Preview – Endless Space (Beta Version)

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Game Category: Strategy – 4X, Turn Based, Science Fiction, Preview
Developer / Distributor: Amplitude Studios / Iceberg Interactive
Release Date: 4 June 2012 (for Beta Release only)
Rating: PEGI 7+

Welcome back to the next installment of Endless Space. If you’re not famliar with this up and coming 4X turn-based strategy game from Amplitude Studios that was released to the world in a highly enjoyable and stable state in their alpha release, then I suggest you take a gander at our previous review.

Welcome back!

Barely a month has passed and Endless Space has warped from alpha release into a robust beta version. The following new features have been added to this version:

  • All 8 races are now available for play. New to the game are the Amoeba, the Sowers, and the Pilgrim factions.
  • There have been many gameplay improvements added to Endless Space.
  • Multiplayer has at last been enabled. In this mode, you can go against up to 7 other online players.
Allow us to take you through a tour of what’s new while we wait for the commercial release of Endless Space.
Starting up my 8-player space opera!

New Alien Factions
You have the choice of three new and interesting factions to try out in your game. They are:

  • Amoeba – These naive and friendly amoeba-like ocean-farers are said to be diplomatic, cultural, and intelligent. I guess their space ships must be filled with corridors of life-giving liquid, or maybe they’re wearing space suits with water as a breathing medium, can you imagine that!
  • Sowers – Next, we’ve got a civilization of robot machines that only wish to continue with their programmed tasks of harvesting and expansion. These guys will surely be a cause for fear in Endless Space.
  • Pilgrims – The last faction is a splinter group of human scientists and explorers jaded with the United Empire. Accustomed to living in space and having a different religious outlook, the Pilgrims will be a force to contend with.
Design your game
I am very happy with the first two factions fielded in the game, however the addition of the Pilgrims would mean that there are now three factions based on humans – the United Empire (a typical human faction), Horatio (clones of a particular rich human, Mr. Horatio), and the Pilgrims. I personally hope that this will not be the direction that the game is heading towards, why not feature more alien races; I subscribe to the group of people who don’t wish for yet another (ho-hum) variation of humanity?

[Editor: Check the comments at the end of this article – it seems a “Custom Races” option will be available in the final version.]

[Editor: Hmm… By the way, could there be a link to Baron Horatio Wittard? Another cool game from Iceberg Interactive. Nah, that’s just a coincidence.]

The Sowers have very useful growth bonuses

Another thing missing and fervently wished for by me would be the capability of adding a custom race and selecting customized traits. Well, we’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store for us, won’t we? In the meantime, you can head over to their forums to add further to the growing list of suggestions.

New Gameplay Features
There are quite a number of new gameplay features added tot he game, but I thought I’d highlight some of the more important ones that add even more value to your overall experience.

  • The tutorial system is now interactive, explaining one sub-window at a time and waiting for you to press Next to move on.
Nifty additions improve Endless Space even more
  • There’s the all important “Execute all planned moves” button right next to the large End Turn button. Pressing it will move all your ships that have routes assigned to them.
  • You can now see from the galaxy map which planetary hangars contain ships waiting to be deployed as fleets.
  • A French and German localized-experience has been added.
Multiplayer
The beta version of Endless Game now comes with the ability to allow you to play with up to 7 other multiplayer opponents. You can either join a game, or host a private or public multiplayer game. A small functional chat window has been provided and I even understand a play-by-email has been planned for in the final product.
Reveal the entire universe map by playing the Amoeba

Modding
What better way to excite players than to let them modify their base game. While checking out the developer’s rather active forum on modding possibilities, I am happy to bring to your attention that you have the freedom to modify galaxy generation settings; all it takes is a little understanding of the XML data files.

Other modding possibilities have been discussed, but I think the biggest problem would be the way the underlying rendering game engine – Unity, packs the graphical assets in the game. This would make it difficult for fans to add their own planet designs. Even the addition of, say a pulsar or black hole animation graphic, may possibly pose quite a challenge. Hopefully, the guys at Amplitude Studios will get an answer from their middleware supplier soon. I suspect an in-house editing tool may be in the pipeline for this to work.

I would love to add my own 3D ships using Blender

Conclusion
It’s obvious that I am very excited with what I’ve seen so far in Endless Space. The game is truly gearing up for a fine finish and my few hours spent with the beta version has left me wanting for even more.

If you’re like me, and have been totally bought in by the cool features found in this ambitious 4X strategy game (or perhaps you’ve become totally smitten and fallen madly in love with the sleek sexy starships of the Pilgrims), then it’s still not too late to get yourself a copy of the Admiral or Emperor Special Edition of the game right now.

And now, I need to get back to finishing my game…


2 Comments

  1. Illanair June 18, 2012 5:13 pm 

    For the record, Custom Races (for players) IS confirmed to be in the final release. It will work similar to how Master of Orion 2 did – you have a set number of points to spend on traits, and you can get more by picking negative traits.

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