At Gamescom 2015, we saw the latest installment in the Endless Space series, Endless Space 2. This game is a 4x turn-based strategy game, based in, you guessed it, space. As one of a handful of teams, you control your own civilization. You start off as a small civilization on a single home planet, and as you progress through the match you grow into a large space-faring galactic empire. That is, if you don't get wiped out in trying.
At the show, the creative director of Amplitude Studios, Romain de Waubert, gave us a presentation on these topics and showed some gameplay. We were told that we were only shown a fraction of the game, so what we show here isn't everything in the final version.
Endless Space 2 picks up most of its gameplay from the original Endless Space, but it added a handful of changes, including improved graphics, new methods of exploration, new races, and more expansive politics. For these changes, Amplitude Studios claimed to have collaborated closely with the community, carving Endless Space 2 into a successful sequel.
Probes For Space Exploration
In the original game, there was one main way of exploring the galaxy: taking fleets along the cosmic strings or wormholes. Your level of influence over a certain system would also expand influence borders, and if your influence was strong enough, you could use that to see right into enemy territory. In Endless Space 2, a new method of space exploration has been added: probes.
At some point in the game you'll be able to manufacture (or buy, if you're feeling impatient and are willing to use in-game cash) probes, which you can send out in a direction of your choice. With each turn, the probe will travel further into the galaxy, revealing its near surroundings. During the demo, one of the probes ran into an enemy race, which then brought us to the topic of politics. It wasn't clear whether the probe could be attacked or destroyed.
Don't Just Keep Your People Happy
Endless Space 2 takes politics a step further than Endless Space did, upping the ante over the approval-based system. In the original game, if your population was happy (i.e., you had a high approval), they would be more productive, increasing the output of your resources, which helps your empire grow. Approval still appears to play a role in Endless Space 2, but you'll also have to consider your population's political beliefs, too.
When the probe met the enemy faction, it was close to one of our systems. The enemy faction was the Cravers (an aggressive, non-diplomatic group), while we were the Sophons (highly scientific, non-military). Therefore, when the enemy faction was discovered, we were notified that in the neighboring system's military, support had gone up.
Depending on the various scenarios that can happen in games, the support towards different political parties will change. You also have an influence, which can be used to support one of the parties at the election. In the demo, we were shown three parties for the Sophons: the scientists, the pacifists, and the militarists. Because we needed more military power to take on the Cravers, the player of the demo picked the militarist party.
Once you've picked a party to support, based on the overall support levels for each party, and strength of a particular individual party, you'll unlock, and be able to pick "laws." These laws essentially will make an aspect of your empire more powerful.
The military laws, for example, would increase ship damage for a system, or across your fleet (depending on the strength of the law), or a law would make shipbuilding easier, and so on. Of course, laws do have upkeep, so you would have to keep in mind that the benefits aren't free.
Of course, you can choose to play the game in any way you see fit. You could choose to follow a more militaristic strategy, or you could use science and build better weapons, rather than more weapons. Alternatively, you could probably use the pacifists to make peace with enemy factions, assuming they'd be willing to do the same.
The game's standard view is quite simple, showing mostly the beautiful graphics and open space. When you want to see more details, you can press space at any time to open a so-called "Amplified Reality." This view shows more detail than the standard view for when you want to know exact details about the health of your fleet, their weapon characteristics, details about your planets or home world, and more.
You can play the game without ever using this view, but for hardcore players, Amplitude Studios wants to provide the possibility to look at all the little numbers and nitpick their way to victory.
Endless Space 2 looks to be a promising game. The original indie title already drew in a huge fanbase before it even launched, and the same thing appears to be happening with this game. De Waubert didn't tell us exactly when the game would be launching, but it will be some time in 2016.