Endless Legend Alpha Hands-On Preview – No Tutorial, No Problem

I got to take an early look at Endless Legend, the most recent 4X game from Iceberg Interactive and Amplitude Studio. The game is still in its early stages, but enough was on the table to get a decent grasp of what’s to come. From what I saw, I would have to say that Amplitude has given you something to definitely keep an eye on.

Endless Legend drops into the world of Augir, which is populated by four races all vying for dominance. You can choose from the Wildwalkers, the Necrophages, the Vaulters or the Broken Lords, all with a unique bonus either economically or militarily. It being a 4X game, who you choose will impact how you ultimately play the game.

One of the biggest things that EL has going for it at this point, is that it looks good! The map, as you uncover it, is detailed and is pretty good looking, with attention to unique minerals, ruins and ‘anomalies’. One thing I liked about the map in particular is your cities are set into predetermined zones. So, you can set up your city directly beside what ends up being ‘subjugation races’, but you can’t take over their town, because it’s in another district. It makes for strategic playing, especially with other rapidly expanding empires coming your way with conquering the same town in mind. Also, since it’s a 4X game, I’ve already thrown several hours into it and the game isn’t even done yet. It is quite engaging and, ultimately, time consuming as you set your empire up.

The control interface is pretty easy to use as you level your towns up. The various bonuses your squares give you on certain levels of the map (a square on a river gives you more farmland, for instance) are clearly marked as is the bonuses your heroes give your town, the other races you subjugate and how each upgrade will benefit you. Moving your armies across the vast map, where running into marauders and smaller towns is common, is also quite simple, if not quite tedious. The research menu for your towns and skill trees for your hero are also quite easy to use and very helpful as the game goes on.

Of course, with any Alpha access, there are definitely things that need to be ironed out. Namely, getting the tutorial up and running would be a HUGE benefit! Without a tutorial, I spent the first two or three hours in essence fumbling around in the dark, trying to figure out what the hell to do. Everything is clearly marked and it is user friendly, but to be honest, I still don’t know what the red widgets are for, but they seem pretty important!

Also, the time to build everything from soldiers to upgrades to mines and farms and such was ridiculously disproportioned. Basically, by the time you reach Age II, the enemy armies grow in size, so they may have 5 or 6 platoons in their army. You, on the other hand, can only have 4 in your army and that takes about 60 turns (the whole time to get to Age II, basically) or an insane amount of gold to get to, and that’s just one army! It ended up seeming like it was a choice for either 100% army or 100% economy. Of course, literally any roaming band of warriors can besiege your towns, so the choice seemed obvious… but then I was broke and couldn’t build anything, so it seemed counterproductive. Working out the build times or having a more proportionate buy out system would benefit the game quite a bit.

The combat system is also pretty basic and after a couple of battles, it turned out the ‘auto’ battles ended up roughly the same as the ‘manual’ but without taking as much time, so I began to ‘auto’ every battle. This isn’t really a knock against it, just more of a heads up to someone looking to play.

Overall, Endless Legend looks to be one to watch for fans of the 4X game. Yeah, there’s some kinks to be worked out, but honestly, there wasn’t that many considering the game seems to be only about half done. There seems to be an online and LAN option coming with the completed game in addition to the single player, so that’s also very promising! They’re also looking to add in some new races and are continually updating and fixing the game as we speak, so it seems Amplitude is dedicated to delivering the best product that it can. Here’s hoping that Amplitude Studios can keep it up and produce a top notch 4X game for us all to throw many hours away on!

Be sure to keep your eyes locked here at COG for more information and  a full review upon the game’s final release.