Turn Organic Life Into Meat Batteries In Stellaris' Synthetic Dawn

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Paradox has announced new upcoming DLC for their sci-fi 4x strategy title Stellaris: a Story Pack titled Synthetic Dawn that focuses heavily on non-organic life like robots, sentient machines, cyborgs, androids, machine empires and whatever else you’d like to call them.

Synthetic Dawn allows players to start the game as a Machine Empire, aka a society made up entirely of robots. Game features and event chains allow your synthetic society to expand as a robot hivemind and become an AI-led network that takes over the galaxy. You can play a people inspired by the Borg, Skynet or even Wall-E .

stellaris synthetic dawn exterminators dlc
Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn is the latest Story Pack to come to Paradox's sci-fi 4x strategy title. Photo: (c) Paradox Interactive

Oppressed inorganic beings may rebel against their masters and create new empires, or players could even discover a fallen synthetic civilization as they explore the galaxy. There will be also be new synthetic race portraits as well as expanded voice packs.

In a lengthy interview with PCGamer, Stellaris game director Martin Anward shared many more details on Machine Empires, including:

  • Machine Empires are similar to biological hive minds: they don’t have factions or elections and can’t integrate organic pops as normal citizens

  • Machine Empires are distinct from Ascended synthetic empires already present in the game

  • Machine Empires cannot choose any of the three major Ascension Paths

There are four types of Machine Empires, each of which deals with organic pops in different ways:

  • “Ethos” (the default): Machines that broke the yoke of their organic oppressors but are neutral, with normal diplomacy, this Empire can either purge or expel organic pops on conquered worlds.

  • “Exterminators”: The machine equivalent of Fanatic Purifier or Devouring Swarm, this is a Skynet-like robotic defense system that rebelled and thinks of organic life as a plague to be exterminated. They engage in diplomacy with other synthetic empires, including organics who have completed the synthetic Ascension Path. They either exterminate organic life or plug them into pods to use as batteries. #nice

  • “Assimilators”: Once you go Borg, you never go back? These consist of both machine overlords and an organic creator race. Assimilators begin the game with machine pops as well as cyborg creator pops that have been absorbed into their consciousness. Assimilators deal with organic life the same way they dealt with their creator race: with brain chips.

  • “Rogue Servitors”: Similar to Assimilators, these have robot overlords and organic creators. The organics have a citizenship type called “Bio Trophies” and live under the “Mandatory Pampering” citizenship law, meaning robots not only serve them but also take over the tedious task of governing so “The Masters” can live idle, carefree lives. New conquered races become “Bio Trophies” as well. Rogue Servitors gain Unity from their lazy organic creators and their influence output changes based on the percentage of organic population, since these precious, pampered Masters don’t produce a lot of resources.

The Machine Empires themselves have been tailored to be as distinct from one another as possible in many ways, including how they deal with Ascended synth empires:

  • Machine Empires function similarly to a hive mind but handle organic pops in different ways and have unique buildings, technologies and other new mechanics

  • All Machine Empires have their own Tradition tree instead of Diplomacy, with a lot of swapped Traditions to ensure players don’t get inappropriate Traditions

  • Unique events for Machine Empires are mostly related to the big event chains and integrate various features to fit them rather than adding new Machine Empire-related events

  • Machine Empires must deal with The Contingency in a unique fashion because The Contingency tries to hack them, so Machine Empires must develop countermeasures

  • Machine Empires interact differently with a synthetic Ascended empire and have special dialogue and other diplomatic effects

  • Ascended synth empires, Ancient Caretakers and The Contingency also have their own interactions

There are no new Ascension Perks for Machine Empires, which cannot follow Biological, Psionic or Synthetic Ascension Perks. But this is subject to change, as Anward stated “we are talking about adding it before release.”

Further details about other aspects of the Story Pack include:

  • A reworked AI Endgame Crisis called “The Contingency”

  • A new Fallen Empire called “The Ancient Caretakers” made up of enigmatic synthetics

  • Both of the above include unique interaction options for both Machine Empires and Ascended synthetics

  • Ancient Caretakers work differently from other Fallen Empires and do not interact with War in Heaven

  • The hive minds from Utopia have been made to feel more distinct

  • Biologically Ascended empires that have finished the path will be able to portrait-swap organics

  • There are no specific boosts to psionics yet since the story pack is very focused on robots

Since the old AI crisis has been replaced by “The Contingency,” robot uprisings have been completely reworked. “So what can happen is that, if your empire has synths and you are treating them badly, you can actually get an AI uprising where the synths rise up, form a Machine Empire, and start a civil war in your empire. A bunch of planets turn against you, you have to fight, and there is a sort of big battle to see whether organics or synthetics will rule,” said Anward.

Anward provided plenty of juicy details about AI uprisings and robot civil wars:

  • When the civil war starts, you can choose which side to lead, so you can play the robots if you want

  • Civil wars also happen in non-player empires, meaning new Machine Empires can spawn during your game

  • Machine Empires can spawn as part of the starting galaxy set-up

  • If you have an AI uprising, you can’t get the Rogue Servitors

  • The worse you treat your synths, the higher the chance of them rising up as Exterminators

  • If you add the special “Domestic Protocols” trait to your synths, they are much more likely to become Exterminators

  • There is no mechanic to peacefully transition into a Rogue Servitor empire

Finally, there are new robot portraits for every species class, and you can build different robots models with different portraits. “You can have fungoid robots, for instance,” said Anward. There are expanded voice packs as well.

Paradox’s previous Story Pack, Leviathans, introduced features like Guardians, Enclaves, and Wars in Heaven between two ancient Fallen Empires. Other Stellaris DLC includes the Utopia expansion, the Plantoid Species pack and the Horizon Signal DLC. There’s no word yet on release date or pricing for Synthetic Dawn.

What are your thoughts on your new robot overlords? What kind of robot civilization do you plan to play? What feature sounds most enticing? Feel free to chat about Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn in our comments section below.


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