It’s is always a joy when a new 4X strategy game finds its way onto the market. I’ve often felt like the genre lacked the development and work it deserved, so when Amplitude Studios released Endless Legend I was considerably excited.
With its hex tile layout, city building and progression through different technological phases, it feels like the most direct competition to the Civilization series, a series that a lot of people felt, fell off the rails with the fifth instalment. So it seems like the perfect time for me to explain my problems with Civilization, and how Endless Legend is the answer to all of these problems.
My main gripe with Civilization 5 (Civ5) is just the childish and clunky user interface. When you’re in the game it feels like a struggle to find out any information, and has probably one of the least useful tutorials I’ve ever come across. So straight away, the first thing I notice with Endless Legend, is that clean and crisp UI that Amplitude used in Endless Space. It’s one that gives the player a large amount of useful data, and allows for easy, nimble navigation of the menus in game. I have always been of the opinion that if a developer make their game easy to use, then the players can focus more on the actual gameplay rather than struggling to find the correct button for the task they wish to complete.
One of the biggest problems that was raised with Civ5 was the ‘one unit per tile’ decision. This meant that navigating the map with your forces becomes more difficult than it has to be. It also had an impact on the AI, who used this system as an excuse to be utterly moronic in every way.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the Civilization series, and so I can’t give a fair commentary on what the games were like before this, but this issue was brought up continually by the hard-core of the Civ fan base, and it’s simply an issue that Endless Legend doesn’t suffer from. In fact, battles in Endless Legend are the most enjoyable part of the experience, they require a very tactical initial approach and set up, as the AI is actually very intelligent in its approach to conflict.
Endless Legend has an incredible depth to the lore that it uses as the premise for the game. Amplitude’s world of the ‘Endless’ is inherently mysterious, you’re never actually allowed to know too much about the civilisation that preceded you, and whilst you have an overall objective to dominate the map that you’re playing on, I found that a large part of me was always wondering just what led to the situation that my little empire has found itself in. For me this really works compared to Civilization’s pseudo-historical ridiculousness. There serves no real practical purpose to have leaders from different eras and epochs all growing their individual empires simultaneously. It doesn’t change the diplomacy, that was already broken and pointless from the beginning anyway, with the unreasonably aggressive AI.
Furthermore, for anyone who has even a rudimentary knowledge of history, it just feels insulting to see all these interesting personas reduced to a boring piece of voice acting and a cheap animation sequence. I would have loved to see the same effort that went into the overly stereotyped versions of these people go into actually making the game fun.
I suppose the general aim of this piece was simply to suggest that Civilization has had its day (especially as it can’t spell its own name properly), and that if there is a game that deserves the time and money of the gaming community it’s Endless Legend.