[Top 15] Games Like Stellaris (Games Better Than Stellaris In Their Own Way)

Games like Stellaris, space Sci-Fi RTS, grand strategy
Stellaris is a masterpiece, but there is a sea of simillar great games out there

Stellaris is a great game. And, with enough mods applied, it has been sitting comfortably on the throne of sci-fi 4X games for years. However, it always had competitors that are increasing in numbers as time passes, despite the constant support from Paradox and the modding community. So let's take a look at fifteen games that have taken a shot at the king.


1. Galactic Civilizations IV (PC)


A grandson of a grandad of grand strategy

The Galactic Civilizations series has been a staple of space 4X games for a long time. This latest installment brings to the table an exceptional experience of exploring and conquering the galaxy, both visually and mechanically.

Gameplay-wise, it has merged some of the best aspects of Stellaris and Civilisation, resulting in a very approachable learning curve (a rare find in the genre). As for aesthetics, every single species and faction is 3D animated and, colonized space feels truly alive.

Playing Galactic Civilizations IV as a Stellaris veteran will feel like you are being denied the complexity of technology and combat and instead slammed into a polished and wonderous version of the early decades of a playthrough. The exploration section. A section admittedly lacking compared to other aspects of Stellaris. Which is where Galactic Civilizations IV comes in.

Here you are not simply ticking off hyperlane junctions and shifting through simplistic pictures of randomly generated alien species. Instead, you are immersed in the experience of every first contact and the creation of every colony, before jumping into the next section of unknown space.


2. Nexus: The Jupiter Incident (PC)

"Casually adds a boat-load of adventure into your strategy game"

Now for a blast from the past. Or, from a few years ago, when the HD remaster was released. Nexus: The Jupiter Incident (like a few other games later down this list) does away with all the base/empire building, opening up space (figuratively and literally) for all the intricacies of ship-to-ship combat to be explored in all their glory in a gorgeous 3D environment.

In the story, you command a handful of capital ships after being mysteriously transported into a distant colony and in the middle of a very hostile environment. Mission after mission, you are called to improve your ships and your tactical skills as you take on stronger and stronger enemies to eventually save humanity from a great threat.

The Jupiter Incident is a game that, despite its age, can challenge any of its modern equivalents, thanks to the almost lost art of attention to detail. From the intricate, puzzle-like mechanics of ship setup, to the cinematic battles, to great voice-acting, this game represents the best of an era and beyond.


3. Distant Worlds 2 (PC)

Same but different. Buall also same. But also different. You get the idea.

On to possibly the most straight-up replacement potentially for Stellaris. While the lack of initial customization in the pre-game empire settings in favor of a more curated experience might seem disappointing at first, Distant Worlds 2 more than makes up for it no more than a few minutes later.

Here, the galaxy is vast. Or, more accurately, feels vast thanks to how dense it is, with each barren world or gas giant having its own character and ability to facilitate gameplay.

Distant Worlds 2 will feel quite familiar to play for any Stellaris aficionados. And you will most likely appreciate the incredible level of customizability in terms of micro-managing. From having an almost fully automated economy to choosing tactical settings for every single ship.

Add the graphical fidelity of a 2022 game and the only reason I am not straight up dropping Stellaris completely to switch to Distant Worlds 2, is that it's a new game. Meaning that there still are issues to iron out and content to be added down the line. Not to mention the modding community. Although, judging by its predecessor, modability won't be an issue.


4. FTL: Faster Than Light (PC)

Looks simplistic, but trust me, it reeeeeeealy isn't.

Jumping into another timeless classic and faster than light speeds, FTL is starship management under a microscope. Besides the detail in ship management, where FTL stands out is its inside-out perspective.

Meaning that it's not maneuvering through asteroid belts and the dodging of laser fire that's going to save you from this game's unforgivable fail state, but proper management of your crew.

FTL is not only a game every Stellaris player should try, but every sci-fi fan/gamer. Its focus on in-ship events and decisions creates a unique experience. The claustrophobia of the few rooms of your ship set against a big, randomized, hostile galaxy brings you closer to every member of your crew.

And considering that any of them can be lost or saved based on your decisions both in and out of battle, means that you will grow more attached to Steve the engineer than to The Great and Mighty Blorg Empire.


5. Star Wars: Empire At War (Remake mod) (PC)

Original game

This game is good...

Remake mod

...but it could be better.

“Another decade-old game?” I hear you ask. Well, yes but actually no. The original Star Wars: Empire At War was a masterpiece of a 4X sci-fi game well ahead of its time which you are probably aware of. As you are also likely aware that it has indeed become dated.

What you might not know is that a very dedicated group of people have breathed new life into this game to miraculous effect! You might say that modding is a pathway to many abilities some may consider to be... unnatural.

For any other game, I would probably go more in-depth on the mechanics. But, firstly, this is an old and well-known game, so I would be adding another opinion into a moon-sized pile and secondly, that's not what we are here for. We are here to forge our new republic and bask in our heroic fleets of Mon Calamari Star Cruisers, X-Wings, and Y-Wings as we bring peace and prosperity to all.

Or, on the darker/cooler side, we can forge our great galactic empire, make our enemies kneel before the great power of our Star Destroyers and Tie Fighters, ultimately turning the galaxy into.... safe and secure society(in the words of Emperor Palpatine himself).


6. Endless Space 2 (PC)

In a nutshell, a turn-based Stellaris

Often seen as the most direct competitor to Stellaris, Endless Space 2 is the turn-based solution to many of the common frustrations of Stellaris' gameplay. While, once again, Stellaris' empire customization is absent, the pre-made factions Endless Space 2 offers feel more unique, with wildly divergent mechanics and complementing technologies.

That uniqueness is explored through a quest line, and side quests, tied into the unlocking of technologies and bonuses.

In my opinion, the main reason for taking away from your precious galaxy conquest in Stellaris to give Endless Space 2 a try is its turn-based nature.

How many times have you had to deal with a dozen notifications popping in at once, rush to micromanage conquered planets before the next war breaks out, or be forced to forego sitting back and enjoying watching a battle because your research just finished? Turn-based gameplay solves all that, calling on your strategic abilities rather than your APM.


7. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada (PC)

Yes, there is a mod for stellaris for this kind of ships. "WH 40k Shipset" You're welcome.

No other game has sent shivers down my spine quite like Battlefleet Gothic: Armada has. Set in the Warhammer 40k universe, you play as the speartip of humanity: The Imperial Navy.

You wage a righteous defensive war for survival against Xenos races such as the Orks and the Eldar and human traitors, twisted by dark gods. In the future of the 41st millennium, there is only war.

The gameplay consists of individual story-heavy missions with opportunities to repair and upgrade your ships or acquire new ones in between. The battles themselves are waged on a 2D plane in real-time with each ship being controllable.

Each faction has ships designed according to entirely different philosophies, both mechanically and visually, complementing a very well-designed base system. The story will pull you in and the visuals are jaw-dropping.


8. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 (PC)

Deja vu isn't real. 

I lied. THIS is the game that sent the strongest shivers down my spine. And it did so at the Tutorial! The second and latest installment in the series, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 improves on the previous game and adds a turn-based grand strategy element on top.

Sector by sector, you are called to cleanse Imperium space from Xenos and Heretic or play as other factions such as Chaos. Complete story-based objectives and build up your fleets (yes, plural), for in the dawn of the 42nd millennium, there is only war.

In Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 turns everything up to 11. The fleets are bigger, the ship selection is more diverse and includes behemoths such as the Phalanx. The story is grimmer, darker, and grander, taking place during the 13th black crusade and Cadia's Fall.

The mechanics are more refined and the gameplay is more explosive (literally). Lastly, if you thought the first game was a masterpiece of art style, this one will have you taking a screenshot every five seconds to add it to your wallpaper collection.


9. Hearts of Iron 4 (PC)

Obligatory paradox game entry

How is a World War 2 game similar to Stellaris? Simple. It's another 4X game from Paradox Interactive, built with the same design philosophy, even if the goals are different. Starting three years prior, or right at the beginning of World War 2, according to your choice, you pick any of the nations and play to survive.

With two settings: Historically accurate or not, you and the AI nations build up your economies, infrastructure, political standing, army, airforce, and navy and jump right into the 20th century's darkest years.

At first, the experience of playing Hearts of Iron 4 might look like a task of painting lines on a map, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The mechanics are ocean-deep, without Stellaris' reliance on mods, though the modding community comes strong here too.

Relieve some of history's greatest moments, rewrite them, or maybe just pick a minor country and fight for every meter of land to survive. Paradox Interactive's masterful 4X game design is present in Hearts of Iron 4's every step across war-torn Europe same as in Stellaris' every solar system.


10. Sins Of A Solar Empire (PC)

One for you weirdos who set up 100-year playthroughs in Stellaris

Another oldie but goldie, Sins of a Solar Empire is a barebones stripping down of your typical galaxy-conquering strategy game. A game where the gameplay loop is a simple conquer planets, make credits, minerals, and crystals, buy ships, fight other ships loop.

Sins of a Solar Empire offers a break from the mind-boggling complexity of most strategy games we know and love but are sometimes tired of. This game's goal is to get you to those epic space battles quickly without completely removing the strategy aspect. Judging by the popularity of certain mods, many Stellaris players yearn for that opportunity.


11. Battlestar Galactica Deadlock (PC)


Just as underrated as the show

“The Cylons have rebelled. And there is no end to their war.” Hands down the best video game adaptation of the Battlestar Galactica universe, Battlestar Galactica Deadlock puts you in command of a few ships and thrusts you right into the fray. Then you command those ships to exhaustive detail in a turn-based system. All presented in excellent visuals and accompanies by a superb soundtrack.

Successfully pulling off the herculean task of making a 3D turn-based environment work seamlessly, Battlestar Galactica Deadlock goes on to achieve something few games have: making you watch replays.

Not replays of your entire playtime of the battle, but of only the stitching together of the few seconds of movement between each turn, presented by a cinematic angle reminiscent of the Battlestar Galactica show. The result is something that often eludes even the greatest sci-fi shows and movies. A battle where every ship movement and weapon discharge has a tactical purpose behind it.

Sci-fi directors should learn a thing or two from this game and its players.


12. Falling Frontier (PC)

Warning: Extreme levels of immersion ahead!

Space is big. Stupid big. Unfortunately, most Sci-fi games forget that. Or, rather, they make us forget it. Not Falling Frontier. Here, the rings of a gas giant are, gameplay-wise, as big as a star cluster in Stellaris and a solar system is bigger than a galaxy. Damn, do they look good too!

Falling Frontier leans into the realism of hard sci-fi a couple of hundred years in the future and the ship designs look the part. From the tragic war between the colonies of Mars and Titan to distant mining colonies, surviving and thriving is a struggle, but a real possibility.

Defend your valuable infrastructure as you design, customize, and build your ships to send them into battles that will more than satisfy any hard sci-fi fan in visuals and mechanics.


13. Terra Invicta (PC)

"Punches barely functional spaceships into interstellar alien fleet." "Puts on sunglasses." "Welcome to Earth."

Have you ever wondered how Stellaris primitives would feel and act if they discovered your infiltration attempts? Terra Invicta is the answer, with one difference: you actually stand a chance.

An alien presence has been detected near Earth and is trying to subvert humanity before attacking. Naturally, humanity splits into factions along the lines of opinions regarding the response to the Alien threat, with the player controlling the resistance faction.

The gameplay starts on Earth, where you engage in political intrigue and build up your forces to defend humanity. Those efforts eventually lead to a space race, where every faction attempts to control the valuable resources across the solar system and develop new technology.

In the end, it all comes down to a final confrontation with the Aliens, with humanity's independence at stake.


14. Alliance of the Sacred Suns (PC)

Decadent feudal machinations, In Space!

Did you like Dune? Because I did. What if I told you there is a game where you can roleplay as a leader of a noble house in an interstellar feudal empire who has just been named emperor against the wishes of the other houses?

In other words, Europa Universalis meets Stellaris. Specifically pre-hyperlane Stellaris. But more hardcore. A welcome fresh take on sci-fi strategy in my opinion and a nice nostalgia trip to some old Stellais mechanics.

In Alliance of the Sacred Suns, you don't play as a fanatic spiritualist, decadent, feudal, multiplanetary empire. You play as its leader. This is a mix of an RPG and a 4X game, where your every action reflects on your character and your empire alike.

Forge alliances with other houses or subjugate them. Chose if you will rule your people with an iron fist or an open palm. Do everything you must in order to stop being emperor only in name.


15. Fragile Existence (PC)

Quarian simulator

In Stellaris, your planets represent permanence. They are your empire's lifeblood, while fleets are made and destroyed again and again. But what if it was the other way around?

What if you were constantly hunted by a destructive force that would lay waste to your colonies? What if you had to rely on your ships for permanence and couldn't permanently settle on any planet, but just grab what you can and go? Then your existence would be quite a fragile one...

In other words, Fragile Existence marries the best of both worlds in colony and fleet management. You rush to hop from system to system, sustaining the remnants of humanity and upgrading your ships until maybe one day you can turn and fight your hunters.

If you are anything like me and creating your fleets is your favorite part of Stellaris but still enjoy the planet managing, Fragile Existence is for you.


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I will mod single player games until they break and I will farm salt in multiplayer. In the meantime, let me tell you something interesting.
Gamer Since: 2012
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Stellaris, Mass Recall
Top 3 Favorite Games:Stellaris, League of Legends, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty