Stellaris is a real-time grand strategy game set in space 200 years into the future. Players control ships and research vessels among other things. Combat is more centered towards the bigger picture, preparation, and strategy. There are also diplomatic options such as alliances and trade agreements with other races. The game begins by picking a species, its ethics, and its technologies. Picking an alien species is not just cosmetic; each has unique traits and engineering styles. The player begins with a single planet in their territory, an engineering vessel, a small fleet of warships, a space port, and a science ship. Early gameplay consists of exploring and colonizing space, while mid-game activities focus on diplomacy and governing an empire.