The Endless Thread(Space, Legends and Dungeons)


#1

No, not like that. Well, maybe. Depends how fervent yall are with your posting.

A thread for Amplitude Studios’ Endless series, since Endless Space 2 just came out and OH BOY is it GOOD.

For those of you unaware, Amplitude specialises in grand strategy games, with a Galactic or Planetary scale, with Endless Space 1 and 2 and Endless Legend respectively, though they’ve also released Dungeon of the Endless, a hybrid roguelike/tower defence game that’s well worth a punt if that sounds up your alley.

What sets them apart from others is the incredible art direction and excellent writing that goes into all their games, which are all tied together in a single shared universe which is equal parts Science Fiction and Science Fantasy, with a sci-fi attention to detail and love of speculating about future tech and societies, with the addition of a magical substance called Dust that allows for basically anything to happen so long as it’s involved somehow.

Every facet of their games is accompanied by some amazingly evocative flavortext that just radiates a love for not just the genre, but science, space and people. It’s a reflection of an amazing studio that’s wonderfully communicative with their fans on their own games2gether platform, where they let fans make suggestions and vote on content additions and changes. They’ve even let folks contribute hero designs and even collectively design a faction for each game. They’re a wonderful bunch of folks and I’m glad there are people like them in the industry.

So yeah, now I’m done going on about these lovely folks and talking vaguely about Good Things™, Endless Space 2 is well good. I’m especially loving the new political systems, which are super prominent for me since I’m playing the resident Space Ents, The Unfallen, and basically here to peace the fuck out of the galaxy. I’s occurred to me that, entirely through the interaction of existing systems, I can actually rig my elections through intergalactic gerrymandering, which is kind of incredible. Not that I’d ever do that, mainly because most of my population support the Pacifist party, Ecologist party or Scientists party, which are all fine by me. I am keeping an eye on the possible rise of a Religious party though, which might not be too bad, but isn’t exactly my main goal.

I’ve also not left my very small cluster of planets thanks to the Unfallen’s method of expansion, so I’m looking forward to interacting with the full set of factions finally.


#2

I hear great things about all of their games, and Endless Space 2 sounds fascinating. I played one round of Endless Legend, which I enjoyed but never had it ‘click’ with me. I’m definitely going to end up digging back in at some point, whether on EL or ES2. They’re a fresh and interesting studio, I wish my head for 4x was a little stronger so I could pick up what they were putting down faster.


#3

Endless Legend didn’t quite grab me at first either but I ended up trying some more and I just super dig everything it does. The differences and depth that it throws in vs other 4X’s are so good. I also really love their connected universe.

I really liked Legend more than the first Endless Space, that one I couldn’t get into so much.

I’d want to pick up Endless Space 2 but I’ve got enough on my plate at the moment and can’t really afford a new game right now anyway


#4

The first Endless Space is… rough, to be fair. Legend is a huge step up from it in raw design terms, and Endless Space 2 is another pretty huge leap I feel. It doesn’t feel like the competitive aspect is getting in the way anymore, like it sometimes did in Legend. It’s 100% fine with letting the actual “goals” get downplayed to near nonexistence in favour of just letting you exist in an incredible world.


#5

This is something I’m liking about Stellaris actually. I’m not even remotely thinking about ultimate victory conditions and ruling the galaxy. I just want to build a cool thing around cool other space people


#6

I love the aesthetic and feel of Endless Legend, and the districts system is brilliant, but I ended up feeling let down by the AI. They seemed consistently passive in my games, even on medium difficulties or sitting next to the supposedly hyper aggressive race. It’s a cool game, but that was such an issue on the several games I played I felt like I might as well have been playing alone.

ES1 never grabbed me (wasn’t a fan of its approach to expansion and building - often ended up being one of those 4Xes where I just build everything and my planets turn into utopias, which… kind of isn’t interesting), but I’m looking forward to trying the full release after a lackluster experience with the boring human faction a few weeks ago before the official launch. I’ve heard a lot of great things!

Endless Dungeon is also surprisingly fresh and good, although the difficulty seemed a bit off to me. It’s got that roguelike issue where the beginning is super easy but ramps up hard near the end.

P.S. When did 4Xes start being ‘grand’ strategy? A couple years ago I thought that term was just a Paradox thing, and now it’s all over. There are a few other games I’d call that, but all of them are even more niche than Paradox is. (Distant Worlds comes to mind)


#7

Endless Legend is very much my jam. Once I figured out how to play it well enough it replaced Civ as my go to time waster game, when I wanted that strategy fix. The vaguely science fantasy aesthetic is very good, and I appreciate the diversity of play among the factions and the fact that units are modular rather then on a strict upgrade path so that you can tailor them to your needs. I do agree that the AI tends to be more passive aggressive (emphasis on the passive side), but I also don’t play these games on high difficulties. I think the sort of fixed end state of the faction quest also probably plays into that a bit though. The fact that a strictly defined path to the end game exists that doesn’t necessarily require much interaction other than tangential encounters (at least for the most part) means the AI probably doesn’t have to be super aggressive either.

Dungeon of the Endless is also cool. I kind of hope that Amplitude keeps going out of their way to make non-4X Endless games. I liked the extra step into actual characters from the setting and not just semi-nebulous heroes. I also was very down with the co-op function, as it was a game I could easily play with my PC gaming friend while I was away at college and relegated to a somewhat archaic Mac. Also before playing it I never would have considered that I want to play a crossover between a roguelike dungeon crawler and a tower defense game.

I’ll probably hop on Endless Space 2 eventually (didn’t enjoy the first game very much), but considering I just got Stellaris off of Humble Monthly, I should probably give that a fair shake first.


#8

That’s one thing(of many) that I’m really enjoying about Endless Space 2, the reworked “main” quest stuff. The branching paths in the faction quest are a great way to show off the different ways you could build each one, and the shared quest has a brilliant central conceit an few stages in. Not gonna spoil it, but it’s smart as Hell.


#9

Definitely good to hear. The quest-line stuff in Legend was one of the few things in that game that fell kind of flat for me, despite being conceptually interesting.

I will say that I have peaked at the factions for ES2 at least. It really makes me appreciate their dedication to interesting worldbuilding. They don’t mind leaning into tropes/staples of the setting like the United Empire or the Lumeris, but they’re not afraid to step outside of the box either. The fact the one of the factions is a race of beings from another dimension where absolute geometrical order is the fundamental basis for the universe is wild. Also I think the only times I’ve ever seen space trees are in Saga and The Fountain.

I guess Eufloria also counts for space trees, but that entire game is about space trees so I don’t think it necessarily qualifies.


#10

I picked up ES2 after the discussions of it on the podcast, but unfortunately I’m finding that I’m bouncing off of it as much as I did Endless Legend. I’m honestly a bit surprised by how much love ES2 is getting—so much about the game just feels so opaque and user-hostile. I’m not sure if it’s complexity (which I like in a strategy game! Paradox titles are my jam), as much as poor design: I hesitate to call it a “learning curve” when I don’t feel like the game is teaching me anything useful!

Combat is easily the worst offender: there seems to be no way to compare fleets without going into combat; even if there were, the short radar ranges and incredibly punishing retreat system means you have basically no way of preventing your ships from getting clobbered; and when you do get into your nth unwinnable skirmish, the totally opaque (there’s that word again) combat system means trying to ascertain what you need to upgrade on your ships to make them more clobber-resistant seems totally impossible. I intended to play a peaceful game, but since expansion apparently necessitates clearing out pirates, and the Vodyani seem to think that abducting my population is just what good neighbours do, I’m stuck wrestling with this crappy combat system.

Diplomacy, on the other hand, just seems very shallow—I like the idea of the “pressure” system, but it doesn’t seem to allow you to do anything except make demands (which, when I decided to play a pacificist diplomatic empire I kind of hoped my diplomatic options would let me do, uhhh, peaceful things??). Other factions like or dislike me for totally inscrutable reasons, they send me diplomatic messages that don’t prompt me to do anything, then get mad at me for not doing anything… suffice it to say I am not enjoying this aspect of the game.

As far as the other systems go: at 115 turns in I don’t think I’ve even unlocked the ability to set up trade routes. Minor empires just seem to exist to eventually be gobbled up by the majors (disappointing in itself, but also another example of the game just not telling you shit: there seems to be no way to tell when this is going to happen. Not that there seems to be any way to stop it, either. So that’s cool.) The politics system is interesting enough, but the results of elections don’t feel important enough for me to change my strategy to court certain parties. I really like a lot of the events and quests; the “story” aspects of the game overall are pretty great, and at this point are the main reason I’m coming back to it.

Anyways. I am thinking I’ll start another game to get a feel of a different faction. Does anyone have any playstyle tips that might give me a better time with this game?


#11

Combat’s based around a combination of raw ship stats from technologies, proportions of energy and physical weaponry and defences, and ranges. You can see all that stuff before combat by clicking the plus’ in the top left and right in the advanced view before a battle, or just by hovering over a ship on the map for a bit. The extent of your involvement is limited to designing your ships and choosing an overall strategy for each battle, which is mainly about the bonuses and/or debuffs(sometimes) you might need to obfuscate a bad matchup and reduce casualties, or best take advantage of a weakness etc. The actual battle simulation is just for show, a way to admire your pretty ships as they raze/get razed by other pretty ships. Radar ranges can be increased with a hardpoint upgrade if you have the right tech, but you should be fine if you just have a scout ship throw out probes before you venture into unknown territory. If you’re going peaceful, you probably won’t be building military ships for the most part, in the early game you should aim for access to the ship marketplace and buy a few mercs to clean out pirates and have some token defences for your systems. You’ll want to aim for an alliance with another empire with better guns, so if anyone declares war on you they have to deal with those folk too.

Diplomacy is 90% peaceful, and the rest is Cold War, War, and Give Me Your Things For Free. If you’ve no additional options you need the tech, which is along the left side of the tree. The full slew of options will let you agree to map sharing, science and trade agreements, the exchange of resources, systems and manpower(for invasions), and the forming of alliances, which seem to have different goals depending on your faction’s politics, so it might be a military or a pacifist one etc. You can see the reasons why people are or aren’t fond of you by hovering over their general feelings towards you in diplomacy, it’s usually because you’ve military units in their space after they told you to remove them, or just being a bit cosy with their borders. If they’re expansionist like the empire, there’s no avoiding conflict over this in some sense, so you’ll need to be ready for that. Also the cravers don’t do peace. At all. Physically incapable. Worth noting.

Trade routes are a bit complicated, and are in the right side of the tree a few tiers up. You need to set up the Trade Company HQ, followed by Trade Subsidiaries in different systems, and a route between the two will be drawn as a trade route, which will earn cash depending on the systems it passes through. The ships that go between them can be seen and attacked by pirates though, so keep them in peaceful territory or set up simple defences of the planets they pass through. You can also make routes to other empires if you have a trade agreement, which you need some advanced diplomacy techs for.

Minor Factions are assimilated when the faction with the highest relationship level with them competes a quest associated with them. Their home system becomes part of the assimilating faction’s empire, but they don’t just disappear, you have to deal with their population type, which is HUGE. Every population type has a different political leaning, so assimilating a military faction into a pacifist empire could lead to the rise of a military party which will cancel a bunch of laws you wanted and maybe cause some unrest through conflicts with other voting bases. Worst case scenario they can form a coalition with other powerful party(militarists usually form one with the religious party in my experience) and take complete power, so you’re left with no laws and a population that wants war, which could lead to systems defecting to other empires that can give it to them. So basically: look at the bonuses each population type gives and if a minor faction will vote for stuff you don’t want, or just generally won’t help as much, you’re bets not assimilating them. You CAN still befriend them, if you keep the highest “friendship” rating with them nobody else can assimilate them, and they’ll give you bonuses similar to if your territory encompasses black holes and the like, and I don’t think they’ll migrate their population to you without you asking.

Also you can Do a War to assimilate them, though that should be a bit obvious.

As for general tips, I’d say be ready to change tactics significantly if your situation demands it. If you’re a pacifist nation locked into a spiral arm alone and the only way into the rest of the galaxy is Cravers, it might not be a bad idea to start upping your military. Sure you could just try not to startle them, and increase your vision range and out-of-starways movement speed to try and jump to another arm and form an alliance with other more powerful nations, but Cravers aren’t known for being patient.


#12

Awesome! Thanks for the tips—I would never have thought to use probes to scout for enemy ships but that makes perfect sense. I’m going to give this another shot.

I really do want to like this game! I think Zacny had it right when he said that getting into it was “a little weird, hard to parse, and uncomfortable.” Maybe I’m just finding I have less patience to learn new systems than I did when I was younger and had more spare time. :slight_smile:

Also:

lol that owns


#13

With 2 saucy updates for 2 saucy games on the horizon I just don’t know which one to pick!

Endless Legend and Endless Space 2 are getting brand new updates today and they will both be deeply discounted over the weekend. Which one should I pick up!? I know the real answer is both but I need to be honest with myself and understand that I will NOT play 2 4x games at the same time.

My understanding is that Endless Legend is a real tour de force while Endless Space 2 showed promise at launch but was a bit lacking. I just love Space tho.

What do y’all think?


#14

I got super into Endless Legend this past year, and also picked up and played a bit of Endless Space 2 during this past steam sale. They’re both worth looking into, but I can confidently say Endless Legend is damn near a masterpiece, and I’d personally recommend picking that one up of the two.

It’s certainly denser and more complex than something like Civ V/VI which I’m sure you already expected, but if you can push through that overwhelming first few hours (and a tutorial that’s a bit lacking imo), your reward is a game with massive replay value (thanks to just how fundamentally different each empire plays, something Civ sorta lacks), cool RPG mechanics, great music, excellent writing/lore and what I think is some of the best art I’ve ever seen in any game, period. There’s an edition you can buy that comes with a digital art book and it’s one of very few games I would say is without a doubt worth the extra couple bucks.


#15

Thanks. I think I already knew the answer but you confirmed it!


#16

Just played about an hour of the new Inferno expansion and I’m enjoyed it so far! And hour is definitely not enough time to evaluate it fully, but the new civ has an interesting mechanic that looks to make strategic resources even more valuable.

With all the expansions this game has gotten it’s starting to feel like a paradox game. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle playing with every expansion at once as there’s so much to think about!