Wot I Think: Endless Legend

A cursory glance might lead you to believe that Endless Legend is a duck. In this instance, Civilization V is the Platonic ideal of the duck and that brief glimpse of Endless Legend shaking its tailfeather might be enough to convince you that it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck. Closer investigation reveals something altogether different though. Sure, it has feathers and you’re likely to find it paddling around and flashing its bum at the world while it grabs something to eat, but Endless Legend might be best thought of as a swan in a pond full of ducks.

Either that or it’s Howard the Duck. Here’s wot I think.

Like Amplitude’s other current project Dungeon of the Endless, which mashes tower defence and roguelike dungeon crawling together to create something unusual and difficult to get a hold on, Endless Legend recalibrates familiar elements to create something at odds with prior learning. It’s a game about settling, conquering and researching, but its factions have unique rulesets that are strong and diverse enough to change the entire structure of a campaign. It’s a game about taming a fantasy world, by painting it in your empire’s colour, but it’s also about the entropy of that world as it approaches a wintry twilight.

Few things work precisely as you’d expect them to, bringing in the baggage of previous turn-based strategy experience, but the slickness of the interface helps to smooth out the assimilation of new information. In the slow burn of the first turns of any campaign, a few things become apparent. Combat, usually against a minor faction in the early stages, is an unusual take on the tactical maps of Master of Magic.

Rather than zooming into a separate space as units go toe-to-toe, Endless Legend separates armies into their constituent parts right there on the strategic map. Attack a stack of five units with four of your own and every individual unit on each side leaves the main army block and takes up position in the world. That allows for some flexibility in positioning ranged units and the like, and concentrating attacks on specific units, but even after days of playing, it feels slightly uncomfortable. I’m accustomed to ignoring issues of scale when I watch stacks of troops moving across this kind of terrain and some preconditioning, I suppose, is harder to break.

Combat can be automated – and the victory is usually in the preparation rather than the event itself – and the criticism isn’t particularly significant. There’s far too many pleasures to be had in the games other branches to worry about a slight confusion in battlefield efficiency. Exploration is always delightful and the map of each randomised (and customisable) world transitions as beautifully as anything I’ve seen in the genre. It’s possible to zoom in for a close up study of the gloriously bizarre resources and locations, and to nudge the scrollwheel and see increasingly abstract icons overlaid as the finer detail fades.

In a blow to convention, maps are strictly divided into regions, each of which can contain just the one city at any one time. There may be minor faction settlements but the major empires, players included, can’t find a fertile region and dump six cities side by side inside it. This cuts down on micromanagement to an extent but its primary purpose is to make each city an important investment. Rather than simply building improvements within them, you’ll be expanding them across the map, and different shapes and sizes of expansion have different pros and cons.

New districts increase unrest but can be levelled up to create benefits that outweigh that drain. In order to access the best bonuses you’ll have to plan ahead, however, considering both the position and function of each new district. It’s a far more involved and credible city building process than I’ve grown to expect – not just a list of buildings but an actual design. Like many things in the game, it’s initially distracting and might even seem like busywork without definite purpose, but it’s the quiet core of every campaign.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps the factions really are at the heart of everything. They don’t just have a unique unit or some manner of research or productivity bonus, they each have a (well) written narrative, which provides unique functions, quests and heroes. There’s a light RPG touch in the management of heroes, who have many tiers of equipment to discover, but it doesn’t take precedence over empire management, as can be the case in Elemental.

The factions are the true heroes. Whether it’s the corpse-devouring insectoid Necrophages or the Cultists, who work from a single city and rely heavily on manipulation of minor factions. My personal favourites are The Roving Clans, a nomadic outfit who can relocate their cities by means of giant scarab beetles. Their modus operandi when it comes to conquest involves mercenaries and diplomatic wrangling, as they can’t openly declare war. That’s big rule change and they’ve got the portable scarab cities AS WELL. What more do you want from a faction, eh?

Tech tree changes aren’t Endless Legend’s final trick – in a very real sense, the final trick is the seasonal variance and approaching apocalypse – but they deserve mention. Amplitude have chopped the trees down and replaced them with tech pools. There’s progression through eras of tech but each stage has a group of choices but they’re free of links and prerequisites. You can pick whatever’s suitable for your current situation or queue up a long-term research plan.

All of these elements combine to make a game that feels like it has emerged from a slightly different timeline. It’s similair to the things you know but almost everything is either redesigned or rearranged. There’s a quote I’ve seen attributed to Brian Eno – “great pop music made by small groups of people misunderstanding other small groups far away” – and it almost fits here. Amplitude feel like they’ve perfectly understood those other small groups but have decided to do plug in their own synths and pedals anyway.

It’s taken me longer to assemble my thoughts than I expected. I feel like saying too much would spoil Endless Legend and I can’t think of the last time I worried about spoilers in a 4x strategy game. There’s so much to discover though and the joy, as so often, is in that discovery and the learning process that comes afterwards.

All of the changes combine to make a game that is more concentrated than the usual Civ style strategy. There are still stretches in which turn after turn ends with little to do, but success is tied up in forming long-term strategies rather than following a process through to its end-point. There are decisions to make moment to moment as well, sometimes as simple as shifting worker priorities and sometimes as grand as eliminating a faction from existence.

Is it a swan or is it Howard the Duck then? It’s as handsome as the former and, in its own quiet way, as unusual as the latter. More than anything, it’s a fine marker of intent from Amplitude, who have been quietly tinkering with the fundamental mechanics and world-building of strategy since Endless Space’s arrival. Legend feels like an experiment, and it’s a supremely confident and engaging one that doesn’t quite fit pre-existing templates. It’s a 4x game, sure, but it’s a not a high or low fantasy one. It’s weird fantasy and the weird cuts through to the playstyles as well as the art and fiction.

Endless Legend is out now.

69 Comments

  1. shinkshank says:

    I decided to go for it after seeing the very appealing screenshots, and I’ve been absolutely hooked on it. Me and a couple friends have been going at it for days, it is the most fun I’ve had with one of these since galciv 2. The game itself is fun, and the art direction is freaking beautiful. I love it.

    • Granath says:

      I entirely agree shink. Tis game is some of the best fun I’ve had with a 4x game in quite some time.

      • Danbanan says:

        I have to point out that its great for multiplayer games since it has simultaneous turns so if you like some multi with your 4x but don’t like the lumbering pace other 4x games have in multiplayer this is a gem

  2. Sandepande says:

    It is a good game. The slowly approaching winter is a nice touch. I lose easily. I suck.

    • Siimon says:

      Did you play against AI or humans? I’ve only ever played like three Civ matches, and won only one of those, so I’m not an expert in the genre by any means, but apart from the first time where I suffered defeat almost instantly I found the game to be way too easy. I played against 3-5 of the hardest AI and found that as long as I could muster an army of 3-4 units to defend and then increase that to 5-6 to conquer, I’d win easily… Too easily.

      • Shadow says:

        The game is excellent, but… yeah, I feel it’s too easy (and I’m playing as the Broken Lords, which is supposedly hard). I can’t be this good on my first run. Not the hardest difficulty, though, I’ll admit. I think it’s Normal.

        • Hex says:

          That may have something to do with a fortunate starting location and a surprising ability to avoid making dumb decisions. I’ve tried starting at least half a dozen games with the Necrophages and if it’s not a problem of crappy starting locations, it’s me getting too excited and over-extending.

          My games with the Wild Walkers and Roving Clans are both moving along without too much trouble. (Largely due to lessons learned from all those abortive games with Necrophages.)

        • Hex says:

          I just looked into Broken Lords. Why should they be considered hard? Seems like they have less to worry about than other factions. The only resource they’re dependent upon is Dust, and they get some serious bonuses to managing it.

          • clearb says:

            I dabbled in it before I got distracted by the Cult, and you have to pay dust for population. It gets pretty expensive as you progress into late game. No idea if that would make it the “hardest”, though. I suppose you could use the in-game faction creator to tally up the points for each faction and see which has the lowest, assuming they’re not all the same.

          • Shadow says:

            They’re hard because they grow only through Dust (which you still need to do other things as well), and the price of each new worker increases exponentially according to local AND global population. I suppose, however, that it’s ultimately a measure to encourage expansion via warfare: you let neighbours grow nice and fat, and then swoop in to seize their people. That’s also more or less the impression you get from the intro movie.

        • Chalky says:

          Yes, the game is great but the AI is unfortunately very poor when it comes to things like defending cities. As soon as you realize this as a player, games are suddenly far easier. No matter what victory condition you’re going for, the easiest path is to just take all the cities.

          Fingers crossed we get a patch for this.

    • Sandepande says:

      Oh, against AI. I am not fond of MP beyond tabletop gaming. Anywho, I suspect that I’ve been resource-poor, researching all the wrong (‘interesting’) things, and not really paying sufficient attention to my defence forces.

      I like a lot how the cities sprawl about. Filling a region with districts gives me joy.

  3. clearb says:

    I’m going to admit to being biased towards the game, because I’ve been playing it and adore it to bits. It’s really more “unique” than “weird”; I suppose it might be different for long time 4X players but for someone pretty new to the genre I don’t think I could have asked for a better game. It’s probably because everything that comes across as odd to a veteran a newcomer can appreciate directly, without preconceived notions. I tried Civ before (a long time ago, so probably a friend’s copy or the like) and bounced off it pretty hard.

    I’m not sure how much sense this makes, but as someone who loves Steven Erikson’s work, the civilisations and stories of EL really appeal to me. The music is a mighty fine thing as well.

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      Adam Smith says:

      You might be right there. A lot of the ‘weird’ is the breaking down of assumptions. It’s a good thing in either case.

      And the world is astonishingly well crafted.

    • Bobka says:

      Good gods, you’re saying this is anything like the world of the Malazan? I need to buy it ASAP then.

      • Hex says:

        Err, there’s no direct relationship to the Malazan series. I don’t know, but I’d guess the OP there is playing as Vaulters, which have cross-bow wielding marines. Maybe that’s what they’re talking about?

        I suppose the various factions being more fleshed out than what you find in your typical 4X might have something to do with it. Erikson’s genius was in characterizing the peoples of an entire world’s worth of civilizations. EL seems to do that more than other games.

        • clearb says:

          Yup what Hex said. It’s not the Malazans (though now I’m thinking about how great a Malazan-based 4X would be), but the factions are a breath of fresh air compared to the classic orcs and dwarves. That’s one of the biggest draws of Erikson’s craft (for me at least), so that was the link for me.

          • Hex says:

            A Malazan-based something is certainly needful.

            I envision it as a game in which the player manages a significant number of squads of units, and has to address multiple objectives at any one time. The player is given the freedom to break-down and recreate squads at will — load up all your sneaky mans into one or two squads for quiet ops; put all your demolitions guys in one or two squads to breach your way into a city during a siege. Typically keep some of everything in your squads to be more flexible and handle surprises. That kind of thing.

            A key factor would be mortality of individual units, and the need to leaven new recruits with veterans.

            No clue how it could really work, though. I don’t think it would be feasible to have the player individually control that much stuff. I suppose a sort of halfway-to-Dwarf Fortress style thing where you can give orders to squads, but they’re more-or-less self-directing would be necessary to allow the player to sit back and keep his eyes on the whole situation.

            (If the AI were fancy enough to let squads sometimes ignore orders to do something extra smart that the player didn’t figure out, it would be just like the books!)

          • clearb says:

            Actually, the series has a pretty large range of genres it could choose from. A squad-based game sounds a little like XCOM, especially if you’re thinking of Whiskyjack and friends in the first book. The battles against the Pannion Domin might be more RTS, I suppose. What I would really love to see as a 4X game is playing something like the Letharii.

          • Hex says:

            Yeah, I was thinking something more along the lines of controlling each squad as a discrete unit, not so much skinning XCOM with Malazan trappings.

            To recapture the Malazan feel, a game would need to somehow capture the independence of Malazan squads, and allow them to evolve as they recruit folks with unique skill-sets and as individuals within squads buy the farm over time and are replaced by raw recruits.

            It would be pretty tough to get to work and be playable.

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          Bluerps says:

          Hah! The Vaulter Marines made me think of Malazan Marines too! :D

        • Bobka says:

          Sure, I knew he didn’t mean this was literally a Malazan game. It’s more a question of whether it has a similar overall feel to that world.

    • Skeletor68 says:

      Nice to see other Malazan heads here :)

      I’m encouraged by you bouncing off Civ V. I love SMAC so tried vanilla Civ V and bounced off it too.

      • Toadsmash says:

        Civilization early play is so mind numbingly boring the first 25-50 turns, sometimes even longer if the map happens to spawn you on some stupid little island with 0 player neighbors. I found that starting at later tech levels didn’t really help that, either, and changing the game speed created other dilemmas I wasn’t happy with. I’d play hundreds of hours more Civilization if that early game hump wasn’t so endlessly (hah!) aggravating.

    • Jake says:

      Went and bought it immediately upon reading the Malazan comments. Quite pleased that my army is called the ‘1st Fist of the Queen’. It definitely has an Erikson feel to it, but there are more random orcs, minotaurs and plant hydras around than in Malazan.

  4. Superpat says:

    Glad to see the WOT! I was starting to worry it had fallen off your radar.

    The game is truly wonderful, If we’re going to compare it to civ 5, I’d say its slightly less good than civ + expansions but better than civ withouth expansions, and seeing Amplitudes track record with after release support, I really cant wait to see what the future has in store.

  5. Philopoemen says:

    I love the assimilation mechanic, as it feels like you’re running an empire rather than a homogenous blob .

    And the tutorial did a good job of making the difference between EL and other 4X games quite clear. It’s a guilty pleasure at the moment, with only half a to an hour getting played per day, but it’s getting played consistently. As such haven’t reach the late game, so can’t comment on whether it becomes a steamroller, or it maintains it’s identity.

    • Cross says:

      The tutorial as a whole, however, is really bad at explaining anything about the more advanced mechanics and which faction to start with. Since you played Vaulters in the tutorial, i went for them as my first campaign choice, and promptly got my butt smacked bourdeaux.

  6. Bobka says:

    I heard mixed things during Early Access, but it seems it’s found its wings. I’m excited to give it a try – more and more lately I’ve been finding that TBS games can fill the void in my heart left by the derelict RTS genre. Age of Wonders III in particular has really sucked me in lately, and Endless Legend looks like it’s got a unique and different setting from the more common fantasy fare.

    I never did properly get into Endless Space, though. I played it once, got sucked in for several hours, then never touched it again. Maybe I should get back into that, too.

  7. Cross says:

    I am so glad to read this. I haven’t tried the game yet, but seeing that Amplitude has scored once more makes me very happy. I adore that studio.

  8. Orija says:

    How much does a game like this lend itself to roleplay?

    • vecordae says:

      Depends on your particular definition of role-play. “You” are not present in the game space in any direct sense. It’s not like Elemental or Age of Wonders 3 in that regard.

      But that doesn’t mean the game isn’t immersive. There’s a strange and interesting narrative going on for each faction. There is gorgeous and really unique artwork, a beautiful wold, and a great visual style. There’s a sense of history and a connection to something bigger at work as well.

      So, if you want to be Lord Emperor You, going around and having adventures, that’s not something the game mechanics will represent for you. However, if you feel like getting lost in strange, alien world for a bit, it does an admirable job.

    • Hex says:

      I would expect if you’re playing with some buddies who are into it, you’d be able to get in character pretty well, with all the diplomacy options.

    • Noc says:

      I think it would work fairly well!

      The factions have a lot of richness and texture and internal ideological tension to them, and there’s a lot of synergy between the fluff and their game mechanics — and in the course of normal play, at least, I haven’t felt compelled to act “out of character” for my faction for the sake of the game mechanics.

      So, roleplaying your way through the game seems like it would be fairly viable!

  9. Toadsmash says:

    The one major complaint I’ve heard, especially from vets of Endless Space that continued on to this game, is that the game has abysmal AI, which could prove very problematic when my primary enjoyment of this game would certainly be as a single player experience. The screenshots and the otherwise glowing reviews almost have me wanting to buy it anyway.

    • Hex says:

      Having played since the release, I can’t say the AI is noticeably bad. (I haven’t made it to late-game, though. I kept making stupid mistakes and restarting. And then getting curious about other factions and restarting. I have a couple of different campaigns approaching 100 turns, and…nothing about the AI seems any worse than other, similar games.)

      • Borreh says:

        Unfortunetly I have to agree with the “bad AI” crowd. The game here is truly spectacular, but it’s meaningless if you do not have any menaingful interactions with other factions. What’s fascinating is that the AI is passive.. Towards the player alone. As I am playing, I see empires rise and fall around me, and almost always around turn 150 at least one or two players have been defeated and their terrain conquered, but somehow the player is completely omitted from that. It’s almost bizarre and fascinaitng in an odd way.

        I really hope they’ll fix the AI. It’s a 9/10 (at least!) game here but it’s just barely playable (because what is the point of playing it all by yourself?)…

        • Ooops says:

          In my experience this is very true. Although, I wonder if the extinct factions haven’t simply fallen under the assaults of the minor factions.

  10. _Nocturnal says:

    Could someone compare this to Warlock: Master of the Arcane for me? I was delighted by it, and this seems pretty good, too, but I’m not sure I have enough time for two fantasy 4X games in my life.

    • vecordae says:

      They are very, very, very different games, in terms of mechanics, scope, theme, and visual design.

      Warlock and it’s sequel are very much games about conquest. The focus is on building powerful units, researching powerful spells, and leveling your dudes up. It’s humorous, relatively straight-forward, and has a simple combat system. It’s sort of like what you’d get if someone gutted Civ 5 and bolted on a simple turn-based fantasy wargame.

      Endless Legend has a much bigger focus on exploration, city-building, and simple survival. It’s more thoughtful, and more mechanically interesting. Combat is a more complicated affair, with armies and reinforcements and hero units doing their thing. There are far more paths to victory, a more involved diplomacy system, and far more factions to choose from, all with very different styles of play. It’s more like a medieval Alpha Centauri than a fantasy-inspired Civilization.

      • _Nocturnal says:

        “a medieval Alpha Centauri”

        Oh my God, what have you done! Can you imagine the things that happened in my head when I read those words? It’s not safe to just leave them around like that!

        • vecordae says:

          Imagine how I felt when I realized it.

          But, to keep the imagination from running wild: No, you don’t custom build units and, no, you don’t do a lot of terraforming. Where it’s similar is the emphasis on world building and narrative and the overall strange and alien feel of the world, rather than mechanics. It feels like a science fiction tale of colonization on a hostile world, rather than a fantasy yarn about warring kingdoms.

          • Tssha says:

            But you DO custom design units…to an extent.

            You’d be well advised to upgrade each unit’s Iron weapons with each era, and possibly add on some Titanium or Glassteel weapons and/or armour into the mix (depending on what you can afford).

            Moreover, you can add accessories to your units, turning your four move footsoldier into a 7 move badass that can catch any army that might flee before it, and explore the whole world before breakfast. Of course, it does cost…

            The only limit is that each faction only has three base units, and two of them need to be researched. Now, you CAN supplement them with minor faction units (filling out missing spaces in the five roles of units: Infantry, Cavalry, Flying, Ranged, and Support), and those are infinitely editable as well…but every addon has a price, and you have to adopt that minor faction, and there’s only so much room, and they all give different bonuses…

  11. Flavour Beans says:

    “I can’t think of the last time I worried about spoilers in a 4x strategy game.”

    Come the release of Beyond Earth, will this phrase show up as “The last time I worried about spoilers in a 4x strategy game was a few weeks ago”?

    • Tssha says:

      At this point though, what’s left to spoil? I’ve seen so many videos, playthroughs, and sneak peeks that I’m certain there’s nothing up C: BE’s drawers I haven’t seen already. At this point, I’m not so much fetishising them as I am appraising them clinically.

      …I’m still gonna lose a whole solid week to this game on release though.

  12. Mezmorki says:

    I love everything about this game on paper, and aesthetically it’s amazing to behold.

    But I find the actual gameplay rather slow and tedious. I feel like I spend far too many turns double-checking build-cues watching my stacks crawl across the map and clicking next turn, rather than making any serious decisions.

    Maybe I just need to play it more, or just recalibrate my expectations in terms of the game’s pacing. Having played a lot of Age of Wonders 3 lately, where entire games can easily play out in less than 50 turns (and a lot happens in that amount of time), maybe I just need to re-adjust to a slower pace.

    • Hex says:

      I think recalibrating expectations is major for the Endless 4X games. I’ve been trying to train myself to run through turns quickly when there’s nothing to do, which is so contrary to the 4X experience. I’m finally making some headway, there, and…I kinda like it. :)

    • ScrapCupcake says:

      I had what feels like the same experience with this game when I first played it, and almost got disappointed by the game as a result, but I found out it was my own fault because its similarity to Civ 5 in appearance made me think it would have the same style of pacing. Indeed, expected it to have the pacing that 4x games have generally had: Stodgy at the start, ho-hum you have to build things, ho hum nothing to do but scout while I wait to aggress or be aggressed on.

      But not so! They have changed the pacing up on this game significantly. The things you can do with your choice of initial city position, once I understood the system, BOGGLED MY MIND.

      Next time you play, try this: Before you plop down your city, send out both of the other units in your initial army off in different directions, avoid slow terrain, try to see as much of what’s around you as possible. Try to find a spot that’s got a very clear pile of one of the three* resources. You can do split focus, but single focus is more fun, imho.

      If you get high industry: Focus your first few techs on whatever your city lacks most, and build it quick. Then focus on pumping out a couple of troops and go explore with your hero and a stack of 4 basic troopers. Expand your city or conquer others asap, and you’ll be rolling to whatever long term strategy you want.

      Note: the base troop is good for *most* factions. You have to research Zealots or assimilate a minor faction as the culties to get a troop worth producing in your cities. The preachers are awesome support troops, but they belong with strong offensive units, not alone. Your hero can take some stuff, but him and 4 preachers is not really better than him 2 or even 1. Get some meat in there.

      If you get high food: Assign your hero to your city, pump out new citizens, pump out at least two settlers in the first 20 turns and get their butts planted around you. Shuffle citizens around to optimize times where you’ve got an overflow of industry to get more dust, science, or influence to fill in gaps. Focus your troops on pure exploration of ruins, and research the language square early; try to parlay your way to village pacification, but if they want a stupidly large pile of dust or a resource, you can probably just clobber them. Pacify everything near you, you don’t want to get suprised early by roaming armies while explore, it’ll completely gut your cities for way too long because of how slow early movement is.

      Get your city rolling and expanded. Get your city center lvl 2 asap, and then gobble up anomalies, keeping up on lvl 2 districts to keep your people happy in each given city. Best for a peaceful start, but still good for switching into a war footing because of how many warm bodies you can throw at either dust or industry production.

      Science: My personal favorite, and really good for trying to build a small empire, vs the food starts favor for a sprawly one. Same military strategy as the food start, a very passive one, but double the importance of 2 things: Keeping your initial troops alive, and pacifying EVERYTHING. You cannot afford to be blockaded early for even a single turn really.

      Research all the production buildings, but favor the genomics labs to the library if you decide to pick just one. Skip getting the weapons and armor at tier 1 at all costs, you can just get tier 2 in under 30 turns instead. In fact, do that. Make them your first two techs once you hit lvl 2, and upgrade your troops so you can have a worthwhile homeguard. From there, the world is your oyster.

      That was fun to type, but I really must be going: I need to play some more Endless Legend.

      ALSO: This is all meant to be applied to the first 20-30 turns! There’s a lot more junctures for decision making that you think. And a mid-game dust production strategy involving rivers and the right heros that’s absolutely amazing. And I haven’t figured out an only dust heavy start yet.

      ALSO ALSO: Always try to get your main storyline quest done asap. The rewards from most of them are amazing or at least good, and you can get to some surprisingly quick wins with that route, and it gives you a lot to do. I was able to get a lot more of them done in the first 20 turns of the game than I thought, once I put my mind to it.

      * Five sir. But you can’t really specialize in influence, and as noted above, I haven’t figured out a dust heavy start yet. It just gets rolling too slowly.

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    Bluerps says:

    I’ve been playing it for almost two weeks (normally I would have waited for the WIT, but you took so long Mr Smith, and it looked so lovely!) and I love it. It’s the first game in a long time in which I was actually delighted by the tutorial, because it was a constant stream of surprises – I constantly went “Oooh, this is like that in this game? What a great idea!”.

    The factions are great too, I really had trouble to select who to play since I liked several immediately. At the end I decided to play the dragon-people – they are the great diplomats of this world and have the power to force truces, peace treaties and even alliances! How cool is that?

    • Hex says:

      Scoff! They may be fancy, but they have no power to prevent my Roving Clans from paving a freeway right to your capitol!

      • Tssha says:

        Freeways are great for trade, I’m sure I’ll trade along them as well. We’ll both be rich! And you’ll be a splendid ally for my diplomatic victory.

  14. supermini says:

    I am having a blast with this game.

    It is complex enough that there’s a lot of strategy involved, and yet it’s not too complicated to understand, one or two playthroughs and you’ll get all the ropes. I’ve bounced off a lot of strategy games lately, including the new Warlock and the new Age of Wonders…But this game is something else.

    I really love the approach they have taken with the factions. They haven’t differentiated them through flat bonuses, there are fundamental mechanical differences between playing, say, Broken Lords (who eat gold instead of food) and one of the other ones. On top of that you have different unique units, different faction quests, unique techs and even items…It’s brilliant. It’s the high point of the game for me.

    If you want a challenge you’ll have to crank up the difficulty at least two notches, though, as the AI isn’t exactly brilliant. I think the biggest problem is that it’s not aggressive enough. But most of the time I was having too much fun to notice.

    I wouldn’t compare it to Civ 5. This game is actually good on release, and won’t require two expansions and years of patching to stop sucking.

  15. NZLion says:

    Before reading this article I didn’t know anything about this game (Other than that it draws on the same fiction as everything else by the developer) but thanks to reading this, it is now a game that I think have to play. Being the kind of time-devouring genre that it is, however.. it’s just unfortunate that its release falls so close to Civilization: Beyond Earth

    • Hex says:

      If you haven’t played Endless Space and Dungeon of the Endless, they’re worth checking out.

      ES has been my personal favorite space 4X since it came out. It’s just solid and streamlined and good clean fun.

      Dungeon of the Endless is…hard to pinpoint. I actually haven’t played any of the recent builds. I should do that, soon. I’ve waffled between really, really enjoying it, and being frustrated as all heck, depending on the tweaks they’ve made. Worth a look, though.

  16. Laurentius says:

    Graphical design is splendid. I wonder how are technical aspects of the game ? Bugs, stability, crashes, that often plaugue many 4X games from smaller studios ?

    • supermini says:

      No crashes in about 600 turns of total gameplay.

    • DalamarTheDark says:

      I will say I have had a couple of CTD while playing, which is a known issue with some AMD graphics cards (mine is an older 6750).

      The devs are still trying to figure out what’s going on with it, but they recommend anyone with the issue to switch to the 32-bit installation (which is easy via my Steam copy). So far, no more crashes!

      Also, it’s a brilliant game. Everything everyone else said^

  17. Premium User Badge

    magnificent octopus says:

    I’d been planning it anyway, but this WIT confirms it: As soon as I get a new job, I’m celebrating by buying this game.

  18. ahmedabdo says:

    I watched some gameplay videos, and I really like the concepts and mechanics of the game. But, unless the fix the AI, unfortunately I don’t see myself buying it.

  19. Didden says:

    Bought it, but also bought Dungeon of the Endless at the same time by Amplitude, because the story arc starts in the dungeon. Frankly, I’ve been hooked on Dungeon of the Endless ever since. Very clever game, that I am now mastering, although, by mastering, I still accidentally lose a hero and then it all goes to hell in a handbasket! Brilliant.

  20. King_Rocket says:

    Something funky is going on with pricing on the amplitude website, the price is listed as $44.99 (founder pack) but when you go to check out the price changes to 40 euro.

  21. Almond Milk says:

    Like so many comments above, I too have been playing this pretty hard lately and it is an absolute blast. One thing I would like to mention though is that the wait after hitting the “end turn” button is crazy fast. And you can still freely move around the world and check on your cities while you wait. If you’ve played a game of Civ5 into the late game, you’ve probably experienced that awful (sometimes minutes long!!!) wait after you end your turn, but here it barely changes from about 5 seconds, and my PC is decidedly average. I cannot overstate how massively this increases my enjoyment of the game, and has probably spoiled me for other 4Xs forever.

  22. Ooops says:

    I am halfway through my first game and I agree with pretty much everything in this WOT. It’s still too early for me to see if the AI is smart or dumb, but even this early, there are clear signs that it’s quite passive. Aside from one war that was delared more than 200 turns into the game, I’ve had zero meaningful interaction with the AI so far. It’s all been me vs the minor factions.

    I wonder if my experience is representative and how much of a problem it’ll be.

  23. kincajou says:

    what’s the DRM situation on this?

  24. Shar_ds says:

    ‏Shar_ds 19h18 hours ago
    @Amplitude Hi! I’d love to buy your game from your website, but it’s touch and go whether it will run on my pc. Do you have a refund plan?

    Amplitude 18h18 hours ago
    @Shar_ds Hello, our refund process is like the one on Steam.

    *sad face*

  25. ThinkMcFlyThink says:

    I am doing *okay* in the game, but still feel like I have little-to-no idea what I should be doing. There’s only about two dozen things that don’t make complete sense to me, even after playing the tutorial. Any good LPs or beginner’s resources? The extended Early Access has made finding helpful materials for new players with up-to-date information a little difficult.