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Endless Space 2 and Endless Legend expand today, plus first Endless Space free

Mushroom people hacking the Gibson

Spectral space-spies and mushroom people have arrived today in Endless Space 2 and Endless Legend. The two expansions - Penumbra and Symbiosis, respectively - each add a new playable faction to the already-massive 4X strategy games, plus a major game-changing new feature that can impact everyone. Below, a developer stream taking an hours-long dive into both expansions.

Those new to the Endless universe (a sprawling sci-fi setting shared by all of Amplitude's games, including Endless Space 1 & 2, Dungeon Of The Endless and Endless Legend), all the games in the series are free to try on Steam for the weekend, along with discounts to keep. Endless Space 1 is forever if you sign up and link your Steam account over on their Games2Gether site here.

The first fifty minutes (give or take) of the stream digs down into Symbiosis for Endless Legend. The Mykara are an interesting new faction - mutating mushroom creatures - that expand differently to most. They only have a single central structure, but have an underground root network that they can expand to encompass more land and capture more resources. The Mykara don't capture cities, but can grow mushrooms over them, leeching currency and resources off the hex and gain perks based on the faction it belonged to, further evolving their units.

The new system for everyone to wrestle with in Symbiosis is the Urkan. Amplitude directly invoke Pacific Rim and Godzilla - a trio of giant crab-monsters that roam around, spawning aggressive 'lice'. They can't be killed, but can be controlled either by beating them in combat or throwing fat sacks of resources at them. Over time you'll be able to upgrade your Urkan, but if an enemy manages to knock it out, they'll not only turn it to their side, but get all the upgrades for it you invested in. A good defence can turn into a very powerful counter-offensive. Being living weapons of mass destruction, just owning an Urkan gives you more diplomatic clout, too.

The new Endless Space 2 expansion, Penumbra, is a bit more esoteric. The new faction - The Umbral Choir - control a single hidden system, but can extend their influence elsewhere in strange ways. They mostly interact with the universe through espionage and setting up hidden sanctuaries on other faction's planets. They're always hiding, and very vulnerable, militarily. If directly confronted, they have the option to warp away to another special hidden map-node, assuming you've invested in an escape route. Despite being so physically limited, their hacking and stealth means that they'll feel like they're everywhere all at once.

The big feature of this expansion is hacking, the most high-tech form of espionage. You can use this to slow enemy fleets, topple governments, pilfer resources or - in the case of the Umbral Choir - steal converted sleeper agents from planets where you have influence and sanctuaries, and add them to your homeworld's population. This also ties into a secondary new system - invisibility. Umbral fleets are cloaked by default because they're so militarily weak, but other factions can research stealth technology and detection to beat them at their own game.

Endless Space 2 – Penumbra (Steam/Humble) and Endless Legend – Symbiosis (Steam) are out now on both for $12.99/€12.99/£10.99 each, minus a 10% discount, or 20% off here if you get both together. They're published by Sega. You can try Endless Space 2 here, Endless Legend here and Dungeon Of The Endless here, and claim a free copy of Endless Space 1 here.

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