Stellaris' new story pack has been announced, and presents players with a whole new avenue for profoundly unethical behaviour. Focusing on pre-spaceflight civilisations, the First Contact pack includes new origins, new ways to interact with species that haven't reached the stars yet, and (if you really want to screw with their heads) cloaking technology for your ships.
The new origins all hew to the pack's first contact theme. There's one where your species was quite literally abducted by aliens, but managed to cast down the subjugators; another where you only figured out spaceflight by repelling an alien invasion (somehow) and using their tech; and a final one where your civilisation is a kind of galactic Sentinel Island (opens in new tab), with most of the population favouring staying at home and out of contact with whatever other polities might lie outside your solar system. Probably smart, considering prior Stellaris expansions have equipped those guys with the means to turn your planet to dust (opens in new tab).
I'm most interested to see what kind of new mechanics are available for interactions with pre-FTL civilisations, since that's always been a fairly minor part of the game. Up to now, observation missions have generally just been a way to nab some extra research points, and maybe gain a new ally when that society discovers FTL travel. The announcement doesn't go into much detail, but it does say the interactions you'll have available will depend on the target civilisation's "level of technology and their awareness of your presence". One of the screenshots seems to suggest that you'll be able to set your species up as gods if a particular society has the right religious bent to it, for example.
Cloaking, meanwhile, lets you "Equip your ships with cloaking devices to survey in secret or catch a foe unaware," and just generally be the biggest creep in the galaxy. You'll be able to keep tabs on less advanced civilisations with cloaked observation posts, and spy on your enemies with invisible ships. Of course, they'll be able to do the same to you.
The First Contact pack will launch alongside Stellaris' upcoming 3.7 Canis Minor patch, becoming the latest in a long line of DLC for the game stretching all the way back to 2016. Thankfully, we have a guide to tell you exactly which Stellaris DLC you should buy (opens in new tab). I don't know whether First Contact will join that list, but I'm pretty into the idea of dumping laser weapons into ancient Rome and seeing what happens.