This new fantasy 4x strategy game from the makers of Endless space and Dungeon of the endless will captivate you through its many innovations, atmosphere, and fresh approach to the genre.
– Beautifully detailed visuals and art style
– Surprisingly feature rich for an Indie game
– Very unique factions with differentiated gameplay and character
– A main quest for every faction leading to the wonder victory, a welcome change of pace to the sandboxy 4x genre.
– Entropy based gameplay leads to an ever-changing gameplay and variety of strategies
– Fairly innovative, it brings many new ideas to this genre. Search engine for technologies. An integrated interface where you fight right there on the map without having to load a different screen for combat, integrated city management, a main quest for every faction. The list goes on.
– Lightweight tutorial. Some key elements (like combat modifiers) are not explained and will feel random until you do your homework and read the forums.
– Limited AI. It does the trick of giving you something to fight and surpass, but I can’t say it is good either. As of November 1st 2014 improving the AI is the main priority of the studio and we will surely see improvements in the coming months.
– Currently a little bit out of balance. Recent modifications in gameplay require some numbers to be adjusted. Archer units remain a bit overpowered. The game is very playable, but keep in mind it is still a work in progress.
– Crash problems on 64bit systems, but switching to the 32bit version of the game works fine.
– Some optimization problems as turns slow down in lengthy games.
– Winter. It is mostly there for atmospheric effect, so you feel the planet dying and the winters getting longer. It does its job quite nicely on that front, but since it reduces all resources income and cuts your move points by half, the slowdown in gameplay is not always welcome. The more I play the more I get used to it, but I would welcome seeing different gameplay in winter instead of mostly just “slower”.
When it comes to fantasy 4x, there are currently a few games fighting for our attention at the moment : There is Civilization 5, Warlock 2, Age of wonders 3, the new civilization Beyond earth, and finally Endless legends.
Of the bunch, I find that Endless Legends offers the most original yet complete experience. It innovates on many levels : Visually, with the flat hexagonal tiles, the seamless zoom out level (similar to age of wonders), the integrated city screen, battle, and interface, the “locked regions ” based cities. Gameplay wise, it innovates by providing depth for hero abilities (you get 3 branches, one from hero class, another general branch shared by all heroes, and finally a third branch you get from your faction), depth through equipment customization for heroes and units (similar to many space 4x games where you fit modules on ships, a feature rarely seen in the fantasy 4x genre if at all), and finally, 9 truly unique factions that feel, play, and behave very differently from each other, and if that wasn’t enough you have a point based custom faction editor.
Endless legends feels fresh and different right from the start. So different in fact that your head might spin at first while you try to understand all the new gameplay elements, and the ones similar to other titles but that work differently. Here we encounter the first problem with the game : Lack of in depth tutorial. Many key concepts won’t be covered (the combat system and the district leveling systems for instance), and you will have to rely on the forums to understand a few key things. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I found Warlock and Age of wonders to be too easy and streamlined, and I welcomed a chance to put some efforts into discovering a new system.
For instance, there are no workers (and worker related micro) in this game. You can build tile improvements directly from the city. Roads are automatically built between cities if you make the right building for trade. All of this is streamlined. This removes some of the usual fill-up “logistics”elements of this genre, and let you focus your time and thoughts on strategy, tactics, and resource management.
The magic formulae behind Endless legends is that it seems to always simplify what others games made complex, and it adds depth to what other games made too simple. As a result the game feels like an extraordinary–and very welcome–change of pace from the usual fundamental mold of the genre.
Depth arise in areas that are neglected by other games. For instance, each faction is unique. And I don’t mean “Civ unique” by slapping a paint job, a unique unit, and a couple of stats modifiers. Each faction plays different, feels different, and looks different. You have a faction of cultists that can only build one city, but will make up for it by being able to brainwash and enslave the smaller factions villages to do its will. You have a faction of vampire knights who can’t eat, grow, or use food, but who can buy population with dust (the magical currency of Urania) and heal instantly with it. Another faction, the Roving clans, consists of traders who can never declare war, who take a cut of every transaction made on the global market, who are able to ban anyone from it, and who can relocate their giant-beetle-mounted cities at will. You cannot play the same strategy and the same build order with each faction, you have to adapt every time.
Every faction has different mechanics and plays very differently. Of course it doesn’t hurt that each faction has its own main quest too, a storyline that takes it from a humble start to fulfilling their destiny. If you play the Necrophages for example–a race of forever hungry bug-like creatures–you will follow the path of growth, evolution, and warfare as your leader tries to revitalize a dying race and give it its due place as the original and the true rulers of Urania. The quest will have you hunt other factions to gather corpses, feed your young, and grow your cities. You will explore ruins for resources, gain unique items only available through these quests, and sometimes even units. Your faction rolls through the lands with its drones and proliferators, eating away corpses to feed your cities, converting the fallen to new soldiers. As you gain power and fulfill your objectives, you will eventually unlock the final uber structure for the main quest, and building it results in a wonder victory. With Urania dominated, your race turns its gaze to the stars, forever hungry and searching for its next meal.
That is the beauty of Endless Legend. A wonder victory is not just “a building you make”. You have to go through all this (I have to say very well written) quest, that is very specific to your faction and its character. Other games are content to just give you sandbox elements and a context without much prose, resulting often in them feeling empty and directionless. Endless legends seems to have found a better pace and a great way to add story elements inside the gameplay.
The game is still somewhat rough around some edges as it is a work in progress. There are some balance issues here and there, and some other things are under development. However Endless legends is already a very fun and satisfying experience in its current state. The sheer amount of innovation and “change of pace” alone makes it a must-have for any 4x strategy fan.