Endless Legend ReeXamination #2

GuardiansHeaderEndless Legend released in September of 2014 to relative critical success. After all, It received our inaugural Game of the Year award and went on to receive Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s overall Game of the Year award, too. However, the title wasn’t without criticisms entirely. Not the least of which were that the AI was poor, and that the end game was too uneventful and felt uninspired, especially after Amplitude had done so much in the way of innovation in the rest of the game.

A recent free add-on, Eyes of the Stars, sought to address these concerns with a new ending to the faction quest lines, as well as adding other content. It did a commendable job, made even more sweet by its non-existent price tag. Amplitude also added a new minor faction, the Dorgeshi, a Roving Clans offshoot. The newly introduced ending consisted of the various factions finding a long-crashed (likely) Hissho spaceship and using it to escape the dying planet of Auriga. It’s easily one of the best quest lines for Endless Legend and tidies up the main quest ending really well.


Still missing, however, are the same satisfying conclusions with the other victory types. While any 4X’s late game is generally reduced to a slog, especially for the military victory, Endless Legend’s feels particularly hollow as your victory is met with a single “You’ve Won!” screen. Gone is nearly all of the writing and lore that makes Endless Legend so special. This is all the more glaring now, when presented with such a satisfying ending to the faction quest lines.

A little over a month after Eyes on the Stars was released, Amplitude’s next attempt at shoring up some of Endless Legend’s weaknesses comes in the form of their first-ever DLC, Guardians, for the price of $10. What exactly does Endless Legend: Guardians add to the base game?

Skoros Came, Atmos Saw, We Conquered!

As the name suggests, Guardians main feature is a squad of mid – to – late game units, called, unsurprisingly, guardians! These giant baddasses, five of them in total, start appearing in the third era and provide extra firepower to factions willing to research them and then invest a moderate to large amount of resources to build them. They alter the battlefield in not-so-subtle ways, such as exploring large chunks of the map to mind controlling enemy units, but aren’t overpowered in game-breaking ways. However, the DLC has more to it than just mid-game super units, so we’ll come back to the guardians in a bit.


Guardians also introduces a system of “Legendary Deeds”, which bring about various rewards to the first faction that meets the requirements. The first faction to obtain 30 of any particular luxury resource is rewarded with 150 units of wine, a crucial bonus to your empire’s approval rating over time. The first faction to accumulate 2000 influence is rewarded with a 50% bonus to its trade routes.. They’re great additions to gameplay, but they also provide another measuring stick of sorts as they are a quick reference of your current standing in the “race” towards each goal.

Then there are the unique structures and legendary buildings that can turn one of your cities into a research, production, dust and/or influence generating powerhouse. These additions begin with the onset of your game and each advancement in technology eras adds more variety. They add a welcome tension to the game and, with each game I’ve played, I find myself aiming for different deeds. It’s a cool new feature that sounds relatively subtle, but is something I can’t imagine not having now. Even in my most recent playthrough I had a minor rush as I worked to build a second legendary wonder in my (only) Cultist city and, when it was finished  I was more than a little proud of myself.


In addition, a cooperative and competitive master quest system has been added, similar to what can be done in Civilization V: Brave New World release. These quests have you competing, or working with, the other major factions as you try to fight a quasi-zombie minor faction threat or a dust-induced collapse of various industries (just two examples). There are also random global events that can occur that further influence global interactions and aim to alter particular strategies you might be implementing. The random events work well to change up the pace of the game at times, but with only 10 of them, they feel a bit sparse. We’re not complaining too much, considering that there are other additions in this DLC, but we’d like to see more added over time.


Back to the main feature, the Guardian units are an excellent addition to the game. Their art style matches the game and universe beautifully and Amplitude managed to fit their place in the game’s lore well (if you’re interested, they’re basically the manifestation of Auriga’s defense mechanism that seem to go awry). Guardians can be opened up through special quest completion and research. They have class-wide characteristics, like being a single unit army and their immunity to winter penalties, combat debuffs, and disease. They also have a unique set of weapons, armors, and equipment to be utilized.

Skoros, the dust guardian, is the first and only to be unlocked in the 3rd era. It’s abilities include the healing of entire armies and mind control of enemy units. Unfortunately, it’s kind of squishy, so be sure to send reinforcing armies with it.


Next you have Gios, the earth guardian, and Fotios, the fire guardian, that are accessible in the 4th era. Gios is a fast moving tank with an area-of-effect attack, and Fotios is a scout with a ranged immolating attack. Gios can double the fortification bonus of a nearby city and Fotios can reveal a 10 hex grid around him on the strategic map.


Finally, there is Neros, the water guardian, and Atmos, the air guardian, both in the 5th era. Neros is a very interesting guardian. It’s the only unit that can actually destroy structures in the overworld map. It can destroy watchtowers and extractors. It can also move faster over river tiles. It’s attack in combat  damages all units in a cone shaped area in front of it. Atmos is a beast. It gets a movement bonus in the winter. It can fly and teleport within visible range. In combat, it gains damage bonuses for every unit it kills.

Overall, the guardians add a lot of flavor and replayability to the early and mid-game. However, I’m a bit concerned about how useful they really are in the latter parts of the game, considering their large resource consumption in not only science, but also industry and strategic resources. Guardian construction can slow down your empire growth and expansion, but I feel that’s only a concern for a competitive player in a multiplayer environment or one looking for a quick single player playthrough.

A Tale of Two Issues

In its current state, Endless Legend has only two real issues remaining, and those are the AI and the end game. I am not saying that the game is problem free. I’m told it still suffers from sporadic slowdowns and intermittent crashes, which I haven’t really experienced myself. I am also aware of people wanting more features and options added like a slider to control the length and severity of the winter season. With constant tweaking and optimization, these are improving.

My personal issue has been, and still is, the AI. Since early beta, the AI has received a lot of attention and has definitely improved, yet it often struggles to field properly equipped armies. The combat resolution AI still does some strange things, and I’ve had plenty of conversations with people that hate it and want a Age of Wonders III style of combat instead. The AI continues to have issues with expansion and with the effective defense of its regions. Trade with the AI is all but impossible and diplomacy could use further fine tuning. I think that Amplitude needs to seriously focus on the AI for the foreseeable future. It remains the one complaint that just won’t go away.


The end game? That’s another problem that hasn’t really been addressed by Guardians. The new conclusion to the master quest is fantastic and, in light of that, it shows the weakness present in the end game of all of the other victory conditions. In short, they are uninspired and boring. We don’t need new victory conditions. What we need is more attention and polish to the existing ones. After all of the time spent playing the game, and to only get a single splash screen? It is no wonder that people argue about end game and its overall insignificance. I have seen more than one veteran player abandon the end game completely over this issue. Once they know they are going to win, they start a new game. The only viable winning condition now is conquest because all the others are boring and tedious. Where is the ever present threat? Winter should have been conquered by now, so maybe a new force arises and threatens the whole world. You know, the ones the guardians are there to combat.

Finally, there’s the multiplayer experience. Stability has improved significantly since release. The forums used to be flooded with complaints about de-synchronizations and crashes, and now those seem to be under control. The game is being optimized for smoother and faster gaming. Balancing is an ongoing quest to find that perfect spot where everything just clicks. Eye on the Stars and Guardians certainly show the talent that is present within Amplitude Studios, and we at eXplorminate4x.com and the greater community at-large wait impatiently to see what comes next.

A new faction? Some new espionage mechanics? Naval battles perhaps, or a greater global threat? There is plenty left to explore on Auriga, and we hope that the future brings to us more and more. We wait, wallets in hand. Cash littered below our monitors, or is that credit cards?  Either way, give us more more more!

Guardians adds enough to the gameplay, while not breaking fundamental elements of the game, that it’s still our only:


11 thoughts on “Endless Legend ReeXamination #2

    1. This game sucks really badly. Lame tech choices, stupid AI, game goes nowhere. Just a very boring game. Do yourself a favor and pass on it.


      1. To each their own, no doubt. I’ve personally really enjoyed myself, more so than any 4X before it since Civ IV. However, I’m currently really enjoying Sorcerer King, too.

        But honestly, I don’t think you can legitimately say “it sucks”. It’s extremely well crafted, even if it’s not for you…


    2. Have you tried it more recently? I don’t think the AI is *that* bad. It’s not the best in the genre, but it can hold its own half the time.

      Certainly, it’s the game’s weakest point IMHO.


  1. Havn’t played the game in a while, but my biggest problem with it was the tactical combat. It just didn’t seem to know what it wanted: to give you complete control or limited control. Instead you have a “you can have almost total control in the most cumbersome way”. I really dislike it when games leave something half baked because they just couldn’t decide. Go full AoW3 or believe in your own system and take it all the way, build it into something good. The current system is worse than something simple like Civ5.
    The other major issue is that it wasn’t clear when forces would be included as reinforcements, which is highly important when placing your units on the strategic map. The information/transparancy on anything combat related other than a direct attack was just too limited.
    A minor issue (though still highly annoying) is the equipment: equiping normal troops felt cumbersome and not fun. The upgrade system is too complex relative to actual choises that it brings. In something like StarDrive 2, there’s enough actual choise for me to go through with setting up new ship blueprints. In endless legend there really isn’t. It’s just busy work.

    From what you’ve described it doesn’t look like the first issue has been fixed, so I don’t think I’m going to give it another try just yet.


    1. NEHZ – I’m with you on the tactical combat. I feel like I can “almost” control everything, but then it’s frustrating when I see unit abandon its’s side-guard position and chase after something it thinks it can fight.

      I can understand wanting to take a slightly “hands off” approach here, where you as the leader don’t really have direct control. I’m fine with that in concept – but the game gives the pretense of having more control and also does all this without giving the player enough information to understand what’s really going on – the whole reinforcement concept is a good example of how the combat system is more opaque than it should be.

      I also find messing around with units to be excessively tedious for the benefit you get from it.


  2. Endless Legend is fundamentally flawed because it innovated so much on some ways, but not at all in others, and the result is a lot of promise that rarely delivers.

    The winter mechanic and the quest storyline system are great. The idea if a 4x game where your real goal is to survive a planet wide climate change catastrophe is excellent.

    But once you decide to create that, why do you need a military victory option? In story, that would still lead to your species extinction. Not much of a victory.

    And ultimately, solving the winter crisis is just a “build a wonder” victory. …yay?

    Endless Legend needed to make the combat, economy, influence, diplomacy, and wonder subsystems serve the parts of the game that are unique and interesting. If they can’t, get rid of them. If they must be massively changed, so be it.

    Instead, we got a thematic Civ, with all of Civs faults.

    The following took me all of five minutes to dream up.

    Imagine if Exploring certain tiles gave you special research points that, once you accumulated enough, determined your victory condition- your means of surviving the Dark. Imagine that you had to customize your Expansion to get the resources and civilization capable of accomplishing the victory condition you unlocked. You then Exploit the terrain you’ve expanded into in order to accomplish whatever you need to do to win. And you Exterminate others who stand in the way of the victory condition you’re pursuing.

    Early game would be about keeping your options open. Mid about preparing for a showdown of some kind. Late about accomplishing it. And all options thematically connected to what makes Endless Legend unique- the coming Dark.


  3. I just wanted to say that I love these re-examination reviews. I also think they are very important and more sites should do it. Games these days are not fully finished upon release and so much DLC is often appended to them in the years after their release that they are often very different animals soon after all the initial reviews are written.

    It’s crucial with games such as Rome 2, Civ V, EU4, CK 2, Gal CIv 3, etc that reviews are regularly updated in order to give the consumer an accurate view of what they are buying today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries. I’d go as far as saying that these re-examinations are a USP of your site and mark it out from the crowd. Certainly, it’s one if the reasons I stayed after stumbling on the site.



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