You can’t really trust the galaxy to run itself, y’know. We’ve seen time and time again that when you leave something that big to its own devices, it just goes on a rampage and stomps on everything and…wait, no, that’s elephants. Well, anyway, the point is that someone needs to take the reins of the galaxy, serving as a leader that all galactic citizens will look up to, fear, get eaten by or any and all of a combination of the above. Endless Space 2 gives you a shot at the throne.
The experience of being Potential Galactic Emperor is in large part pretty similar to games like Master of Orion, Galactic Civilizations and, of course, the original Endless Space. You’ll explore the galaxy, find planets and anomalies to expand into and exploit, and exterminate anyone who gets in your way. Explore, expand, exploit and exterminate – 4X. That’s creative, I should try to turn that into a marketing blurb or a genre label or something.
Naturally, if you’ve played previous Endless games, you know that the big thing that sets them apart from similar titles is the attention paid to lore and flavor; a lot of time was spent on making sure this universe and the creatures within it felt unique, and that extends to the races you can choose to control. We’ve got returning fan favorites like the Horatio, a race consisting entirely of clones of a single business magnate, while new races include the tree-like Unfallen and the bizarre, vaguely non-Euclidian Riftborn. My personal favorite was the Vodyani, a race of space drifters with vampiric tendencies who abduct citizens from other races and use their souls to power their planet-sized VR machines. Those guys are great.
There’s plenty to see, do and particularly read; there’s unique flavor text for researchable technology, collectible resources, minor factions you can encounter, befriend and enslave, and even unique planets and anomalies that are randomly strewn throughout the galaxy. The obvious TLC that went into this game makes it a pleasure to play, especially if you can wrangle some friends into joining you.
When your friends inevitably decide they want to blow you up, you’ll have to resolve your differences via space combat. This is largely automated both in space and on the ground; your biggest choices include fleet composition and choosing a “perk” before battle that might turn the tide in your favor. Like the rest of Endless Space 2, though, battles are certainly gorgeous, and the game universally looks and sounds great.
There’s plenty more going on in Endless Space 2, of course. We didn’t even get into the political system, which involves using influence to manipulate shifting parties with varying views that each offer their own bonuses; it’s neat and helps make your decisions on how to play and what to research more interesting, but it would be difficult to talk about in depth in the space we’ve got for a review. Really, the point is the game’s pool is wide and deep if you’re willing to learn to swim. As mentioned, grab some pals – having buddies to abduct and turn into VR juice is a great time.