The upcoming Stellaris expansion, Federations, introduces a collection of new diplomatic options for players looking to do battle through paperwork rather than with armadas. One such addition is the Galactic Community, a feature that stands to fundamentally change the way players interact with their neighbors.
The Galactic Community operates similarly to the World Congress in the Civilization series. It brings together the galaxy’s empires to vote on resolutions that affect the ways that empires can operate. Much like the enormously complex international institutions here on Earth, such as the UN and the EU, this coming together of spacefaring civilizations could, in theory, reduce the possibility of in-game wars, providing a diplomatic alternative to armed conflict. And just like these earthbound institutions, you can try and leave them if you want.
“There’s a lot of reasons you might want to leave the Galactic Community,” says Daniel Moregard, Stellaris Game Director. “Other empires can use the Galactic Community to target you with resolutions designed to destabilize your control.” But even if the Galactic Community does, it’s still up to your empire, and whatever government structure you have, to implement the changes the resolution demands. “You aren’t forced to follow any resolutions the Galactic Community accepts,” Moregard explains. “Members will like you less if you don’t follow the laws, and they might denounce you, but they can’t make you follow them.”
But maybe your civilization doesn’t like all these extra rules and denouncements. Maybe you think the Galactic Community is just holding you back. Maybe you feel like you want to take back control. In that case, you can try to leave. But it’s not so simple as just walking out the door. As it turns out, leaving such an interwoven network of systems, agreements and voting blocs is a complicated process. And Moregard wanted, from the very beginning, to make a Brexit-like scenario possible in Stellaris.
While it isn’t the first game to draw inspiration from the 2016 UK vote to leave the EU, Stellaris differs from titles like Watch Dogs: Legion and Not Tonight in that developer Paradox Interactive is based in Sweden, an EU member state. Stellaris also takes a wider view on Brexit, focusing on the logistical and diplomatic issues rather than the on-the-ground results.
When asked if it would take as long to leave the Galactic Community as it does to leave the EU, Moregard stated that “If that was the case you’d never actually get to leave!”
Britain was originally meant to complete its EU exit in March of this year, but the date has been pushed back repeatedly. At the time of writing, Britain is due to leave the EU on January 31st, 2020. According to Moregard it will take about ten years to leave the Galactic Community in Stellaris.
And it won’t be easy. “No matter how long the process of leaving the Galactic Community,” he tells me, “we will have a cost associated with leaving depending on size.” This echoes the so-called “divorce bill” attached to Brexit — the EU’s request that is Britain to pay what the country has already promised towards various European projects. While the EU has taken considerable care to explain the cost of leaving to Britain, the Conservative government keeps threatening not to pay it. It seems Stellaris has come down on the side of the EU here, as you won’t be able to just refuse payment of leaving costs.
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Still, Stellaris isn’t getting too specific with the inspiration. “Trade and borders are much simpler in Stellaris than they are for Britain, Moregard says. “Borders are either open or closed, and trade deals are either arranged or not.” He was vague on whether or not factions within your government could insist a withdrawal from the Galactic Community. But If Stellaris really is taking its cues from British politics, we should expect to see factions demanding an end to cooperation with the Galactic Community from the second you sign up.
For those with leavers regret, Stellaris will provide the option to re-join the Galactic Community. “But obviously you’ll still be open to being denounced and in breach of law,” Moregard tells me. “And it won’t be easy either. If you could just leave and re-join whenever you like, players could just avoid any consequences that come with membership.”
Stellaris is no stranger to incorporating real-world issues, such as its tongue-in-cheek inclusion of climate change. That’s incensed some fans in the past, but the developers seem unbothered. At the end of the day, in Moregard’s words, this is all “just funny social commentary.”