Stellaris – What to Do With Primitives

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In Stellaris, you lead an empire that has mastered the power of space travel. You use this technology to explore the vast galaxy, conduct diplomacy with other space-faring empires, and or wage war with them. Not all aliens you meet will be as advanced as you, though.

These primitives, or pre faster than light (FTL) species, are not window dressing. You are able to interact with them in a wide variety of ways; dependent on your empire’s ethics and laws. Interactions with primitives received a huge change when the First Contact DLC pack was released.

Recommended Read: Stellaris – Warfare Guide

As you can probably guess, these less technological species have no chance of besting your empire in any form of warfare. As a result, they will rarely become a focal point of a play-through. They are more of a side quest if you will.

When dealing with primitive species in Stellaris, you have a few options. You can observe them, reveal yourself, advance their technology, and engage in trade. If they are a pre sapient species; you can award the gift of sentience to them, kill them, or ignore them.

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What to do With Primitives in Stellaris

In a game of Stellaris, you are very likely to run into primitive species. The game will refer to them as; primitives or pre-FTL (faster than light).

They both mean the same thing in terms of gameplay mechanics, so don’t get confused.

There are two kinds of primitive species; Pre-FTL civilizations and pre-sapient species. This will affect how you interact with the primitives.

In order to discover if any primitive species live on a planet, you will need to scan the planet using a science ship. The game will inform you with a pop-up if your science locates a pre-FTL species.

Interacting With a Pre-Sapient Species

A sapient species is one like us humans (hence the name Homo sapiens). We are self-aware, have language, and are an intelligent species. A non-sapient species does not have these qualities; for example, cows or dogs.

Pre-sentients are alien animals for all intents and purposes. They pose little to no threat to you, and due to their lack of intelligence, you can get away with quite a lot when interacting with them.

There are four policies your empire can have regarding pre-sapients. The policies are; protected, tolerated, hunted, or exterminated.

You colonize a planet that contains these primitives without consequence. Unless laws have been passed in the galactic community, no one will care what you do to them either.

If you have them set to hunted; they will provide a small food buff until they become extinct, and if protected, you can build a zoo for them to live in.

Unless you are a genocidal empire, you can gift these primitives with sapience.

After you unlock the technology, Epigenetic Triggers, for 3000 society research, you can integrate the species into your empire. This is a great way to get a few extra pops into your empire, almost for free.

Interacting With Pre-FTL Civilisations

These are the more interesting of the primitive species. Pre-FTL civilizations contain an intelligent species and will be at a level of technology comparable to a point in human history.

This would be from the Stone Age all the way up to the early Space Age; which is about where we are now.

The tech level of the primitives will determine how likely they are to notice your presence. This awareness level will dictate how likely they are to advance through the ages.

You can keep track of both of these factors by building an observation post in orbit around the planet.

Observation posts will have an observation stance based on your empire’s pre-FTL interference policy.

It will either be passive or aggressive interference. Passive is viewing them from afar and hopes to prevent the awareness of the primitives.

Aggressive interference is actively abducting and getting involved with the primitive empire.

You cannot colonize a planet containing a pre-FTL civilization unless you conquer the planet first. By default, it is not against galactic law to do this.

You should check, on the resolutions tab, that you will not be in breach of galactic law doing this. Due to their primitive nature, they will not put up much of a fight against you.

Diplomacy Options for Pre-FTL Civilisations

If your empire’s pre-FTL enlightenment allows it, you can reveal yourself to these primitives and help them advance to become a space-faring empire.

There are three policies your empire can have about enlightenment. Prohibited, where it is not allowed in any way. Convert only, where you covertly assist in the advancement of the primitives.

Finally, there is allowed, where you can reveal yourself and take an active stance in their development.

If your policy is set to allowed, you can use the diplomacy screen to interact with them as you would any other space empire.

The first and only option you have is “Reveal Our Presence.” After revealing yourself, you can then spend resources to help the primitives towards enlightenment.

You can provide societal guidance, provide technology, and if they are atomic or space age; you can form a commercial pact.

The primitives may become so advanced that they develop hyperdrive technology. When this happens, the species is no longer considered primitive and becomes a regular space empire.

They will contact you and ask you to take control of the system they live in, including all colonized planets.

If you accept, they become independent and will love you for it. If refused, you will annex them and retain control, but they will not be happy about it.

Owners of the First Contact DLC will have a wide variety of interaction pop-ups if they have an observation post built.

These will vary greatly depending on the primitive’s awareness level and their current age. I will leave you to discover these on your own because I don’t want to spoil them for you.

That’s what you can do with primitives in Stellaris!

Have any questions or input for this guide? Let us know in the comment section below.

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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