Today’s topic will further explore the subjects of fleet movement, FTL-travel and the general wonders one might happen upon when ripping holes through subspace. As the writing of this is a bit sudden the dev diary came out late today, our apologies!
The galaxy is a pretty huge place and to get anywhere in a timely manner you’ll want to travel faster than the speed of light, or use FTL-travel for short. Stellaris will have three methods of FTL that players can use; Warp, Hyperlanes and Wormholes. They all have distinct advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the strategic movement of ships and fleets causing expansion paths, diplomacy and wars to be quite different depending on the method used.
Warp requires each ship in the fleet to be equipped with a Warp Drive. These are quite costly to build and cause a major drain on each ship’s available power, but allows unconstrained travel to any system within range. When travelling to a system outside the range of a single warp-jump, the fleet has to make a sequence of jumps through a number of systems. Any jump puts a considerable strain on a ship’s Warp Drive, causing the fleet to not be able to jump again for a short while after arrival. While this can be reduced by more advanced technology, it does remain a weak point throughout the game for any species using this method.
Fleets using Warp Drives to travel will need to do so at the edge of a system to lessen the gravitational pull of the local star. This in combination with the fact that warp-jumps have the slowest FTL-speed of the three methods means that the arrival point of an incoming warp-fleet can be identified, and possibly ambushed. The cost of freedom is potentially high!
Some species have decided to sidestep this whole business of blasting through the void at ludicrous speed. They prefer to open up a temporary wormhole that a fleet may use to instantly travel to a distant system. These wormholes can only be generated by a Wormhole Station, a type of space station that can only be constructed on the outer edge of a system. Any fleet wanting to travel will have to use the Wormhole Station as a connecting point, passing through it whenever they leave the system. The station may only generate a single wormhole at a time, forcing all ships and fleets to wait while one is being prepared. The larger the fleet, the longer it takes for the Wormhole Station to be ready. The wormhole generated does allow two-way travel, but will collapse almost instantly after sending a fleet through.
Constructing and maintaining an efficient network of Wormhole Stations is vital to any species using wormholes, as it will allow sending huge fleets from one part of the galaxy to another in very short time. It also allows striking deep inside enemy territory with little warning. This great strength can also be a great weakness, as fleets are left with no means of further offense or retreat should the network be disabled through covert attacks by enemy strike-fleets.
The galaxy in Stellaris has a hidden network of hyperlanes connecting the systems, only visible for those who know where to look. Ships that are equipped with a Hyperdrive can access these lanes and use them to traverse the galaxy at incredible speed. They are however bound by the preexisting network, and has to path through each system connecting their current location and target. Galactic voids lacking systems are in effect huge movement-blockers for any species using hyperlanes, having few systems allowing possible crossings. An enemy could potentially fortify these vital systems should they become aware of their existence, creating strategic choke-points. As the hyperlanes exist in subspace, fleets may access them from anywhere within a system and does not have to travel from the gravitational edge as Warp Drives and Wormhole Stations do. As such, catching a fleet using hyperlanes can be tricky. Correctly identifying the paths to intercept and interrupt their somewhat long charge-up is probably your best bet.
All methods of FTL-travel can be improved by researching more advanced technologies. While their exact effects differ some they all improve the speed, range, efficiency or cooldown of FTL-travel. However, being able to casually bend time and space with increased power does not necessarily mean using it with more responsibility. As additional species bend the laws of physics to send larger and larger fleets through the galaxy, there is always the risk of something, or someone, noticing...