree’ (Tier 1-Tier 5)
Increases food output. Very useful unless you are not an Organic Empire.
Colonial Centralization (Tier 2) / Galactic Administration (Tier 4)
Is a prerequisite for Interplanetary Research Initiative / Singularity Core (Organic / Machine Empires). Also, Colonial Centralization is a prerequisite for many other techs.
Regenerative Hull Tissue (Tier 3)
Allows your ships to regenerate health slowly. Requires research in Genome Mapping.
Terraforming (New Worlds Protocol ‘Tree’, Tier 1-Tier 4)
Allows colonization of hostile worlds. Essential for the expansion of your Empire.
Psi Jump Drive (Tier 4)
Is like Jump Drive, but is in the Society Area and frees you up from the need to research the Power ‘tree’ in the Physics Area to access Jump Drive Travel. Requires research on the Psionic Theory ‘tree’ (T3-T4).
Top Engineering Tech to research:
Coilguns (Tier 1)
The gateway to kinetic weapon research. Is worth skipping if you have other priorities, but you will lose access to one of the best long-range weapons in the game (Kinetic Artillery – T4).
Robotic Workers (Tier 1)
Skippable if you don’t care about robots or have no desire to increase efficiency or research Synthetics (T4) incrementally. Skipping will help with reaching higher-tier research on other Engineering ‘trees’.
Nuclear Missile (Tier 1)
The other viable heavy weapons platform ‘tree,’ next to Coilguns. Worth researching if you have otherwise skipped Coilguns for whatever reason.
Improved Structural Integrity (Tier 2)
Completely worth skipping. Only improves defence platforms, which already suck.
Destroyers (Tier 2)
The gateway to larger ship types. Is usually prioritised unless you’re specifically playing a pacifist empire or if you have unlocked higher tier tech from the ‘tree’ from an event.
Starport ‘Tree’ (Tier 1-Tier 4)
Increases the survivability and effectiveness of your Starbases, which will be needed once you research FTL Inhibitors and start stopping enemy vessels. Upgrades up this tree are needed to access Citadel (T4) tech, which is also needed for Mega-Engineering.
Crystal-Forged Plating (Tier 4)
A good option to increase the survivability of your ships if you’re not looking into Regenerative Hull Tissue (due to sacrificing Genome Mapping, perhaps).
Mega-Engineering (Tier 5)
Enables you to salvage megastructures that you find in the game. If you already have access to a megastructure within your empire, it will be worth aiming for due to the effect of the megastructure on the weight of this tech. Otherwise, you will have to sacrifice several other techs to be able to access it. Requires Battleship (T4) and Citadel (T4) research.
The tech research in Stellaris is varied, vast, and somewhat chaotic. While there are no guarantees of what tech you end up having, focusing on the tech I have outlined above should help you effectively make sense of the chaos.
An excellent overview of the tech tree can be found here.