Game Settings are the various changes that the player can make before starting a single player or multiplayer game. These settings can be used to make game sessions shorter or longer, simpler or more complex, as well as to increase the difficulty if desired.
When starting a new game, the player may choose which type of galaxy they are to play in. An empire's expansion is limited to the galactic plane, so the shape of the galaxy will affect play. Which galaxy types are accessible at the start of the game is determined by how many stars the galaxy is to have.
There are 3 different types of galaxies available, with 2 variants of the spiral galaxy for a total of 4 possible galaxy shape options.
|Type||Min Galaxy Size||Description|
|Elliptical||Tiny||Elliptical galaxies have the stars placed in a ellipsoidal pattern , resulting in an evenly distributed geography. Expansion is mostly unhindered. It is also the Default map.|
|Spiral (2 arms)||Small||Spiral galaxies have the stars placed in arms that extend out in a spiral pattern. A spiral galaxy provides an interesting geography as the galactic arms are sparsely connected to each other.|
|Spiral (4 arms)||Medium|
|Ring||Tiny||Ring galaxies have the stars placed in a ring shape around the galactic core, making it easier to cut other empires off from the rest of the galaxy than it is with any other shape. Expansion is limited to a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. An inner ring surrounds the galactic core|
In addition to the galaxy shape, the size of the galaxy can also be chosen at the beginning of the game, ranging from 200 to 1000 stars. The size of the galaxy affects the number of stars, as well as how many AI Empires, Fallen Empires and Marauder Empires can be generated at the start of the game.
|Size||Number of stars||Maximum AI empires||Maximum fallen empires||Maximum marauder empires|
- AI empires - Determines the number of AI empires that spawn at the same time as human players. Number ranges are dependent on galaxy size; minimum can be set at zero.
- Advanced AI starts - Determines the number of Advanced Empires. Can range from 0 to all of the AI empires.
- Fallen Empires - The max number of Fallen Empires that can spawn. There can be no more than 5 Fallen Empires, one of each kind. (Ancient Caretakers is only available with Synthetic Dawn DLC)
- Tech/ Tradition cost - Determines the costs of technology, traditions and ambitions for regular empires. Does not affect event rewards. Ranges from 0.25X to 5X.
- Habitable Worlds - Increases or decreases the chance of planets being habitable. Ranges from 0.25X to 5X.
- Primitive Civilizations - Increases or decreases the chance of Primitive Civilizations spawning. Ranges from 0X (no primitives) to 1X (3% chance per system) to 5X (15% chance per system).
- Crisis Strength - Determines the fleet power of endgame crises. Ranges from 0X (no crises) to 25X.
- Crisis Type - Determines which one of the endgame crises will appear. Can be set to a specific one or at random.
- Mid-Game Start Year - Determines earliest year whereby mid-game events can occur. Default is 2300.
- End-Game Start Year - Determines earliest year whereby end-game events can occur. Default is 2400.
- Victory Year - Determines when the empire with the highest Score is declared winner. Setting it to max disables victory. Default is 2500.
- AI Aggressiveness - Determines how likely the AI is to declare war on empires if they have negative attitude as well as how many fleets will it use for offense.
- Empire Placement - Determines whether empires will be placed in clusters to increase the likelihood that you'll have some neighbors or placed at random.
- Advanced Neighbors - Determines whether Advanced AI empires can spawn next to human players or not.
- Hyperlane Density - Determines number of hyperlanes in the galaxy. Ranges from 0.5X to 2.75X to Full. Full density removes clusters and choke points.
- Abandoned Gateways - Determines number of abandoned gateways in the galaxy. Ranges from 0X (no gateways) to 5X.
- Wormhole Pairs - Determines number of wormhole pairs in the galaxy. Ranges from 0X (no wormholes except the one leading to the Sealed System) to 5X.
- Guaranteed Habitable Worlds - Creates up to 2 habitable planets of the same class as the homeworld close to every empire's starting system. Will not create Gaia or Tomb worlds.
- Marauder Empires - The max number of Marauder Empires that can spawn.
- Caravaneers - Determines whether the Caravaneers will spawn.
- Xeno-Compatibility - Determines whether the Xeno-Compatibility ascension perk can be picked.
Advanced empires are AI empires that start with an advantage over human players. They get the following benefits to have a head start:
- 500 Alloys
- 200 Influence
- 1000 Food if not Machine Intelligence
- 1000 Energy if not Machine Intelligence
- 2000 Energy if Machine Intelligence
- 500 Consumer Goods if not Gestalt Consciousness
- 1000 Minerals if not Gestalt Consciousness
- 1500 Minerals if Gestalt Consciousness
- Planetary Unification technology
- 3-7 extra corvettes
- 2-5 extra systems with stations built over all deposits
- 0-3 extra Starport-level starbases
- Mining or research station over every deposit within borders
- Guaranteed habitable worlds are colonized and developed
The following events take place after Mid-Game:
- Ancient Mining Drones and Crystalline Entities can expand
- Rulers can have the Public Debates agenda
- Space storms can occur
- Fleet Maneuvers event can trigger
- Fallen empires offer better gifts
- Spectral Wraith can emerge from the germinating pulsar
- AI rebellions can take place
- Marauder mercenary fleets become available
- Marauder empires can become The Horde
- AI empires discover L-Gate clues faster
- Enigmatic Cache can emerge from a gateway or L-gate
- Ancient Tomb archaeology site can appear
- The On the Shoulders of Giants event chain starts
The following events take place after End-Game
- Endgame crises can trigger
- Fallen Empires can awaken
- The Bemat Thalassocracy can appear
- Fewer random espionage events happen
- Marauder empires can no longer become The Horde
- AI empires discover L-gate clues faster
Increases the difficulty of the game for a greater challenge, with higher difficulties granting bonuses to AI empires. Higher difficulty also increases the strength of the endgame crisis. Vassals of human players do not gain difficulty bonuses. In addition to the bonuses specified below, the AI gains a small boost to ship speed, warp speed, and evasion bonuses.
Scaling Difficulty causes the AI (or human) empires and spaceborne aliens difficulty bonuses to start at zero and scale up over the course of the game, reaching the bonus defined by difficulty level at the End-Game year.
|Difficulty||AI bonuses||Spaceborne aliens bonuses||Player bonuses|
Ironman is an optional game mode that restricts the player's control over their save file, effectively removing the ability to correct mistakes and change decisions made during the course of play. Under Ironman Mode saving manually is disabled and the game runs on a single save file that gets overwritten every time a significant action is taken. Console commands are also disabled.
Enabling Ironman Mode requires the Autosave to Cloud option to be enabled in the Settings menu, which also requires the user to be logged into Steam and Steam Cloud to be enabled for the game in the Steam Library (Stellaris/Properties/Updates). This also requires that "Enable Steam Cloud synchronization for applications which support it" is enabled in the Steam settings (Steam/Settings/Cloud).
Achievements can only be unlocked in ironman mode. If the checksum is modified by the presence of gameplay mods Ironman Mode will not grant achievements.