How Cloaking Technology Works in Stellaris: First Contact
Have you ever wondered if life exists outside of our solar system? What if extraterrestrials have gained the ability to cloak themselves as they observe us? That is the implication suggested by Stellaris’ fifth DLC pack, entitled First Contact. In this DLC, players have the ability to utilize cloaking technology in order to observe pre-FTL civilizations and study the universe around them.
But, like with most topics having to do with actual rocket science, this cloaking tech can be complicated. So, let’s take this opportunity to explore how the cloaking technology in Stellaris: First Contact works.
What Was The Intention Behind the Cloaking System?
In the 289th Dev Diary published by Stellaris developers Paradox Development Studio, they explain a lot about this newfound technology. It would seem that the devs’ goals when it came to this cloaking tech were severalfold: one, they wanted to make it so that the entirety of space was yours to explore. If a rival empire had closed its borders to you — that’s some bad luck for them, because you were still coming in.
Additionally, there was a desire to keep pre-FTL civilizations in the dark about the player observing them. It would seem the top priorities lied in ensuring free and simple access to information across the universe, which is an admirable goal, but at some point it just becomes creepy. Secondarily, this technology could be used to aid in military action, to a limited degree. It would be better used on certain kinds of ships as opposed to others. There was also a desire to prevent a conflict between this system and Stellaris’ existing espionage system. It wasn’t enough for them to not conflict; they wanted the systems to interact.
How Cloaking Tech Works in Stellaris: First Contact
In explaining how this technology works in-game, it was important for us to first explain their intentions. This is because seeing the plan and seeing the actualization of said plan gives us a peek behind the curtain. According to the abovementioned Dev Diary, there is now a new component on ships called a Cloaking Field Generator. You can only use one of these components per ship, and depending on the ship, it’ll use either a special cloaking slot or an Aux slot. In-universe, the strength of these devices will improve based on the currently available tech. So, it can only get better with time.
It would seem the devs were successful when it comes to the cloaking devices helping to skirt borders. But, in addition, cloaked ships can now perform cloaked reconnaissance in an effort to gain new intel. So, it’d seem their desire to prioritize non-wartime utilization of this technology in-game was successful for the most part. This is only further proven by the fact that pre-FTL societies are unable to see ships that are taking advantage of cloaking tech, nor observation posts that are … observing them. It’s still creepy, but hey … in a world where you’re exploring the vastness of space, the ends might justify the means.
Risk vs. Reward
So, you can now use cloaking tech in Stellaris: First Contact. That’s neat, huh? It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however. This new technology requires a hefty amount of power, which results in penalties being imposed on anyone who uses it. It’d seem that these penalties mostly manifest as the nullification of your shields whilst you’re cloaking. So … don’t get seen by an enemy accidentally!!
In addition, determining your fleet’s cloaking strength is … a bit complicated. To start, it’s worth noting that if your fleet is composed of several different ships (let’s say you have a Corvette, a Frigate, and a Science, to name a few) your overall cloaking strength could range from 1 to 5, depending on which kind of cloaking you were using (Basic, Advanced, Elite, Dark Matter, Psi-Phase). If, let’s say, we replace your Frigate with a Cruiser, then your cloaking strength would be non-existent, unless you were using Dark Matter or Psi-Phase cloaking. This is solely because the cloaking strength is “determined by the ship in that fleet with the lowest possible cloaking strength.”
So, when forming your fleet, you’ll need to seriously consider what kinds of ships to include, especially if you want to take advantage of this new cloaking tech. It would seem that there are five total levels of cloaking strength: 0 (non-existent), 1 (very low), 2 (low), 3 (medium), 4 (high), and 5 (very high). But, there are ways for you to exceed these five levels and attain cloaking strength of 6 to 10 (exceptional). You’ll just have to find bonus cloaking sources throughout the game.
Hide and Seek
To conclude, some players may be asking: is there a means by which the player can be de-cloaked? Yes! It looks as if the sole means by which a fleet can be de-cloaked is if they are detected by an enemy starbase. But, it’s still not that simple. The starbase in question must have a detection strength that is equal to (or higher) than the fleet’s cloaking strength. And in the case where the fleet is detected, it still won’t be de-cloaked unless it’s within the starbase’s borders. It’ll be visible to the starbase. But it won’t be forced to lose its cloaking so long as it’s outside the starbase’s borders.
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