Endless Legend is an engaging and enjoyable 4X strategy game with a sharp and appealing interface and interesting creative content that is not taken advantage of to the same extent as the skill and empire upgrade systems. Coming across a new minor faction of strange frozen giants or fire-possessed skeletons is interesting before you eradicate the flock; at this point you’re left with the same empty piece of lore-ridden land in any case. The different factions you can play as, however, are explored in greater creative depth and add to replayability – it is unfortunate the same cannot be said for your enemies. Walking the well-trodden path, Endless Legend still manages to tell some interesting stories and throw some enjoyable challenges along that pleasant, well-designed path.
4X strategy titles tend to have very similar elements, particularly that whole “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate” side of things that earns that 4X name, and what gameplay elements we’ve seen dozens of times before are executed smoothly and comfortably in Endless Legend. Upon taking a few moments to fully understand the control schemes and objectives, players can confidently take the helm and begin commanding an empire – maybe not confidently, but at least comfortably.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of different resources, stats and scales you need to keep tabs on, particularly if you are new to the genre. The efficiency of your resource management affects your individual cities’ industrial and population growth, political capabilities and the general expansion of your empire in typical 4X tradition, while the specificity of soldier and hero customisation resembles a fuller RPG title, which is also reliant on the same resources as larger-scale empirical decisions. Deciding between upgrading your hero’s armour and weaponry or purchasing an upgrade in agricultural capability is initially confronting, especially since the significance of many of your decisions is not made apparent early on. The gnawing anxiety that comes with making unprepared decisions is ever present throughout Endless Legend, but it’s no deal-breaker.
This is not a title that can be rushed into and smashed out over a weekend; with the seemingly insurmountable number of tasks and unmanageable distinct resources as mentioned above, following the tutorial from start to finish is an absolute must. Forget how to perform the simplest of tasks (or worse yet, forget the task altogether) and your empire will be held back and suffer as a result.
This game is also not for the impatient – the beginning stages of city and army development are tragically uninspiring, and it is only when real conflict threatens to impede your progress that challenge rears its head and brings out the best in Endless Legend. The combat system is basic (encouraging me to auto-complete battles frighteningly often), and the constant, almost bureaucratic decision making can tire you out, but the soothing, catchy music encourages you to just relax, take your time, and get back in the game. I even found myself singing along at one point.
I don’t get to play a lot of games like Endless Legend, I’ll admit. And when I do, I am persistently let down by a genre that feels entrenched in slow, tedious and awkward gameplay elements and trite creative content, despite appearing on the cover to be such an involving treat. Willing to forget this disillusionment, I embrace the hurts-my-brain strategy that powers Endless Legend, and whole-heartedly recommend it.
Just play the tutorial first, because it’s seriously confusing if you don’t.
Select Start Media was provided with a copy of Endless Legend by Amplitude Studios.