The space 4X strategy crown is now being contested for more fiercely than ever. A multitude of space 4X strategy games are available as full releases or Early Access titles, all vying to become the crowned emperor of 4X space strategy games. For a while now there have been some great 4X strategy games on offer which provide their own unique means for you to explore, expand, exploit and exterminate the galaxy. One such game is Endless Space 2 from developers Amplitude Studios and publishers SEGA, which is the sequel to the phenomenal 4X space strategy game Endless Space.
Building on it’s predecessor in terms of scale, diversity and atmosphere, Endless Space 2 returns players to a galaxy full of excitement. It’s a race to the stars as you plan, strategize, negotiate and fight your way through immeasurable odds to take your place as emperor of the galaxy.
Endless Space 2 follows from its predecessor and other games in its field. You choose one of many factions with their own history and attributes, choose the size and shape of the galaxy that you’ll take over, how many rival factions will thwart you colonial efforts and then, it’s time to explore a galaxy full of resources to exploit, planets to inhabit and rivals to interact with. You’ll probably want to start looking for new planets as soon as possible, just be mindful of the amount of resources that planet provides as building infrastructure relating to the most amount of resources is usually the best course of action.
If micromanaging your empire isn’t your thing you can always assign a Automation Policy for your colonies which may focus on building improvements for food, industry, dust (the game’s currency), science, influence or approval. You’ll also be able to recruit heroes to help manage your colonies and lead your fleets into battle. They provide passive bonuses to colonies and fleets and will gain more experience which you can spend in their skill trees, unlocking more enhanced bonuses. You’ll also need to use your influence to pass laws among your people through the senate screen, thus expect some dirty politics to come into play as 6 political parties are all vying for control over the laws you pass.
Research is divided into 4 quadrants: empire development, military, science and exploration and economy and trade. Each quadrant is split into stages which unlock each time you conduct research. Researching into each quadrant will enable better weapons, more ships, a stronger economy and better understanding of other races and planets. Also, as with other 4X games, diplomacy will come into play when dealing with other factions. You can enter negotiations the first time you encounter a minor faction or rival superpower. From here you can work to build a relationship with the faction, establishing trade deals and perhaps forming an alliance. Of course you could also just declare war on everyone that stands between you and your goals for conquest, thus removing any other faction that may oppose you.
Your colonization efforts will include quests which outline elements of the game’s story and offer many rewards for completing them. Some can be gained by interacting with the many minor factions, who will ask you to carry out quests to win over their favor and integrate them into your empire. Other quests will appear without warning during your campaign which relate to the faction’s history and current affairs.
These features are literally the tip of the iceberg as there is a staggering amount to learn in this game. Endless Space 2 is a game that will truly test your strategic and management skills. Nevertheless, learning about these features and discovering new surprises will enable you to pave any path you choose to triumphantly controlling the galaxy.
The most distinctive feature of all the Endless games has been the incredibly elegant and stylish interface. Information on resources, population, construction and military strength are a mouse hover away, all the while being easy to comprehend and learn. It’s very descriptive, telling you all you need to know via tooltips and images. The presentation of the interface is incredibly slick as is its functionality, going through each interactive function with smoothness and style. You can also zoom in on newly discovered planets, where a scan will initiate which details the resources and living conditions of each planet. Important events such as resource breakthroughs, construction projects or quest are immediately brought you your attention, enabling you to make careful and snap decisions. It invokes this feeling that you truly are in control of futuristic technology as everything you need to know about you galactic domain is accessed literally at your fingertips.
Combat is carried out by choosing your plan of attack before going into a battle. You choose a battle plan which consists of balanced, aggressive or defensive attack formations. You’ll also have to estimate the enemy’s likely attack plan for your plan to work. After that just sit back in your armchair and watch your forces go to work. It’s truly a marvel to behold with space lighting up in a visual ballet of lasers, missiles, explosions, ships being ripped apart and just overall a beautiful cinematic display of intense, epic space combat. You’ll be cheering your ships on, gripping your armchair tightly and feel as if no force in the galaxy can stand up to the might of your unstoppable armada as the enemy is blown apart and your ships emerge victorious.
Many 4X space games tend to not give as much attention to ground combat, but this game you can actually see your soldiers fight on the ground. You’ll choose your plans the same way as in space battles and watch your infantry, armor and aerial divisions smash the opposing army on the opposite side of the battlefield. It’s not as visually spectacular as space combat, but it’s still gripping and intense enough that you’ll be staring wide-eyed into the screen as the enemy forces are satisfyingly picked apart by your proud and courageous soldiers.
The visuals are some of the best ever seen in 4X strategy games based in outer space. Everything is presented in a slick and stylish manner, with uniquely designed star ships, wonderfully outlandish character designs and the galaxy itself looks so enchanting and wondrous. The serenity and beauty of outer space is on full display with vivid, light colors and effects presenting space as a wonderful place to explore and colonize. The animated hand-painted cutscenes look absolutely exquisite and blend together perfectly with the game’s wonderful UI. Everything in this game is presented in a manner that aims to fascinate, humble and excite the player, showing them that there is a beautiful galaxy that’s ripe for the taking. The game’s sound design is also fantastic, with a captivating, enchanting sci-fi musical score composed by none other than musical genius FlybyNo, who worked on the soundtrack to the first Endless Space and Endless Legend. The heat-stopping sound effects of laser blasts, missile fire, canon shells and metal being ripped apart and deafening explosions coupled with the thrilling battle soundtrack makes for a visual and audio ballet that you’ll never soon forget.
Endless Space 2 has truly nailed what makes 4X strategy games really fun and exciting to play. There are a wealth of decisions, choices, actions and consequences just waiting to be taken and discovered. With all at your disposal, you feel as if you can literally run your empire however you want. If you’re into 4X strategy games you’re in for an absolute treat. Just be sure you have the patience for a game like this. It is rather slow to begin with and it may take some time before you meet other factions or get some colonization going.
Endless Space 2 is simply amazing. It’s captivating, it’s exciting, it’s addictive and complex but easy to learn and enjoyable. The choices this game offers you to run an interstellar empire with ease is dizzying and invigorating. You’ll be hooked for hours on end making decisions on colonies, exploring the galaxy for new homes and new life to interact with. Watching battles between ships is a dazzling visual and audio spectacle. Victory after a prolonged and intense campaign of outdoing your rivals in single or even multiplayer makes the time spent playing this game all the sweeter. Endless Space 2 is without a doubt, one of the finest 4X strategy games ever released and a perfect addition to an amazing genre of video games.
Get Endless Space 2 and prepare to become the undisputed, unrivaled emperor of all space faring life. The amount of joy you’ll have in exploring, expanding, exploiting and exterminating in this galaxy will be truly…
This review was based on a digital review code of Endless Space 2 for the PC, provided by SEGA.