Belated Game Reviews: Endless Legend
I am an equally casual fan of two things: 4X games (like Civilization) and Steam sales. This past week I was able to indulge both of these not really passions by buying Endless Legend and all its DLC on sale and playing it quite a bit with my friends.
Some background: The game was originally released in September of 2014 by developer AMPLITUDE Studios. It is a 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate after the four general ways of winning these games) game set in a fantasy world with a whopping 12 unique factions (though I believe only 8 were in the base game, and one of those remaining 4 is a reskin). The game has a heavy emphasis on each factions’ unique mechanics and the mechanic of harsh winters taking a severe toll on your plans at somewhat unexpected times (you know the general range of turns it will take before winter, but only one faction may know exactly).
-The game is gorgeous. The colors pop more than any other 4X game I’ve ever played and the combat animations are quite nice.
-Each of the factions plays completely different from each other, with many factions having unique access to certain mechanics (like buying tech instead of research for the Forgotten or converting minor factions to your cause for the Cultists) and many factions have completely different resource priorities than others. For example, Broken Lords do not require food, and so food production is meaningless to them, leaving them open to focus more on research, production, and (especially) Dust (the game’s currency) which they can use for almost anything. Likewise the Forgotten are science-phobic and so cannot research tech…instead, they can perform espionage and steal tech from their neighbors, or use Dust to purchase the tech outright. It makes each game played as a different faction feel unique and interesting, especially because…
-You can create your own custom factions. Each has the core of another faction with their unique abilities, but other than that anything can be mixed and matched as you please to create whole new and different ways to play, like turning the Necrophages (who are by default unable to make peace or even speak with other nations diplomatically and are thus forced into being warmongers) into masters of industry, using their hive mind to quickly construct units and buildings to aid their allies.
-The game oozes flavor, with each faction having its own backstory, personality carried out by their mechanics, and flavorful main quest. It’s very easy to sink into the mindset of each faction because the flavor is good and the mechanics lead you into acting how they would much of the time.
-The game’s default speed is sloooooow. Even for a 4X game, the “normal” speed is glacial, and finishing a game is a Herculean task. Thankfully you can torque the speed up to Fast and finish a game in more reasonable 3-4 hours, but not knowing that can sour the game experience to start. Even still, combats and movement animations are quite slow as well (though the former can also be changed), so you’ll sometimes feel like you’re waiting a bit too long for your fast units to saunter those 8 hexes to their destination so you can act.
-Not all factions are built equally, and in fact, most of the factions have somewhere between a third and half of the trait point values of the Mezari (or Vaulters) faction. Easily fixed by a mod, but still a game flaw as the Mezari are extremely powerful to the extent that winning a scientific victory over them is nearly impossible, and crushing them militarily is an uphill battle as they’re usually a tech tree above you at any given time. It’s not game ruining, particularly with the mod that ups custom faction trait limits, but it’s an annoying game balance issue.
-It doesn’t feel quite as streamlined as other 4X from the same period, like Civilization V. Not much to say here except it adds to the slow feeling problem.
It’s a good game, and one I heartily recommend even at full price. It has a lot of depth and is great to play with friends. Just make sure to download Norasticus’ mod once you get a feel for the game and turn the game up to Fast (read: Normal for a 4X game) as soon as you boot it up and you’ll have a great time.
What do you think? Let’s discuss it down below
#Belated Game Reviews: Endless Legend