Using its new business model Games2Gether, Amplitude Studios released Endless Legend in an Alpha stage/ Early Access to get player feedback during development. Endless Legend is a prequel to Endless Space and is a fantasy 4X strategy game with real-time turn-based combat system. What sets itself apart from other 4X strategy games like Sid Meier’s Civilization is its ability to fully customize units, abilities, weapons, cities, battle options and more that you would find in RPG games.
Before you begin playing the Alpha version, there are still some features missing:
- Additional playable factions (8 in the final game) and minor factions (16 in the final game)
- Multiplayer gameplay
- Custom Factions and Modding
- Advanced AI
- Naval transportation and map generation with several continents
- Roads and Trade routes
- 2 additional Eras for a total of 6, with up to 40 extra technologies
- Fully functional Diplomacy
- Tutorial Campaign
- Additional victory conditions, battle options, and unit abilities
Because of the missing Tutorial Campaign, you are forced to look at the Steam Community for information on how to play the game. In the tab Guides, there is a Gameplay Basics article that gives you a quick overview of the things you need to know in order to get started. Mentioned in the article was a manual for the game in the game’s installation folder. However, before coming to this page, I looked on YouTube for any basic tutorials and came across this one. In his video, he assumes you know how to get around the board with basic controls. I still didn’t know this so I was very frustrated.
Endless Legends plays like most 4X strategy games. You start with settlers and explore the local area until you are comfortable enough to found your first city. After, you can choose sciences to learn, build city buildings, military units and explore further. When you come across enemies, you can choose to fight or use diplomacy. When you explore and come across treasure or unsearched areas, you can choose to search them or exploit its resources. You’ll also discover resources to be used to expand your city. What I love about Endless Legends so far is that most actions in the game are either hinted or explained for you. Other than initially knowing how to maneuver around the map, moving my units, what certain icons mean, it’s mostly explained in detailed. However, I will explain some of my own issues with the Alpha just to give you the heads up.
Starting Your Legend
What’s in the Main Menu?
When you start a new game, you can choose different options for your game, empire and world map such as number of empires on the map, region size, temperature, world size, etc. The last option is choosing your empire faction, which only 4 are available. There’s popups next to most, if not all of the options giving you details about what you are choosing.
For this preview, I chose to have a game with 4 total empires: Desert temperature (Hot with little Food and Science but rich in Dust), Large Pangaea world shape and size, and a normal Region size. My faction with my first game was the Wind Walkers but decided to delete and start over with The Broken Lords. The Broken Lords are made of Dust so they have no use for Food like other factions do. It took me a while to understand this trait because for the longest time, I was wondering why the Food icon (FIDSI icons are resources in the game) never increased with workers and production. Since only 4 empires are in my game, there’s 4 AI empires you could customize or you could add as players to the game, but these features are not present in the Alpha yet.
Gameplay – Starting Point
My hero, Baron Joslyn Deyval II, is put randomly on the map and I desperately tried to figure out what to do next. If you are using your mouse, right-click and drag the direction you want your hero to move in order to explore the area and find a suitable place to found a city. In the bottom-right where the number of turns is displayed, there’s a tile icon that displays tile information and another icon that displays the resources on the tile. I click both and now you can see the amount of resources that will be perfect to found a city.
Baron, with his first two armies, will now go exploring the terrain, on the lookout for treasures, minor or major factions to defeat and assimilate and resources. Because it’s a fresh map, and you barely researched new technology, any resources you find you won’t be able to use. But it’s good that you remember where they are because as soon as your research allows you to use it, then you can build cities around it. You can, however, search in treasure troves and get some goodies. You’ll also get some quests to complete. In this discovery, you’ll run smack into battles that you can’t get out of but this is where the real fun begins and the most frustration if you don’t know what you are doing. More on the battle aspect later.
So What The Heck Am I Really Doing Here?
In this Alpha release, you win by a 200-turn limit. The empire with the best score wins. In the final release, you’ll be able to choose which way you can win, such as by researching and building all technology through science, defeating all the military units, diplomacy or gold storage.
One Menu Rules Them All!
There’s a few menus that you must get familiar with in order to get the most out of Endless Legend. There are 2 big in-game menus during gameplay and management menus that allows you to control and customize your gameplay, military units, strategy, and diplomacy. You even use a marketplace to buy mercenaries.
In the screenshot above, there are 3 locations of menus. I’ll start with the bottom menus. There are 3 menu boxes at the bottom of the in-game screen. The first box on the left is your current selected Hero information. The Hero will have an unassigned title because they are not assigned to a city and is the General of the Army on patrol/exploration. The next menu is for certain actions such as founding a city, attacking a city, attacking a nearby enemy army, etc. In this situation, I am about to found a city, so the icon for the top of a building is highlighted. The final menu displays your current unit(s) information. You can view the health of the unit as well as perform actions such as heal, disband and retrofit.
The menu on the far right I call the Turn Menu, displays your turn information, the other 3 factions that are discovered, and other information that can be used to display resource information on tiles, predict when the terrain will change with certain weather conditions, and switching between armies. The above icon over this menu is for notifications.
Details of Turn Menu
- The Recycle icon selects the next idle army to issue a command.
- The Right Arrow icon forces your army to continue with your orders you issued them on your previous status.
- The Counter icon shows “6-22,” explained as from 6 up to 22 turns that the start of the first number will have an environment/weather change that lasts up to the second number of turns.
- The Colored icons with symbols represent the factions you have discovered.
- The Terrain Tile icon gives a grid of the map
- The Number Title icon displays the resource level of each terrain tile on the map. For example, your city might be surrounded by grasslands, so you can harvest 3 food, 2 dust, 1 water, etc.
The top menu I call the Management Menu includes all of the Empire Management you need to control and strategize your game efforts. Before explaining these management icons, there are sub-icons located under. The Gold icon is for currency, dust is the currency. Each turn, you earn a certain amount of currency. The middle icon displays science discovery. It will display the current science that is being researched/learned with the number of turns it will take to complete it. The purple star icon is influence points. You gain influence points when your city gets bigger, you beat enemy armies and when you go on quests. The bigger your city is, the more of influence points there will be.
Each icon represents a different sub-menu: Empire Management, City management, Science Management, Quest management, Military Screen, Diplomacy and Marketplace.
- The Dust icon is the currency. You can use it to buy anything just like if it were gold.
- The purple Star icon is the influence ability. It’s used for various effects but commonly used for diplomacy.
- The Science icon displays The Research Management screen. It shows what you are currently researching and resources. There are 6 eras. You research different things according to the era you are in. some are locked. There’s no limit to the amount of things you can research at once.
- The Eagle icon is the Empire Management screen. Manage or look up empire information, assimilated minor factions, strategic resources, luxury resources, stockpiles, empire bonuses, and empire plan. The Empire plan simulation is how to balance spending influence in the 4 parts.
- The roof of a government-type building icon is the City management menu.
- The Science sub-icon is the research update. Look here for the current research that will be completed in a certain number of turns.
- The Holy Grail icon is the Quests Management screen.
- The Fist icon is the Military screen. Manage your military units and unit designs. Know how some armor and equipment strengths and weaknesses. Academy screen displays the hero’s information. Also includes equipment screen and skill tree map to view and equip spells, bonuses, combat abilities, etc.
- The Hands Holding icon is the Diplomacy Management screen. Get along with other factions so you can prosper.
- The Marketplace Icon is the Marketplace screen. Here you can purchase new heroes, equipment, resources, etc. You have to discover new technologies in order to unlock this feature.
I’m a Tomb Raider…
When you come across a ruin, you’re given the option to search it. If you have more searching abilities, you can search thoroughly.
Quests in any game are a good way to keep interest or wander off the main story. In Endless Legend, quests are given to you almost immediately after you start your game and come at a normal rate as you explore the area. In the Quests screen, you can view the quest journal, sort by chapters, descriptions, types, summary, outcomes and progress. Every faction has different quests.
Some quests will require you to meet certain prerequisites before embarking on them. My first quest qualification instructed me to have 3 armies before seeking out the quest booty. Some quests may ask you to defeat certain factions, and more. The rewards can be gold, resources, weapons, etc. It’s definitely worth trying out a few.
The Battle across the Street
When you come across an enemy or faction you want to assimilate, you’ll have to battle to the death. On approach, a pop-up comes up asking if you want to hold your position, defend or attack. Then it asks for your deployment strategy. You move your characters around to see if that’s good fit. You can target your attacks to the selected enemy and then just watch it all play out. You only get to interfere when the turn in the game is over.
There are some menus you have to pay attention while in a battle. The top in-game menu now has a few added areas that represent all units’ health. The landscape banner displays your Hero’s stats and to switch battle options such as for the unit to stay on offense, switch to defense or hold their position.
After the battle is won, you get a pop-up giving you the victory information.
If you had different factions for two on two battle, you’d use the minor factions you defeated into your game.
Choose your army and assign a hero (although you can go into battle without a hero). You’ll then see the enemy’s information right before you start the battle. Choose a global strategy from offense, defense or a hold position. Choose participation mode of manual and auto. It’s turn-based strategy:
1. Deployment phase – deploy your armies to certain tiles around the enemy
2. Targeting phase. Pick targeting and assign priorities to your units.
3. Start the battle.
City Management Explained
Once you found a city, The City Management Screen is populated. Here are some of its icons explained:
- Food is the green icon. The more food production, the faster your population grows. If your faction does not use food, then this column is grayed out and can’t be used
- Industry is the red icon. This represents material production or building production
- Science is the blue icon which represents the amount of production going to researching new technology
- Dust is the yellow icon which is for currency. This is how much currency is being generated per turn.
- Influence is the purple icon and means diplomacy and empire plan. Build up influence for diplomacy and to be used in the Empire Plan. Influence is also generated when you build new stuff for the city.
- Move around workers to focus on a particular resource.
Exploring the Maps
There are places on the maps including anomalies, treasures, ruins (can find quests), villages, and other cities to be explored, exploited and converted. Try to discover new minor factions. A menu pops up with information about them such as the following screenshot:
The terrain is very useful for military defenses and building cities so try to scout out a bit before founding a city or starting an all-out war with other major factions. During battles, you can use the terrain to get an advantage on opponents.
- Zooming in and out of the map can review regions. The color of region tells you whose influence it is.
- Only one city can be made per region. Only way to get a city in an occupied region is to declare war and take over the city. However, you can’t declare war on anybody unless you have 60 influence.
- Every age has a different name. You get bonuses when you pass new eras.
- You can only have up to 3 minor factions to assimilate into your army.
Visuals and Music
Overall the game is well-designed. I can see any items clearly on the map. I can see military units distinctly and the terrain is very distinguished between one another. For each interactive piece on the map, there are info boxes that appear so you’re never left wondering what in the world you just rolled up on.
The music is as expected from a 4X-strategy game – pleasant Middle Age music that eventually loops. It’s not annoying and easy on the ears because you’ll be investing a lot of time with Endless Legend just trying to figure everything out. Is there an option to change the score? I am not sure at this time. The special effects for looting and in-battle effects are pretty well done.
The learning curve of Endless Legend is one of the most longest I’ve ever played and this is coming from a new Sid Meier’s Civilization fan. However, because this is in alpha and didn’t include a tutorial, it’s to be expected. I later found out that the game’s installation folder had a guide in there but at the beginning, this fact eluded me. I enjoyed myself with the Alpha though I didn’t get far in the game. There’s much to be explored and I look forward to sticking with the game to give it a full review with all of its features included. I didn’t come across any major bugs, the multiplayer aspect isn’t available in this release, and I have yet to access the marketplace. Those features will be explored when Endless Legend gets updated to a Beta or Final Release stage. If you are looking for a good 4X Strategy game to immerse yourself in, I’d say this is the game but wait until Final Release and not waste the money while this game is in Alpha stage.