(Posted to my Facebook page on February 18, 2015)
So I’ve been playing a bunch of games to catch up/game more in the past few months, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on some of them. I figured I’d start with a game that I picked up after Angry Joe recommended it on one of his videos.
Endless Legend is Turn Based Strategy empire building game that has a lot in common with the Civilization games. It’s built around the classic “4X” core: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate. If you’ve played Civilization 5 or Civilization Beyond Earth, this will feel pretty familiar, but this is definitely the winner for best Turn Based Strategy of the year over Beyond Earth.
Like Civilization, you’re dropped into a big randomly generated world, the general shape and size of which you can determine before the game. Players control one of eight factions, which will feel both familiar and strange, ranging from the Dragon-kin Drakken to the mysterious Cult of the Eternal End. Each starts with different technology, has different strengths, and units. You’ll work to build cities based off of resources you should be familiar with: Gold, Food, Production, Science, ect. Like I said, the core of this game is very similar to Civilization.
The big changes, however, really set this apart. You have heroes to collect, which can be assigned to armies to allow them to fight better or to cities to manage those better. The heroes (As well as normal units) can be outfitted with lots of different weapons, armor, and other gear and artifacts to make them stronger, heroes have skills to upgrade, and they can make a huge difference in the battle; just deciding if your first hero should stay home or go out to battle is a big choice.
Managing cities is also fresh and interesting. Rather than the really annoying, somewhat confusing system in Civilization where you needed population to harvest from city tiles, just being in the city limits is enough to work them in Endless legends. Citizens can be assigned to different resources (Gold, Food, Science, Production, or Renowned) to help produce those more quickly. Your boarders don’t grow naturally, and you’ll need to build districts to expand your city.
Like I said, I’m making a lot of comparisons to Civilization here, and the minor factions in the game are like a combination of the Barbarians and City-States from Civ. The board is divided into lots of smaller regions, of which only one city owned by a player can exist. Within each of these regions exists one or more camps of a minor faction, which begins hostile, spawning enemy units. You can destroy, bribe, or parlay (Gaining a side-quest for) these factions to gain their loyalty, at which point you can assimilate them into your civilization with your renowned resource, which gives you a passive bonus and allows you to build that faction’s unit (Be it Hydras, golems, minotaurs… there is a great deal of variety in these minor factions). They add a new level of strategy to the game and really reward the player for using them effectively.
Diplomacy is much, much better than in Civilization. This is where the new resource, Renowned, comes into play. You need to spend this resource either on passive bonus’, or to negotiate with opposing players. The AI is much more receptive to trades in this game, and a nice slider helps you to even out the trades without much guesswork. You’re also able to trade technologies; a huge bonus that adds much more depth to the system. You need to spend renowned to declare war, offer warnings, sign peace treaties, or even to make an alliance with a player, making this resource very important to manage; hell, one faction can even use a large amount of renowned to force alliances or treaties, which is incredibly powerful.
What really makes Endless Legend shine, however, are the quests. You have a driving story that is always giving you a goal to push towards in the game; the end of each faction’s plot line has a victory condition (Other victory conditions, such as Expansion, Economic, Diplomatic, Wonder, ect. make it so that no matter what you strong suit is, you’ve always got a chance to win), and the quests given out by random temples make this seem like a real adventure in addition to the traditional empire builder in games of the same genre.
The main complains with the game come with some random lag spikes and a really mediocre combat system. It’s an interesting idea that probably could have held some water, but the combat ends up being very slow, hard to control and boring. You want to simulate the battles to speed the game along, but fear that the AI might do something stupid keeps you doing it yourself, which can slow the game to a crawl. I haven’t tried the game online yet, so I’m unsure of how the connection holds up, and I’ll have to check on that in the future.
All in all, Endless Legend is a must-play for any fans of Turn-Based Strategy. It’s an interesting twist on the formula, and adds enough to be enjoyed despite its similarity to other games in the genre. If you’ve got a chance, check it out; you won’t regret it.
I give Endless Legend a 4 out of 5.