Stellaris Console Edition Guide: Differences, DLC, & How Far Behind is It?

The game is out on PS4 and Xbox One. The question remains: is Stellaris good on console?

Stellaris: Console Edition is exactly what it says on the tin (or the download, as the case may be). It’s Stellaris on consoles — namely the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But it’s a bit of a blast from the past in a few key ways. The DLC and expansions are notably behind the PC version, for instance. This isn’t something you see a lot these days. But Stellaris is such a massive, processor-intensive game at times that it makes sense for it to get some extra attention. What does that mean, exactly? Let’s find out in our Stellaris: Console Edition guide! We’ll try to pin down the nature of Expansion Passes, DLC, and how far behind the Console Edition is compared to Stellaris on PC to answer whether or not the game is good on console!

How Far Behind is Stellaris: Console Edition?

This is really the big question. The PC version of Stellaris gets new content (e.g. gameplay updates and expansions) much sooner than the console port. The exact delay is, sadly, not super easy to pin down. It fluctuates from expansion to expansion — likely because different DLC presents different challenges from a performance and control perspective. Stellaris: Federations, for example, released on console almost a year and a half after it initially arrived on PC. Yet Stellaris: Nemesis took just over a year.

As a general rule of thumb, players should expect each expansion to take at least a year from PC to console. Though that gap has slowly been closing. Free content also tends to come through slightly faster than the paid stuff. This leads to some slightly confusing situations. Though not in a bad way by any means. On PC, Stellaris usually receives major patches simultaneously with paid content. Such as Patch 3.4 coinciding with the Overlord DLC, which added new ways to rule other empires and Enclaves like Mercenaries. Stellaris: Console Edition simply gets elements of those free patches ahead of when the PC version would have gotten them in the past, according to its own release calendar.

To clarify with another example, the console port hit Patch 2.8 at the same time it received the Federations expansion. On the PC, Patch 2.8 didn’t actually arrive until the release of the Necroids DLC half-a-year later. So, while the Console Edition didn’t have Necroids when it hit Patch 2.8, it did receive the broader balance and feature changes for free. Just earlier than you might have expected. The TL;DR is that free updates are typically less far behind than the paid ones!

What’s Different Between Stellaris: Console Edition and the PC Version?

Differences between Stellaris: Console Edition and its PC cousin aren’t super noticeable. Beyond the stuff mentioned above, of course. DLC is roughly a year or more behind; free updates arrive slightly sooner. The next most obvious gameplay difference is that Stellaris can (of course) be played with a controller on PlayStation and Xbox. Whereas the PC version has no native controller support to speak of. You can work around this with third-party software. Stellaris is also quite playable on the Steam Deck in our experience. The PC version simply lacks the bells and whistles of true controller functionality. Stellaris: Console Edition even goes as far as changing a few UI functions (e.g. the shape and placement of certain icons in-game) to make them easier to select with a D-pad or analog stick. It’s nothing super fancy, but it’s great for playing on a couch.

Things get a little hairier when it comes to performance. Stellaris doesn’t run badly on console. Not for a game that you can pause at your leisure. But the endgame — when more of the map is revealed and fleets get larger — sees notable frame rate dips compared to a PC copy with a good graphics card. This issue and loading times are also significantly reduced by the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Stellaris isn’t currently native to either generation of platform, but the PS4 and Xbox One versions still receive big performance boosts on the newer hardware.

Stellaris megastructure

Last but not least, possibly owing to the slower release schedule, DLC is cheaper with Stellaris: Console Edition than on the PC. At least in theory. This is because the console versions sell “Expansion Passes.” Each pass includes three pieces of paid content for Stellaris: one right out of the gate and two more released later on. Just like the “Season Pass” expansions you see in many other games. These usually include one major expansion (adding huge new features and factions) and two smaller ones (which often include things like more Origins), or two major expansions and one smaller pack. Prices differ depending on the size of the content, but it’s always a pretty significant discount.

“Expansion Pass Five,” for instance, includes Nemesis, Aquatic Species, and Overlord (two large expansions and one smaller add-on). The pass starts at $35. Individually, all that DLC would cost you $48 in total. Though this doesn’t take sale prices into account. Expansion Passes usually go on sale whenever the PC content does, so you’re still saving money in the long run. Said passes aren’t available to PC players, either. Those folks need to buy every expansion pack individually — on sale or not.

Is Stellaris Good on Console?

This really comes down to three things: controller support, DLC cadence, and pricing. Just ask yourself how much those differences matter to you!

Stellaris: Console Edition plays better with a controller than its PC counterpart. Full stop. Even if you do the work of making it function with third-party apps or Steam, you’re still missing out on some key features. That makes playing the game on the couch through remote play and other means more of a chore for PC players. Convenience comes at the cost of content, however, since console players are regularly a full year or more behind the PC version. That’s nothing to sneeze at… If the delay was a bit shorter — a few months instead of 12 or more — it would be an easier recommendation.

You do save money on console, as well, but Stellaris goes on sale very frequently across both platforms. Factoring that in, you save less than $10 for every three expansions. It’s not nothing, but it’s also not likely a deal-breaker for anyone keeping up to date anyway.

All-in-all, the PC version is still far and away the superior choice if you have a computer that can run it well. Console exclusive players (especially those with a PS5 or Xbox Series X) should still definitely consider picking up version of the game. Stellaris is good on console and PC. It’s a fantastic strategy game with a ton of depth. Even if you don’t get all of that depth quite as quickly as other players. And if Stellaris: Console Edition continues to catch up, this might become a very different story. We can always hope for cross-save or something similar if the two versions ever reach parity!