If you’re not a Star Trek fan already, Stellaris-based grand strategy game Star Trek Infinite may not be for you, says its producer, Paradox’s Mats Holm. In a recent interview he told Wargamer that Star Trek Infinite is “quite difficult to consume if you don’t have any Star Trek on board. If you’ve never seen a TNG episode, it’s quite difficult to get into the flow.”
Star Trek Infinite comes out this Fall on October 12. Produced by Paradox and developed by Nimble Giant Entertainment, Stellaris DNA runs through its veins, and its gameplay will be familiar to any fans of that spacefaring 4X game. But if you don’t know your Alpha Quadrant from your Betazoids, you may struggle to make it in the final frontier.
“I have had people who came to this internally who were like ‘I don’t watch any Star Trek, I’m just going to play this’ and it felt very obtuse to them,” Hom says. “If you are not a Star Trek fan to begin with and you’re just like ‘I like strategy games’ this might not be the game for you.”
The flipside of this, of course, is that the game’s crammed with content that Star Trek fans are bound to love. Star Trek Infinite’s technical director Andrés Ricardo Chamarra and game director Ezequiel Maldonado are true fans, and tell Wargamer they binged more than 500 hours of Star Trek content while developing Star Trek Infinite. Maldonado says the most challenging part was deciding what to leave out.
“Star Trek is a really rich source of material,” he says, adding that avoiding going over scope was key. “I want to do everything – that doesn’t really work. What to choose to bring to the game, this was the most difficult part.”
Chamarra says that Nimble Giant has made a combination of bespoke and procedural content for the game. “We wanted to make a mixture of familiar bespoke content that you expect to find but also exploration is very important. So there needs to be new stuff and new places.”
“Hopefully if we did things right, when you play the game, you will wonder: did I see that in the show? Or is it new?” he adds.
This resonates with me. As someone who’s only watched a few Star Trek seasons, playing a preview build of the game, I found myself asking that question time and time again. Still, there was plenty I did recognise, from missions to hire iconic crew members to big lore events like the destruction of the Romulan homeworld.
According to Chamarra, Star Trek: The Next Generation is the “main anchor pipeline” of Star Trek Infinite, but it has content from everywhere – from the original series to Lower Decks. Personally, my favorite encounter was an event I won’t spoil, except to say it was called “Shut up Wesley”.
There’s also plenty of new stuff to see in Star Trek Infinite, like new worldbuilding. Mats Holm says one of the most interesting challenges was filling in gaps in the lore, tackling for instance the question of “how would Romulans build a space station?” You can tell your own Star Trek story, and there are alternate history pathways to explore. You might redeem the Cardassians, for instance, or even go down a darker path as the Federation.
Who else is Star Trek Infinite for? Well, according to Holm, it’s for fans of Stellaris who like to roleplay. “I believe there are more people out there who want to play a Star Trek game that potentially are a bit scared of Stellaris,” he says “It’s a pretty big and chunky and crunchy game”. But he says Star Trek Infinite doesn’t have the same min-maxing potential of base Stellaris, and is instead more roleplay heavy.
“Star Trek Infinite is just like my perfect setup of the game. It has all the players I want in my game and gives me the flow that I want in roleplaying the Federation or the Klingons or the Cardassians.”
Andrés Ricardo Chamarra hopes that when Star Trek Infinite releases, it will have broad appeal. “Hopefully, we can pick up some strategy fans and make new Star Trek fans and vice versa. I would say just play it. Give it a chance!”
If you’re a lapsed Trekkie in need of a refresher, look no further than our sibling site The Digital Fix’s guides explaining the Star Trek timeline and all the Star Trek movies in order. Or, for more games that’ll make you think, check out the best free strategy games on PC, and the best strategy board games.