Endless Legend is a turn-based, 4X fantasy strategy game, created by indie developer Amplitude Studios. For those who don’t know what a 4X game is, it’s a type of strategy game where you control an empire and Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate. If you’ve ever heard of Sid Meier’s Civilization series, it’s just like that. Civilization V seems to be the most popular 4X game out on the market right now, but for newcomers to the genre, a game like Civilization V can be a bit rough to get into. Endless Legend is a fantastic 4X game that is easy to get into, and help you get into other games in the genre.
From the moment you start the game, the first thing that will catch your attention is how beautiful the User Interface is. It’s sleek, modern, and simple. And that’s just the main menu. When you start off a game, the UI continues to amaze. Everything you need is placed in the top left corner and the bottom right corner.
On the top left, you are given icons that’ll take you to 8 different screens. You are also given the basic information of many resources you have, and what research is currently in development. On the bottom left, you’re given a little command center that allows you to cycle between units with remaining movement/action points, have units carry out their preset actions, turn on the information tiles, and end your turn. Notifications for any important events show up as small icons along the right side of the screen, and can be dismissed or minimized for future reference.
The eight screens I mentioned earlier are: empire management, city overview, research, quests, hero management, army and unit management, diplomatic relationships, and the marketplace. Again, I cannot stress how beautiful the information is presented to you. A quick mouse-over usually results in a small little text box that provides helpful information. A simple click of the right mouse button will exit you out of the screen and take you back to the map view—no more fumbling around to click the back button, or having to press a key on your keyboard.
Next up are the graphics. From my own experiences, these types of games, as well as real-time strategies and MOBA’s tend to look better when you aren’t too zoomed in. The closer you get to the ground level and to the character models, the aesthetic appeal lessens. This isn’t the case with Endless Legend. From the mid-range camera, the game looks absolutely fantastic. The colors are vibrant and there is a lot of attention to detail. When you zoom in, that attention to detail becomes even more apparent. Watching your cities and other structures grow is something that never gets old, and neither does watching your units move/battle close-up.
Now, the map where your games will take place on is HUGE. So when you don’t want to pan your move over and wait ages to get from one end of the continent to the other, you can just zoom out. Once you get far enough, the terrain disappears, and you are presented with a more traditional map view, that simply shows you where major and minor cities are located, as well as any points of interest such as ruins or luxury resource locations. From here you can still see where your units are and order them around to different locations. If you go even farther, you get a bare-bones map that shows the different regions, their names, and their divisions. Have a quest in a specific region, but you have absolutely no idea where it’s at? Just zoom out far enough and look for the name on the map. Now, since you aren’t the only player in these games, and you can have up to five other empires in your world, you need to know who controls what. Luckily, the large map view is color coded, so you know exactly which empire is controlling which region, and even which regions are neutral.
I mentioned earlier that the bottom right command center lets you turn on information tiles. What this does is display how much of a specific resource you will get from that tile. This is useful when you’re planning where to construct a city or when you are planning on expanding your city. The information is displayed on the tiles themselves, with an icon and a number representing a specific resource and the amount of that resource you’ll receive. It looks nice, since they’re displayed in nice colors, but because virtually every tile can provide at least one resource, this view mode tends to clutter the map with icons and numbers. For that reason, it’s probably best to only have it on when you’re planning construction/expansion. There is also an option to make the hexagonal tile borders more visible, which adds a subtle change.
Last in this little section is the sound. Normally when I play these sort of games (4X, RTS, MOBA) I like to have my own music playing in the background, since the games tend to be long and the sounds the game plays aren’t so interesting that you can enjoy listening to it for extended periods of time. However, I find that I don’t mind the sound in Endless Legend. In fact, it’s actually pretty good. The background music that plays is entertaining and helps give that sort of epic vibe to your game, and while the sound effects are average, they don’t get annoying.
Alright, so once you finish gawking over how pretty Endless Legend is, the next thing that you’ll most likely encounter is its learning curve and how difficult it’ll generally be once you’re gotten the basics down. Like I mentioned before, Endless Legend is an especially good game for an introduction for newcomers to this genre. It might take a bit of time to get the essentials down but it really just boils down to getting the tutorial done and then playing your first game. The tutorial does an amazing job of teaching you everything you need to know to get a functional game started and not leave you totally in the dark. It’s not too long, it’s not too short, and most of all, and it isn’t boring. You’ll come out this tutorial realizing you didn’t have to try too hard to focus on the information that was being presented to you.
Once you’ve gotten the tutorial over with, you’re ready to jump into your first game. You can leave it on the normal difficulty, with the standard game length, and 6 empires total—you’ll be completely fine. As you start off the game and move into mid and late game, you’ll pick up some more of the important things to know about this game. Not to mention, as is custom with many games nowadays but especially with these strategic games, there are numerous resources online that’ll show you more advanced tactics and play-styles.
However, once you’ve gotten the basics down, there’s really not much else to do. Even on harder difficulties and longer game lengths, Endless Legend is easily susceptible to early game imbalance. If you can successfully manage to expand your empire and build your armies within the first 100 or so turns, it is almost a guaranteed win, as the AI will not be able to stop you in any way. Because there are different victory conditions that you can meet, there can variation in how long a game will take to complete, solely because some conditions can be met quicker than others. But with whichever victory condition you aim to accomplish, with enough early game preparation, the AI will be helpless against the might of your empire.
Despite the fact that a game itself cannot provide much of a challenge in respect with giving you tough opponents to play against, there are still many reasons to keep playing this games in the late hours of the night when your significant other is asleep in the bed and you should be doing your homework. Like I mentioned in the previous section, there are multiple win conditions that can be achieved. Setting a goal for yourself to reach a specific victory condition can force you to change your play-style and learn new tactics.
Not only that, but there are a total of 8 different factions to play as, each which require their own different play-styles. For example, one faction might have the sole ability to move cities around and have cavalries in their armies, but at the cost of not being able to declare war against other empires. A different faction might not thrive off food like the rest would, shifting your focus more on money rather than food. That change in focus will greatly affect your decision making when laying down new cities, as well as your priorities when building improvements for your cities.
Each faction has their own main quest as well. When you start the game, you will be given a main quest line to follow, with the first quest being available to complete. As you complete these quests, you progress further in the quest line. Being that there’s 8 different factions, which would mean that there are also 8 different main quests to complete. That’s pretty impressive, and that’s without the fact that some main quests can branch off in random directions, meaning that there’s always a chance you’ll get a slightly different quest line to follow for the same faction.
Endless Legend is an amazing game. Despite the scale and complexity that is inherent with games of this genre, Amplitude Studios managed to make a game that is relatively easier to get into. It plays well, and looks absolutely fantastic. It’ll keep beginners and casual 4X players fully entertained, but hardcore gamers might be slightly hard-pressed to find much long term value.
Score: 9/10- Excellent
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