Endless Legend

Endless Legend is a strategy, roleplaying, management monster for the ages.

By Daavpuke, Posted 18 Sep 2014

Designing multiple complexities in games is a giant risk, because the more intricacies there are, the harder they become to handle for users and the tougher they are to balance for programmers. As a grand scale strategy title in the 4X conquest genre, Endless Legend matches its management design, chess-like combat and roleplaying game (RPG) elements beautifully. Each layer links finely with the next in a gorgeously smoothed out tabletop art style with diversity as the clincher to a truly unique experience.

Endless Legend,PC,Strategy,RPG,Review,Steam

On a hex grid of sparkling plains, icy fields and jagged mountains, several factions fight for their own ideals on the tumultuous planet of Auriga, filled with life and mystery. Monster lairs may spring up from the slick expanses and spawn wandering foes. Winter can engulf the world in a slowing veil of snow. There’s a sense of minimalism that makes it feel like a giant board game, while fluid animations vivify this charming environment. Sweeping orchestrated pieces further an undulating atmosphere that carries this game forward effortlessly, turn after turn.

An empire will need to grow to reach total domination. Cities need to be built to claim one of the map's segmented regions, luxuries have to be collected, smaller tribes can be assimilated to the cause; anything in range is game. Each faction is completely unique in its play style. The Cultists, for example, rule over their domain from one central city. Not being able to expand leads to an entirely different approach and will require another view in research priorities. City management stands and falls with the fine balance between their industrial production, renewing technologies and the ability to leverage cost. In contrast, Broken Lords only require Dust, the world’s currency. They relinquish all food and live only through coin for boosts, making their armies and cities a lot more expensive. That, again, forces another perspective into play. There are few similarities in nations, making each playthrough a whole different game.

Endless Legend,PC,Strategy,RPG,Review,Steam
Cultists provide a unique challenge of fitting everything within one city.

On top of that, an empire can apply its influence to enhance its potency in science, reduce building costs or strengthen armies. In turn, units can be fitted with new equipment for their own special abilities, while generals even get a leveling system that can focus on either conquest or city order. Luxuries can temporarily infuse the nation with incentives. Resources around the land can craft stronger gear. Tribes provide their own specific mercenaries that can be recruited. There’s even a marketplace where supply and demand can provide shortcuts for most of these auxiliary items, for those who can handle the cost. In the latter example, there’s even the possibility to branch out into other factions, as heroes from all over Auriga can provide their skills for the proper payment.

That’s a ton of RPG flair already, but Endless Legend has even more in store. Random discoveries in mysterious ruins can open up new quests of their own. Monsters can plague the nearby fields, ancient artifacts need exploring or some objectives call for distinct groups of heroes to come calling. If management becomes too tedious, there is always adventure to be had on the borders of the empire.

Endless Legend,PC,Strategy,RPG,Review,Steam
Info can be a beautiful thing. Endless Legend's diplomacy is a breeze.

Of course, no banner can survive without some diplomatic prowess. Here, the great part is that the screen provides a rare clarity in 4X titles. Factions barter with their built up influence as coin. Adding more demands will show up on a balanced bar to know exactly if a lord is likely to accept a deal. Hardship in negotiations doesn’t come from obscurity. Instead, running a solid camp, to provide the proper clout, is its own natural challenge and opening new channels is a rarity provided by excellence in research.

Should all else fail, there’s always a surefire way to decide who the better nation is. Combat takes place on a sectioned part of the same hex grid, where squads engage in turn-based combat. This comes in different phases. First, units need to be set up, then orders need to be handed out for either offensive, defensive or supportive actions, after which battle ensues automatically. This creates a tactical layer, where moves have to be thought off ahead of time, anticipating enemy counters, to make sure the costly armies stay standing.

Endless Legend,PC,Strategy,RPG,Review,Steam
Be sure to bolster armies with different troops.

There’s no shortage of options here either, even though empire soldiers are extremely limited. With the proper hero at the helm, tribesmen with alternate attacks and a good balance between support and assault, there’s a ton of customization possible. Characters can have traits to make them deadly against infantry, while backlines can cripple the stats of opponents or agile warriors can overcome mountains quickly to catch up with the enemy’s ranged support. Some even unleash blasts that carry over to other foes, while the most foolhardy dive headfirst into a pack and strike all around them.

Here, however, it’s important to stay alert of the opposing side’s skills as well. Tooltips provide info on a unit’s capability, but they’re not in immediate sight, which can lead to a few sticky situations. If Endless Legend has one problem it’s that the barrage of multi-layered content in no way can provide enough clarity on the fly, everywhere and at all times, as valiantly as it tries. Luckily, this is just a slight blip in comparison to how intuitive the game’s many aspects are; management, growth and combat. It only means that beginnings may hold more losses. Battles are won in blood, after all.

Not even a rare glitch here or there can ruin the play, as load times between turns are minimal, even on the hugest maps. A frequently saving game should wipe away anything that goes wrong in a flash. The world’s sleek finish also ensures that the game can be played in higher detail on even more moderate setups, while scaling down doesn’t look like a giant loss. Multiplayer allows for either just friends or anyone to join in and experience this elaborate adventure together.

Endless Legend,PC,Strategy,RPG,Review,Steam

There is a mountain of excellence in Endless Legend. From its alluring tabletop universe to its synergy of many different aspects, it’s a pinnacle in game design. Unique empire choices, deep and intuitive management, tactical and effortless combat, diversifying RPG content; there is enough here to last ages and it all runs wonderfully. What a truly beautiful world it is to get lost in.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): AMPLITUDE Studios
Developer(s): AMPLITUDE Studios
Genres: Turn-Based Strategy
Themes: Strategy
Release Date: 2014-09-18

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