Although it is not possible to change the design of civilian ships, StellarisMilitary ships are highly customizable and can be the key to achieving victory in many battles, even when outnumbered. Accessing each optional ship class and component will require multiple expansions and DLCs, but each can offer new perks and methods to winning space battles and, one day, dominating the entire galaxy.
The Ship Designer menu is where players can create, update, and customize ship models and defense stations. If a ship of a design is under construction or being upgraded, the design cannot be changed. Players can choose the automatic generation box to continuously update the design of ships according to the latest technological research. However, it will not take into account any enemies the fleet is facing or may be facing, so it can choose components that an opponent can counter instead of a less up-to-date component that has been proven successful.
Getting directly involved in the design of the vessels is optional and Stellaris can be played without touching this menu often. Still, it’s always best to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential enemies and update or improve ship designs to counter them. For example, while shields are effective against most energy weapons, they are vulnerable to kinetic weapons, while armor is the exact opposite.
On the right side of the designer, players can select options for different subsystems of the ship. Most of them are required, and it is not possible to design a ship without a version of them, but few of them are optional, having the option of not installing any subsystem in its site. These systems include the reactor, FTL reader, computer system, sublight thrusters and sensors. Since almost all components require energy, it is highly advisable to keep the reactor up to date or to supply it with a reactor booster.
Each ship and each station consists of one to three sections, and each section can have its own design. Ship section designs vary depending on where they are in the ship, while station section designs are all the same. Each section design has space for a variety of offensive and defensive modules. For example, a station section can be designed to carry a single large weapon or four small weapons. Although more expensive and not mobile, defense stations have no maintenance costs.
In the game, weapons track stats based on their build cost, power consumption, type, damage, cooldown, accuracy, tracking, and range. There are also six categories of weapons to install on ships and defense stations, including Energy, Kinetic, Explosive, Strike, Point Defense, and Titan weapons. Researching Starter Weapon Improvements can unlock new weapons to research and install on new designs. Strike Engine Hangars will launch small spaceships to attack. Like explosive weapons, strike devices ignore shields to damage armor and hull, but can be shot down by anti-aircraft guns. They usually take enemy fire before the rest of your fleet, making them useful for both attack and defense.
The Titan Lance is a weapon that can only be equipped for Titans or station-based ion cannons. They are time consuming and expensive to build, but their extremely high damage and range within systems provides a tactical advantage, as typical enemy fleets won’t even be in response range until you’ve already committed.
While there aren’t many weapon choices for Titan class ships, they instead have a special base component slot called the Titan Aura, which can affect both Allied fleets. and enemies in pitched battle. A defensive aura gives a buff to allied ships in the same fleet, while an offensive aura applies a debuff to all enemy ships that fight with the Titan’s fleet. In either case, the distance from the Titan does not matter. While the Juggernaut class ship cannot be added to any fleet, it can be equipped with an aura that affects all ships that are in the same system.
Battleships can be equipped with extra-large energy or kinetic spine-mounted weapons that deal massive damage at great distances. While not as powerful as the Titan Lance, the fact that they can be equipped on battleships means that they are more widely available for battle. It can be tempting to equip every section of a ship with powerful weapons, but it can also leave them exposed to damage from enemy ships. Ideally, ships should be equipped with a mix of weapons and point defense guns or flaks to defend against incoming missiles and strike devices.
Utility components primarily provide defense against incoming damage, although auxiliary slots can provide components that provide additional upgrades to ships. For example, while shields have inherent regeneration, armor and hull don’t. This means that, by default, damaged ships cannot be restored to full combat capacity without returning to a starbase, which limits operations away from said starbases. Therefore, securing at least one source of hull and armor regeneration is useful, especially for long offensive operations. This can be done by acquiring the technology of the regenerative shell tissue or nanobot repair system and installing it in the auxiliary slot.
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