Stellaris Nexus preview - galactic domination in just 60 minutes

Space alien breathing fire
(Image credit: Paradox Arc)

Stellaris Nexus is the next stage in the iconic sci-fi strategy series from Paradox Interactive. This bite-sized turn-based game manages to compress all the depth and devotion you'd expect from a strategy simulation game into just an hour.

In Stellaris Nexus, players can participate in a simultaneous multiplayer match with up to five friends. Here, you’ll pick your desired alien race and slowly expand your influence across a galactic empire. Whether this is done diplomatically through treaties and cultural influence or forcefully through invasions and coups is entirely up to you. But be warned, it's always best to keep your enemies close. 

There are eight factions to choose from, and whether you pick the iconic Squid people or the angry and war-proud Krexax, you’ll be able to find one that suits you and your goals. Once you’ve committed to a faction, all that’s left is for you to expand your infrastructure and fleet and maybe tend to some alliances. You’ll need to get people on your side as every few turns, everyone will meet at the Galactic Alliance and vote on resolutions that can provide you with more points and materials. The first player to 100 points wins, so it’s more of a sprint than a marathon. 

Fighting fit 

Spaceships fighting over a planet

(Image credit: Paradox Arc)

I chose the warrior race, Krexax, as my faction. These red aliens with pincers for hands may not have the best reputation when it comes to democratic trading or high-tech research, but they sure do know how to invade hostile planets and create a domineering fleet of bloodthirsty warriors. 

I spent most of the early hours building a massive fleet and invading every nearby planet. This aggressive start meant that I was able to build up an impressive industrial infrastructure that supported the creation of new warships, which would then go on to take over neighboring planets, with the cycle continuing. 

However, it wasn’t all blood, guts, and conquering. The Krexax made an effort to spread their somewhat aggressive culture across the galaxy, meaning the prospect of signing treaties and peacefully taking over planets became a little easier. There was also a significant investment in exploration. I found old alien tech, mountains of expensive artwork, and even a sentient lifeform with whom I learned to speak. 

There are tons of ways to make the most of all the bounties you find. You can either keep it for yourself and do all sorts of things: sell, invest, research, or maybe even just keep it to hang in a museum. Or, on the other hand, you can donate your findings to the Galactic Council and share the knowledge with your fellow factions. 

Airtight invasions 

Detailed option menu

(Image credit: Paradox Arc)

Initially, I was quite apprehensive about the shorter period for Stellaris Nexus; I wasn’t sure how in-depth players could get in just an hour of play. However, I’m happy to say that this definitely wasn’t a problem. 

Stellaris Nexus takes its predecessor's (2016's Stellaris) fantastic world-building, customization, and features and condenses them down to a bite-sized portion of an hour. Having only 60 minutes means you’re encouraged to take more risks and be more aggressive in starting wars, fighting over the central planet Nexus, and gathering essential materials. 

It’s also the perfect amount of time if you just want to have a quick game over lunch or after work with some friends. The time limit ensures Stellaris Nexus is more palatable and doesn’t need as much dedication as its predecessor, so if you just want to jump in and out casually, that’s actually a realistic option. 

Making alliances, creating huge empires, and eventually stabbing your friends in the back is very exciting. This pocket-sized turn-based strategy game has a lot to love, and we can’t wait to see what else comes out of it. 

For more check out the best PC games you can play right now as well as the best simulation games out in the wild.

Elie Gould
Features Writer

Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications. 

Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.