Stellaris – What Is the Best Species?

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There are a whole host of weird and wonderful aliens for you to meet in Stellaris. Some want to be your friends, and others think you are lunch.

The beauty of Stellaris is that not only can you meet these strange alien races, but you can play as them, too.

Recommended Read: Best Galaxy Shapes in Stellaris

With so many different possibilities of alien races to choose from, a lot of new players wonder: what is the best species to use in Stellaris?

This guide will cover every race in the game, their strengths and weaknesses, which DLCs you need to play as them, their unique gameplay mechanics, and, of course, which ones are the best.

The best species to use in Stellaris, starting from the best, are standard biological empire, robotic empire, lithoid, hive mind, aquatic, plantoid, toxoid, and necroid.

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What Is the Best Species in Stellaris?

A lot of things in Stellaris come down to personal preference. Due to the expansive nature of species in Stellaris, a lot of players tend to pick their favorite and then stick with it.

Your species choice is so much more than a cosmetic choice as well. Your type of race will determine what your pops eat, how other empires treat you, the civics you can select, and so much more besides that.

Something you should be aware of as well is that certain races will lock you out of certain game mechanics altogether. This can sometimes make the game easier or sometimes even harder.

Deciding which of these races is the best is no easy feat. The criteria used are how easy they are to play, their unique mechanics are fun, the strength potential of the species, and how impactful their weaknesses are.

We didn’t take into account any unique story elements or quest lines that by owning certain DLC packs. Remember, this list is an opinion; if your favorite race is low on this list, tell us why you love it in the comments section.

1. Standard Biological Species

Call this a cop-out, if you will, but without a shadow of a doubt, the best empire you can play is a plain old vanilla biological empire.

This means creating a normal empire, using whichever species portrait you like, and making use of no special civics or traits.

What is great about these types of empires is the sheer variety you can create. You want to make a race of rat-like pirates who plunder the galaxy? Go nuts. Or maybe a race of science-obsessed bird people? Go right ahead.

If you want to recreate your favorite factions from popular science fiction media, a standard empire is, more often than not, the route you will take. The only limit you have here is your imagination.

Not only that, but most options for a standard empire are not locked behind any pay walls or DLCs. On the other hand, there is a humanoid species pack you can get if you want to expand your choices.

A standard empire is likely to be most people’s first species, too. Almost all gameplay mechanics are available to biological races, too.

Making a great place for newer players to learn the ropes before moving on to the more complicated options available to them.

2. Robotic Species

If you own the Synthetic Dawn DLC, you will be able to create your own robotic race to play as.

If you are a Stellaris fan, you are more than likely a big sci-fi nerd, so the notion of playing as a robotic empire should fill you with nothing but joy.

The good news is that Stellaris doesn’t disappoint in this department either.

Robots have their own unique portraits, civics, traits, and gameplay mechanics. The game will change a lot when you are the head of a robotic star empire as well.

Your pops no longer need food, the faction system is now removed, they have their own tradition trees, you have 100% habitability on every planet, and you have unique ascension paths, too.

There are some downsides to be aware of as well. Other empires will be naturally wary of you; after all, something built you, and where have they gone?

Your pops will consume much more energy in lieu of food. And spiritualist empires often believe that your existence is an insult to them.

Don’t let these negatives deter you, as robotic empires have some unique gameplay mechanics that no other empire can do.

Want to imprison biological pops and force them to live lives of luxury in trophy cabinets? Exterminate all biological life. Or even assimilate them all Borg style? You can do just that.

A lot of players never return from the robotic empire rabbit hole, as it is such a blast to play. Give it a try; there’s a reason Synthetic Dawn is one of the best-selling Stellaris DLCs.

3. Lithoid Race

A super cool choice for an empire’s species is a lithoid race. Now, lithoids are living rocks, and in the background lore of Stellaris, they are silicone-based life instead of carbon-based life like ourselves.

Regardless of whether rock-based life is even possible, you have to admit that it does sound pretty cool. Being a rock makes the game very different for players, and a lot of them make the game very beginner-friendly.

Lithoid pops are less picky about where they live and have a much higher habitability score when populating planets; leaders live longer; instead of food, lithoids eat minerals, and their armies are much stronger.

The cost of this is that your pops grow a lot slower as a lithoid, and your empire will need to produce more minerals to manage your pops upkeep costs. Oh, and the biggest cost is, of course, that all of these features require you to purchase the Lithoids DLC.

Lithoids are an easy species to manage and a great transition for new players who struggle to reach the later stages of the game.

The greatest feature of the Lithoids DLC is that they have their own flavor of genocidal empire called Terravore. As a terravore, your species gets the option to consume planets, eating them and rendering them useless.

4. Hive Mind Empire

This species really does push the boundaries of science in Stellaris. A hive mind is where every living being in an empire shares one mind through some form of telepathic link. That can be difficult to imagine, but you may have seen examples in popular media.

Unity from the Rick and Morty series, the Tyranids from Warhammer 40K, and the Arachnids from Starship Troopers are all examples of hive minds you may have seen.

More often than not, they are the villains in works of fiction, but that isn’t always the case in Stellaris.

You need to own the Utopia DLC to play as a hive mind. These empires have their own unique civics but share species traits with standard biological empires.

They are a great way for new players to learn the ropes, as your empire is free of those pesky ethics, pop happiness, and factions always demanding you send your empire down a particular path.

Other empires will be scared of you, and can you blame them? It would be very unsettling to speak to a group of individuals and have them all speak as one. You can also choose to be the scary hive mind if you wish.

If you select the devouring swarm civic, your hive mind will only view life in the galaxy as prey and will consume it on site. The best way to play a genocidal empire, if you ask me.

5. Aquatic Species

Alien races that live in water are a hallmark of the science fiction genre. You have the Gungans from Star Wars, the Zora from Zelda, or even Mermaids from our own ancient mythology.

Owners of the aquatic DLC get to create a very hyperfocused biological race. This race will receive amazing benefits from living on ocean worlds, but they will suck on worlds without vast oceans for them to live on.

Staying away from desert planets would be the best advice.

Aquatic aliens have access to some unique civics, ascension perks, and special advanced tech to make being a fish alien even better.

You can even outfit your colossus ships with weaponry that will flood entire planets while destroying the current population.

If you are willing to take the time to terraform worlds, take the right upgrades, and live only on ocean planets, your pops have the potential to become some of the most powerful you can create in Stellaris.

It won’t be easy to do, and you will have to embrace the aquatic lifestyle first.

Every science fiction and fantasy setting needs a token aquatic race to make the place seem more diverse. Well, now you can play as them and make the greatest space fish empire there ever was.

6. Plantoid/Fungoid Empire

If the notion of playing as a sentient plant or fungus takes your fancy, then perhaps you should consider buying the Plantoids DLC.

While plantoids species portraits are available in vanilla Stellaris, extra portraits and gameplay mechanics will require you to buy the Plantoids DLC.

This DLC unlocks four special botanical traits that, at empire creation, are only available to aliens with a plantoid or fungoid portrait.

There is the phototrophic trait, which halves food consumption for energy consumption instead. Essentially, making your plant people require photosynthesis to survive.

The radiotrophic trait allows your plants to gain energy from radiation, such as from tomb worlds. The budding trait increases your pop’s growth speed. Last is the invasive species trait, which provides a stacking bonus to habitability and pop growth depending on how many negative traits your pops have.

This is a very low-impact species to play with; it isn’t uncommon to even forget that you are playing as a species that needs energy for upkeep, as the change in moment-to-moment gameplay is pretty much zero.

This is a pack for those who like to create weird and wonderful alien races and role-play as them while they are spreading out across the stars.

7. Toxoid Species

A unique race that Stellaris has to offer you is the toxoid variant.

These are aliens that have grown up on poisoned worlds and have been mutated by the poisons to the point where they require a toxic environment to survive. This makes them very hardy, and they also possess a strong constitution.

A lot of toxoid races have elected to make use of the toxic sludge they call home and use it to advance their own species. In gameplay, this manifests as overtuned traits.

The super traits provide staggering bonuses to your pops at the cost of their lifespan.

To unlock the toxoid species, you will need to own the Toxoids DLC, and this is a very niche DLC as this race is not for everyone. But you don’t buy this DLC for the species; you buy it for all the story content that comes with it.

But the amazing story content does not make the species any more fun to play, hence why it is so far down on this list. Players seeking a high-risk, high-reward gameplay style should pick up the Toxoid DLC at their earliest convenience.

On the other hand, players who don’t like taking risks and instead prefer to know what mess they could be getting themselves into should avoid this DLC.

8. Necroid Race

Last and very least are the necroid species. Before going on, I should say that if you wish to play as a necroid, you need to buy the Necroids DLC. But I really advise that you do not, as it is not very good and very expensive for the content it provides.

The only saving grace of this DLC is the necrophage origin, which allows you to play the game like a brain slug from Futurama. This is an interesting way to play the game, and it is pretty much the biological equivalent of the driven assimilators civic that machine empires have access to.

Other than the necrophage origin, there isn’t very much else to speak about. Two civics that are low on power level but high in flavor. Some new portraits, a ship set, names for species, and other cosmetic features.

And that is it, really. There is nothing special about playing as a necroid species unless you take necrophage origin. If you are a completionist and must own all the DLCs, go right ahead and buy this.

If not, either avoid this one altogether or wait for a good deal on one of the sales. Necroid is a cosmetic race and not much more.

This is everything you need to know about which species is the best 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 playing as the best race 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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