Technology is a central pillar of any interstellar empire. It has allowed them to reach the stars and it will be what allows them to succeed against other empires.
There are roughly 300 technologies in the game, though these will not all be available to the player in a given play-through. Engineering, Physics and Society technologies are researched ("unlocked") separately using different research resources. Unlike previous space strategy games, there is no openly displayed "tech tree"; instead, players are presented with a number of different choices of techs to research. There is still an underlying tech tree structure and prerequisites (for instance, for the Blue Lasers technology to appear for research requires that Red Lasers have been researched) but the 'random draw' nature of research choices introduces a degree of unpredictability that can significantly influence an empire's long and short term strategies.
Research areas & resources
There are three different technology research areas in Stellaris:
- Physics Research is concerned with the manipulation of the energy of the universe. Technology from this area unlocks laser weapons, reactors, power plants, sensors, shields, artificial intelligence, and more.
- Society Research is concerned with the organization of an empire's civilization. Technology from this area unlocks farming buildings, planet colonization, government options, genetic modification, and more.
- Engineering Research is concerned with the application of materials into tools. Technology from this area unlocks mass drivers, missiles, mining buildings, armor, thrusters, military ships and stations, robotic pops, and more.
Every month, an empire produces at least 5 research points for each area; this can be increased by building research stations over appropriate stellar bodies (such as black holes, which can offer Physics research) and by populations working planetary tiles that produce research points (such as laboratories).
If a technology is not being presently researched in a certain area then that area's research points are accumulated as Stored Research (can be seen by hovering over the appropriate resource). This prevents the loss of research points by forgetting to pick a tech to research. These storage "banks" can also grow by encountering certain anomalies, completing some special projects, debris analysis or event choices.
When in use the stored research will be depleted by an amount equal to that resource production. For example, if a player has 100 stored point and produces 12 points then the research progress will be 24 points for the first 8 months - 9th month will be 16 points - after which research progress will return to 12 points per month.
The card system
Even though Stellaris does have a conventional tech tree with prerequisites, the player does not have full control over what is available for research at any given moment. Instead, the game presents the player with a quasi-random selection of technologies that may or may not appear later on during a playthrough.
A good analogy for this process is a deck of cards in which each card represents a different technology. When research on a selected tech is completed, the remaining "cards" are placed back into the deck which is then reshuffled. However, in this "shuffling" some cards are weighted to appear more often than others. This is especially common in the early game where some "cards" are extremely likely to appear, to allow all for players to get a fair start. Additionally, an empire's ethos, the leading scientists' traits, the current researched technologies, and other factors can all affect the weighting of technology "cards", and even their overall availability.
It is possible to change research in an area at any time without penalty. Any progress on the technology will be saved, but does not scale if technology costs change. However, when the research alternatives are reshuffled on the completion of research, there is no guarantee that a technology with partial progress will be redrawn.
As a rule, a base of 3 alternatives are available with each draw. It is possible to increase this base value via research or picking certain civics.
The following table may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.9.
There is one minor exception to the shuffling system: technologies salvaged from studying the debris of enemy ships or spaceborne aliens, as well as some technologies that are made accessible through anomalies or events.
These technologies will remain available to research until completed (any normal prerequisites are waived), and will appear at the bottom of the options list with a yellow-orange border. This can include technologies that are available through normal research, so it can be quite worthwhile to salvage enemy debris to effectively "pin" technologies for later research.
The easiest way to gather these is through battle engagements. Destroyed enemy may leave behind debris special projects, which can then be analyzed by a science ship - note that doing so will halt progress in the indicated research field. Completing these debris special projects grants stored research and a potential research progress (usually +10%) in a certain technology which used to make the destroyed objects' components.
The card system uses several variables to organize technology. These are:
- Tier divides technologies into groups (along with unified sub-division for weight and cost). Higher tier technologies require a certain number of technologies from the previous tier to be unlocked before they will be available as research alternatives. The tiers and the required tech from previous tiers (in brackets) are: T0 (this is starter tech), T1 (0), T2 (8), T3 (8), T4 (10).
- Weight is the relative chance for a particular technology to be drawn as an alternative and can be further modified by an empire's ethics, the traits of scientists, or already researched technologies. The lower a technology's weight, the less likely it is to be drawn. Generally, weights decrease while costs increase with each tier.
Tiers, weight (and the modifiers affecting it) are hidden values.
Aside from marking technologies by their area color there are additional markers to define "special" technologies. These may include a whole different color (regardless of area color), highlighted border or a note to the side.
There is a difference between how the markers are represented in-game and the table below - this is mainly to ease wiki editing (the below colors shows the table marking).
- Starting technologies - These technologies are unlocked for free at the beginning of the game. In-game marked with the note Starting tech in green to the left on the title.
- Acquired technologies - These are technologies that have some research progress done in them. In-game marked by a highlighted border. Note: the table uses this to mark techs that can be acquired only via events or debris analysis.
- Rare technologies - These technologies usually have a low weight compared to other techs with similar cost. In-game marked by the color purple.
- Dangerous technologies - Unlocking these technologies may anger other empires and cause an end game crisis. In-game marked by the color red.
- Repeatable technologies - These are end-game technologies that can be researched again and again for the same bonus, but cost more each time. In-game marked by a golden line above and below tech.
Each level of the scientist increases research speed to their assigned area by +2%. Scientists often have specialty in a certain research category, adding another +10% bonus when leading the research of technologies from that category, as well as other traits that can increase research speed and cost.
Each technology has a cost to unlock, which must be paid for in research resources. The cost is the pre-set base cost of each technology increased by +10% per owned planet and by +1% for every pop in the empire over 10. Having a research agreement treaty with another empire gives a –25% cost reduction on any technology already unlocked by that empire. This reduction is applied after the Multipliers from Pops and Planets.
- Overall, empire research capabilities increases with population size, but with increasingly diminishing returns. For each extra pop and planet the research output will become increasingly inefficient. A large empire will have to relatively put out way more research than a smaller one for a similar result.
- Research agreement modifier is applied after all other modifiers. This makes it become better with increasing empire sizes, but the hefty cost reduction makes it crucial at all stages of the game. Do not forget about research agreements as they can give a powerful edge in an arms race.
Technology is divided into three types: Physics, Society and Engineering.
As a game progresses, the technology choices for each empire will begin to include progressively more advanced and correspondingly more expensive technologies, meaning that building research labs and stations should be a priority. Technology costs also scale with the size of an empire's population, which makes it possible for small empires to maintain technological parity with larger ones.
Every technology belongs to a category. These have no direct effects, but assigning a scientist with the corresponding expertise trait will increase research speed by 10% and increases the chance of research alternatives from that category. The colors of the (non-Psionic) categories correspond to the colors of the three basic research tracks, but do not appear exclusively on those tracks.
- See in .