Stellaris – What Is the Best DLC to Buy?

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If there is one thing all of Paradox Interactive’s grand strategy games have in common, it is the large amount of DLC they have available. Stellaris has its fair share, and this begs the question, what are the best DLCs for Stellaris?

Now, not every expansion is equal in Stellaris. In fact, they come in four different categories: Expansions, Species Packs, Story Packs, and the newly added narrative pack.

Recommended Read: How to Build a Juggernaut in Stellaris

This guide will explain what each of these packs are, what are the best DLCs, and aims to help decide where to spend your hard-earned money. 

The best DLCs for Stellaris are Utopia, Leviathans, Federations, Humanoids, and Synthetic Dawn. Utopia is the best of that list, and is widely considered the only must-own DLC.

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What Are the Stellaris DLC packs?

Vanilla Stellaris, that being no mods or DLC, is a wonderful game with hundreds of hours of content to enjoy. Deciding to never add to your own Stellaris experience is a valid way to play the game.

That said, deciding not to embrace this content is limiting the scope of your Stellaris experience.

Without DLC, you can’t build megastructures, play as robots, destroy entire planets, play as extraordinary alien species, and even destroy the entire galaxy. 

The problem comes from the fact that Stellaris has so much DLC, and if you buy all of it, that comes with a hefty price tag.

At the time of this guide’s writing, the Steam autumn sale is on. With the generous discounts, every DLC would cost you over 200 Dollars.

Spending that much money is not for everyone. So, this guide is going to explain the top 5 DLCs for Stellaris. Before getting into the list, you should first understand the different kinds of DLC Stellaris has available.

When most games release DLC, all the content often comes in the same size and scope. This is not the same in Stellaris. Their DLC comes in one of four categories.

This determines the kind of content that comes in the pack, the price, and how much content it comes with.

The four categories are Species packs, Story packs, Narrative packs, and Expansions. Knowing what each of these packs is will help you understand where you are spending your money.

Species Packs

The smallest and often cheapest Stellaris DLC are the species packs. These focus on adding new races to the game, they are both playable and met whilst exploring the galaxy.

These packs have changed a lot throughout the game’s life cycle. Early species packs were only character portraits, and provided no gameplay content at all. After a bit of uproar within the community, Paradox decided to fix that.

Species packs now come with unique gameplay features, story content, as well as species portraits. The game developers even went back and updated the earlier species packs, fixing their old mistake.

The Species Packs are:

  • Plantoids
  • Lithoids
  • Humanoids
  • Toxoids
  • Necroids
  • Aquatics

Story Packs

The Story pack DLCs are best described as half expansions. They exist to add flavor to the game and add minor gameplay changes.

Adding a story pack or two will make your galaxy more interesting, but won’t change the way you play the game very much. 

This is where a lot of new people start with DLC. This is because they are cheaper than full expansions and let players get a feel of what DLC is like in Stellaris. 

DLCs of this variety often come with a new patch for the game as well. The Story Packs available for purchase at the moment are:

  • Synthetic Dawn
  • Distant Stars
  • Leviathans
  • Ancient Relics
  • First Contact

Narrative Expansions

This is the latest iteration of the DLC pack for the game. Paradox describe them as larger than story packs but still not as large as full expansions.

There is only one available right now, and it focuses on adding narrative story elements to your game.

This DLC has met with a lot of pushback from the community, as the pack seems expensive compared to its meager gameplay content.

Paradox has fixed DLC issues before, but these packs do not come with a recommendation yet. 

The only narrative pack available is:

  • Astral Planes


The best, most expensive, and largest DLC are for last. Expansions add loads of new gameplay mechanics, new ships, and balancing and change the game in huge ways.

Whenever one of these DLCs is released, a major gameplay patch is also unleashed. The patch is almost a demo of the new content, allowing you to try it before you buy.

For instance, the federations DLC patch added the levelling system to federations but only allowed you to play as one of the new federation types.

These DLCs are the ones that hardcore Stellaris fans crave. The current expansions are:

  • Overlord
  • Federations
  • Megacorp
  • Apocalypse
  • Unity
  • Nemesis
  • Galactic Paragons

The 5 Best DLCs for Stellaris

If you have a limited budget and can only buy 5 DLCs for Stellaris, this is the list I would point you to. They are the best value for money in terms of content and price.

We tried to include one from every category on this list, except narrative packs, because they are not in a good state right now. They are in no particular order, except the very best one, which is at the end of the list.


One of the first pieces of content released for the game was the Leviathans story pack. Your empire can now wage war on some monumental forces of nature.

These foes will take a substantial military force, and you can use the added enclaves to assist you in defeating them. As you can imagine, defeating these enemies can lead to some very lucrative rewards.

The best thing about this DLC though, is the war in heaven feature. In the late game, the fallen empires may wake up and begin warring with each other.

Your empire can join this war by picking a side, or they take no side and risk fighting both of them.

As a story pack, this is an inexpensive choice, and a great starting point for any new Stellaris enthusiast.


The first full expansion on this list is the Federations expansion. Even if you only like to play as genocidal empires, there are still great features here for you.

Federations are a very powerful way to cement your empire’s legacy. Before this DLC federations were clunky and very difficult to get started, and this is now fixed.

There are even different Federation types to form, depending on your empire’s ethics.

The Galactic community is also added in this DLC. You and your fellow empire’s will be able to dictate galactic law. You can make slavery illegal, create a wealthy elite class, enforce research sharing, and many other decisions.

There is also the Origin system. This allows you to set a backstory for your empire, giving them a unique start and flavor. Your empire could start on a destroyed wasteland, start as a federation, or even in space.

Last but not least are the new construction options. There is the new Mega Shipyard, a megastructure that boosts your ship output. Then there is the Juggernaut, a large mobile starbase that puts Titan class ships to shame.

Federations is an amazing expansion pack, just for the sheer weight of diplomatic options it brings to the table.


Humanoids is the best species pack you can buy for Stellaris. It does not have the most portraits, game mechanics, or story features. But those are not what make the best pack.

Most people play as a humanoid race in Stellaris, and this DLC provides you with better options to do this.

In comparison, the other species packs let you play as very weird and niche races. This is not for everyone, even if they do come with fancy story content.

When first released, this pack only contained portraits for you to choose from. Paradox has since updated this DLC with all sorts of new features.

There are new civics, ship sets, city art, advisor voices, music, and a very powerful origin.

The origin is the clone army origin, a very popular start in the Stellaris sphere. This is because it is a very powerful origin in terms of the meta. It is also some of the finest narrative content ever released in the game.

No spoilers for the content here, so you should get out there and try it for yourself.

Synthetic Dawn

What kind of self-respecting sci-fi game doesn’t let you play as robots? Well, if you want to play as robots in Stellaris, you will need to buy the Synthetic Dawn DLC.

For a lot of people new to DLC in Stellaris, this is their first purchase, myself included. Creating an empire that spans the galaxy is cool, but doing that with robots makes it even cooler for reasons unknown.

Robot empire’s come with unique gameplay mechanics, civics, origin stories, story content, and technology to unlock. Before you ask, yes you can create a legion of death robots and wipe out all life in the galaxy. 

This also adds the addition of synthetics to the game. Allowing you to create a race of robotic and biological hybrids. 

Thanks to Synthetic Dawn only being a story pack, this DLC can is very cheap. There is only one other DLC I would recommend over this one.


A lot of players cannot imagine playing Stellaris without this DLC anymore, and I do not blame them for that. Utopia is without a doubt, the best content that has ever been released for Stellaris, for a multitude of reasons.

The list of gameplay features this expansion adds is very impressive, but everyone’s favorite is of course, megastructures. 

The ginormous space structures are some of the most powerful assets your empire will ever produce.

Winning the game without them is viable, but megastructures help you win faster and are a dream come true for science fiction fans.

There is also the ascension perk system, slavery augmentation, the ability to play as a hive mind, play as an advanced government type, the power to build space habitats, and advanced civics.

The only Stellaris DLC that I consider a must-own is the Utopia expansion. After playing it, you will agree with me too. Due to its age, it can be very cheap, more so if you can pick it up in a sale.

This is everything you need to know about what are the best DLCs 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 with DLC 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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