Stellaris, since its inception, has been expanded with attractive add-ons or so-called DLCs (Downloadable Content). These are not to be confused with the regular free updates the game receives periodically. That said, a release of a new DLC and a new update mostly go hand in hand.
Also, do not confuse DLCs with the free but user-generated mods (modding – user-generated add-ons to change the game, i.e., convert the game into a Star Wars game – more on that in another post).
To find out about the ultimate, best Stellaris DLC, we polled the community of Stellaris fans with the question: “If you only could own one Stellaris DLC – which would that be …and why?”
62% of the participants expressed that Utopia is the single best Stellaris DLC, followed by Synthetic Dawn with 9.2%, Ancient Relics with 7.4%, Apocalypse with 6.1%, Federations comes in fifth at 4.3%, and lastly Nemesis with just 1.8%.
What Stellaris DLC is worth it?
Today you can choose from more than a dozen Stellaris DLCs. Still, our participants named Utopia the most “worthy” DLC.
But Utopia does not rank as the most worthy Stellaris DLC in our poll only: Steam does so, also a close second to the Species Pack Aquatics.
Then why is Utopia still the best “relevant” DLC on Steam?
We can group Stellaris DLCs into three distinctive groups:
- Species Pack: Adds new species and origins to the game
- Story Pack: Adds new storylines to the games, for example, playing the game as a synthetic empire
- Game DLC: the most game-influencing DLCs – adding complete new “ideas” to the game, like playing as Megacorps or the idea of building Federations
From what I read and hear, the Aquatics Species Pack made it to the top of Steam’s list primarily because of its amazing graphics. Not because it improves the gameplay so much. That is also not the aim of a Species Pack DLC.
The “Game” DLCs are what move the needle concerning game-changing changes.
So with Aquatics being much younger and not having much influence on the gameplay itself, Utopia is likewise voted as the best “game” DLC on Steam…albeit its age.
Best Stellaris DLC Table
Finally, combining our poll with the Steam results, we reach the following table:
|DLC||Release Date||Steam Rating||our Poll: one|
and only DLC
|Overlord DLC||May 2022||–|
|Nemesis DLC||April 2021||41% positive||1.8%|
|Aquatics Species Pack||November 2021||89% positive|
|Necroids Species Pack||October 2020||54% positive|
|Federations||March 2020||72% positive||4.2%|
|Lithoids Species Pack||October 2019||55% positive|
|Ancient Relics Story Pack||June 2019||77% positive||7.2%|
|Megacorp||December 2018||58% positive|
|Distant Stars Story Pack||May 2018||65% positive|
|Apocalypse||February 2018||64 % positive||6%|
|Humanoid Species Pack||December 2017||49% positive|
|Synthetic Dawn Story Pack||September 2017||71% positive||9%|
|Utopia||April 2017||80% positive||62%|
|Leviathans Story Pack||October 2016||73% positive|
|Plantoids Species Pack||August 2016||61% positive|
What is the best Stellaris DLC – PCPH poll & Steam ratings combined
Verdict: The one DLC to own is Utopia.
So what makes Utopia so popular after all these years?
What is it about Utopia that Stellaris fans still call it their “cannot-live-without” DLC after all these years?
What does the Utopia DLC add to Stellaris?
One of our poll participants, “Riley” said the following about Utopia’s importance and the necessity for Stellaris:
Utopia was the first “game-changer” DLC and can be seen as a mandatory (technically, you are very fine with the vanilla game) extension for any hardcore Stellaris aficionado.
Utopia adds Ascension Perks
For example, Utopia adds new, exciting Ascension Perks to the game.
The vanilla game already featured the concept of Traditions, representing the cultural traits and strengths of an empire. Ascension Perks add to this by letting you determine the ultimate development goal of your species, the endgame of its evolution.
During the early game, the “traditions” can be headed and developed by the player to gain a technological, military, or economic advantage over the other empires. A new Perk slot opens when a new tradition is “developed” by finishing all five development steps (each costing Unity).
Utopia brings new intriguing Ascension Perks to the game. You can now destine your pops to morph into uber-beings:
By choosing one of Utopia’s new Ascension Perks, you decide about your species’ ultimate socio-economic and cultural aim and future: Does your species stay biological and extend gene manipulation?
Will you develop your species to Psionic power and become metaphysical? Ultimately reaching a state of being able to contact the transcendent uber-beings, The Shroud?
The envy of many Burning Man attendants is yours!
Or is your empire determined that the flesh is weak and sets its ambition on leaving its physical form behind and transforming itself into artificial life – cyborgs and ultimately robots?
Utopia adds Megastructures
Utopia adds societal development perks, but it also comes with the gorgeous technology of Megastructures.
Did you always publicly talk of building a Dyson Sphere? Eat this, you petty critics! I told you!
Next to expanding on the options to enslave or extinguish other civilizations, some new traditions pushing the limits of our morality and playing Caesar subjugating pre-FTL societies (who needs a First Directive?), Utopia adds the ultimate Norman Bates way to play the game:
If you are tired of all these petty, boring, and hindering ethics, why not play as Hive Mind: All that is not you is food… to hell with morality!
What Stellaris DLC should I buy first?
We heard something like the following from the poll participants. Remember, the question was, “If you only could own one DLC, which would that be and why”:
Utopia: Megastructures, habitats, Hive Mind, Ascension perksAnthony
Utopia – megastructureZenon
Utopia makes R[ole]P[lay] in the game viable.Kim
Utopia and federations are the major game-changer.Victor
Utopia! Distant Stars is a close second.Chris
Not sure if it changed, but in utopia you have the 3 ascensions, so I would start there. I loved the leviathans dlc because it brought a lot of life to the galaxy, and the war in heaven.Fede