Play Stellaris as the most evil alien race imaginable: HP printers

In 2017 Stellaris' Synthetic Dawn DLC added Machine Empires to Paradox's ever-expanding 4X space game. Instead of simply using robots for planetary labor, you could play an entire campaign as a robotic civilization, exploring and/or exploiting the stars as synthetic beings. The DLC added new civilization traits and government types to Stellaris' species customization pool, from which any player could construct their very own Skynet, Borg, or Dalek equivalent.

Now, more than a year after Synthetic Dawn's release, a first-time modder has created the ultimate robot race: the household printer.

"Play as the HP DeskJet 2630 Wireless All-in-One Printer after they became sentient and conquered their humanoid makers," writes creator Tom on the mod's Steam Workshop page.

Indeed, the DeskJet 2630 is a Determined Exterminator, which from the get-go are built for combat, conquering, and genocide with +25% weapons damage, −15% ship cost, and +33% fleet capacity. "Born in fire, the Machine Intelligence's first move was to annihilate its organic creators in self-defense," reads Stellaris' general description of this single-minded empire type.

Their home planet, Printer Prime, is a Tomb World, meaning that in lore of this mod, printers nuked us to smithereens and left the planet in a nuclear winter. Sounds about right.

The DeskJet 2630 has these additional traits:

  • Rapid Replicator (+20% Pop Assembly speed)
  • Logic Engines (+10% Research Output)
  • Mass-Produced (+15% Pop Assembly Speed)
  • High Maintenance (+10% Robot Upkeep)
  • Repurposed Hardware (–25% Leader Experience Gain)

High Maintenance is an appropriate pick—the flavor text reads: "These machines were designed with a complete disregard for longevity and are prone to malfunction. They will require frequent maintenance." Personally I'd love to see the "Bulky" trait added as a reflection of how cumbersome printers are.

As a reluctant user of printers, this mod taps into a lifelong rivalry I've cultivated with this peripheral. Troubleshooting internet issues with your ISP probably tops it for outright inconvenience, but nothing surpasses the mechanical evil of the printer: the way it reliably malfunctions the moment you absolutely need it; the inscrutable language ("PC LOAD LETTER"); its unending thirst for proprietary, overpriced blood.

Posted three days ago in Steam Workshop, this insidious add-on is already one of the most popular mods for Stellaris over the past week. Its creator says he's hoping to add an animated portrait in the future.

Evan Lahti
Global Editor-in-Chief

Evan's a hardcore FPS enthusiast who joined PC Gamer in 2008. After an era spent publishing reviews, news, and cover features, he now oversees editorial operations for PC Gamer worldwide, including setting policy, training, and editing stories written by the wider team. His most-played FPSes are CS:GO, Team Fortress 2, Team Fortress Classic, Rainbow Six Siege, and Arma 2. His first multiplayer FPS was Quake 2, played on serial LAN in his uncle's basement, the ideal conditions for instilling a lifelong fondness for fragging. Evan also leads production of the PC Gaming Show, the annual E3 showcase event dedicated to PC gaming.