Day two of my list of my favorite things of 2017 and today we have what was probably my favorite strategy game that was released this year.
Endless Space 2 is everything that I wanted once Amplitude Studios announced the sequel would owe more to Endless Legends than it would it's own predecessor.
It takes the formula from Legends and crafts it into the finest 4X space game I've ever played. It might even be the best 4X game of any type that I've played.
The jewel in the crown of this game is the brilliantly varied races and how their individual idiosyncrasies impact one another. These go way beyond the simple 'militaristic' / 'Capitalist' / 'Peaceful' type of classifications that define the rest of the genre. Here, as in Legends, each race has unique mechanics that directly influence how the race plays, and how it starts out in the universe.
They play with the conventions of the genre and each wrinkle adds another layer of strategic depth to how you play them, or how you play against them. One race for example cannot pro-create in the normal way, so they must assimilate others. There are ancient sentient tree people, who colonize other planets by growing organic space vines out to engulf them. Each race has unique properties that enhance the gameplay in some way, shape, or form.
Then there is the politics system that defines what goes on in your own empire. You will be judged by your actions and various factions will emerge and start to exert their influence. Your society may force your hand on certain things, and it adds an interesting secondary consideration to what are usually resource management choices. It adds consequences to even the most mundane of choices. Start off as peaceful, but then build a military for defense? Don't be surprised if hawks start to emerge from within your own ranks, and ultimately test your pacifist nature. It makes for a fascinating subtext to your games.
A worthy follow up to Endless Legends, and an easy one to strongly recommend for any strategy fan.