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Stellaris spin-off ditches title, becomes Nexus 5X

Despite months in Steam Early Access and hundreds of positive player reviews, Stellaris Nexus is no more. Instead, the spin-off is taking the rare step of rebranding itself – dropping its Stellaris branding entirely – to launch with a new name.

Announced last year as a speedier version of the 4X genre, the project will now be called Nexus 5X (the fifth ‘X’ is for ‘eXpress’).

“The whole point of Early Access is to figure out what about your game works and what needs to be better – and the big lesson for us was that our name needed to be better,” Whataboy Games studio director Dax Ginn told Eurogamer.

Nexus 5X 1.0 Release Date Reveal | Paradox Arc

This year’s Nexus 5X re-announcement trailer.

Describing itself as a Stellaris spin-off from the off had left the game labelled as a Stellaris-lite, Ginn said.

“Although the factions and leaders that feature in the game are borrowed from the Stellaris world it was never our intention to design a game that could be seen as ‘Stellaris-Lite’ – that is not what the core design of this game has ever tried to achieve.

“Instead, our focus was on creating a wide range of mechanical methods for players to engage with each other that mirrored the kind of chemistry that we see around a board game on a game night,” Ginn continued, namechecking the alliance forming, backstabbing, mutual benefit and betrayal that make game nights memorable.

Indeed, the core idea that a game of Nexus 5X can be completed in around an hour of play also leant itself towards the feeling of having shared a typical social strategy game experience.

“In the feedback and reactions that we were seeing from players we got a very strong sense that what players were enjoying was the competitive ‘digital board game’ feel of the game,” Ginn noted.

Last year’s Stellaris Nexus announcement trailer.

The addition of the “express” element – and the highlighting of it in the game’s title – is designed to explain better that the game sticks to the core principles of the 4X genre – explore, exploit, expand, exterminate – at a length that allows for a more accessible “start to finish” strategy experience.

“This concentration of both time and mechanics makes a 5X multiplayer game a much better fit for simultaneous multiplayer game sessions, or ‘social strategy’,” Ginn continued. “It’s not always just what happens on the board that you find yourself talking about a week later, more often than not it’s the narrative chemistry between players that forms the highlights of the night.

“We wanted to design a computer game that heightened all of those inter-player ‘game night’ tensions while still delivering all of the strategic depth that players expect from a full-fat 4X title.”

Lastly, Ginn confirmed that Nexus 5X’s setting in the Stellaris universe would not change, even if it was being de-emphasised with the game’s fresh title.

“Stellaris is a dream setting for a sci-fi 4X title,” Ginn concluded. “The game is still set within the Stellaris universe, [but] the name change is reflective of the shift in focus we have seen among players during Early Access moving from a pre-conception about this game as a ‘Stellaris-lite’ to much more of a ‘fast 4X / Social Strategy’ game.”


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