4X

Endless Space 2: The Horatio Arrive

To whom it may concern, I’m the Horatio and all your gaming needs have been met!

endless_space_2_logo_art

Amplitude Studios is proud to announce the second full update to Endless Space 2, which is currently in Steam’s Early Access program. A quick rewind: when ES 2 came out last year, it started with four major factions and a few minors. Since then, one major faction (United Empires) was added as well as a handful of minors.

horatio_fleet

Space Dragons by Horatio

With this second update, let’s look at what we get:

  • Added a new major faction, the Horatio!

  • Implemented a new Technology tree

  • Added Battle Play Cards

  • Reworked the game options menu

  • Added Advanced Culture in addition to Scavengers and Eucsocial (Z’vali & Epistis are now advanced)

  • Added the Gnashast minor faction (Scavengers)

  • Added the Tikanan minor faction (Eusocials)

  • Added the Eyder, a Scavenger minor faction created by the community

  • Added 5 new victory conditions: Supremacy, Conquest, Science, Economy, Wonder

  • Added 2 new galaxy shapes: 4 disks and ring

For more on the update, follow this link and this link as well.

The major takeaways for us are the updates to the combat mechanics. As a community, we’ve been discussing the combat and what specifically needs to be changed. Amplitude is listening, but will the changes be enough? Only time will tell.

tech_tree

Now, what should we research next?

The new and improved tech “tree” is definitely moving in the right direction. What they need to do now is add ways that we can tell the different techs apart and what they do at a quick glance and maybe some color differentiation like they had in Endless Space 1.

The Horatio are an interesting faction. Their ability to literally integrate other factions through genetic manipulation adds an interesting spin on an old mechanic first introduced in Endless Legend. Their unique ship design and story makes them a lot more compelling than they appear on paper.

The new minors are an interesting bunch, but we still have somewhat bland gameplay and interactions with all of them. Sure, they have their place, but more is needed.

minor_tikanan

Why, hello there…

The further refinement and balance adjustments to the core game are a must, and Amplitude knows this. With each update, they are dialing it all in. Now we need some more going on with diplomacy and how it is applied. Some color commentary will go a long way here.

We are very excited by the new content and the fact that Amplitude continues to listen and collect feedback from the their community and the greater 4X community at large. What’s even better is that this feedback is then implemented in various ways (when feasible). If you want to help develop ES2 there is still time to buy the game and add your voice to the choir or to the dissenters – up to you!

endless-space-2-horatio-update-horatio-leader

My precious…

Keep your eyes peeled for more news, but in the meantime, here’s some gameplay footage from earlier on.

Categories: 4X, Announcements

12 replies »

  1. Sadly, still same lame combat. The ENTIRE reason a game is turned based is to a low tactical decisions every step of the way. Endless Space 1 you would just play these stupid cards maybe 2-3x per engagement and… watch an automated battle take place. The combat and stupid card system ruined endless space 1 for me… looks like this one isn’t going in a better direction yet.

    Sins was good but a bit more RTS than 4x. Stellaris was pretty good, no major complaints. Civ’s are hit or miss depending on the version. Still haven’t seen a really solid 4x space game that takes everything to the next level. MOO2 was great for it’s time but is really dated now and the new release is pretty bad.

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    • Endess space 1’s combat was fun and functional..different strokes for different folks. But Es2 needed to be deeper than a reskin and I’m greatly disappointed to find that it is not. I feel Stellaris and Gal civ3 went in the wrong direction, making combat entirely a numbers games with a few explosions to keep the American’s interested. Sword of the Stars had the best combat system IMHO and needs to be brought back.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The last thing I want in my 4x strategy game is tactical combat mucking it up. Big cheers to games like ES2 and GCIII for focusing on the strategy part of 4x games.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “making combat entirely a numbers games with a few explosions to keep the American’s interested” – I must admit I had to laugh pretty hard here because there is some truth in this – perfectly in line with my IRL experience with US american groups of people. Who needed some kind of effects, fireworks, hoooooorayyyy!!!!111!!!
        Well, different culture. I’m glad people are different :-)

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  2. I haven’t played ES2, so I don’t have an opinion on it or the way it handles combat, but my perspective on tactical combat is that you don’t technically need it, but the underlying systems should have some tangible amount of organically derived depth. By “organic” I mean not a forced, simplistic, rock-paper-scissors type model, but a sort of non-linear system with many variables that can interact in distinct and novel ways with one other, which in turn leads to more “emergent” or “organic” gameplay scenarios and strategies.

    The problem with 4X games without tactical combat, at least the space based ones (terrestrial 4X games without tactical combat have a tendency to move some of the systems that would exist in the tactical layer into the strategic realm. For instance, terrain and position bonuses), is that the underlying systems behind the combat simulation tend to be at best devoid of strategic depth, and at worst a royal pain that also undermines strategic depth. I don’t think I need to point fingers at any particular game because everyone should already know who the worst offenders are.

    It doesn’t need to be this way, but almost always is, because if a developer isn’t going to bother with tactical combat in the first place they have little motivation to develop a combat system with any tangible depth. At the point they’ve done so, they may as well implement tactical combat since they have a significant portion of the work required already invested. Not to mention it would be difficult to design a good system in the first place without the ability to go in and observe things in a concrete fashion.

    Therefore, I think there are two good design choices when it comes to combat, and two really, unfortunately bad ones.

    The good ones are:

    1) Fully detailed tactical combat system with a good auto-resolve option. By good auto-resolve, I mean that you can trust the AI not to do anything stupid, and the simulation isn’t a simple abstraction of the full combat system which tends to produce wildly divergent results.

    2) No tactical combat, but as much strategic significance as possible is moved to the strategic layer.

    (A theoretically “ideal” 4X game would do both of these)

    And the bad ones:

    1) Tactical combat without any form of, or a substandard form of, auto-resolve. The reason being that you can’t help the getting being bogged down by combat events at some point or another. It inevitably slows the pace of the game to a standstill and unbalances the time allotment for each section of the game.

    2) No tactical combat, combined with no depth on the strategic or tactical layer. This happens too often in modern titles.

    (I wouldn’t mind seeing eXplorminate take a firmer stance when it comes to calling out titles that go down one of these wrong paths. 4X game designers, especially from larger studios, continue to make design choices that harm strategic depth in large part because of a lack of any kind of consequence for doing so. If people want to see 4X design move in a progressive, as opposed to regressive direction, then they need to be vigilant.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should add that in terms of the two bad paths, the later is much worse than the former. The first is bad from a user experience perspective, while the second is bad from a systems perspective. Bad on the surface layer versus bad at the core. I’ll take the former over the later every time.

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    • We are certainly going to be more observant of how the games develop and the final(ish) product at release.

      Though, to be completely honest, I am really digging the combat in ES 2. I do not want every engagement to be like a AoW 3 combat. Also, there are no hard counters aka paper/rock/scissors mechanic in ES 2. Every thing stands a chance of doing damage. No more perfect attack or defense.

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  3. I agree Nate, I consider myself very much a hardcore tactical combat guy (I won’t play most 4x’s without it) but I’ve found myself enjoying the combat changes in update 2. The initial release of combat in ES2 was an epic facepalm but the devs seemed to have listened to feedback and made some excellent changes already with more to come.

    To be honest I wish they’d give us some ability to assign individual targets before battle to each flotilla and I’d be REALLY happy if they would decouple the flotilla range from the battle play card and let us set the range of each flotilla independently. Even so, what we’ve got now is MUCH better than we we had initially and I feel is vastly superior to the ultra gamey card game we had in ES1.

    Now, if Amplitude ever comes to their senses and builds in an optional RTS combat mode for ES2 I’d be all over it but what we have now seems like an excellent start.

    Liked by 1 person

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