Mass Effect: Beyond the Relays mod for Stellaris (2024)


Hello everyone, Risker back from a customarily long hiatus to once again regale you with tales of the team's development, this time joined by our Illustrious Team Lead Puck. 2.0 is our largest update yet and we have a ton to go over, so let’s dive right in!

Breadth of Opportunities...

ME:BtR 2.0 has some significant changes to one of the foundational features of Beyond the Relays, our galaxy map. Available for the first time since the closure of our beta release, we are excited to once again release the much requested Sandbox Mode! Have you ever wanted to play Stellaris with a Mass Effect coat of paint in a painstakingly handcrafted static map and an incredibly detailed rendition of the Mass Effect Relay network? Well, boy do we have good news for you! At game setup you will be able to start in Sandbox mode by changing your galaxy map setting to the (Sandbox) options.

We recommend this map mode for newer players who are less familiar with the mod because it will ease you into the changes and new mechanics rather than throwing you straight into the deep end. But, it's your life so pick whichever map you feel most inclined to.

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We have also added several new map sizes for each game mode ranging from 600 stars to 1,500 stars. Smaller star counts will perform better as the game progresses while larger star counts will provide more opportunities for early and mid-game exploration and expansion.

Much as in vanilla, ME:BtR’s Sandbox Mode will start with every empire owning only their homeworld. As the name would suggest, story content in the sandbox gamemode will be more dynamic and less curated in comparison to the other map modes in ME:BtR. This isn’t too say you’re sacrificing content from the mod if you play sandbox though, all empires will still retain their unique attributes:

  • Empire Modifiers
  • Empire Specific Buildings, Technologies, Civics, and Origins
  • Species unique traits

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The primary difference is that every empire will no longer start with their canon territory and fleet strength.

The other map mode that is included in ME:BtR 2.0 is what we have dubbed our “canon” mapmode - this is the standard experience, and the mode that is the heart and soul of the mod. Here you step into the shoes of your favorite empire’s ruler. It is the year 2165, the First Contact War (or Relay 314 incident for you Turians) has recently come to an end, and the arrival of humanity has signaled a new era for the galaxy.

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In the Canon map mode, you will have the entirety of your empire’s territory, systems, colonies and diplomatic relations. You will navigate the struggles unique to your empire and its economy, managing everything from fleet makeup, diplomatic relations between empires and work to overcome challenges, both known and unknown.

As the core of ME:BtR, this mode is where the bulk of our development goes. In future updates this will be where you will find the crises, events, and story beats of the ME Trilogy first. The intention in this mode is to provide a thorough and dynamic retelling of the events leading from the Skyllian Blitz through the Geth Incursion, Collector Threat and Reaper Harvest. To facilitate this moving forward, as the relevant crises are implemented we will be disabling compatibility for the respective empires behind said crisis in the canon game mode. But never fear! At that time we will be implementing a hybrid game mode alongside the sandbox and canon modes which provides the full ME:BtR start, and allows you to play as your favorite villainous empires. Specifically we anticipate this affecting the Geth Consensus and Disciples of Nazara, the Collectors, and Cerberus.

The NES?

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All of this brings us to our biggest update yet - the New Economic System. To properly represent the economy as seen in Mass Effect, we felt that substantial changes were needed to the core economy in Stellaris. Specifically, in Mass Effect, certain areas of space and even entire empires were important primarily as a result of their resources or trade networks.Understanding that not everyone revels in economic micromanagement, it was a critical focus that our new system remain easy to manage, while allowing for a greater level of diversification in the galactic economy.

Anyone familiar with Stellaris and Mass Effect would immediately recognize that some of Stellaris’ resources are not lore friendly with the Mass Effect universe. To navigate building an entirely new economy, we needed to remove the irrelevant resources while implementing new, lore friendly raw materials to help flesh things out. To this end, we have categorized our resources into 2 primary categories: Raw Materials and Strategic Resources.

We have 3 Strategic Resources - Light Alloys, Heavy Alloys, and Antimatter Fuel. These 3 resources are not found naturally throughout the map, and have to be created from raw materials. Raw Materials are used in combination with other Raw Materials solely in the production of a given Strategic Resource. For example - to create a Light Alloy, you need to combine Beryllium, Lithium and Titanium.

To keep this process as simple and easy to learn as possible, all of this is integrated into the preexisting jobs and buildings in vanilla stellaris and ME:BtR. Additionally we have redesigned the resource bar to better reflect which materials create which strategic resource as seen in the images below, and resources are color coded to help know at a glance what resource it is tied to:

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Alongside the above changes, there are a few key updates to how resources are spent:

Both Light and Heavy Alloys are purely used in building and ship construction, and are no longer needed as upkeep.

Energy we are currently reworking into a more traditional “Credits” resource indicative of your empires given spending capital. To facilitate your energy needs, enter Uranium. Building and District upkeep is now managed through a small amount of Energy Credits and a more substantial cost of Uranium. All of those reactors don’t just run on money!

Likewise, for ships and starbases upkeep requires Antimatter Fuel instead of Uranium alongside a small amount of Energy Credits.

This leaves us with the final resource - Element Zero. The rarest resource in the galaxy, “Eezo” is used in extremely small amounts as a means of ship upkeep and research buildings.

Ok, we know that’s a lot to take in, but feel that in practice the system is intuitive and easy to learn in its practical application. As a general rule, you’re going to be doing the same things - Industrial districts generate your alloys, mining districts create your raw materials, etc etc. The benefits in this approach though mean that we have greater ability to introduce nuance and diversity in how we handle various facets of the mod, like building an entire empire around the production of Element Zero: the Caleston Directorate. We will be going over them and more of the many other changes and additions 2.0 of ME:BtR in our next dev diary.

Mass Effect: Beyond the Advisors

Alongside development of the main mod we have continued working with a talented group of voice actors to ensure that all of your favorite species are around to comment, however snarkily, on your decisions. Thanks to the herculean efforts of the Beyond the Advisors Project Leader Zeverance, the Geth, Nazara (Geth Heretics), Quarians, and Batarians are now all available as selectable advisors both in BtR and our standalone advisor mod Beyond the Advisors. The Hanar advisor (featuring Mark Meer) has also had its effects redone and are now much truer to the original trilogy’s portrayal.

You can download the standalone mod today here.

Or get a glimpse of what awaits you from our trailers here.

The Galaxy Needs You!

For a more frequent stream of leaks and first looks come join us on our Discord, Instagram, Twitter, or Youtube! We are always looking to add new talent to the team - If you want to help out the project by contributing Artwork, Filling out the world with Creative Writing, or Physically building the Mod one line of code at a time, apply to join the team today! You can also apply to just mess around in our Dev Builds and tell us all the things that aren’t working.


Alongside all of the above a substantial amount of work has been put in by the team to help raise the degree of polish in the mod, and to quash the many bugs that have existed. This included everything from basic localization and missing artwork fixes, to rewriting all of the scripting that generated the galaxy map and the various empires within the mod. Here is the link to our extensive, but not comprehensive changelog for ME:BtR 2.0:

Mass Effect: Beyond the Relays mod for Stellaris (2024)
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