Written by Kevin Chow Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:55
Endless Space is a turn-based 4X strategy game being developed by Amplitude Studios. For those who don’t know what 4X is, it’s basically a game where players build an empire and explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. Like the popular Sid Meier's Civilization series, players start with limited units and resources. The player must explore and expand to claim more territory and exploit resources. With those resources, units can be constructed to exterminate enemies.
Explore and Expand
There are a total of eight factions to choose from and each has their own special benefits. After choosing a race and starting a game, players start on a home planet/system with a colony ship and a scout ship. The scout ship can be used to explore the galaxy and the colony ship can be used to colonize other planets. Each system has a number of planets. Technology must be researched in order to colonize most of them. Players will spend most of their time in the galaxy map where they can move units, initiate combat, and set build queues. By exploring and colonizing other planets, players will be able to expand their empire. Throughout the game, there will be random game events that can be either good or bad. Some examples are a reduction to move speed and increased area of influence for systems.
While exploring, planets show what resources they have and how much population they can hold. The main resources are Food, Industry, Dust, and Science (FIDS).
Food is used for population. The more surplus food you have, the more people you can have on each planet. With more people in the system, the output of resources, as well as the area of influence, increases for that system. Having a large population is important because many of the resource technologies that can be researched increases resources by a certain amount multiplied by the population of each planet.
The amount of time needed to build a unit on a system depends on the amount of industry for that system. Industry can be increased through research and having more population. Dust is basically the currency for Endless Space and can be used to buyout units (purchase units with Dust instead of waiting for build time with Industry), or used to retrofit (upgrade) ships. Dust can also be used to hire heroes, which has their own set of skills that can improve combat effectiveness of a fleet, or increase resource generation for a system.
Science is used for research. The more science you have, the faster things can be researched. There are four different technology trees that can be researched. These are galactic warfare, diplomacy and trading, exploration and expansion, and applied sciences. Through research, many things can be improved. Some examples are better ships, better armor and weapons, faster generation of resources, more cards for combat, and larger fleet sizes. Certain victory conditions also rely on a specific research to be completed. The order in which research is done is important because you want to have better technology than your enemies. Researching all the applied science technologies will make researching faster, but if you have no technology in galactic warfare, enemies could easily defeat you. Therefore, choosing the right technologies to research at the right time is crucial.
Combat in Endless Space works differently than most other games of its kind. When an enemy fleet enters a system you have a fleet in, or vice versa, combat can begin. You can either choose to have the outcome automatically determined, or you can choose to do combat manually. Manually, however, does not mean you can directly control your ships. Combat has three phases, which are the long range phase, medium range phase, and melee phase. For each phase, players can choose one card which can buff their ships or sabotage enemy ships. Cards can also be countered by other cards. When countered, the player who countered gets an increased effectiveness for the card they used during that phase. After the cards have been selected, it’s pretty much like watching a cutscene and waiting for the outcome. The outcome is mostly determined by the Military Power of fleets, but with the right choice of cards, a fleet with slightly lower Military Power can defeat a fleet with higher Military Power.
One of the best things about Endless Space, in my opinion, is the ability to customize ships. There are six different classes of ships for each faction. Ships can be fitted with different weapons, defense mods like shields and armor, and support mods like engines. Through research, better mods become available, which increases Military Power. The amount of mods that can be fitted on a ship depends on the tonnage. Tonnage is basically how much weight the ship has available for mods. Tonnage can also be increased through research. Ships, as well as systems, can also be renamed to whatever you want.
I’ve always loved empire building games (like Dawn of Discovery), as well as space games (like Homeworld and Eve Online). Endless space is a mixture of both, which is a win win for me. The only thing I don’t like about 4X games is the amount of time it takes to complete one match, but that’s mostly because I like to conquer everything. I always turn off all the victory conditions except for the one where you have to conquer the enemy’s home system. I also like to build up my fleets and fit them with the best mods before attacking. As a result, my matches against the AI can last for hours. I remember some of the matches I had in Civilization V lasted for more than eight hours before I finally finished it. Regardless, Endless Space is a great game, especially considering that it’s an indie game. A lot of time and detail was put into this game and it really shows. If you’re the type who loves sci-fi and 4X games, I highly recommend getting Endless Space. It’s currently available for pre-purchase on Steam and includes access to the beta: http://store.steampowered.com/app/208140
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