Stellaris – How to Terraform a Planet

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In the world of science fiction, authors and real scientists, theorized about an amazing technology called terraforming. Terraforming is the act of changing the ecosystem of a planet to make it more habitable for life. This technology exists in Stellaris, and this guide will teach how to use that tech to terraform a planet.

Terraforming is very advanced technology, and will become available deep into the mid-game. Unlocking it is worth it, though, as you can finally put those unused planets in your borders to work.

Recommended Read: How to Colonize a Planet in Stellaris

The hardest aspect of terraforming is unlocking the tech and the ascension perks you may need. The process of terraforming is passive. All you have to do is throw energy credits at it and wait for the work to complete.

You Terraform planets in Stellaris by unlocking terraforming technology. You can then terraform uninhabited worlds. Further research will allow you to terraform worlds with pops on them, and some ascension perks provide more terraforming options. Finally, there are the less peaceful methods of terraforming.

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How to Terraform a Planet in Stellaris

Like with most things in Stellaris, terraforming can seem a daunting process, but it is far from that.

Once the technology is acquired, all you need to do is find a terraforming candidate and click a few buttons.

When you first unlock terraforming, it can seem like a weak technology. Waiting 10 years in game time for one planet, is that even worth it?

Let me assure you, it is. When the late game comes around, and you are fighting enemies on every front; you will be glad for the production those extra planets bring.

I should add before going forward. You may only terraform planets that are within your empire’s borders. If a terraforming candidate resides in your neighbor’s territory, you will have to liberate that system first.

Terraforming Technology

Without mods, there are three technology options that govern terraforming for any given empire. They all belong to the society research tree, and none of them are rare techs, as such, they are easy to unlock.

The techs and their powers are as follows:

  • Terrestrial Sculpting. The first tech you unlock will be Terrestrial Sculpting. This allows you to change any uninhabited world’s climate or type. Changing only the type will cost 2000 energy and takes five years of in game time. If you are changing the full climate; it will cost 5000 energy and ten years of game time.
  • Ecological Adaptation. A few technologies after terrestrial sculpting, the one you are most likely to unlock is Ecological Adaptation. It allows you to terraform planets that you have already colonized. This lets you fix any poor habitability mistakes you may have made earlier. Be aware, while the planet is being terraformed, all pops will suffer a -20 percent happiness modifier.
  • Climate Restoration. The highest tier of terraforming tech is Climate Restoration. Whilst out exploring, you may have noticed planets that are barren. If playing as the United Nations of Earth; Mars is barren and has a Terraforming Candidate modifier. These once uninhabitable worlds can now be terraformed. Not only that you will be able to turn Tomb, Hive and Machine worlds back into normal planets; fit for standard life. Finally, this will grant access to the terraforming ascension perks.

Terraforming Ascension Perks

After unlocking the final tech, you will gain the option to take your terraforming powers even further. While not useful to all empires; if you are playing an empire that can enjoy them, they should be on your radar.

The ascension perks and their powers are as follows:

  • World Shaper. This allows you to terraform standard, barren, and Tomb worlds into Gaia planets. For standard planets, this will cost 7500 energy and ten years. Barren and Tomb worlds will cost 12,500 and 25 years of in-game time.
  • Hive Worlds. Available and only useful to Hive-Mind empires; is the option to terraform planets into Hive worlds. These Hive worlds provide massive buffs to hive-minded pops that live on them. Habitability, resource production, increased housing, and all building slots are unlocked, to name a few. Candidates for hive worlds are standard climate planets and barren ones. They both will cost 10,000 energy and 20 in-game years.
  • Machine Worlds. Only available to machine empires and is more or less the same perk as Hive world. The bonuses provided on machine worlds are more tailored for robots. The costs and candidates mirror the Hive world perk above.
  • Detox. Toxic planets are still quite a new addition to the game and need the Toxoids DLC. This perk will allow you to turn any toxic planet into any standard climate except continental for 10,000 energy and 10 years. If you choose continental, it will take an extra 5 years.

Aggressive Terraforming

If your empire isn’t above some deplorable violence, you can terraform planets without needing any of that pesky technology. Not all empires will be able to make use of these methods, and pacifists can’t make use of them at all.

The aggressive methods are as follows:

  • Armageddon Bombardment. Instead of conquering a planet, you might decide to kill everyone who lives there instead. If you use this bombardment stance long enough and kill every pop, it will turn into an aptly named Tomb world.
  • Javorian Pox bombardment. Very similar to the Armageddon stance; in which the aim is to kill all life on the planet, only this time with virus bombs. If all pops are killed with this stance, it will turn into a Tomb world. This does not harm robotic pops because they can’t catch viruses.
  • Deluge Machine Colossus. Most of the colossi super weapons will flat-out destroy a planet. This one is different. It will flood the planet and kill all pops that do not have the Aquatic trait. What is cool is that you can target your own planets with this weapon, useful because you will be running the Aquatic trait yourself.
  • Toxic God Colossus. Similar to the deluge machine, this colossus will turn the target planet into a toxic world. This will exterminate all pops, destroy all deposits, and demolish every building.

That is everything you need to know about terraforming in Stellaris.

If you have any questions or suggestions for this guide, please let us know in the comments section below. As always, have fun terraforming in Stellaris.

Simon Neve

Simon lives in Northern Ireland with his wife and two children. When not caring for his family, Simon enjoys video games, board games, and tabletop roleplaying games. When playing isn't an option he writes about them instead.

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