The map is a celestial map used for a graphical overview of the galaxy. During the game, the map provides the player many different types of information, such as the extent of other Empires, the location and size of hostile fleets, the names and owners of star systems and the resource and habitability potential of planets. Most of this information is hidden at the beginning of the game, but is slowly revealed as sensor ranges grow and ships are sent out to explore and survey the galaxy. The galaxy map is rendered in 3D with stars potentially above or below the plane of the galaxy, but this has no gameplay effect.
The galaxy map is what the player will be watching most often for ongoing developments and changes to star systems. When starting a game, the galaxy of the map is procedurally generated and will have a different setup every game. There are many different options that can be adjusted to customize the generated galaxy, including galaxy size and shape, the prevalence of habitable worlds, and the number of AI empires. Galaxy sizes currently range from 150 to 1000 stars. The amount of AI empires specified only affects how many AI controlled empires are generated at the start of the game, as many more will spring up from rebellions, liberated empires, and pre-FTL civilizations. The galaxy map is mostly fixed after the start of the game, but certain events relating to precursors and crises can spawn special new systems.
The are three different type of galaxies are available, with 2 variants of the spiral galaxy for a total of 4 possible galaxy shape options.
| Spiral galaxy
|Spiral galaxies (2 arms and 4 arms) have the stars placed in arms that extend out in a spiral pattern. A spiral galaxy provides an interesting geography, with voids between the arms that might be difficult to pass in a straight line.|
Expansion is limited to spiral arms.
| Spiral galaxy |
|Elliptical galaxy|| Elliptical galaxies have the stars placed in a ellipsoidal pattern , resulting in a more evenly distributed geography. |
Expansion is mostly unhindered.
|Ring galaxy|| Ring galaxies have the stars placed in a ring shape around the galaxy core, resulting in clockwise or counterclockwise fronts within the ring, making it easier to cut other empires off from the rest of the galaxy than it is with any other shape.|
Expansion is limited to a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.
In addition to the galaxy shape, the size of the galaxy can also be chosen at the beginning of the game, ranging from 150 to 1000 stars. The size of the galaxy affects the number of stars, as well as how many AI Empires and Fallen Empires can be generated at the start of the game.
|Size||Number of Stars||Maximum AI Empires||Maximum Fallen Empires|
A star is a celestial body that usually composes the center of a star system. They are classified based on their spectral types B,A,F,G,K,M. Some star systems can however be more special, like a black hole, pulsar, or a neutron star. The star type influences the generation of the solar system.
A star system is a grouping of planets, asteroids, and other features within a singular system centered around a single star, and is isolated from other star systems outside of FTL travel. A solar system is the second level of territory size within Stellaris, the first being the individual celestial bodies within a star system. A star system is controlled by the empire that has a colonized planet or Frontier Outposts in the system. Colonies and frontier outposts also expand an empire's borders beyond its system into galactic space to encompass neighbouring systems, with the border range depending on colony population, technology, ethics, and other factors. Controlling a star system allows an empire to constructing orbital stations such as mining stations or observation posts to access non-colony resources, as well as blocking other empires from colonizing habitable planets or building frontier outposts in your owned systems. Typically a star system is controlled by a single empire, but it is possible to have split control of a system (and the surrounding space) if multiple empires own habitable planets or frontier outposts in the system. In this case, only one empire (typically the first empire to control the system) will be able to access orbital tile resources outside of planets and be able to build mining and defense stations in the system.
The class of a system's central star affects what kinds of planets and celestial bodies can be found around it. For example, you will generally have a hard time finding habitable planets orbiting a black hole. Within a star system, there can be anywhere from 2 to 15 celestial objects.
Alongside stars and planets, nebulae feature significantly on the galactic map; these large accumulations of interstellar gas and dust tend to have fewer habitable planets within them, but the celestial bodies within nebulae also have a significantly higher chance of yielding rare strategic resource deposits, such as Terraforming Gases or Teldar Crystals, that can be difficult to find anywhere else. Nebulae are named and visible on the galaxy map from the start of the game, and have unique names such as Grasping Claw Nebula and Orantes Shroud. The speed of Warp and Hyperdrive FTL travel is reduced by 30% in Nebulae.
The combination of strategic resource availability and FTL speed penalty can make them a significant strategic element on the galactic map, as a well-positioned nebula can provide a potential buffer against enemy incursions, or a tempting war target for opportunists seeking to seize the resource deposits.
There are some subtle visual cues in the Galaxy Map that can help you manage your empire and its expansion and exploration. One of the more useful late game cues is star systems with their titles in dark gray. This indicates that the system has not been surveyed. This is particularly useful as it is possible to acquire unsurveyed systems after of a war, which may still contain previously unseen hidden treasures such as anomalies and potentially habitable planets.