Endless Legend is Amplitudes second 4X game. This time it's fantasy instead of space, but it still has the "Amplitude Spirit. By that I mean that the game looks neat, isn't too heavy on your rig, has a clean and easily accessible interface but does stuff differently than you probably would expect. While Endless Space was relatively true to the 4X space standards, Dungeon of the Endless deviated from the typical rouge-like noticeably, and now, with Endless Legend they take it even a little bit further.Let's start with the disclaimer - Why the thumbs down?
To be honest, chances are that I am what you might call an Amplitude fanboy. I love Endless Space, I bought the Dungeon of the Endless founders pack just to get the Vaulters for it and I had a lot of fun with the Early Access version of Endless Legend.
The only reason why I don't recommend Endless Legend is cos the game is still in Early Access and even though I trust Amplitude to turn this more than just promising start into something I will enjoy for hundreds of hours I simply can't know it for sure. If I would have the option to vote neutral I would do it for Endless Legend. The thumbs down doesn't mean the game is bad, it just means that I just don't think anyone should recommend a game that is still in development.
I thought you might want to know that before you continue reading.Overview
At first glance Endless Legend looks like your typical hex based fantasy 4X; or it looks like it will turn into one once it is finished. You start the game with a small army on a randomly generated map and the ability to found a city. As with most other fantasy 4X games where you build your first city is important. Each city generates resources based on the hex it is build on and the 6 hexes surrounding it, which resources you want depends on the faction you play. From there on you start to explore the map with your starting army, looking for ruins to loot, roaming mobs to fight and villages to burn until you meant your first AI faction and start the typical dance of diplomacy and war.
There are also heroes in Endless Legend which can either be assigned to a city or an army. Either way they gain experience and offer boni based on their skills. An army accompanied by a hero is much stronger than one without and a city with the right hero can be pretty effective.
Like most new 4X fantasy games Endless Legend has quests, but it does it a little bit differently. Quest are not just simple "fetch x kill y" missions, they also tell a story - at least the main quest which is different for each faction - and don't just give items or dust as a reward but can also give you access to technologies you can't get otherwise. So, searching ruins for quests is something you really want to do. Regions, Cities and Empire Management
Once you start exploring the map you instantly notice that there is something different: The map is divided into regions.
Regions come in different sizes and shape but they always have a least one minor faction village and some special resources, which you can only harvest if you have a city in that region, in them. But the most important thing about them is that there can always only be one city in each region. This doesn't only mean that whoever has a city in a region basically controls it, it also makes you really think about where you want to build your city.
Over the course of the game cities can expand. You can build boroughs in hexes adjacent to a city center or other boroughs and thereby gain access to resources that previously where out of reach. Combat System
Endless Legend utilizes a turn based tactical combat system but doesn't give you full control over your units. At first, it is kinda weird but it has its charm and the potential to become quite complex (once it is fully implemented).
Each battle starts with a deployment phase where you can place your units. After that you have the order phase where you can tell your units where to go or what to attack. You can't chose the order in which your units act, that's determined by their initiative. When that is done there are two action phases where your units act based on your instructions but without you being able to intervene if something goes south. Once the action phase are resolved there is another order phase and so on till the battle is over.
Another neat thing about tactical battle is that they take place on the strategic map. When two opposing armies meat a battlefield is staked out around them which means that the area where you fight actually matters. This is especially true since elevation actually matters in Endless Legend and stuff like cliffs can block your movement paths.
You should think twice before you move an army next to a cliff where you opponent could attack them from above but they have no chance of reaching them.Customization
Endless Legend doesn't allow you to fully customize your units and heroes but you can give them equipment such as weapons, shields, armor and trinkets.
In addition to items heroes have a skill tree that consist of 3 different line that are connected to each other. Which skills a hero has access to depends on its type (infantry, ranged, cavalry or flyer) and the faction you play.
Faction customization is not in the game yet.Influence and Diplomacy
When it comes to diplomacy, which is also not fully implemented yet, Amplitude goes for a strange new but nonetheless interesting concept. They have a resource called influence which is needed for every diplomatic act, may it be offering peace, declaring war or assimilating a minor faction.
Every 20 turns you can also use influence to change your Empire Plan, which gives you different buffs based on what you pick. A neat little idea that helps you to adapt your global strategy a little bit.Winter is coming
Endless Legend knows two season: Summer and winter. In summer everything is fine, your people are happy, your cities produce resources and your units can actually move. During winter however things are different. Suddenly you produce less food and dust, your people might get a little grumpy and your units can't move as far anymore.
When winter is coming and how long it lasts is somewhat random. You know vaguely when to expect it, but you can't really be sure. And the longer you play the harsher winter becomes.
This adds another interesting layer to the game. While Endless Legend plays like a typical 4X during summer, winter changes the rules. Suddenly it become a survival game, if you haven't stockpiled enough food your people might starve and if you are low on dust your might have to destroy city improvements or disband armies cos you no longer can afford them.
Warfare is also quit different during winter. Units need way more time to reach their destinations, so it's probably not a good idea to send all your armies searching ruins when winter is coming.Alpha is Alpha
You all should know that but better save than sorry: Endless Legend is still in alpha, it is not a full game, lot's of features are missing and there are bugs. That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the game, it actually is quite fun, but you also have to accept that there is always the chance they you encounter a gamebreaking bug and your savegame is done for.Bottom Line
Endless Legend has the potential to become a great fantasy 4X. Even though it still is an alpha product it is polished to a certain degree and most definitively an enjoyable experience. If you have a few bucks lying around and don't mind buying an Early Access game you might want to give it a try. You should however not expect a typical 4X game, that's just not what Amplitude does.