[Top 10] Stellaris Best Ascension Perks That Are Excellent

Stellaris, grand strategy games, game guide, best Ascension Perks, Ascension Perks list
Ensure that your empire's rise will not be stopped, and that it's glory will last into the next Galactic Era

Which path to Ascension will you choose?

Do you find yourself stumped on which Ascension Perks to choose to maximize your enjoyment of Stellaris? Do you feel overwhelmed with the number of choices you're presented with when you go to fill that Ascension Perk slot? Do you need an idea what Ascension Perks give the best value and in which situations? Do you need some help figuring out which Perks best fit with the theme of your empire? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then this list is for you.

10. Galactic Contender

The future is now old man!

Galactic Contender is one of the more underrated perks on this list, primarily because it not only buffs your damage against Fallen and Awakened Empires, but also against the Gray Tempest in any of its forms. Fallen Empires are not necessarily an existential threat like the Crisis factions, but the Gray Tempest Crisis is, and the Tempest often emerges at a time quite early on when you and everybody else isn’t quite ready for it. In this case, Galactic Contender helps you tremendously, while also preparing you for the inevitable confrontation with the Fallen Empires later on.

The additional 20% Diplomatic weight also helps you in dominating the Galactic Community to pass that Custodian nomination in the Senate. After all, the galaxy will need a strong leader like you in order to weather this Crisis, the other nations just don’t understand that it’s for their own good.

Galactic Contender will:

  • Help you weather the Gray Tempest mid-game crisis
  • Prepare you to face off against the Fallen Empires later on
  • Help you maneuver yourself into a position of power within the Galactic Community, the galaxy will only stay saved if you are the one running it after all
  • Helps you take over the Fallen Empires earlier, so you can harness their resources and technology to better face future challenges

9. Voidborne

It can be rough living in deep space, lightyears away from the closest Denny's

Voidborne is on this list because it empowers one of the best economic strategies in the game: habitats. Habitats can be built over any independent (is not orbiting another stellar body) planetary body except for a star, meaning there is a LOT more space within any given star system for habitats than for planets, unless you can somehow turn all planetary bodies in a system habitable.

Habitats can be used to produce everything from food to strategic resources, and their flexibility in terms of being constructed rather than discovered and exploited means they are a snowball strategy that doesn’t need a lot of territory to get rolling.

Voidborne makes habitats even more of a viable strategy than they were before, giving them additional building slots, more habitability to ease the cost of your pop upkeep, and gives you access to the technologies that allow you expand and upgrade your habitats making them even more powerful. For this reason, this perk is a must-have if you plan on building more than 5 habitats in a playthrough.

Voidborne will:

  • Amplify the economic potency of your habitats
  • Make living on habitats less expensive, creating more economic advantage
  • Make upgrading your habitats an option much sooner in the game than normal

8.  The Flesh is Weak

From the moment I understood the weakness of my flesh, it disgusted me

The Flesh is Weak is one of the most useful perks in the game, even if you don’t complete its Ascension Path and just take it for the Cyborg trait. In addition to more army damage and longer-lived leaders, the Cyborg trait gives a whopping +20% habitability, which when combined with the “Extremely Adaptive” trait comes to a built-in +40% habitability for your species.

For perspective, that brings a 20% habitability planet to 60% habitability, which is a massive decrease in the food and consumer goods upkeep of those pops, and also a massive decrease to the habitability growth penalty slowing down pop growth on such a planet. Technologies give your empire an additional 20% habitability, bringing that 60% to 80%, which is in the green zone.

Traditions can increase that by another 10%, bringing it to 90%, and certain empire modifiers or traits from anomalies or events can increase it even further, to 95% or even 100%. If you are aiming for a species that doesn’t need terraforming and can just live anywhere, The Flesh is Weak can help you with that, and that isn’t even considering what happens if you follow its Ascension Path through to the end.

The additional army damage is small, but the extra 40 years your leaders will live is like a  guaranteed version of its Shroud Boon counterpart from the Psionic Ascension Path, and older leaders means stronger leaders.

The Flesh is Weak gives you:

  • A species that can theoretically live anywhere
  • Leaders that live longer and grow stronger
  • Slightly stronger armies
  • Access to the second-tier perk of the Synthetic Ascension Path

7. Synthetic Evolution

Sickness, disease, and biological foulness, replaced with the strength and certainty of steel

Synthetic Evolution is the finisher perk of the Synthetic Ascension Path, and in many ways makes its prerequisite perk: The Flesh is Weak, irrelevant. Your pops will no longer need to worry about habitability or food once they’ve become fully synthetic and only require energy to sustain themselves.

This change alone will likely send your economy through the roof. You should be able to colonize any planet with no habitability issues, and regear your economy away from food entirely to devote it to other things, like alloys or research for instance.

Your leaders will also be immortal as far as aging goes, vulnerable only to breakdowns which are completely random. The perk itself also gives you bonuses to altering your new machine pop’s traits and a nice 10% bonus to robotic pop output. Essentially, your economy isn’t going to hit the roof and just stop, it’ll smash right through the roof and keep going.

Synthetic Evolution makes you:

  • No longer dependent on food for pop upkeep, drastically simplifying and strengthening your economy
  • Able to more quickly and easily alter your machine pops traits, giving you a lot of flexibility for specializing planetary populations
  • Able to colonize any planet that it is possible to live on and develop with no economic consequences with respect to habitability
  • Capable of having leaders live to be well over 300 years old, possibly gaining the benefit of having multiple level 10 leaders in every leader role: admiral, governor, scientist etc.

6. Colossus Project

Just another Tuesday at the office

Describing just how fun and useful the Colossus ship type is a difficult task, but it can be done. The Colossus is almost single-handedly the most useful ship type in the entire game, which is why the perk is worth picking up in about 70% of playthroughs. Even on Pacifist runs I find myself taking the Perk simply because I want the utility and “insurance” it provides against Crisis-tier threats, such as a Crisis Aspirant or an Awakened Empire.

The Colossus isn’t just a force for destruction however. If you’re playing a spiritualist empire, you will be able to research a brainwashing beam to convert entire planets to your faith just before your physical invasion and conquest of the targeted world. As a Driven Assimilator, you can mass-convert entire planetary populations into cyborgs instead, with your invading forces immediately plugging them into your network afterward.

As a Pacifist you have the option to put entire civilizations on a galactic “time out” with the shielding colossus, and of course for genocidals, conquerors, or just plain monsters there’s at least two different ways of committing planetary-scale genocide with this dangerous weapon. The recent “Aquatics” species pack added a whole new option for planetary genocides as well, meaning you have even more ways to make your friends question your morality. The utility of the Colossus is what makes the Perk it’s locked behind worth taking almost every run, no matter your playstyle.

The Colossus Project will:

  • Grant you access to one of the most utilitarian, multi-purpose weapons in the game
  • Provide you insurance against an enemy that you can’t beat in the void, allowing you to beat them with a cosmic “backstab”
  • Make your conquest of the galaxy, both physical and ideological, far, far easier
  • Possibly save you resources that would otherwise be expended on armies
  • Give you an epic-looking battlestation that will be quite active by the time your victim’s friends arrive

5. Arcology Project

Now you can have all the decedance and splendor of your civilization concentrated in one place!

Organic civilizations aren’t left in the dust when it comes to production hubs. The Arcology Project perk will allow you to invest significant amounts of resources, including time, into turning any planet into an Ecumenopolis; a planet-city. This new planet type has its own special and unique planetary bonuses that make it an exceptionally powerful production hub for advanced resources such as alloys and consumer goods. You can even use them to produce Unity by the thousands provided you have the gas production to support them.

If you aren’t a fan of Ring Worlds, Ecumenopoli are amazing for pop storage. So long as you don’t need those pops working jobs, you can turn that size 14 mini-planet or moon into an Ecumenopolis and cram 1500 pops onto it. Slap down some Martial Law and build some fortresses on it, and you can keep it like a bank of pops ready for resettlement at a moment’s notice!

The Arcology Project will:

  • Often completely stabilize a flagging economy with the construction of just one Ecumenopolis, provided the mineral and strategic resource upkeep can be met
  • Can produce Unity by the thousands, should that ever be necessary.
  • Work fantastic as a ”pop storage facility”
  • Will drastically expand your empire’s ability to house pops without need for territorial expansion

4. Hive Worlds/Machine Worlds

Not even planets are safe from assimilation

Two of the most powerful planet types in the game: Hive Worlds and Machine Worlds, are locked behind distinct Ascension Perks. Hive Worlds have uncapped basic resource districts, while Machine Worlds have uncapped energy and mining districts. While these simple mechanical advantages make them powerful enough to be worth pursuing on their own, they also provide unique planetary bonuses that make both organic Hives and Machine Intelligences feel like unique and interesting civilizations in their own right. There’s just no feeling quite like renaming that newly-terraformed size 30 planet to “Power Core Alpha” after queuing up 29 Generator Districts in its construction queue. It’s like smelling that “new car” smell in your brand new sports car after driving it off the lot.

So basically, the Hive/Machine World perks will:

  • Make Hives and Machines both feel like unique civilizations with their own playstyles
  • Grant you access to unlimited basic resource districts, something unique to these civilization types
  • Grant you planetary bonuses that make utilizing these new planet types to their fullest potential even easier
  • Intensify and solidify immersion for the roleplayer


3. Technological Ascendancy

Maybe the technological singularity isn't all that bad...

Technological Ascendancy is your quintessential first or second perk, there really isn’t any way around it. While there are other perks you can take as your first or second choice, they vary from being situational perks to roleplay perks meant to help you achieve a certain goal you have for the campaign. Technological Ascendancy on the other hand is useful no matter what empire you are running with, and will continue to pay dividends throughout the entire campaign. Unless you have specific goals for the run that would be furthered by taking another, more situational first perk, Technological Ascendancy is your go-to.

Technological Ascendancy will:

  • Increase the chances of rare technologies popping up
  • Increase research speed by 10%, which is substantial in the very early game
  • Have a snowballing effect by allowing you to get an early boost to research


2. Galactic Wonders

Leave your mark on the galaxy and let the glory and might of your empire echo into the next Galactic Era

Galactic Wonders, added to Stellaris back in the Utopia expansion, has been a staple of late-game veterans for a very long time. It unlocks access to the various larger Megastructures, allowing you to construct Dyson Spheres, Ring Worlds, and build other projects of similar scale.

If you plan on playing a campaign longer than 200 years, this perk is basically essential. There is only so much you can do with a purely planet-based economy, especially since you will require pops to run that economy by working jobs, and more pops creates more lag.

Megastructures help you streamline your economy by giving you massive amounts of resource income once the structure is complete, or in the case of Ring Worlds, allows you to massively centralize your population in a small, highly defensible area. It is entirely possible to have a competitive late-game empire that consists of only 4 star systems: two Ring Worlds, one Matter Decompressor, and one Dyson Sphere.

Furthermore, Megastructures also turn the system they are in into an extremely high-value system, one often worth going to war over. In multiplayer you may find yourself waging several wars back-to-back just to claim your neighbor’s Dyson Sphere, since in vanilla Stellaris you are limited in how many megastructures you can build (but not steal!)

In short, Galactic Wonders will:

  • Reduce end-game lag by allowing you to upscale your economy without adding more pops
  • Allow you to drastically reduce your empire’s physical size without losing economic or military power
  • Provide incentive for late-game wars beyond just outright extermination


1. Become the Crisis

No more cycles, no more meaningless striving, godhood awaits!

Become the Crisis was only added to the game in the recent Nemesis expansion, but it has already reached the point of being uncontested as the best Ascension Perk in the game. Not surprising considering it is meant to turn any nation into a galactic-tier existential threat.

The Perk gives you access to an array of buffs known as “The Menace Tree” which are unlocked by committing increasingly heinous and destructive acts. It also gives you access to a new set of ships that can be used as cheap cannon fodder to throw at those who oppose you while your real fleets move in and mop up the remains. The sheer power and variety of buffs available through this perk and the Menace Tree make it the highest value perk you can take.

While it is a heavily meta option, Become the Crisis allows for lots of roleplaying opportunities if you are creative enough. The AI can also take the perk as well, meaning even if you defeat the first Crisis, form the Imperium, and dominate the galaxy you can still have one nation go rogue on you and quickly become a real threat, especially if you don’t notice what’s going on right away. I’ve had quite a few games where that Determined Exterminator I was building up to confront suddenly became a Crisis Aspirant and snowballed completely out of control. I’ve also had games where one of the more standard nations took the Perk and I failed to notice until I wondered how that nation was catching up to me in military strength, while the games where I’ve become the Crisis myself were universally enjoyable.

So to summarize, the “Become the Crisis” perk:

  • Grants access to overpowered buffs
  • Gives you the Menace point system, giving additional meaning to committing war crimes
  • Grants access to cheap, expendable military power
  • Is extremely high value for cost
  • Offers a high amount of roleplay opportunities
  • Provides a post-late game challenge
  • Adds a real element of uncertainty to a campaign
  • Provides you the entertainment of becoming the Crisis yourself

With any 8 of these 10 Perks slotted into your Ascension slots, you should be ready to face whatever challenges the galaxy can throw at you. No matter the crisis, with these perks you will endure!

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A gamer to the core, Joel enjoys building and exploring worlds. The Internet is his magic mirror, and his gaming chair his throne.
Gamer Since: 2007
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Stellaris
Top 3 Favorite Games:Stellaris, Darksiders II, Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

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