Amplitude Studios are no strangers to the world of 4X gaming. Their first adventure into the format, Endless Space, has been adopted into the community as a shining example of a new entry done right. Thousands still play the game and thousands more have already played it to death. Recently Amplitude announced their next attempt to take over the 4X market, Endless Legend, would be available on Steam Early Access and we at n3rdabl3 were given the opportunity to give it a look. The task fell to me and after almost losing two full days to its world, the time comes to tell you beautiful people about this interesting new title.
Before jumping in at the deep end let’s just clarify. Endless Legend is still in early, early, early Alpha.
Endless Legend revolves around the world of Auriga. Ring any bells? If you’ve played Endless Space then you may recognize the name as a system you could find to convey certain bonuses. It’s actually the central planet where your heroes crash in Dungeon of the Endless and contains one of the races from the procedural dungeoner (the vaulters) as a playable race. This is the world where you must lead your chosen empire to dominance over its rivals. If you look really closely even in this very early form the lifeblood of Amplitude’s Endless universe rushes through the veins of Endless Legend. You might even recognize a race or two.
Let’s get something out of the way really quick here, Endless Legend looks wonderful and inviting. Yes its not going to win any awards for high res textures or particle effects, yet. That’s not to detract from its artistic stylings though. Each city looks interesting and character models capture the essence of their race both in animation and art. Taking an army off into the wilderness never fails to impress as biomes come into view. It might sound a little crazy to have a game with multiple unit models and cityscapes to point out the backdrop I’ll grant you, but they are something special. A surprising level of detail has been given to the terrain and for good reason. It’s inviting, enticing you to go on a journey of discovery into the wilds. Snowy cliffs punch up from the ground alongside lush forests and barren desert landscapes.
That’s one of the reason anyway. The other is killing stuff.
At this early stage in the development of Endless Legend there are only two possible win conditions at the time of writing. It will please the bloodthirsty among you all to know one is complete military domination. It’s lucky then that combat is such an enjoyable experience. Warfare maintains the same turn-based system as the rest of the gameplay if you go into manual mode, allowing you to decide the flow of battle. It’s not exactly breaking any barriers here but when many 4X games turn combat into a simple strength vs defense roll, having more direct control along with a close up view invests your heart in the experience. It’s still fairly hands off but more than once I’ve found myself whooping with joy at victory over city defenders. Yeah ok I don’t get out much.
Where Endless Legend does set itself apart from genre peers though is thanks to its Minor Races. There are eight planned major races with four currently available for play; the vicious Necrophages, the implacable Broken Lords, the suspicious Vaulters and the druidic Windwalkers. Every one of these races has their own distinctive flavour but interestingly only three different military units are available to each race. Where each faction can improve the variety of available units though is with the use of Minor Races.
Minor races are small factions who can be assimilated into your nation and add into the game’s world randomly acting city states. Endless Legend’s generated maps are split into regions and each race can only have one city in a region. Regions house a minor faction which provides both opportunity and risk. They can be taken over through bribes, invasion or completing a quest. Once pacified through any means you can build a city in the region and opt to rebuild the town, bringing whichever race you found into your force. This offers up an extra unit often with very different abilities to your own army. For instance you can have a stealthy group of elves accompanied by a gigantic crystal monster or three-headed Hydra’s backing up those weedy little archers. They bring a sense of customisation to the armed forces and make you interact with them to diversify your army.
There’s actually a great deal of fun to be had in doing the quests for these minor races. They might send you to kill the residents of another city or supply them with luxury materials in exchange for their alliance. These aren’t totally peaceful races though. Sending out small armies to disrupt your forces, besiege your cities and generally be a bothersome bunch of bandits is just as much of their character as what they can give you. You can also augment your armed forces – and cities - with a hero unit. Purchasable after research these powerful characters can change a small army of troops into an unstoppable force capable of ruining the plans of your enemies.
Outside of these features, everything else in Endless Legend is pretty much what you’d expect from a 4X turn-based strategy title. Production resources help in speeding up the process of adding units or buildings to cities. Cities can be expanded with boroughs to improve their activities. Research is just as important as being rich. Extracting materials from the world is quite important also, although its not as useful as it should be yet without the trade system actually being implemented yet.
Endless Legend may not be a world changer in its current state but it’s well worth jumping into the game’s Early Access program. Not everything is there yet but with the systems which already exist being so well polished there’s a great deal of promise for what’s to come in the future. One or two bugs or crashes slip into the experiences yes but this is a game still in very early Alpha. There’s already enough here to occupy any strategy fan for hour upon hour. As the developers Amplitude Studios turn to the community and listen to their feedback there’s opportunity to get what you’ve always wanted in a 4X game stuck in there by one of the genre’s newest success stories. Get into the world here and keep your eyes on n3rdabl3 for the latest Endless Legend news as it comes