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Endless Legend Review
For me, Endless Legend is clearly the best 4x strategy game of 2014! Oh yes! You read that right. Endless Legend may be a small game but make no mistake, it amazingly delivers. With hundreds of hours in the game, this is the only 4x game that truly hooked me up, even more than Civilization games did.
Endless Legend's turned based strategy gives you eight playable factions by default but you can create and customize your own faction if you want. The game has all these traits for your custom faction with a point system for balance purposes. Each trait you choose have their allotted point, and when it all adds up to a specific number, you are done with your faction creation.
You then step in a randomly generated world to live in, explore, conquer, create a vast empire, destroy minor factions or peacefully liberate them, and a lot more. The world is divided into regions where each region has their own border. Inside each region's border are random resources and minor faction inhabitants. When you conquer a region, you may own the region and reap the benefits of the land tiles in your city's reach but you do not own the resources in it or control the minor faction inhabiting the land. Your faction must have the proper technology to handle the type of resource in a region and then your faction must have the right facility created for extracting a specific type of resource. When it comes to liberating a minor faction, you can either destroy them using brute force if you think your military is formidable enough, bribe them, or complete a quest they give you. Using brute force destroys the minor faction settlement and you have to rebuild it from the ground up which of course takes time to rebuild. Bribing them costs dust(game's gold currency) which you may think is fairly easy but expensive dust does not come cheaply and not earned easily. Doing a quest for them may sometimes be time consuming, currently impossible, or simply easy to do. It comes randomly. They may ask you to destroy a beast that keeps bugging them, or they may ask you to give them tons of their favorite wine. There are a lot of possible scenarios and these are just examples. Of course there are benefits in doing these things. If you control a resource, you can later use that resource as requirements in creating buildings or you can use those as buffs to make your people more happy and productive. Liberating minor factions lets them join your cause and they will no longer randomly attack you. Instead, they will give you their strength and if you assimilate them, you may be able to create additional units that mirrors the minor faction you assimilated.
In this game, you can practically edit the names of most things like your cities' names, custom unit name, and army name. However, I don't think you can change a hero's name because I was not able to do so. You can hire heroes in this game and they play a very important role. You can either use heroes to lead armies or become governors in cities. Each hero is unique by having their own traits and abilities. Heroes can level up, and when they do, you have the option to choose what skill to take on that hero's skill tree. A hero that I primarily use for exploring have skills that give better ruin exploration outcomes while my heroes that I choose to put inside cities to be governors have skills that increase a city's science bonus or commerce bonus. Every decision you make for a hero is important for your strategy. You can choose to garrison a hero with an exploration bonus on a city and assign that hero as a governor of that city but that would be pointless as exploration bonuses truly do shine when exploring. Your strategy, your choice. But remember, each turn that pass by, your opponents are making important strategical choices as well.
You can win the game in any one of these following conditions: Elimination victory, where each other faction has been eliminated. Score victory, where you win when having most points when the game turn clock ends. Expansion victory, where 80% of the map is claimed by you. Economic victory, where a set number of dust has been collected by a player. Diplomatic victory, where a set number of diplomatic points have been collected by the player. Wonder victory, where you are able to complete all the faction quests. Scientific victory, where all six technologies in the sixth era have been discovered. And lastly, Supremacy victory, where you conquered all the other factions on the world map.The game may look complex but I found it easy to learn. Maybe for first time 4x strategy gamers, reading some manuals first would be the right way. For me, who have been playing a lot of other 4x strategy games in the past, the game is very easy to learn. There were times where I needed to google a bit of stuff, but those stuff were also easily found in the game manual. Take note that these things that I needed to check in the game manual or google are really complex stuff as far as this game is concerned. Other than that, all the basics and all the things you need to play a good game is easily learned. Now if you have already mastered that, learning the game's complex stuff(which are really easy to learn and understand) will make the game experience even more pleasing and rewarding.
What's not to like about this game? Well, unfortunately for me, there is. If they were going to have a feature to create your own custom faction, they could have at least included a way to customize the skin of your faction's representative and its units. Even though I created my own custom faction, I still sometimes feel that I'm still controlling one of the default factions available because they have the exact same skin. When creating custom units, you choose a base image for the new custom unit but that unit also looks exactly the same as an existing one. It would have been so much better if there was a way to customize the look of custom units. It may just be aesthetic, but it would have truly given me the feeling of using a faction and unit that's built by me. If you were to create your very own custom faction, meaning you want that faction to be unique, having a totally different look would have really set the tone nicely.
Another thing I did not like is the way armies disband when they are being garrisoned in a city. Every time I garrison an army in a city, the units in the army become individual units and not an army. If I choose to move them out of the city, the default "Stone Legion" army name is created instead of the army name I have previously thought of. It's easy to edit the name but still, it could have been a breeze if armies do not get removed when you place them inside a city.
As a whole, the game is amazing! It's very well made and well polished. The world, being totally random each game you create, makes exploration worthwhile. Creating and settling in a region has a different feel every time. I totally recommend this game for 4x strategy fans out there or for those PC gamers that want to try out a 4x strategy game.
With that being said, this game can simply be called the 2014 4x Strategy game of the year.