Stellaris is one of the best Grand Strategy games that you can play in space. The game world is enormous and the possibilities are endless. Every session can last for many hours and there’s so much replay value that if you love the game, it’s hard to lose interest.
Paradox Development Studio created Stellaris and it came out in 2016. The game features great diversity for characters, a complex resource management system, spectacular battles, and the need for constant exploration.
If you like Stellaris and would like to explore other games like it, you’ll be happy to know that it is not the only exceptional strategy game out there. In this guide, you will discover 9 games like Stellaris that you should experiment with.
1. Endless Space 2
Endless Space 2 was created by Amplitude Studios and came out in 2017.
This game feels a lot like Stellaris but it’s unique enough to differentiate itself. In a way it’s like the ARPGs that followed Diablo 2 during the early 2000s. There are many similarities to the original but it’s still something else that you can really enjoy.
One thing you will love about Endless Space 2 is the diversity of races. There are dozens of them and every single one plays in a different way. Some excel at transporting people to their colonies while others have stronger combat capabilities.
Another thing that feels great about this game is the quests. You get them regularly and the rewards are very compelling.
In Endless Space 2, the political system is complex, featuring all kinds of parties: Religious, Pacifists, Ecologists, Scientists, etc. One thing this game does not excel at is diplomacy, though. Solving problems with this method can often feel a bit too realistic, in the sense that nothing actually gets done.
The fighting in ES2 feels a lot like the matches of Football Manager: you select your strategy before the fight and then the process happens on autopilot. In that sense, this game is not like the ones from the Total War series. It’s a great pick for fans of games like Stellaris.
2. Distant Worlds: Universe
Distant Worlds: Universe is a game for those who love complexity and strategizing in space but aren’t bothered by average-looking graphics. Code Force made this game and it came out in 2014, despite looking like a game from the early 2000s.
The in-game mechanics are great and will allow you to fully utilize your mind to craft brilliant strategies to conquer the galaxy.
One thing that Distant Worlds: Universe allows you to do is to choose the level of challenges you’ll encounter along the way. You can customize the number of stars in the galaxy for instance. If you want to encounter a lot of foes, you can set that as your preference and the game will take it into account.
DWU allows you to zoom in and out and get a feel of the vastness of the Universe we live in. One second you might be fully absorbed in solving a problem, and the next, you’ve zoomed out and seen the scale of the issue at hand. In a similar fashion to studying astronomy, playing this game gives you a sense of awe.
As things develop during a session, you will start to feel a bit like an air traffic controller. There’s a lot to keep your eyes on and the complexity is staggering. That’s exactly what makes Distant Worlds: Universe so amazing, and a perfect game for Stellaris fans.
3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a brilliant TBS game built around the concept of aliens invading the Earth. You’re the only one who can stop them but to do this you will need to build a powerful base and solve challenging missions, while learning more about the enemies at hand.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a remake of a game from the 90s and it preserves most of its great elements. The tactical depth is impressive and it will allow you to solve problems in a truly creative way.
The feeling of progression is highly addictive and the missions get increasingly harder. The enemies you encounter in the game are well designed and will force you to approach situations differently each time.
Some missions in XCOM include civilians and the cool thing is that you’re always fighting at a real location. The aliens are invading everywhere and wherever they are, you must go to stop them.
As your base becomes better and better equipped, you start to have access to powerful augmentations. If you’re familiar with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, XCOM will make you feel right at home.
Your engineering team will work hard to provide you with the equipment you need to win the battle against the aliens, while you will need to work hard and find the optimal way of putting said equipment to good use.
Overall, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is one of the best TBS games on Steam and a great game to pick up if you’re a lover of games like Stellaris.
4. StarCraft 2
StarCraft 2 is one of the best RTS games ever made. However, unlike some of the other titles on this list, this game was specifically designed with PvP in mind. This game came out in 2010 and still looks incredible to this day.
The game has a brilliant single-player campaign, beautiful music, and a captivating story full of memorable characters. So even if you’re not interested in its competitive side, playing it is still worth it.
In StarCraft 2, PvP matches usually last anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes, depending on how strong the players are relative to each other. You can choose between 3 races: Terran, Zerg, and Protoss. Each of them is completely unique but the strategic principles are the same.
You need to gather resources, build structures, expand on the map, build a powerful army, scout your opponent, defend yourself from his attacks and go on the offensive. The side that succeeds in destroying the opponent’s bases wins.
Just like in chess, StarCraft 2 matches rarely go on until check-mate. A player will usually surrender once he knows that he can no longer win.
Playing StarCraft 2 will require you to become an expert at multitasking. Even the single-player campaign requires a decent amount of skill to complete. But the multiplayer can be a brutal experience.
Despite focusing more strongly on PvP and multiplayer elements, there’s still a lot to love here if you’re a fan of games like Stellaris. It’s one of the best strategic games set in space and it manages to build a rich, intense atmosphere, too.
5. Age of Empires IV
Age of Empires IV is easily one of the best RTS games on Steam. The title came out in 2021 and has a lot to offer for fans of games like Stellaris, despite changing up the theming and overall aesthetic.
Each civilization has clearly had a lot of time spent on it by the development team and the gameplay has been balanced very nicely. If you love PvP and real-time strategy, Age of Empires IV is the ideal choice. The civilizations that you can pick are the following:
- The Holy Roman Empire
- The Rus
- The English
- The Abbasid Dynasty
- The Delhi Sultanate
- The Chinese
- The French
- The Mongols
Every one of them has its own playstyle that you’ll need to master. Apart from that, Age of Empires gives you the feeling of progression each time you play it. That’s because you start in the Dark Age and will need to upgrade your civilization several times, until you reach the Imperial Age.
Like other RTS titles, AoE IV requires you to construct buildings, gather resources, create an army and go to war with your opponents. These elements will feel familiar to Stellaris fans.
The single-player campaigns are diverse and very well made. You can pick The Hundred Years War, The Mongol Empire, and a few others. However, you shouldn’t play AoE IV purely for these campaigns, as it’s much more suitable for fans of both PvP and single player content.
6. Europa Universalis IV
This is another title from Paradox Interactive and it’s one of their best games. Europa Universalis IV gives you the chance to pick a civilization and create an alternative history that’s far more glorious than the real one. This is another game that moves away from the space theme but it will still be satisfying for fans of games like Stellaris.
When it first came out in 2013, the game was well received by the gaming community. Everything from graphics to atmosphere and gameplay is immaculate, and there is very little to complain about.
One of the beautiful aspects of Europa Universalis IV is that you get to customize your historical campaigns. You can relive different periods, starting from the year 1444 until 1821.
When you play Europa Universalis IV, you need to be good at multitasking. Most strategy games require this skill, but this one is on another level. There are many different tasks you will need to do and keep an eye on in order to succeed.
The game is highly realistic, allowing you to pick any of the nations that existed during the historical period that you select. It’s also realistic in its complexity, meaning that there are economic, political, diplomatic, and military decisions for you to make.
If you’re a history buff, you will have a lot of fun in this game and you’ll get the opportunity to do things differently than the famous historical figures that you admire, either from your own country’s history or from a foreign one.
7. Crusader Kings III
Crusader Kings III is all about family and legacy. Paradox Development Studio made this game and it focuses heavily on the political battles and personal choices that can make someone either a great ruler or a complete madman.
If you want to play something that requires a lot of strategic prowess and feels like politics or Game of Thrones, you cannot go wrong with Crusader Kings III. This game has everything from assassinations to deadly diseases.
The objective in CK III is to become a powerful member of a powerful family. Your beginnings might be humble, but your ambitions are high and the game puts the required mechanisms to obtain political power at your disposal. At first, you will focus on a small number of characters, but this will change quickly.
Of course, there’s a lot more to the game than its characters, but that’s the main focus. Apart from that, you’ll need to deal with rivals, wars, and all the problems that come with being in a position of power. This is a great pick for fans of games like Stellaris who want something more story driven and character-centric.
One of the great aspects of CK III is the character traits. Human beings are shown to be highly complex and this feature can be extremely fun to experience. In turn, traits affect other stats, such as Learning, Fertility, Diplomacy, and much more.
8. Hearts of Iron IV
Hearts of Iron IV focuses on the second World War and it’s incredibly difficult to master. This game feels a lot like a MOBA when it comes to how many concepts you need to learn before you start to understand what’s going on. If you enjoy complex games like Stellaris, you’ll get a kick out of this game.
One of the cool things about Hearts of Iron IV is that historical knowledge can actually give you an edge. If you know what the big events and decisions were during World War II, you will play much more efficiently because you’ll be able to anticipate what will happen next at key moments.
In Hearts of Iron IV, the AI does follow certain patterns for the sake of historical accuracy. But if you’re a great strategist, you might change history in a significant way and achieve a lot more than just your country’s survival in one piece.
Hearts of Iron IV is a great game to play if you’re from Europe or the US. Both regions were heavily involved in WW2 and you get the chance to recreate history. It’s always fun to pick your own country when you play, but if you’d like to learn about the challenges that other countries experienced during the war, you can do that as well.
9. Rome: Total War
Rome: Total War came out in 2004 and became an instant sensation. The game was revolutionary in how it created a beautiful atmosphere and how it mixed real-time battles with turn-based strategy.
As the title suggests, Rome: Total War focuses on the expansion of the Roman Empire. You start small and need to conquer as much as you can. Your key people can become either powerful generals or powerful administrators. You’ll need a combination of both to succeed.
An excellent general will have characteristics that make him better suited to lead men in battle, while a great administrator will know what to do when a city goes through a crisis.
One thing that you will love about Rome: Total War, apart from the historical aspects and the atmospheric music, is the battles. These battles operate in a realistic manner and will push your strategic muscles to the limit. Whether you’re sieging a city or find yourself under siege, the game gives you the chance to be an actual commander.
On the administrative side, you’ll have to prosper and train as much army as you can afford. There are lots of buildings in this game and everything costs a lot of gold. Because of that, you’ll need to create a list of priorities and invest in some cities more than in others.
In Rome: Total War, there are 19 factions that you can unlock and play as.
This is another one of the games like Stellaris that isn’t set in space, but it’s still worth checking out for the depth of strategy, atmosphere, and mechanics alone. It’s a gem.