Endless Space is a 4x turn-based strategy game from newcomer Amplitude Studios with Iceberg Interactive publishing it. There’s some definite talent behind the game as many from the team have worked in huge titles such as R.U.S.E., Battlefield and others. Looking to break into the more niche 4x market (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) that’s dominated by games such as Sins of a Solar Empire, the Civilization series, and even titles in the Total War series, Amplitude Studios has decided to work towards quite a large game in Endless Space.
I must say this however: The game releases on July 4th, 2012 (that’s tomorrow as of this preview) and Endless Space does a lot of things right, but simultaneously though for a game that releases tomorrow it still needs some serious polishing.
First though, let’s get some backstory on this game. Endless Space is exactly as it sounds: it’s the former space of the Endless, a race that came before any of the present ones and were the first to explore the universe and unlock its secrets. They mysteriously disappeared at some point, but in their wake left technology and cities for the younger races to find. Even more importantly though, they left their mark on many of the civilizations by either directly influencing their evolution or directly creating them. The youngsters of space are left to fend for themselves now as they vie control of both the galaxies and whatever else the Endless left.
I like the setup, even if it’s clichéd. It’s still one of the most fun and classic tropes that any sci-fi series can stick with. But enough about the story, especially since I expect there are many who don’t necessarily know what a 4x strategy game truly is. The idea is this: players will pick one of the many races to play as and be forced to stick with them through thick and thin (and their racial bonuses and deficits). From here, it’s very similar to games like Civilization and Total War where a proper balance between expansion, population happiness, military and war, and taxes must be taken into account. Researching new technology is a must (how else do you expect to colonize a lava planet?), and fueling that research and economy is the need to continuously expand, resulting in a vicious cycle that will ultimately lead to one race getting the crap beat out of them.
Speak of beating the crap out of each other, the combat mechanics will make some heads turn – it’s broken down into two distinct groups. Players will either get to see the battle results from the “Auto” selection that is never a trustworthy friend in these games, or they will get to watch what is essentially a “quicktime event” of sorts complete with a video but not much else. It’s not even that much of a QTE – players pick battle cards that represent their actions which will then play out in screen in a rock-paper-scissors style battle.
But like I stated much earlier – for a game that comes out in a day, it’s still got some major bugs that NEED to be worked out. As of right now players can expect to deal with some game-breaking bugs, such as ones that will lock the game, frozen fleets that hover above planets, and quite possibly the worst: a somewhat non-functioning online multiplayer which can be a death knell for this type of game. During our experiences in the beta, both Kevin and I were unable to connect to each other to form a game and the times we did manage it, one of us would be booted as the game started. We had to go through a random third party game to even get one successful, albeit short lived, multiplayer game. I sincerely hope this is rectified when the game goes live, but that remains to be seen.
In a twist with these bugs though, Amplitude Studios is approaching the overall game in a much different and open fashion than many game developers. Their documentation materials and other information relating the game were released to the public as part of their Games2Gether initiative. What’s that you ask? Why it’s actually a pretty neat thing Amplitude Studios has come up with that truly and actively involves the community surrounding the game and uses their input to directly influence design and development. Those that were incredibly active pre-(and most likely post-) release will even get credits in the game. If only more companies did this we might actually get a ton of good games continuously…
Will this game be fun for those ultimately wondering? Hell yes it will – it fits that 4x category perfectly and it has a lot of great gameplay mechanics and potential possibility that I highly suggest players look into the game when it hits. What I can’t say for sure is if the game will truly be ready on its supposed release date.
Check out Endless Space tomorrow for Steam and look for boxed editions on August 24th. The Admiral Edition is currently on sale on Steam for $26.99, while the Emperor Special Edition is only 5 bucks more at $31.49. Check out Steam now to Pre-Purchase.