Since there are so many playstyles and builds in Stellaris, it’s no wonder there are a lot of unbalanced and downright broken ways of playing the game, hence why we made this Stellaris ascension perks tier list. Ascension perks can make or break your game and it’s hard to experiment with different playstyles and builds since playing one game of Stellaris game can be extremely lengthy. Although we suggest that you play your game without looking up too much information, it’s important to know what things are viable and what are boring and useless.
This ascension perk basically gets you the option to build Titans and more importantly, the World Cracker ship. Titans are basically superships that can be a benefit to your fleet, but the real reason why this perk is at the top is because of the ship called World Cracker. If you ever tried to play Stellaris until the end (2500), you know that at around the year 2400, your game starts to get slower. This is the dreaded endgame lag that is inherent in the Stellaris engine. One of the best ways to mitigate this is to destroy every planet you conquer. Basically, it comes down to killing pops since they are the main reason for the lag. If you want to play the game to the year 2500, Colossus Project is a must-pick.
Defender Of The Galaxy
We find this perk pretty boring, but extremely necessary. If you cranked up the difficulty of the endgame crisis to an x5, x10, or x25, this perk is a must. You get 50% damage to any endgame crisis and get an opinion boost from all empires. We suggest picking this perk last as it doesn’t have much benefit (only opinion) if the endgame crisis is not close.
Become The Crisis
Technically, we don’t consider this ascension perk a “perk” since it’s so game-changing. Basically, you get to unlock a different game path that is primarily focused on making you the bad guy. Soon enough, everybody starts hating you and your mission is to build a machine that can wipe the whole galaxy out starts. Again, we don’t consider this a “perk”, it’s more of an alternate way of playing the game.
Mind over Matter
Apart from being one of the most fun roleplays, mind over matter is also extremely powerful. The benefits you get throughout the game are just hard to overlook. Unlocking the path to transcendence is where all the best benefits are. You get job bonuses, leader perks, connection to the shroud, psionic jump drives, immortal leaders (chosen one), and much more. These are bonuses that follow you through the game and mind over matter is considered one of the most reliable choices.
*This is the Psionic Ascension Path, you will not be able to go to different paths after picking this perk.
Since one of the most important factors in the game is tech progression, it’s no surprise that Technological Ascendancy is just too good. Even if it’s just a 10% research speed boost and a +50% chance of finding a rare technology (this means a jump from 1% to 1.5%), the benefits are powerful since it can get the ball rolling. This perk is usually the first or second pick and there aren’t better alternatives at the early stage of the game. It may not be ideal if you are going for a specific build, but even then it’s arguably a close second.
Similar to technological ascendancy, this ascension perk can be picked early. It remains one of the most reliable ascension perks since it gives you 10% monthly unity, -10% pop amenities usage, and +50% governing ethics attraction. This gives you a nice boost and it can be very useful throughout every stage of the game. Unity is always welcomed, and sometimes ethical attraction can stabilize your factions and circumvent faction problems.
You can’t go wrong with picking Executive Vigor since the +100 Edict fund is a powerful boost in the early game. Although it can fall off and perhaps be underwhelming in the later stages, the Edict fund that you get in an instant can give you the option to have 2-3 edicts constantly active.
Basically, if you’re playing MegaCorp, this is a must-pick. -15% Branch office cost early in the game with save you a ton of resources and make steamrolling the game easier. Furthermore, commercial pacts are free of charge which means you get to save that precious influence that you need so much if you are playing, for example, a xenophile MegaCorp and making deals with everyone.
If you are a fan of tall builds, the Arcology Project is a must-pick perk. It gives you the option to build an ecumenopolis which is sort of a superplanet. This planet can be the home to a huge number of pops and with the correct setup, you can get some crazy benefits. Furthermore, if you see that you are stuck with only 3-5 worlds, this is the best way for expanding your empire with the need for acquiring more worlds. In our experience, it worked extremely well with the megacorp tall build.
If you like cool sci-fi buildings, this ascension perk is a must. It unlocks the option to build Ring Worlds, a Dyson Sphere, and Matter Decompressors. Ring Worlds are a way to further expand your world and give you jobs if your space is too cramped. If you find yourself struggling with energy, Dyson Spheres as they generate huge outputs of it (1000 to 4000), not to mention they look really cool. Matter decompressors basically do the same but for minerals. Besides that these buildings look cool, they provide solid benefits across the board and that’s the main reason why it’s so high up our Stellaris ascension perks tier list.
It gives +20% Diplomatic weight, +33% to awakened, and fallen empires, as well as +33% damage to The Gate-builders. Although it’s somewhat situational, we really love these perks just for the diplomatic weight alone. If you’re going for the Galactic Custodian and want to have all the political power, the Galactic Contender is a great choice in this build. Of course, it will help you defeat Awakened and Fallen empires as well, which is situational, but 33% is good.
Nothing much to say about this perk. It gives you +50% to Megastructure build speed and +1 to build capacity. If you want to build a lot of megastructures, this is the way to do it. Keep in mind that +50% is a lot and generally if you want to build something like a Quantum Catapult as soon as possible, this can be a game changer. We had one game where we were building the quantum catapult and it was done just in time to launch us to where the Unbidden were spawning. This made the game 10 times easier since the endgame crisis didn’t have time to spread. All thanks to that +50% build speed.
The Flesh is Weak
To unlock this perk, you must complete the Integrated Cybernetics technology. The starting cybernetic bonuses your population gets are 20% habitability, and +40 years leader lifespan, which is not that impressive. That said, once you turn your population into Cyborgs, you will get around +15% of bonus output from them. All in all, it’s kind of a lite version of going full robot mode with Synthetic Evolution. The main differences are that you get The Flesh Is Weak much earlier and can help you overwhelm other empires sooner than later.
*This is the Cybernetic Ascension Path, you will not be able to go to different paths after picking this perk.
Usually, a must-pick if you’re playing as an Overlord. +2 envoys will boost your relationships throughout the game and having no loyalty loss from subjects is key for keeping your subjects glued to you. Nothing more to say about this one, if you’re going to have many subjects, pick Shared Destiny.
There are a lot of ways to “adjust” worlds to your type of civilization.
- Machine World=Terraforming for Machines
- Hydrocentric=Terraforming for Aquatics
- Hive World=Terraforming for Hive minds
- Consacrteted Words=Terraforiming for religious races
- World Shaper=Terraforming for Gaia worlds
Some may have slight advantages but it depends. Generally, they are all pretty good and a viable pickup for every type of empire they are attended to. For example, if you are playing machines, it’s a safe bet to just turn everything into machine worlds since they are much more powerful, except if you’re playing as Rouge Servitor (better aim for Gaia worlds). While these perks can be in different places in our Stellaris ascension perks tier list, they are for specific empires and it just doesn’t feel right to separate them
We know that it may not be a popular pick with some people, but we love this perk. When you are playing with a MegaCorp, for example, you will want to preserve as much influence as possible for office branches. Furthermore, there are a ton of playstyles that can chew your influence, and -20% Starbase influence and -20% claim influence cost is generally very beneficial if you feel you need extra.
Even though it is situational, we really like the idea. This ascension perk unlocks the raiding bombardment stance. This can yield pops by bombarding enemy planets and abducting enemy pops while doing so. As you devastate the planet more and more, you can accumulate a lot of pops in the process and send them to your planet. It’s pretty quirky, but pops are the backbone of a strong empire and Nihilistic Acquisition provides that.
One of the coolest paths in our opinion. It lets you assemble clones, tailor traits to your liking, and generally play around with different species and attribute bonuses. It excels in pop assembly and with this path, you will probably be the most populated empire in the galaxy. One of the popular builds is to get the Overtuned origin and combine the traits you get from there with Engineered Evolution.
*This is the Biological Ascension Path, you will not be able to go to different paths after picking this perk.
+20% habitat habitability and +2 habitat building slots and a good way of further upgrading habitats. If you lack worlds and find yourself building a lot of habitats, Voidborn can be a good choice, especially combined with Voidborn origin. Habitats can provide extremely high outputs of research by combining the origin and this ascension perk.
Interesting in theory, laggy in practice. The majority of Stellaris players disable xeno-compatibility before the game because of the mid-late game lag. It’s a shame since xeno-compatability has some crazy ways of playing. Basically, you get to play around with dozens of species and cross-breed them. While it’s not the most powerful thing, we do appreciate the creativity and options you get from this perk. The main reason it’s not higher in our Stellaris ascension perks tier list is that more species equals more lag.
Although it was very popular, as of patch 3.6, it requires you to unlock Synthetics before you can choose this path. Generally, this path is very strong for resource output and maximizing your population potential. Main bonuses: 25% to all pops after upgrading the main synthetic upgrades. There are more bonuses for workers, scientists, fire rate, etc. The main issue with this path is that Sythechic technology is only available later in the game. This can cause other ascension paths to steamroll you before you even start getting the main bonuses from Synthetic Evolution.
*This is a Synthetic Ascension Path, you will not be able to go to different paths after picking this perk.
Mastery Of Nature
This one is situational. If you find yourself clearing a lot of blockers on worlds, Mastery of Nature can come in handy. It’s good to keep this ascension perk in mind since some custom builds naturally have a lot of added blockers.
Galactic Force Projection
Adding +80 naval capacity, and a +20 fleet command limit can be useful but ultimately it’s an underwhelming and quick, fixed gain that will later hog one ascension perk slot. If got all your other things in check and just want a stronger fleet, this can be a solid option.
Grasp Of The Void
Expanding your starbase capacity can be good when you have a lot of choke points that need to be covered. Usually, this comes in handy when you are conquering an empire and find yourself having a lot of weak spots in your empire. Also, more starbases mean faster rebuilding and repairing which is crucial when waging long and exhausting wars.
Lord Of War
This perk is situational. Having diplomatic weight can make or break some games cause of the federation’s powers and voting. The best thing it gives you is +25% diplomatic weight from fleet power. If you have a huge fleet and need extra diplomatic power, this may be a good choice, otherwise, we suggest you skip it.
A very short-lived perk that gives you -50% empire size from colonies. So unless you have 5-10 colonies and are struggling for resources, it’s better to pick something that will follow you throughout the whole game, like Technological Ascendancy, One Vision, or Executive Vigor.
Unless you are going with some crazy “Leader” build, this one is simply not that impactful. +2 Leader level cap and 50% experience gain are always fine, but there are usually much better choices. It can be fun if you want to role-play having 200-year-old Necroid leaders perhaps, but it doesn’t impact the game that much.
At the current state of the game, spending extra precious resources to upgrade your starbase defenses generally isn’t an optimal playstyle. Furthermore, it’s very boring and unless you have a huge defense chokepoint, there isn’t any reason to heavily rely on starbase defenses and by extension, this perk is pretty useless.
Unfortunately, everything that has to do with Encryption is very underpowered in Stellaris. +2 Encryption doesn’t do much and the perk that your ships don’t leave space debris isn’t something that will help you. This may be okay in multiplayer, but it’s extremely situational and most of the time useless.
You have a chance to transform a toxic world into a “usable” one. You can usually find worlds in Stellaris by exploring or conquering them and just having a chance to turn one toxic world into a non-toxic one seems more like a technology rather than an ascension perk. Pretty underwhelming and a big vast of an ascension perk slot making it one of the worst perks in our Stellaris ascension perks tier list.
It’s important to take this list with a grain of salt. Every Stellaris player has different playstyles and ideas of fun. Furthermore, it’s important for an empire to have a “rich roleplay” story and play by that logic. The best Stellaris games are when you create empires for fun and love, not for maximizing specific outputs, tech, or something else. Do keep in mind that it’s really hard to know what synergies exist because there are so many origins, traits, civics, traditions, and perks. This Stellaris ascension perks tier list isn’t overarching for every build and situation so there are a lot of times when something considered “bad” can be useful. Nevertheless, we hope we gave you an idea of where Stellaris’ perks stand in the current state of the game.
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