Game: Endless Space 2
Developer: Amplitude Studios
Despite being well beyond my usual banquet of games, Endless Space 2 awakened my inner Captain Janeway with its astonishing level of detail and silky smooth interface. Admittedly, I’m a total newbie in the 4X realm, but the variety of difficulties and optional tutorial were smart design choices on AMPLITUDE Studio’s behalf; they effortlessly unpackage a brilliantly researched sci-fi voyage through the stars, and it never becomes dense or unappealing. And while the general aim of building a mighty galactic civilisation might sound trite, Endless Space 2’s gameplay—a beautifully embroidered system of exploration, research, and resource management—goes to infinity and beyond to make sure players are held deep within its gravitational pull.
Everything you do revolves around micromanaging the key paramaters of food, industry, dust, science and influence, or FIDSI, which are pretty interdependent. Providing nutrition helps your population grow, but creating food and streamlining its production takes research, which in turn relies on expanding the multi-tiered science skill tree. It sounds complex, and the insanely detailed lore adds to the illusion. However, this is Endless Space 2’s secret recipe for ridiculous levels of immersion. Whether you’re colonising new planets, scanning new systems for curiosities to advance your technologies or knee-deep in diplomatic relations with minor civilisations, it always feels like an intellectual thrill. The turn-based nature of the game gives you the ultimate agency and ample time to scour through every bit of detail, and trust me, you will. Navigating across a constellation-like pathway towards the unknown is rewarding in itself, thanks to the beautiful space environments, and Amplitude carefully metes out new discoveries, letting players bask in the joy of scanning foreign planets to see if they’re hospitable enough to support life, or even examining their atmospheric compositions. Completing random quests unlocks heroes, resources and new knowledge, adding layers to the exploratory gameplay backbone, and should you decide to declare war, there are manpower (MP) driven defence systems that determine your failure or success.
The gorgeous musicality captured in the soundtrack oscillates between atmospheric and choral with drowsy trance drum beats and synth tones. It’s well-matched to the gameplay, which feels perfectly paced: the combination of exploration, resource accumulation and spending science or influence (used like currency in Endless Space 2) to further your ambitious empire are certain to appease players who enjoy methodical planning. The only thing I can truly fault is an isolated occurrence of screen freeze when I zoomed into the learning academy, which forced a restart. Other than that, Endless Space 2 serves as both an excellent portal to 4X games for the uninitiated, and I imagine, a brilliant sequel to Endless Space.
Endless Space 2 is out now on Steam for $39.99 USD. Considering the endless hours you’ll sink into exploring its universe, it’s well worth the price of admission. For more information on Endless Space 2, make sure you check out our interview right here on Gameranx. We also took a look at Endless Space 2 while it was still in early access, and pinpointed five reasons you should play it.
A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.