The Death Star is the ultimate expression of the Tarkin Doctrine.
Grand Moff Tarkin gained his favour with the Emperor in large part due to his belief that the threat of destruction was an effective tool for keeping rebellious systems in line.
As he put it "Fear will keep the local systems in line, fear of this battle-station"
Destroying Alderaan was meant to be the act that demonstrated to the galaxy exactly what extremes the Death Star and the Empire were capable and willing to do if you stood up to them, so that nobody would be willing to stand up and be turned to space-dust.
In the strictest sense, the Empire didn't need the Death Star, it was simply the biggest and loudest expression of how they did things.
Prior to the Death Star, the Star Destroyer held this role. With a single star destroyer overhead (visible from the surface of a planet to the naked eye) being more than enough to quell rebellious worlds.
Imagine seeing the huge rising globe of the Death Star coming up above the horizon and eclipsing the sun, its great Eye-like superlaser dish aimed your way..
The ultimate Sword of Damocles over your head.
It'd be a rare being who would stand and face that.
The Death Star is an unassailable platform for warfare
Aside from the Tarkin Doctrine, the Death Star has also been described as an Expeditionary Battle-Moon.
It's not just a weapon, it's a mobile fortress.
Against a fleet of warships, it presents an extremely robust target, mounting planetary-scale defences (which easily shrug off most capital-scale weapons) and huge surface-armaments to kill anything small enough to get close.
Quite aside from that, the hull and superstructure is kilometers deep before you get to any critical systems. It would take a sustained and focused bombardment through kilometers of armour and interior spaces to disable the Death Star, and if it felt remotely threatened by that it could hyperdrive away.
Fighters were assumed to be utterly irrelevant to something that large. An elephant doesn't care about mosquitos except to swat them in annoyance.
On top of its general robustness, the Death Star carried millions of troops and their support-vehicles and landing craft. It could easily support an invasion-army to quell a rebellious planet the old-fashioned way if necessary.
It had dock-space onboard for ships of all sizes up to and including its own escorting Star Destroyers as well, allowing it to serve as a mobile starport and supply facility for a fleet-action.
The Death Star is a toolbox for its commander to accomplish pretty much anything the Empire demands.
It represents a new paradigm of warfare based around utter domination of the battle-space. It has no peers. There are no Rebel Deathstars or planetoid-sized warships to face one-on-one. (At least, not until decades later in Legends-Canon when the Yuuzhan Vong show up with their worldships..)