I'm personally not for a campaign.
I would much rather see focus put towards the sandbox aspects such as adding new features that improve that.
I do love the lore of the game and I want to see more lore, but a campaign creates a forced storyline where what will happen has pretty much been layed out, I just have to follow along.
I would rather see story elements added to sandbox mode instead. (I would expect these to be DLC with maybe a new race or two with new ship parts)
Three ways I can think to do this are war goals, fleet admirals, and expansive galactic events.
I discussed war goals with you in the past, but when you start a war you get a random set of goals. These could be:
- Capture a the capital of the enemy civ
- Kill enemy Admiral X
- Destroy X enemy ships (X is based on the number of ships they have at the start of the war)
Fleet Admiral are leaders that can be assigned to a warship. They could give bonuses to their fleet and ship as well as an A.I. generated name for both. The A.I. would actively attempt to keep this fleet a doomstack.
If the fleet is destroyed the Admiral is killed and the player must wait X turns before assigning a new one.
I would recommend replacing campaigns with Expansive Galactic Events
Expansive galactic events could be multi part events that occur over the course of a game for example:
Return of the Dread Lords
First Event: Advance Scouts (Occurs early in the game)
Spawns a couple hostile fleets made up of a few fighters and one frigate in every sector. These fighters and frigates have the highest tier weapons and defenses that don't use special resources.
Second Event: Testing Defenses (Occurs when players have researched most mid level tech)
Spawns a couple of hostile fleets consisting of mostly of medium and small ships with one large ship in each fleet. These ships are decked out with the best non special weapons and defenses) These fleets attack shipyards and enemy fleets.
Finale: Revenge of the Dreadlords (Occurs when terror stars are unlocked)
Spawns a Terror Star protected by fully stocked mixed fleets of all types of ships in each sector. Ships utilize the best special weapons and defenses in the game. The goal of these fleets is to wipe out all life in the galaxy.