Endless Space short pre-review (beta version)

From my reply to a reddit thread

So I’ve been playing Endless Space for something like a dozen hours by now. Still on my first game on a small universe. It seems to progress slower than I expected.

In general, I’m very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the game. I love how streamlined the empire building is and how you take decisions about your systems with very little micromanagement. It still ends up requiring quite a bit of system building in the end, since the AI governors are not very smart but it’s not that bad. I particularly enjoy how they managed to work with so low “population units” per planet in a way that is very simple and easy to grasp.

I also really like the ship design, how each ship type is better suited to different things, how resource abundance reduces costs (thus giving you a reason to trade) and thus making different empires focus on different technologies just out of what resources they end up having around. I like how the support modules are limited and give interesting effects.Needs more ship types/models though. I hope they’ll eventually allow people to make their own.

I like the Civ way of handling resources. That along with the bonuses for abundance or monopoly really promotes people playing more aggressively or diplomatically. The AI needs a lot of work though, as it’s ridiculously stupid in trades.

I don’t like that there is tech trading. I don’t know if there’s an option to turn that off, but I find that tech trading really cheapens science and research. Your hard choices don’t matter because you can just trade yourself to what you need and in multiplayer the absolutely best strategy is always to try to trade techs with other players as much as possible.

Combat is “meh”. I hope they improve it so that you can take a bit more significant choices rather than the “pick & pray” luck-based method they have now, that barely involves any strategy at all. I’m also not a great fan of the speed at which I need to choose my cards which requires that I learn them by heart before I go into battle. The cinematic gets kind of boring after a while as well. Nothing is happening except the same old “sit at opposite ends and pew-pew”.

Also combat is fairly straightforward. There’s no funky tactics to use. No weird weapons. I can’t make a boarding ship with tractor beams and boarding pods and the like. No big-ass Laser beams (ala Freespace), no Huge Mass Drivers, none of that (or perhaps it’s unlocked later on? I don’t know)

All in all, it’s very nice and if they improve combat and diplomacy it will be amazing!