Endless Space 2 Review

Endless Space 2 PC Review

Your time has come! Explore the galaxy and grow your civilisation into the Empire you’ve always dreamed of. Take control of the galaxy whichever way you feel necessary. Your Empire awaits you.

Endless Space 2, brought to you by Amplitude Studios and published by Sega, was in Early Access since 6 October 2016 and has since seen continuous growth and support. It wasn’t long after the first Endless Space released it’s last DLC, that development started for Endless Space 2, and was announced the 30th July 2015. Endless Space was a very successful game, being praised by many for it’s replay value and user interface, but losing most of it’s points in the “personality” department. Unfortunately, Endless Space 2 hasn’t done all that much to make up for where its predecessor lacked. Here’s why…

What’s It About?

The Cravers being introduced.

Endless Space 2 is a 4X Turn-based strategy game, and I was pretty excited at first to start playing another one of this genre. I won’t waste time though; one of the faults, I find, is that there was no interesting plot in the beginning to pull you in. You launch the game and are greeted by the Sega logo, and then the loading splash screen for the game. The Main Menu is well designed and structured, but the build up of intrigue dropped dramatically for me the minute I chose my game mode difficulty. I was immediately greeted by a customisation menu, to choose my faction, the AI I want to play against, the map types and sizes, difficulty, and game length, etc. It reminds me very much of another 4X-style game that released recently too. The difference is that in that game, we were given a relatively proper introduction before the Main Menu. The way this game presented itself made me think there was a major story behind everything. I was unfortunately disappointed, and the hype I had died soon after. Luckily it got better later.

Once choosing the settings you are comfortable with, you are greeted by the galaxy you are to conquer/explore/unite/govern, depending on the victory conditions you are aiming for. The victory conditions are much the same as in the original Endless Space, save for one, but I’m getting ahead of myself here. You start off with one system and then “systematically” expand your Empire to different systems in the galaxy depending on the resources you are focusing on. As you go, you get faction-specific quests that yield rewards or can negatively impact your Empire depending on your choices that you had made in quests prior to newer ones later on. These quests reveal a story focusing on your faction, but there is no voice narration or cinematics that pull you in, and I could see how some players will focus more on the objective being presented and it’s rewards instead of reading the information that appear above all of that, telling you all about, for example, the Emperor’s conflict about choosing a successor to his Empire and the surprisingly interesting story that unfolds afterwards, in regards to the United Empire, which is the Human faction. There are also mentions of an unknown ancient race called the Endless that I haven’t uncovered yet, but this could have been something that the game could have explained in the beginning (maybe with a recap story?) to keep intrigue levels up.

Explore The Galaxy

Here is my recommendation; Even if you have played other types of 4X-style games, it would be beneficial if you start your first game in Beginner, to get the complete tutorial on how to play and to guide you through the user interface. I made the mistake of choosing a different mode that said “You have played 4X games before…”, and then being greeted by a user interface that was completely alien to me (ironic actually, being in space, and all). What the description actually should have said is “You have played Endless Space before and are familiar to the user interface.” There were still tutorials in said mode, but it only on guides you through the changes the developers made since the first Endless Space. So to prevent yourself the same confusion and loss of interest I first experienced, play in Beginner, and then later specify your own settings.

One of the Colonized Systems.

As soon as you start, you click on your Home System and start adding Jobs to your Construction queue. I found that starting with Cerebral Network or Drones to boost FIDSI (Food, Industry, Dust, Science, Influence) production in your system. Your System also starts you off with two ships, one for patrolling and exploring the Sector of the Galaxy in which you find yourself, and another being a Settlement ship, to colonise a new world in either your Home System or another Network connected to your Home System. As you explore the Galaxy, New points of intersection get unlocked which ships can orbit, and are joined to each other in a graph-like fashion. Sectors are not connected to each other in this fashion however, so to explore a new Sector, you will need to research the appropriate “Technology” in the Science & Technology screen. Using probes that the Exploration vessels come equipped with also help to discover new Systems and Sectors.

How Will You Rule?

There were a more Victory Conditions in this game than I am used to, which actually made it pretty interesting, especially because the conditions each have their own challenges to overcome. It will all come down to how you want to play your chosen faction and your own play-style. There are 6 victory conditions;

  1. Supremacy – To bring all the major factions star systems’ under your control
  2. Conquest – Bring a certain number of star systems under your control
  3. Science – Research all four technology trees
  4. Economy – Generate a total amount of Dust over the course of the game
  5. Wonder – Build the victory Wonder a certain number of times
  6. And the good ol’ faithful Score Victory – making sure you have the highest Score by the end of the game if nobody has met any of the other victory conditions yet.

In my game, I played with a faction called the Cravers, which is apparently a pretty complicated faction according to the Tutorial Gremlin, mostly because they are a race who hunger for the destruction of planets and eat the population of the star systems they control (so naturally, people will be less happy, causing Empire Approval to be lower than you’d like), but I managed pretty well, and even decided to add insult to injury for the Cravers by doing something very ironic. You are able to put Political Parties in power that focus on resources and allow you to pass laws according to the resources that the Parties focus on to increase generation of said resource and the like. The Cravers are “Slave Drivers” and “Militarists”, which means they don’t care for peace and just want to watch worlds burn as they drain systems of its resources. So naturally, I decided I’ll put the Pacifist Political Party in power (I call them the “PPP”) causing them to be able to take the more peaceful approaches when meeting minor civilisations that you encounter along the way. You can either start a war with them, or assimilate them into your Empire by reaching a level of influence over them and then completing a quest for them. I wanted more Manpower anyway, so I assimilated instead of destroying. This worked to my advantage later.

The known Galaxy.

Eventually you encounter the other Major Factions (of which there are 8 to choose from) who you are competing against. You then immediately start the Diplomacy dance with them, by introducing yourself and then increasing your influence over them by negotiating deals with them. The Cravers are, naturally, very hard to please. So the minute another Major Faction came near to winning, namely a Robotic race of D-Bags called the Riftborn, I immediately declared war in the Diplomatic Relations screen, and went to invade their Home System. It wasn’t long before I owned half the Galaxy and they begged for a Truce, which I refused every time. By this time I had made an alliance with an adorable Faction called Sophons who prefer to study Science, and as a result, caused them to be at war with the Riftborn too. The Riftborn must have found that they are unable to sway me, so they negotiated peace with the Sophons which caused that I could no longer invade their star systems. At least I had owned most of their Sector already. The Manpower I gained by assimilating the other races into my Empire helped me greatly in this endeavour, which then put me higher up in the Score ladder and putting me in first for the Supremacy victory.

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Conclusion

There are some minor things I haven’t covered, like recruiting Heroes and assigning them to either your fleets or to a system to govern over, and this increases their experience points, where they gain ability points, and whatnot. But all of this is honestly simple enough for you to find out as you play. You’re even able to design your ships, because you’ll be gaining more advanced Weapons and Shield technologies for the Fighter-class and Protector-class ships which you’ll need to upgrade as you go if you intend on invading, or simply defending. Endless Space 2 is a fun strategic game, and once you understand the user interface, it’s easy to navigate. The structure of the user interface is brilliantly connected, and once you get the hang of the game, it’ll be among your top favourite 4X Turn-based Strategy games. The sound is simplistic but not fantastic, although it fits the setting and isn’t boring, and the visuals are pretty good. For the price it’s going for at BTGames, namely R385.00 for PC, it’s totally worth a shot if you follow my recommendations. The novella that is provided along with the game is quite enjoyable too, it won’t take long to read the short story that delves into the Last Flight of a Hissho ship called the Gray Owl.

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