Faster-than-light travel, often abbreviated to FTL, is the method by which ships traverse the vast emptiness of space between star systems. Advancements in technology can grant improvements to the speed at which ships jump to FTL and even unlock experimental FTL drives.
A hyperlane network predates all other known construction in the galaxy and connects the star systems together to allow interstellar travel, although some systems may be more isolated than others. Ships move at sublight speed until they reach a hyperlane entry point (shown as an arrow on the system map). The Hyperlane Density setting determines the number of hyperlanes individual systems can have. A double value creates a very unrestricted game where interdiction is next to impossible. Conversely, a half value connects the galaxy linearly, with most systems having only two hyperlanes, allowing for a highly defensive game.
Systems that are restricted because of closed borders are shown in red on the galaxy map. Home systems of Space Creatures that haven't been investigated with the initial special project are also restricted.
FTL Inhibitors are devices present inside Fortress buildings and at least Starport level starbases once the FTL Inhibition technology is researched. Hostile fleets can only leave a system with an FTL inhibitor through the same hyperlane they entered from.
The Speculative Hyperlane Breaching technology enables science ships led by a scientist Leader to travel directly to a destination, ignoring the hyperlane network. During the transit the ship is considered MIA. Experimental Subspace Navigation can be used to bypass impassable areas such as a guarded system, a closed empire's borders or the galactic core.
There are two types of Bypasses in Stellaris: wormholes and gateways. Both offer instantaneous travel but require research in order to be usable. The number of Bypasses can be adjusted at settings before the start of a game session. Ships will automatically use Bypasses if the route is shorter, shown on the starmap by a blue travel line.
Wormholes are natural formations that come in pairs and link two random systems across the galaxy. Initially, wormholes are too unstable to allow passage through them, but the Wormhole Stabilization technology allows science ships to stabilize wormholes, opening them permanently for a given empire. Clicking on a wormhole will shift the camera to the connecting system. A wormhole cannot be used if the other end lies within an empire with closed borders except if war is declared.
While exploring the galaxy, empires can find abandoned gateways that were once part of a massive, galaxy-spanning network. The number of abandoned gateways can be scaled by galaxy settings. Owning a system with an inactive Gateway drastically increases the chance for the Gateway Activation technology to appear, which is required to reactivate them.
Reactivation of an abandoned gateway takes 2 years and costs 6000 energy and 2500 alloys. When a Gateway is reactivated for the first time in the galaxy, another random Gateway will also reactivate along with it.
Empires can build their own Gateways by researching the Gateway Construction technology, which requires the Empire to have encountered any pre-existing Gateways, so if Gateways were disabled during galaxy creation, it is impossible to build any new.
Each system can only have one Gateway. They can be constructed in a system with an L-Gate. The construction site must be built outside the system gravity well and is built in 3 years and costs 100 influence and 2500 alloys. Upgrading it into a fully functional Gateway takes 5 years and costs 6000 energy and 2500 alloys.
Gateways can't be used to travel to another Gateway if the later is owned by an Empire that has closed their border to them. Regular Empires cannot close their borders to Fallen Empires, meaning that their Gateways can always be accessed by the Fallen Empires. Systems with gateways count as bordering for the purposes of diplomacy, so every opened gate increases diplomatic tension between all active gate-owners. Claims cannot be extended through gateways. Additionally, gateways are able to greatly enhance and simplify trade infrastructure.
Gateways can't be deactivated or destroyed once they are fully activated or constructed.
An experimental FTL technology that has the potential risk to create a crisis, Jump Drives are an advanced form of FTL that allows ships to move very quickly along hyperlanes and unlock the Jump special fleet order, allowing them to make a point-to-point jump to systems within jump range, ignoring hyperlane limitations. After the fleet makes the jump, Jump Drive will need to recharge, with both adding a 200-day cooldown before it can be used again, and applying a debuff to the fleet that reduces its Damage and Sublight Speed by -50% while the cooldown is in effect.
A more advanced version of the Jump Drive called Psi Jump Drive is also available and offers a longer range for making jumps. It is obtained by researching the Psi Jump Drives technology and is not available to Gestalt Consciousness empires.
Owning both forms of Jump Drive drastically increases the chances of the Extradimensional Invaders crisis triggering.