When starting a new game, the player may choose which type of galaxy they are to play in. An empire's expansion is limited to the galactic plane, so the shape of the galaxy will affect play. Which galaxy types are accessible at the start of the game is determined by how many stars the galaxy is to have.
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|
The player may also choose to change the number of stars in the galaxy.
- Tiny (150 stars)- The player may not select either the 2-armed or the 4-armed spiral galaxy when choosing this option. There are 2 AI empires and 1 Advanced AI starts by default.
- Small (400 stars)- The player may not select the 4-armed spiral galaxy when choosing this option. There are 11 AI empires and 3 Advanced AI starts by default.
- Medium (600 stars)- The player may select any type of galaxy when choosing this option. There are 17 AI empires and 4 Advanced AI starts by default.
- Large (800 stars)- The player may select any type of galaxy when choosing this option. There are 23 AI empires and 6 Advanced AI starts by default.
- Huge (1000 stars)- The player may select any type of galaxy when choosing this option. There are 29 AI empires and 8 Advanced AI starts by default.
These settings determine the number of AI empires that will spawn at the start of the game, as well as their advantages, placement and abilities for expansion.
- AI empires - Can equal 1 through 39. Determines the number of AI empires that spawn at the same time as human players.
- Advanced AI starts - Can range from 0 to all of the AI empires. Determines the number of pre-existing AI empires that start with an initial starting advantage over the player. These empires may start with up to 4 extra colonies, 3-7 extra warships and 500-1500 extra minerals, 300-900 extra energy and 50-150 extra influence.
- Max Fallen Empires - The number of Fallen Empires that can spawn. There can be no more than 4 Fallen Empires, one of each kind.
- Habitable Worlds - Increases or decreases the chance of planets being habitable. Ranges from 0.25X to 5X.
- AI Aggressiveness - The overall AI aggressiveness can be increased or decreased and determines how likely the AI is to declare war on empires if they have negative attitudes.
- Empire Placement - Determines whether empires will be placed in clusters to increase the likelihood that you'll have some neighbors or placed at random.
- Advanced Neighbors - Determines whether Advanced AI empires can spawn next to human players or not.
- Endgame Crises - Determines whether an endgame crisis can happen.
Increases the difficulty of the game for a greater challenge, with higher difficulties granting bonuses to AI empires. Higher difficulty also increases the strength of the endgame crisis.
- Normal - The normal difficulty settings.
- Hard - AI Empires (except your vassals) get 50% extra production (including energy, minerals, and research), build 50% larger fleets. They also receive a -50 modifier to peacefully become vassal to human players.
- Insane - 100% extra production (including energy, minerals, and research) and twice as large fleets. They also receive a -100 modifier to peacefully become vassal to human players.
Allowed FTL method
This setting makes every empire, even custom empires, to use the same FTL method. Any means that every custom empire will use its predefined FTL method while computer-generated empires will use a random one. The other option is for every empire to use the same FTL method, either Warp, Hyperdrive or Wormholes and will override the preset FTL method for custom empires.
Having all empires use Warp provides a less restrictive game, having all empires use Hyperdrive creates the strategic possibility of blocking total access to enemy empires by fortifying the system entry points and having all empires use Wormhole makes destroying enemy Wormhole stations crucial to every empire.
- Main article: Ironman
Determines whether or not Ironman Mode is turned on or off.
- Ironman Mode- Saving manually is disabled. Every time the game is saved, the previous save file is overwritten. Console cheats are also disabled. In order to earn Steam achievements however, Ironman mode MUST be enabled.