So, I absolutely love Stellaris, Paradox Interactive's strategy game in which you run a space-faring empire of any sort. You have all sorts of selectable ethics and civics, and, in something I rarely experience, the ability to actually create your own spacefaring empire (Something I've wanted since I was a wee lad) and the ability to do countless different runs. I've done many different runs, and my favorite is still one as the Democracy of Rileya and the species of the Rileyans. I also named the leader "Der Kommissar" because they were an avian empire, causing me to think of Falco from Star Fox, which caused me to think of Falco music. Yeah, so the Democracy of Rileya was a fun run that I still have going in case I ever revisit it.
The appeal of Stellaris, to me, comes from the fact it essentially fulfills childhood fantasies with countless options. One second, I'm Der Kommissar of the Democracy of Rileya, a kind avian trade empire that does its best to avoid conquering and has terrible military force in exchange for great negotiation and a nice little pocket of space. The next, I'm the vicious ruler of the monstrous Lovecraftian Blackheart Empire, guiding ships to wipe out everything in my path out of a ruthless desire to conquer.
You can be so many races, so many empires. You can be a human empire who is bringing Earth's power to the universe, or you can be reptilian, or avian, or tentacled, or even a mushroom. That's right, you can be a motherfucking space mushroom. This is where Stellaris is most appealing.
Not just in being a space mushroom, although that's fun. No, Stellaris wins because it's packed to the brim with options and choice. You can fulfill your dream of being any sort of space empire you want, with diplomacy
options, top-level trade, crazy awesome zany schemes of all sort, and an encouragement of creativity. You have to use logistics, tactics, and resource management, yes, but you also have an encouragement to get nuts. Sometimes, it might fail horribly, but that's why you have infinite runs and countless options.
To this end, Stellaris takes great care to have a number of influences which propel it forward no matter what you're trying to do with it. There's inspiration taken from Star Wars, Star Trek, Warhammer 40,000, and all manner of other things. It lets you play it like nearly any spacefaring franchise you want. This gives it an added sense of wonder and amazement, and of satisfaction when you pull of an insane scheme or a precise land grab.
Now, I'm not great at strategy games, I'll admit. In fact, I'm awful at them. However, Stellaris makes it often fun to fail. Getting a hang of it is actually complex and interesting, as it gives better tutorials than my only other Paradox game (Crusader Kings II with A Song of Ice and Fire installed) and yet is complex and difficult enough that you feel genuine satisfaction when you pull off a trick or a tactical victory, whether it's a zany scheme, a con, a scam, or an ambush.
Whether evil or good, a trickster, a general, a fascist, an anarchist, or anything else, you can spread your empire throughout, or keep them close to your own space. There are countless stories you can create from Stellaris, countless things that can happen, countless empires, countless victories, countless defeats. Stellaris is the sort of game where you can craft your own spacefaring people, and live out your childhood fanatasies of living in Star Wars or Star Trek.
Stellaris gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment no EA work could ever give me, and a sense of wonder that few games have ever matched. I find it impossible to keep from immersing myself in its world, and it's certainly worth a shot. Religion, robots, ships, empires, war, trade, peace, espionage, science, discovery, construction, destruction, diplomacy, thorough annihilation, reconstruction. There is something for almost anyone in Stellaris. I love Stellaris because I can love any part of Stellaris depending on what mood I'm in.
Plus, space is cool.