Endless Space 2 releases this Friday after a lengthy Early Access period that saw several key updates, including additional victory conditions and factions that are sure to shake up your experience if you haven't picked it up in a while.
Especially if you're picking up the game for the first time, Endless Space 2 can be a daunting title, and it doesn't help that it's a space 4X grand strategy game either. But, we've been putting perhaps too many hours into the game, and we can help you along your journey through outer space with these 5 tips.
1. Factions Gain Resources Differently
Going into Endless Space 2, I knew there were several different factions from which to choose and that each faction you can choose to play as has a different main ability. While that’s true, it’s only half the story.
For instance, the United Empire gains 1 Influence per population. Since they were the first faction I played as, you can imagine my surprise when I switched factions to find I wasn’t gaining very much Influence. Come to find out that each faction has a different resource-specific bonus.
There are factions for Dust and Science (money and research), and other factions gain multiple resources per population at the cost of some detriment or another. As in the image at the start of this section, you can hover your mouse over the line below the Faction Affinity to see the details on this faction-specific resource gain.
2. Your Faction Should Decide Your Victory Condition
Given that Endless Space 2 is a more traditional 4X/Grand Strategy game with set victory conditions, it’s easy to try to do too many things, and it’s difficult to know which victory condition to focus on.
The truth is that this advice is going to change in every playthrough, particularly when it comes to what faction you choose. For instance, the Lumeris have the ability to expand by purchasing new systems with Dust, and they naturally gain Dust per population. So they’re good an getting money and getting new systems. That should indicate that the Lumeris are best at pursuing an economic or conquest victory.
Likewise, the Sophons get bonus Science per population and research technology faster if no one else has researched that technology. Seems pretty obvious that you’d want to pursue a science victory. Sure, you can go against the grain, using that science to research war-mongering technology and try to fight your way across the galaxy, for example, but why bother
Also important: you choose a method), there’s no point in pursuing another science victory, for example. This will split your method. For example, there are 4 “victory” technologies that are required for a science victory, but they clog up your research for dozens of turns. If you’ve already decided to go for an economic victory, why are you wasting time researching them?
3. You Can Create Your Own Faction
OK, so maybe you don’t like any of the faction ability combinations. That’s fine, you can build your own. It took me dozens of hours in-game to discover this aspect in Endless Space 2. In my defense, they hide it very well.
There’s an option to disallow custom factions. That’s the only hint you get that this feature exists. If you simply decide to select your faction from the dropdown menu with that faction’s name, you won’t see anything in regards to custom creation. But, if you hover your mouse over the faction picture, you can see an option that says “change.” This will give you a whole new menu with more info on each of the factions and an option to “Add” a faction.
Once you’re in this menu, you can customize everything about a faction. You can choose from every available Faction Affinity, and all faction traits, in addition to your faction’s planet preference and form of government.
4. The Beginner Tutorial Is Restrictive And Confusing
[Editor's Note]: Folks involved with developer Amplitude Studios reached out to let us know that the 0-system limit for colonization in the Beginner Tutorial was not intended, and they have fixed the issue. As such, passages referencing this bug have been stricken.
In many ways, the beginner tutorial in Endless Space 2 is the best thing for a new player. Simply hover over “Start Game” and then click “Beginner.” This will hold your hand at every possible step, giving you information on each part of the game as it comes up and again when it comes up a second, third, fourth, fifth and umpteenth time. It’s a necessary tool in a potentially overwhelming genre.
But it also is a poor representation of the actual game, mainly in terms of a controversial aspect of Endless Space 2 called “overcolonization.” While it varies by faction, each empire will have a maximum amount of systems you can colonize. In the regular game, this is usually somewhere between 5 and 10. In the Beginner Tutorial, this maximum is set to 0 with no explanation.
*Important note: this limit does not apply to individual planets – just systems, which is why it’s important to pursue systems with multiple planets.
Overcolonization affects population happiness. At best, an unhappy population is an unproductive population. They won’t produce resources as quickly. At worst, an unhappy population can turn mutinous and take up arms against your government, threatening the destruction of the colony you worked so hard to build up.
Why they force this to happen in the tutorial is beyond me.
5. How To Avoid Over Colonization
While we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the situations in which you can encounter over colonization in an actual game, sans confusing tutorial. Since Endless Space 2 provides such a devastating penalty, it can cripple your empire’s growth and diminish your experience if it’s not dealt with.
Some factions are better than others for colonizing large numbers of systems. For instance, the United Empire gets a 25% bonus to the number of systems he can colonize.
Alternatively, there are two technologies you can research to increase this limit - HyperPACs and Cultural Invertics. These are both in the “Empire Development” section of the technology screen, the left-most section. Each of these technologies increases your maximum system count by 2. They are more advanced technologies, though, so they might only be good in the long run.
In the short term, you can mitigate population unhappiness in several ways. Most of them are system improvements that you can unlock also in the Empire Development section of the Technology wheel. Just look for improvements that provide bonuses to happiness (denoted by a pink “thumbs up” sign).