If you’re wondering which Stellaris DLC to buy, we made a Stellaris DLC Tier List to help you. We know that the base game is very barebones without the DLCs, so if you want to cash out on a few of them, start with some in the S Tier and A Tier categories and work from there. A lot of these DLCs can be found at a discount online, and the older core ones can be found at a low price. The main idea is to find the best 5–10 DLCs for a decent price, and then add more as you wish.
The Tier List is up-to-date for the new Astral Planes DLC
If you are new to Stellaris, we suggest you check out our Stellaris Gameplay guide for a good overall grasp of some of the main concepts of the game. When you get down to the basics, proceed to this list. So without further ado, here is our Stellaris DLC Tier List.
S Tier – Must Haves With The Base Game
Utopia is the most important Stellaris DLC by far. It will affect all the scenarios you play. Furthermore, it is the biggest factor in actually making hyper-effective late-game builds. The game just feels much more barebones without it.
Some of the key things the Utopia DLC adds:
- Habitat Stations
- Indoctrination observation post
- A more robust slavery system
- New purge and slavery types
- Hive Mind Species
- 2 Origins: Syncretic Evolution and Mechanist
- The Fanatic Purifier civic
- Ascension Perks
Note that most ascension perks are added to the base game now, but some are still locked behind the DLCA. As you can see, Utopia adds a lot to the game. We really consider this a must-buy with the base game. Utopia actually feels like a true expansion of the game, not just a few system and mechanical changes. If you’re deciding on buying 3-5 DLCs right now, Utopia needs to be on that list.
Now that we’ve covered the most important one, let’s get down to Federations. You can form pacts, build federations, share fleet power, and generally work together more. It just adds that special police spice to the game. It vastly expands the political aspects of the game by adding Galactic Councils, Tier 2 and 3 sanctions, and more resolutions that shape some of the late-game in Stellaris.
It adds origins like Hegemony, Shattered Ring, Void Dwellers, Scion, and Common Ground. Furthermore, additional civics make the game more robust and add variety. You also get the new Juggernaut ship, which can act as its own starbase and a ship at the same time. It comes in pretty handy and makes the game less tedious sometimes.
Honestly, we can’t imagine this game with the federations and galactic communities. Furthermore, it makes the game much less reliant on war, and sometimes you just want to play the game without all the crazy focus on fleet battles, ship designs, and big, long wars. This is for sure one of Stellaris best DLCs.
Okay, putting the Apocalypse DLC in the S tier might be a bit controversial, but hear us out. The reason why Apocalypse is very high on our list is because of the Planet Destroyer Ship that you can build. If you know anything about Stellaris, it’s that it’s plagued by bad late-game lag. AIs colonize a lot of planets, and the game just becomes too slow. It’s mainly due to the pops of planets in the whole galaxy.
Even if you wage war the whole game, it’s pretty much the same since you don’t actually destroy the planets but rather enslave them. But with Planet Destroyer, you can manage a large amount of late-game lag if you actually destroy the planets. It’s kind of a stupid reason on paper, but if you ever felt that late-game slowness, you know what we mean.
It also adds a powerful Titan ship that carries a ton of weaponry and defenses, Ion Cannons (defense platform addition), and Marauders (nomadic, militaristic FTL society).
Furthermore, you get another 3 new ascension perks: the Colossus Project (this is where you build the Planet Destroyer), Nihilistic Acquisition, and Enigmatic Engineering. For the lag mitigation alone, this is why it’s at the top of our Stellaris DLC tier list.
This DLC is one of those that just upgrades a lot of stuff that the base game already has. If you like exploring things like anomalies, events, and space monsters, this DLC is a must. You will have about 50% more anomalies and events than in the base game. Furthermore, you will find new Giant Space Monsters roaming around galaxies. This DLC also adds Curator Enclaves, the same thing that Leviathan DLC adds…weird.
Distant Stars DLC also adds L-Clusters to the game, which are fun in a sci-fi sense but can be hard for new players. It’s a mid-late game system with a ton of rewards and challenges, but it won’t impact your early-mid gameplay. All in all, this DLC adds a lot more interesting events and anomalies to the game. It adds a deeper story to the game, and that’s why it’s on top of our Stellaris DLC Tier List.
A Tier – Excellent, but the game is playable without them
These DLCs just make Federations much more worthwhile. Most importantly, it adds to the Megacorp government. Open branch offices, trade a lot and you will be good. This government type has its own dedicated civic, so it’s quite unique compared to others.
If that’s not enough, it adds some new origins and ascensions. The biggest one for us is that you can have Ecumenopolis Planets. These planets can hold a huge amount of pops and are much more effective than regular ones. Just think of them as superplanets.
It also adds new soundtracks and advisor voices. On top of that, it adds four megastructures: Mega Art Installation, Matter Decompressor, Interstellar Assembly, and Strategic Coordination Center. Moreover, it adds an additional market called the Slave Market, where you can sell and buy slaves.
We recommend you buy everything from the S-tier before going down in tiers. It just makes the base game much fuller. The Overlord DLC adds an upgraded vassal system which can be very interesting to play.
Generally, if you are a very powerful empire, instead of waging war with some smaller ones, you can make them your subjects, and it can be mutually beneficial. They give you resources and diplomatic power, and you give them protection.
You get some cool origins to choose from. Imperial Fiefdom is the most interesting one since you can combine it with a megacorp empire and create some powerful builds.
It also adds the Quantum Catapult megastructure (very fun!) and three new enclaves: Shroud Walkers, Mercenaries, and Salvagers.
There are some other additional structures that make the game more dynamic. These include Hyper Relays and Orbital Rings. This just makes some tedious parts of the game more smooth sailing, which we always welcome, and it’s the reason why it’s so high in our Stellaris DLC tier list.
Synthetic Dawn is really only for machine empires. For some people, that’s a must-have; for others, it’s not a big deal. Basically, this DLC adds robots and AI. If you like the idea of playing as an AI, this DLC is a must-have. If it doesn’t sound like something you want, then there’s no harm in skipping it.
There are three types of machine empires that come with this DLC:
Each has a different playstyle. Exterminator generally destroys everything. The assimilator makes everyone a machine slave. Servitor acts like a utopian machine that serves any species and makes their life better. Additionally, they all come with a lot of civic traits to choose from. You basically have a whole new civic and trait system, which just adds more versatility. It also adds a new mid-game AI uprising event, which is as scary as it sounds.
Note: Synthetic Dawn is also interestingly required for the 10 base Advisor voices, which is kind of a big deal.
Pretty robust DLC overall. If you like robots and AI, this DLC might as well be in the S tier of our Stellaris DLC tier list.
It adds Artisan Troupe, The Curators, and Trader Enclaves. Basically, these are civilizations that you can only interact with in the menu. They offer services and will be very useful throughout the whole game.
The best thing that this DLC adds is the War in Heaven. Two very strong Fallen Empires arise and you will have to pick a side. You can also be independent, but be ready to be caught in the crossfire. War in Heaven makes for some pretty interesting games. This can pretty much define the entire game because the scenario itself is very unique.
B Tier – Adds extra stuff, but it’s not necessary
Astral Planes is the newest DLC that comes with a 3.10 patch. While the DLC may seem very interesting and extensive, it doesn’t really change the core gameplay in a major way. Nevertheless, the additions from Astral Planes is pretty impressive and include over 30 Astral Rifts, 8 Relics, 4 Civics, 1 Origin, and new music. As you can see, while it is focused mainly on the story aspect,
Arguably, this isn’t a must-have DLC; rather, it is focused on expanding the Stellaris story and narrative by adding in a ton of new interesting sci-fi stories hidden in the astral rifts. The whole concept revolves around astral planes and rifts, which are mysterious anomalies (not those anomalies) that need to be explored and researched in order to gain deeper lore and knowledge about these appearances.
The most important thing in this DLC is that you have an additional ascension perk called Become The Crisis. Usually, there can be one of three end-game crises, but with this ascension path, you take on that role. It can be fun to actually become the center of attention and the biggest threat to the universe.
You have a system in place and “quests” you need to fulfill (generally by destroying something) in order to gain more power. We don’t want to spoil it too much for you. Let’s just say there is an interesting chain of events ahead.
Another thing this DLC adds is that you can become the Galactic Custodian and literally be the “Dictator” of the whole galaxy. On top of that, you have the Espionage system now. Honestly, espionage kind of stinks in general, but it’s a nice extra to have.
Overall, it adds some spice to the game, but nothing too special; hence, it’s in the B tier in our Stellaris DLC tier list.
Ancient Relics adds Archeological Sites which can be investigated for bonuses that you can spend on your planets and in the relic section. Relics that you find can be very powerful and game-changing. This one is very good since it impacts almost every game you play. It also adds Relic Worlds which are a type of “Archeological” world where ancient civilizations lived.
All in all, this is a pretty solid DLC if you want to add mystery and mystique to the game. It isn’t necessary, but it deserves a B tier in our Stellaris DLC tier list.
Nothing too essential here, but not underwhelming either. There is a new species – Toxoids. They come in at around 16 portraits. The biggest ones for us are the 2 new origins: Overtuned and Knights Of The Toxic God.
Additionally, there are three new civics: Relentless Industraists, Mutagenic Spas, and Scavagers. Additionally, the Overturned Origin has its own new trait system. So if you pick this one, you can make some really wild builds. Furthermore, Knights Of The Toxic God has an amazing quest line. It also adds the Detox Ascension perk, which can terraform Toxic planets into regular ones.
If you are lacking in variability and new stories, this origin will fill that void for sure. It makes for some fun builds, and we can put it even higher in our Stellaris DLC tier list.
Others – C Tier
These DLCs are not essential to have a full Stellaris experience but can add additional stuff that is not tied to the base game. Furthermore, if find any new class like Necroids, Aquatics, or Lithiods interesting, we suggest you go for it.
Just remember that they don’t add much to the overall game except that niche type of civilization and some origins and perks that go with it. There are some powerful stuff that are only found here, like Reanimators, Aquatic, and Budding, but you will be fine without them, they are an addition, rather than a necessity to the game.
Here are the other DLCs that didn’t make it to the top of our Stellaris DLC tier list:
- Necroids: Necroid Species, Necrophage Origin.
- Lithioids: Lithoid Species, Some New Origins, and Traits.
- Aquatics: Aquatics Species, Ocean Paradise Origin, and new Traits and Civics.
- Planetoids: Plantoid Species, new origin, traits, and civics.
- Humanoids: Human species expanded overall
- First Contact: Adds new mechanics and stories revolving around primitive civilizations. The one big thing this DLC adds is Cloak Technology, which is a very impactful combat mechanic.
- Galactic Paragons: Expands the political/leader aspect of the game, but the DLC itself is not that good.
Summary On The Stellaris DLC Tier List
|S Tier||A Tier||B Tier||C Tier|
|Apocalypse||Synthetic Dawn||Ancient Relics||Aquatics|