I’m beside myself with glee over how good this game is and it’s only in Alpha.
Endless Space is a 4x Space Empire game in the same style as Master of Orion 2, Sword of the Stars and a host of other turn-based games.
With one of the cleanest interfaces I’ve ever seen I was greeted with a simple tutorial page that explained the on-screen elements without actually forcing me into the first few turns’ actions. Every new panel you expand into (Colony overview, military management, etc)
Exploration is handled by your fleets, ships bound together by bureaucracy. They explore along system connection lines initially from star-to-star. Each star made up of up to six planets, with varying values and resources.
Basic colonization is much like other games, a ship with the appropriate module flies to the system and then a simple administration click and shazam, your empire has expanded. Unlike other games, however, you need not send multiple ships to the system to expand your colonies to the other habitable planets. This is circumvented by civil works where the system resources contribute to placing a colony on the desired planet.
Each planet gets a single ‘exploitation’, a structure or service that takes advantage of a planets inherent traits. These exploitations contribute to the four planetary values: Food, Commerce, Industry and Science. Each system can accomodate their own improvements which often multiply planetary production.
Research is broken into four ‘webs’, independent of each other these webs show branching development options and not inter dependencies as I had expected. Progression to the top-tier developments follows linear paths to the objective, often requiring you to pay closer attention and manually queue lower-tier improvements if you’re looking for a specific technology. Many strategic or luxury resources are hidden behind research requirements before you can take advantage of them even though you can see some of them in the map and system views.
Combat is one of the unique elements of the game that I was pleasantly surprised by. Automatic combat is handled.. automatically. With the end-results of the engagement being tallied for your examination. Manual like a half-step beneath that. Broken into five phases, you’re allowed to choose strategies during the three middle phases. Played like a simple card game, one strategy counters another and boosts or penalizes combat attributes. Wonderfully set to a render of your ships vs the enemy, it’s all done inside of 2 minutes and you can move on to the rest of your turn.
I haven’t had a chance to poke too deeply into the game, with five races and an expected 8 by launch sometime in June, I eagerly await a final product. It’s beautiful, well polished and easy to get into. If you’re a fan of the 4x Space Empire genre, I highly recommend you get this.