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Physically, not emotionally toxic: Our favorite space strategy game is adding an entire species of Nasty Little Guys

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Paradox has announced a new species DLC coming to Stellaris on September 20: the Toxoids (opens in new tab). The teaser trailer (opens in new tab) for the new add-on ends with the tagline "The End Justifies the Ruins," and playing as them looks to give bonuses for high-risk, aggressive play that destroys planetary environments for the sake of industry. Basically, you're playing as the bad guys from every sci-fi story. Environmentalist parables? Who needs 'em, we have heavy industry and Toxic Baths.

"Empires featuring the Toxoids species can grow and adapt faster than most creatures," Paradox's announcement (opens in new tab) reads, "but tend to make life unpleasant for their neighbors⁠—and often for themselves." I can't help but think of the smog-choked Harkonnen homeworld of Giedi Prime (opens in new tab) from Dune. The species' full mechanical offerings are as follows:

New Origins

  • Knights of the Toxic God: In the depths of your homeworld, rumors rumble of a true power buried under the toxic sludge. Do you dare to dredge up the secrets of your past and potentially unleash them upon the galaxy?
  • Overtuned: The candle that burns the brightest, burns itself into the galaxy’s memory! Play as a species that can gain more and more traits at the cost of its own lifespan, and live for today without worrying about sticking around for tomorrow!

New Civics

  • Toxic Baths: Grow your population fast with a fresh infusion of mutagenic sludge so long as you’re willing to tolerate the costs to your planet and your people!
  • Scavengers: One empire’s trash is your empire’s treasure! Don’t be too proud to harvest debris and destruction for quick construction projects of your own.
  • Relentless Industrialists: If you’re going to keep up with demand, you’re going to have to learn to ignore all of those petty regulations and negative opinions. The surviving population will thank you for all of the resources you gain!

New Traits

  • Incubator: Repopulate quickly when your planet is empty, but those growth facilities can fill up fast!
  • Inorganic Breath: Your own people are a source of valuable exotic gasses! It’s a shame the respirators are so expensive.
  • Noxious: Other species can’t stand being around you, and it seems like your mere existence is making your planets awful places to live. On the other hand, other empires have a very difficult time wanting to fight or subjugate you, and it’s hilarious to see the look on their faces when you’re in the room!
  • Exotic Metabolism: You’ve adapted to ask “are you going to eat that?” where other species would be calling the hazmat team. Eat faster, live longer, and enjoy a terrifying rainbow of flavors!
  • New Cosmetics: Species portraits, ship models, and cityscapes that only a mother could love.
  • New Advisor: Grow your empire alongside a relentless source of noxious sarcasm!

I'm a sucker for that first origin, Knights of the Toxic God. It sounds like it should be an album by British extreme metal band Slugdge (opens in new tab). I also like the sound of "Species portraits, ship models, and cityscapes that only a mother could love." We are leaning fully into the Stinky Empire fantasy. Sometimes you just look at the endless expanse of the cosmos and the goody two shoes Federation types exploring it and want to cover it all in industrial runoff.

The Toxoids species pack is available for pre-order now on Steam (opens in new tab), GOG (opens in new tab), and the Microsoft Store (opens in new tab) for $10, and you will be able to destroy all that is beautiful and good in the universe come September 20. 

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.