Endless Legend ReviewOctober 4, 2014
In the latest edition of the Endless saga (see Endless Space; Dungeon of the Endless), Endless Legend, players may indulge themselves in the opportunity to conquer (or peacefully co-habit) the legendary Auriga – a planet replete with eons-old technological marvels and mysteries. Those familiar with the Endless series will no doubt know this planet’s importance, but for those new to the series, here are the basics.
Long ago mysteriously abandoned by its original inhabitants, Auriga was the famed site of a major battle during the Dust Wars. Relics of this bygone era scattered across the planet are all that remains of the civilization (barring Dust, the game’s currency). Skip forward a whole bunch of time and the planet (or more accurately,an underground Endless facility) becomes host to the handful of survivors of the Success, a prison transport ship destroyed in the Auriga system.
Aforementioned prisoners successfully navigate the terrors of the facility and establish their new home on the planet. Generations pass and the descendants of the prisoners, having apparently forgotten how they came to be there, emerge from their underworld and seek to begin new lives (and empires) on the surface of this strange world.
In short, Auriga is the mythical, inter-galactic counterpart of Australia.
Endless Legend is an immensely enjoyable turn-based 4x game that neatly blends fantasy and sci-fi with impressive graphics, audio and storyline. Drawing on the strengths of its predecessor, Endless Legend offers detailed research trees, well-crafted civilizations (each with a unique blend of characteristics, and fascinating lore), and an intuitive combat system.
Endless Legend begins with the player choosing a location for a starting city. The map, divided into regions, is marked by a hexagonal layout, with each hexagon containing a certain amount of the game’s resources (think Settlers of Catan meets Civilization). Each region can only sustain one city, so placement is crucial in ensuring access to critical resources, unique enhancements and a defensible position on the map.
As both city size and population grow, new workers become available who can be assigned to concentrate their efforts on the generation of one of the four central needs in the game (Food, Industry, Science and Dust), as well as the additional category of Influence, which generates Influence Points that can be spent on shaping the future direction of the player’s faction.
As regions can only support one city, expansion happens via building new pathways out from the city to the surrounding area. This allows for acquisition and access to new or special resources, and expands the vision and control of the faction. As with controlled planets in Endless Space, players must delve into the intricacies of city management in order to keep their population happy (i.e. avoid expansion disapproval) and increase productivity and output to sustain their ever-burgeoning empire.
Endless Legend emphasizes micro-management over fast, gregarious expansion. Players are called on to manage minor, though not trivial, details of their city’s progress as it prepares for the changing of the seasons (yes, winter is coming!). These changes in season, and the array of different terrains encountered across the world, make for interesting gameplay and a future-focused strategy (includng an Empire Plan) is an absolute must.
Single cities can grow extensively through a whole myriad of developments, achieved through both discoveries and research. Research progresses in a linear fashion, as factions advance through eras (similar to the Age of Empires series) and offers a huge selection of advancements, forcing players to truly consider the direction they will take their city – bastion of military might, or expertly defended fortress of agriculture.
Unsurprisingly, the path to global domination is hampered by the appearance of rival factions (currently 8 playable factions total), each with their own history, strengths/weaknesses, technological tree and affinities. The depth and balance of the major factions of Endless Legend is one of of its shining successes – the player must develop entirely new strategies and ways to win on the basis of the faction chosen.
In addition to the eight major factions of the game that players will vie against for dominancy, Auriga is filled with minor factions that can be assimilated into player empires. This can be accomplished through brute force or via diplomacy, usually in the form of the completion of a side quest to gain favor with these potential allies. When assimilated into the dominant culture, minor factions can provide helpful bonuses across the whole empire.
Endless Legend‘s combat system is highly intuitive, straight-forward and fun to use. Players arrange their forces on the battlefield, select their strategies and targets, and engage in turn-based destruction. For players who don’t enjoy drawn-out or laborious combat mechanics, this is the perfect system. The ease of the system, of course, necessitates a sacrifice in the depth of options available in combat scenarios (one of the game’s few drawbacks), but will likely not be a detractor for most fans of 4X games.
For players not a fan of manual combat procedures, auto-resolve is available and the game is entirely playable with a concerted focus on diplomacy, rather than conflict, as multiple avenues to victory exist. The diplomatic system resembles that of Endless Space and allows for increasing options in interactions as the game, and the faction’s research, progresses.
When all is said and done, Endless Legend is a truly outstanding game. Superb graphics, an intuitive system, and a deeply involved story mean Amplitude Studios has yet again proven its ability to make an excellent 4X game. Fans of Civilization or Heroes of Might & Magic will no doubt love this title and recognize its many similarities with those beloved series, yet the game’s true appeal lies in its ability to be an enjoyable, engaging experience for a wide range of players.
Endless Legend is available on Steam at the price of $34.99 for the Classic Pack and $44.99 for the Founder Pack.