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Stellaris: Titan Research Chain Guide

Stellaris is a popular grand strategy, 4X video game that allows players to explore a vast and dangerous galaxy, colonize new planets, interact with alien civilizations, and engage in interstellar diplomacy or war. One of the most interesting aspects of the game is the ability to research new technologies to improve the capabilities of your empire. Today, we will be going over the Titan research chain and the best ways to get it in Stellaris.

The Titan research chain is a unique and powerful branch of technology that enables players to construct and command massive warships. These warships can easily dominate the battlefield and intimidate other civilizations. However, they require a copious amount of research and time to get to them. Not helping this is that the sci-fi science unlocking system can be a bit hard to understand. We’ll break it down to help you get a Titan on the field as quickly as possible.

Getting Started With Science

The science system in Stellaris, when you first begin the game, can be confusing compared to other strategy games. This is due to the more detailed chart of what technology you can unlock next and what you need to get to get there.

In order to portray the feeling of sailing off uncharted into unknown possibilities, Stellaris has no conventional tech tree, instead favoring “cards” that represent various kinds of technology. You’ll have a small number of these cards you can choose from, but there are ways to expand your choices to help you get the tech you want.

Technology Types & Scientist Leaders

There are three different categories of technology in Stellaris. These are physics, society, and engineering. Each of these has numerous subcategories as well.

Physics tends to cover technology that revolves around energy production, energy weapons, and improved FTL capabilities. It is broken down into computing, field manipulation, and particle research.

Society research helps with food and unity production, genetic modding, and terraforming. It has the most subcategories, broken down into biology, military theory, new worlds, statecraft, and the field of psionics.

Lastly, the field with the greatest military impact is engineering. It’s how you unlock new starships and station types, kinetic and explosive weapons, robotic populations, and improvements to mineral production and storage. The four subcategories for engineering are industry, materials, propulsion, and voidcraft.

Assign scientists to all your fields of research.
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

All three fields of research will need a scientist assigned to them, or research will progress 25% slower. Many scientists will have a specialty in one of the twelve sub-categories of tech. This will increase their research speed significantly in that subcategory, meaning you’ll want to swap your scientists out each time you discover a new tech. This is to ensure you’ve got the best possible scientist working on it.

While they aren’t working on technologies and you have nothing else for them to do, you can assign scientists to science ships and have them assist planets with research. That way they aren’t just sitting around wasting valuable resources. This also keeps their skills moving upward, as an idle scientist won’t gain any XP at all.

Science Ships

While some scientists are fit to work in a stable lab on one of your planets, others are more suited for a life of adventure and will have perks that make them ideal as the captain of a science ship. These ships are built with no weapons, with the simple goal of exploring the great unknown and learning everything there is to learn about outer space.

They’ll be fitted with the best FTL drive available, along with some defensive measures, but can’t handle any combat at all. At least, not without either having to jump away or be lost, crew and all. The main purpose of science ships is to explore systems and analyze them for resources or for anomalies.

Science ships are key to getting a head start on research.
The first human science ship zooms past Venus on its way out of the solar system.
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

Anomalies in Stellaris refer to any strange occurrences that your science ships run into on various planets or star systems. They range from encounters with unusual energy pulses, giant monsters, strange physical conditions, and a talking worm from another dimension.

Each anomaly has a certain difficulty inherent in its exploration, and higher-level scientists can break down the underlying mystery behind any anomaly quicker than a less experienced scientist. Be warned though, some anomalies have a chance of killing your science leaders– or worse!

The risks are typically outweighed by rewards though. Many anomalies, when successfully solved, will provide you with a huge boost toward some kind of technology. Or, perhaps a chance to outright gain a rare tech you otherwise might have never had access to.

Building Tech Planets

One of the other main sources of research is from research labs. These buildings are made on planets or on the artificially-constructed habitats that some species will learn to create. They employ scientists who will generate some research points for all three branches of technology in exchange for consumer goods.

Keeping enough consumer goods in your economy to make sure your scientists are advancing at a proper rate is one of the economic balancing acts you need to be mindful of throughout a game of Stellaris. Consumer goods consumption needs to be balanced between population growth, research growth, and stockpiling alloy for military purposes.

Set up a tech planet.
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

You’ll want to stack a lot of research labs on a single planet in order to specialize that world as a Tech Planet. This will drop the consumer goods upkeep cost of researchers, while also dropping the mineral cost to build research labs. After long enough you can upgrade these research labs, but make sure you have enough exotic gas to maintain the upkeep necessary for them.

You’ll also be able to construct one “Research Institute” per planet. These make each researcher on the planet produce 15% more output, along with a significant amount of research points from the director themselves.

What Tech To Pick First

Picking technologies isn’t the easiest in Stellaris, especially since they’ll never come in the same order, so it’s hard to act predictably. Technologies are presented to you in a random way, but the options you receive are weighted by various small factors. However, these weights are different for every tech in the game.

Some of these factors are your species’ genetics, the ethical makeup of your empire, and how many years have passed since the beginning of the game. So, the first set of technologies that are available to you might be different with each game, depending on what kind of empire you’re playing this time around.

Various factors weigh in on your empire's development.
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

With that in mind, there are some best choices for your first few tech choices, depending on the category you’re looking at. “Administrative AI” is a great choice for your first physics tech if it’s available, since having more tech options right away is always incredibly helpful for getting what you need at the moment.

Genome Mapping” is likely the best technology that could be available for a biological society because of the population growth aspects, with “Hydroponics” as a close second. And “Coilguns” is a great weapon to pick up right away to give you an edge in early military conflicts, but “Starports” are important as well.

Failing any of these, selecting one of the upgrades that simply makes your researchers output a % based increase to science production is a great choice early on. Alternatively, you can just pick whatever tech will research the quickest in order to get handed a new set of options.

How To Boost Research Speed

Boosting your research speed is essential for keeping up with neighboring empires and eventually outpacing the fallen empires before they roar back to life. You’ll also need to have a sufficiently advanced military.

Otherwise, when the Crisis rolls around, or it won’t matter how prosperous and happy your citizens are. Research is the key to getting this done, especially since having more technologies only makes it easier and easier to keep snowballing in the direction of victory.

Ethics, Traits, and Civic Selection

When you first form your empire, you’ll be able to choose from numerous species genetics in order to help advance your research. Later on, if you’ve unlocked some gene-altering technology, you can always change your species genes too.

Some of the best genes you can pick for research are “Intelligent” and “Natural Engineers“. Both of these will increase the research speed of various projects, with natural engineering being the best of the three fields to specialize in. The rationale for this is that engineering tends to take significantly more input than other fields. Intelligence just gives you more research points all around, and it’s truly one of the best genes in the game anyway.

Choose the right civics to unlock the Titan Research chain in Stellaris sooner.
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

When it comes to the political structure of your empire, one of the strongest builds you can make in terms of science is to build a science directorate. Make it an oligarchy with fanatic materialism and egalitarian tendencies. This will let you keep leaders for longer and with more personal control than a democratic system, yet you can still get the specialist production bonus that comes with being egalitarian.

Civic-wise, you’ll want to grab the technocracy civic, providing myriad bonuses to your scientific production. A meritocracy will improve your leader’s output, including your scientist leaders, and if you decide to run a democracy, taking a perk like “Beacon of Liberty” can help keep your empire size down too.

Control Empire Size

The “Empire Size” mechanic refers to the costs of maintaining an interstellar empire, complete with administration costs and the upkeep of governmental buildings and systems. Formerly, your Empire Size was called “Sprawl” and it would be contending with a stat called your “Administrative Capacity”, but this is no longer the case in modern patches of Stellaris.

The new, simplified system reduces the need for every empire to build a planet just for bureaucrats, which formerly raised your administrative capacity. Instead, it now simply helps to mitigate the effects of Empire Size by providing you with a boost to Unity production.

A wide sprawling empire can be hard to manage properly.
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

Every system you control, planet that you colonize, district that you build, or population you watch over will count in various ways towards your overall empire size. Any point that puts you over 100 empire size will slow down your research speed, along with other negative effects like a higher threshold for ascension perks that you gain via unity.

Thus, it’s tantamount that you keep your empire size down while maximizing the effectiveness of those first 100 points. By the end of the game, there is no chance you’ll be able to keep up with your neighbors while staying within that 100-point threshold, so you just need to compensate for that by building more and more research labs and unity-generating structures.

Other ways to keep your empire size down include not building more than you need at any given time. Don’t build new districts on your planets until you absolutely need the housing or jobs they provide. Do not colonize more than one new planet at a time, since during development a new colony only drains resources without providing any in return. Avoid setting up space stations in systems that lack valuable resources, don’t provide a strategic defensive advantage, or don’t contain any planets that you want to settle.

If you’ve conquered a significant chunk of a neighbor, or you’re thinking about declaring a war of conquest, you might want to consider making them a vassal state instead. The Overlord DLC provides a lot of benefits and new options for managing your vassals. You can specialize in what kind of output you get from them.

Vassalizing your neighbors instead of annexing them is definitely a viable strategy if your neighbors are radically different politically, or contain huge numbers of some kind of alien species. An independently managed vassal can potentially provide much bigger benefits than the drawbacks you get from taking over a poorly-run section of space from an NPC, raising your empire size without the benefits of a well-planned and scaled economy.

Traditions & Ascension Perks

Ascension perks are unlocked via the Unity system and represent some of the most powerful and fundamental changes to your empire that you can unlock. They branch across a lot of different specific kinds of gameplay adjustments and perks. Ascension perks are unlocked by filling out all of one Tradition tree.

All the Tradition trees contain useful and specific bonuses, but the one most relevant to research is the Discovery tree. This is a great tree to pick first since it provides a lot of bonuses towards surveying new systems that won’t be as useful later in the game but are invaluable early on for expanding your empire and its base of information.

The first discovery upgrade you should take is To Boldly Go, speeding up your survey speed and significantly increasing the chances your science survey ships will be able to disengage and get away if they stumble into a system with any hostile lifeforms or enemy crafts. Next, take Database Uplinks, so when you’ve got the resources you need to enact the Research Subsidies edict, you can pop it into place. This edict can help you get an early edge on your rivals.

Select the right Tradition tree to gain a bigger boost to research and unlock the Titan research chain sooner.
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

The other three discovery upgrades provide bonuses to research alternatives and speed, along with making your scientist leaders more effective at everything they do. All of your leaders will gain more XP and have a higher level cap, and you can cut the upkeep cost of all your researchers by 1/5.

After unlocking the entire Discovery tree, you will gain a flat bonus to research speed and your first ascension perk. Among the immediately available ascension perks, two of them have anything to do with research, these being “Technological Ascendancy” and “Transcendent Learning”.

Between these two, you should likely take the former before the latter. That’s because Technological Ascendancy gives you a chance to unlock more rare technologies, letting you rush into things like robot helpers or gene mods before your nearest opponents.

Research Agreements

Research agreements are one of the diplomatic agreements that can be made between two empires. This allows empires to share their scientific knowledge and collaborate on research projects. When the research agreement is established, both empires gain a flat 25% boost to research output for any tech that the opposite empire has.

This can help both empires to advance their tech progress more quickly. To establish a research agreement, both empires must be friendly with each other and have a non-aggression pact in place. Both empires will pay a monthly Influence fee for the duration of the agreement.

Research Agreements are one of the best ways to boost your research output.
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

Research agreements can be an effective way to accelerate technological progress in Stellaris, but be careful to try and establish them early. The more research agreements an NPC empire has established already, the lower the chances they’ll be willing to do another one with you.

Research agreements work best with empires that have a similar level, but a different set of technologies as yourself, allowing both of you to speed through the catalog of the other. Empires that are closer to you than others will be more likely to agree to join you in an agreement.

Help From The Curator Order

The Curator Order is a mysterious group of incredibly knowledgeable aliens, possessing a vast amount of information about the denizens and hidden secrets of your own galaxy. They seek to collect more and more knowledge about space and everything in it. You can pay them for numerous different kinds of help, including assistance with killing the massive Titan entities out in the cosmos.

You’ll find them at Curator Order stations far out in space, and if you’re lucky you can get one of these stations within your own borders. Establishing a station in that system will let you build a Curator Think Tank, giving you some extra research points. However, anyone can access the other Curator-related options once your empire has met the Curator Order.

The Curator Order offers an incredibly efficient scientist to help your research.

You can ask the Curators to help you with research aid, which will make them like you a little bit more and give you a 10% boost to your research speed. This will cost energy, and the cost of that energy will scale up with the size of your empire, but it’s easily worth it for that bonus.

Once you’ve established a good relationship with the Curator, you can also go hire a Curator Scientist Leader. Compared to a regular scientist leader, the Curator leader has a +15% research speed on top of the high level they’ll already be when you acquire them. They also can survey new systems +25% faster and have a higher draw rate for rare technologies.

Assign them to whichever field of research you want to unlock rare tech in to get more of it, quicker. If you’ll be following the Titan research chain, this will be engineering. You can only have one Curator scientist, and you’ll almost definitely want one around as soon as you can get them.

Titan Research Chain

The ultimate ship for your standard fleets in Stellaris is the mighty Titan frame (and the reason you’re reading this article). Since every technology in Stellaris is weighted based on numerous factors, including how long the game has been going, you’ll likely need to have been playing for 100 years in-game to access Titans.

The only technology prerequisite actually built into the game to be able to research Titans is that you’ll need to have unlocked Destroyers, Cruisers, and Battleships first. However, even if you unlock all of these and the Titan tech, you won’t actually be able to build one right away. But don’t worry, we’ll help you get the ultimate flagships to lead your fleet to victory.

Building a Citadel & Titan Yards

Beyond the technology on Battleships, you’ll also need a Citadel if you want to be able to build a titan construction yard. This is the highest-level space station and will take all the other station upgrades to be unlocked. It is an engineering technology just like the entire Titan chain.

You should prioritize upgrading your space stations whenever possible as you work your way through the engineering tree. Once you’ve gotten a Citadel fully operational with a load of six shipyards, you’ll want to leave the fourth Building Slot open for when you get the Titan technology.

This will unlock Titan yards, allowing these Citadels to piece together your new, massive ships. You’re only allowed to construct one Titan for each 200 naval capacity you’ve accumulated, up to a maximum of 20 Titans total.

A Citadel to construct your Titans.
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

Titans take more resources than other kinds of ships but contain more powerful weapons as well. You’ll typically want to build them to be able to fight from a very long distance away, to keep them away from the risky position of having a torpedo slamming into their massive hull.

They’re the only ship capable of mounting the Perdition Beam, an incredibly powerful weapon that will decimate even large enemy ships, often killing any non-Titan ship in a single blow. Titans also are capable of projecting certain abilities like improved ship accuracy to your entire fleet or adding a debuff like reduced combat speed to any enemy fleet in the system you’re around.

It’s a good idea to build more than one kind of Titan for each fleet, since you’re limited in how many Titans you can build in total. Plus, the different kinds of buffs and debuffs can stack with each other if multiple Titans are fighting in a single system.

Upgrading a Titan

Once you have Titan technology, the only next step you’ll need to take is to upgrade them all the way. This means finding a way to gain access to Dark Matter technology, most likely through a war with one of the Fallen Empires.

Even a limited war where you can manage to scrap a single one of their ships is enough for you to send a scientist to go scavenge the wreck, allowing you to get started on researching the most powerful technologies in the game. You’ll need a fleet of Titans decked out completely with Dark Matter tech, like shields and engines, before you’ll want to fight the Crisis that emerges toward the end of the game.

Upgrading a Titan in Stellaris
(Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart)

The kind of weapons you should attach to your Titan will depend mostly on what kind of targets you are engaged with. An opponent with very high shields should be taken on with Titans loaded up with Kinetic weapons like a Kinetic Battery.

Whereas an enemy empire that is using heavy armor and strong hulls should be taken on with Neutron Launchers, letting you melt through enemy armor very easily. The Titan is likely to be the first ship targeted by the AI when your fleets engage with each other, so make sure it’s properly screened with plenty of destroyers, cruisers, and battleships.

Join the High Ground

Building a Titan in Stellaris is an important task for any player with the Apocalypse DLC. You’ll need them to fend off the biggest threats of the endgame, and getting them out on the field as quickly as possible can help you stave off potential enemies early on.

To this end, you’ll need to use every resource imaginable to speed up your research, and we hope this Stellaris guide helps you with maximizing the output of your scientists and fully unlocking the Titan research chain.

If you have anymore questions or a better method you think we should include, then leave a comment below. Make sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter too, so that wherever you find yourself in this hostile galaxy, you’ll be able to take the high ground.


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