Steam Summer Sale Review: Endless Space

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So ES is actually playable now? Does every game still devolve to omni tanked battleships with lasers?
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The problem with Endless Space is that it's still all flash and no substance. It's very, very pretty, but a chore to play long games in. I keep finding myself going back to Sword of the Stars 1 when I want a 4x fix.
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ARMOR HACSARMOR HACSARRRRMOOOOORRRRR HAAAAACCCSSSS
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I was initially awed by how pretty Endless space was, but the AI and repetitiveness of battles (and one particular game-breaking military tech giving massive amounts of hit points to ships making even smaller vessels nearly immortal), let it down a lot.I've heard good things from Disharmony, so for that price point I'm willing to give it another look.
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Naturally: as PC gaming became a bigger pond, fish that appeared big at first now appear much smaller. There are also, simply put, fewer genres that could be executed well with hardware at the time, limiting the potential variety.
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It's a lot better with the recent expansion and the Disharmony DLC.That said, I never really enjoyed SotS so much, and found it very tedious.
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Still find Sins of a Solar Empire to be a better game than Endless Space, even after the newly added DLC.
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Galactic Civilizations still hold up pretty well I think, It will also probably be on sale too at some point so if you can stomach old graphics its worth 5 bucks or so. I am also unsure if I'm willing to give amplitude more money either
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It's... not the same genre. At all. SoSE is a real time strategy game, ES is a turn-based 4X.I like both and find both entertaining, though. They're just not the same thing.
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I love that game, despite its obvious flaws. You didn't comment on the original development and community interfacing (you could vote on the ES website for which feature would be developed next) that was one of the first of its sort. Amplitude is quite a young studio too, hence the game's scope was rather limited. I think it's fair to say, though, that the studio delivered on what they promised, and have proven to be good at what they do.I hope they make a ES 2 with advanced battle systems and better AI, like a Total War in space :D
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Still, you can compare those two quite good and Soase comes out ahead.As for turn-based, its just not timely anymore, let it rest in its grave.The only game that i can think of that still manages to make turn-based work is HoMM6.
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I disagree with you there. The turn-base "philosophy" makes for most of the reasons why you'd prefer SoaSE over Endless Space: the game is simply not the same. It's like comparing Civ3-4 or Wesnoth with Warcraft 3, it's just cannot really be compared because they just don't have the same mechanics or aim.Maybe you prefer real-time over turn-based. It's been that way for me for a long time, and it's of course perfectly alright. Since then I've been playing more turn-based strategy games and I've enjoyed some of them immensely, ES being one of them. I personnaly didn't like the Heroes Might and Magic series (the battles are just not my style) but that's just a question of preference, really.Now as I said in other comments, Amplitude is a young studio, ES's scope is not the same as SoaSE's which has a built fanbase and things to expand upon. However it was well executed, which is why I would love to see an ES2 game with a bigger scope, more tense and active battles, more variety of ships, better AIs, and all that great stuff that sequels can have.
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See, but the pacing of Sins is much closer to a turn based game than an RTS. Very slow and methodical. Its got great appeal for multiplayer since you're not sitting there waiting for other people to finish their turns. Aside from that difference, it's definitely a 4x game, and Sins has a better flow by far.
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Yes and no. It can be slow and methodical and far from a Starcraft or a Warcraft, but there's still a great difference: you're still producing ship by ship, factory by factory, etc... a great part of the game is spent in micro-management. The resources flow in regularly, the research takes a number of seconds to be done, etc... so it still remains a RTS, even if its pace is slower than other examples of the genre.You can't compare that with turn based strategy. Turn-based games are about "getting it right", even if the turn takes a hundred hours for you to complete, while RTSs are about getting it "right enough" but as fast as possible so that the ennemy cannot exploit the time that you've lost. I'm sorry but being a fan of both types of games, I can't help but see the major difference between the two.Sins is very much a 4X, but even if the pacing is slower, time is still of the essence to get the advantage over the ennemy (at least challenging ennemies). It's got a great appeal for multiplayer precisely because of the fact that it plays according to time and not moves. Also the time of an average game in Sins or ES is not really comparable (or I don't know how you make a Sins game last for such a long time).It's like saying that a slow paced AoE2 game is like Civ, it is plain wrong because the game-driving factor is time for one and moves for the other. It is just not the same bloody thing.I will conclude as I already have in previous posts: Sins is a mature franchise, hence it has been improved over and over again. It is well executed.ES is a young game by a young studio. Its scope is necessarily smaller than that of an older game by an older studio, and it's been well executed (and has delivered impressive additional content, which not so many games do).At the end of the day, these games are just different and both good. If you come in here saying they're the same and one is better than the other, I don't think you've been playing them enough. As far as I'm concerned, I enjoy them both for what they are: well executed, different genre games.You like Sins better? Good for you. You like ES better? Good for you. You prefer the pace of one, the scope of another? Good. For. You.I think gamers arguments would be a lot better if people could make the difference between "I like this game better" (personal viewpoint) and "This game is better" (exposition of a general truth implying a comparison, hence, the existence of points of comparison - in this case, only the execution can really be discussed like that).
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Its crap.... Like MOO3 except a bit prettier. The pretty battles quickly become tedious and auto-resolve is needed 99% of the time, the heroes are boring clones, the AI is a cheating retard, the opponents and maps are quite dull. Don't waste a penny on Endless (waste of) Space.
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Was the expansion free? I don't see anything except Disharmony, but you speak as if they're different things.
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You can't compare an RTS to a TBS. Crusader Kings (and many of the paradox titles) are all Real-time, but very slow pace. But nobody would dare compare them to Civilization.
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Endless Space ... by no means a bad game, but when Civ 4 BtS is resting on the same hard drive sadly outclassed.
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I was wondering when an article about ES would come up around here, being such a cool little game. Loved it.
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They scratch different itches for me, but Civ 4 BtS is definitely one of the peaks of the 4X genre.
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Exactly.
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You need a TL;DRNever mind, no one cares.
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XCOM got boring after 20min.The only turn based game I have ever enjoyed was Nuclear War on the old Amiga.

(Editor's note: Endless Space is on sale for $10.19 at the Steam Store until 10am Pacific Time on July 13.)

4X is one of the most ancient and storied genres in the history of PC gaming. Even its name is decidedly old-fashioned; “4X” is ultimately an acronym for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate — the ‘x’ being emphasized in totally XTREME 90’s fashion.

In the decades since, the genre has become highly niche. With only one consistent mainstream franchise — Civilization — 4X has fallen out of favor. The genre is (often accurately) dismissed for steep learning curves, terrible UI, and uncompelling visuals. This is where Endless Space comes in. From the game’s original launch in July 2012, it has stood out.

A NEW APPROACH

Completely upending the traditionally dense design of 4X games, the developer, Amplitude Studios, presented a streamlined and shockingly beautiful experience. The “alpha” pre-release version was slicker than most released games of virtually any genre. At release, every part of the game was simple, functional and smooth. The gameplay is pure 4X: you choose one of various factions. You begin with a single star system. You expand from there through the building of improvements, the gathering of resources, the expansion of your population and territory. Ultimately, you meet and compete with the other factions present in a match to determine the winner.

What makes Endless Space memorable is that care is clearly taken in crafting an interesting universe in which to play. Each faction and the overall lore is a display of simple good — often comedic — writing. Creative game design ties the lore into the gameplay well.

For instance, one of the factions is the Horatio, a race of clones begun by a single unhinged, narcissistic tycoon. This cloning technology and shared identity allows for faster population growth and a higher population cap on planets, but their shared love of themselves and perfectionism causes their shipbuilding to cost significantly more. Another, the Hissho, are a bird-like warrior race whose focus on combat produces great military capacity and gives them a temporary global bonus for each successful hostile invasion; however, this singular focus results in less-than-satisfactory scientific progress.

Wonders, anomalies and heroes, which have random placements and appearances offer additional variety. Heroes are given to all (original) factions. Each hero has a unique backstory and two special characteristics. Some heroes specialize in commanding fleets, some specialize in growing and building up systems, and others dabble in both. Anomalies, which are very common, randomly affect planets, giving bonuses, maluses, or both to the planet in question. Wonders are rarer and often give their bonuses to entire star systems or factions.

The downside is that the random nature of each of these can cause significant imbalance; system-building heroes are incredibly powerful in the early game, allowing you to ramp up your expansion significantly. Negative anomalies can occasionally turn exploration into a series of disappointments which can disrupt the flow of the game and make the experience significantly harder.

At a relatively low $30 price point, the original release was well worth the money and an unexpected treat for 4X fans. However, Endless Space received significant criticism for being too streamlined and too simple; players ultimately ran out of meaningful options despite the variety of factions and randomness of map layouts. Most games progressed too predictably after the player learned the game’s factions and mechanics. The original release also suffered heavily from outright poor AI and a battle system which was more aesthetic than fun.

Thanks to a number of significant free updates over the past year, and a paid DLC expansion called Disharmony, released on June 26th, Amplitude Studios has expanded the base game significantly, producing a fuller product.

THE BEAUTY OF DISHARMONY

While I played the game heavily at launch, I eventually stopped playing due to the aforementioned flaws. In my opinion, the game has been significantly improved in the past year, with Disharmony capping the game’s progression quite well.

With all the updates included, the additional content is staggering. For a mere $10: two new factions, new battle mechanics like fighters, bombers and formations, trade routes, improved technology trees, significant AI advancements, and more. Thankfully, all of these additions and modifications do not compromise the streamlined gameplay or the game’s fantastic polish.

Disharmony, in particular, adds a lot of punch to the game. Virtually every part of the passive battle system has been overhauled to give more player choice and more tactical action.

Originally, battles were quite simple: the opposing ships would jump into view and begin to move closer in a space version of the old naval “line” formation. For each of the three phases of battle, the player would choose “cards” of various types (offense, defense, sabotage, etc.) which would be drawn against the opponent’s card, causing various bonuses and maluses to apply. Beyond this card-choosing, the battle system was quite passive and came down more to ship construction and type in a half-blind rock-paper-scissors pattern.

The new battle system is much more involved, adding fighters and bombers to the mix, while allowing you to customize targeting and optimum range of your weaponry, and to switch up formations. The granular control and excitement of a manual battle system like in Master of Orion or Sword of the Star is still missing, but battles are now servicable and more entertaining.

Additional focus upon the mechanics of system invasions have also come into play, allowing you to starve out of a system, bombard it, and/or put boots on the ground in a surprisingly dynamic set of features. The overall effect is a filling-out of the game's cut corners, adding much-needed depth to the otherwise coherent design.

SPACE: NOW MORE ENDLESS

With Amplitude’s ample additions and corrections to the game, my already-positive appraisal of the game has had virtually all of its qualifications removed. I would still qualify that anyone looking for a “hardcore” 4X experience along the lines of other current entries in the genre will still be disappointed with the overall depth of the game. Yet, for its price point, the game is unquestionably worthwhile.

Complete 4X newbies will find themselves overwhelmed despite the streamlining and clarity of design, while genre enthusiasts will find themselves perhaps underwhelmed due to said streamlining and clarity, but almost everyone is certain to come down with a case of "one more turn.." for several evenings.

I'm a graduate student of history, and I subsist on pizza and craft beer. I also play as many non-terrible video games as I can.