The reveal trailer for Dungeon of the Endless
crash-landed earlier this month, teasing a new, retro-styled game from Endless Space
developer Amplitude Studios. That announcement implied its mysteries would be revealed at Gamescom, but Amplitude had an entirely different secret waiting for us: It's also developing Endless Legend
, a 4X strategy title not styled in pixelated 3D or related to interstellar travel. Both Dungeon of the Endless
and Endless Legend
are due out in alpha by the end of the year.
is a "civilization fantasy game," Amplitude Creative Director Romain de Waubert de Genlis told me at Gamescom today, during a run-through of the game's early-alpha build. Players craft empires in a fantasy setting, complete with orcs, castles and Broken Lords, a playable faction of "vampire knights." These noblemen must slaughter civilizations in order to survive, but they have souls and don't inherently enjoy killing people. Whether they're "broken" because they care or because they kill is up to the player.
Broken Lords are one of eight playable factions, each presented with unique circumstances within the world. The planet is destined to die and players must determine ways of saving it or fleeing, with actions spread across six ages. Warring factions form as civilizations advance in weaponry and technology; inhabitants similarly evolve throughout the ages, fighting harsh seasons as well as each other. Unlike Endless Space
, Endless Legend
doesn't use skill trees with branching paths – instead, players must accumulate a sufficient amount of experience in order to advance to the next age, but there are no linear routes for players to choose from.
Faction leaders can choose to assimilate new civilizations or kill them off for strategic purposes. For example, a tyrannical, undiplomatic ruler may decide to kill a trade clan, since they control the markets and tend to work with politically proper rulers.
emphasizes micromanagement, allowing players to rule over a smaller number of civilizations than some world-building games, while including more important strategic decisions. Players will be able to prepare for coming seasons, though once they make a decision about how to proceed, that route is locked in for the next 20 turns. The game takes planning and cunning, but it's also meant to be accessible, with decisions that feel natural to make, de Waubert said. It also includes quests – competitive and cooperative ones – and a live battle system.
The game sits on a hexagonal map, and even the terrain is molded into hexagon patterns, with clean lines along ridges and slivers of angled land stacked on one another. These visual cues clarify battlefields and construction sites, as well as looking nifty. When players encounter an enemy leader, they can enter into battle and their armies immediately appear in the surrounding spaces. Other players passing by the battle will see the troops propagate live, and can watch the fight from afar or decide to join one side. Theoretically, the whole world could enter in a giant war this way. Amplitude is still working on the actual battle system, but it's focusing on making the gameplay "fast-paced."
At one point in the playthrough, I mentioned that the art was gorgeous – because it is, with bright, 3D terrain, finely detailed buildings and characters that mix cartoon with reality – and de Waubert reminded me it was still in pre-alpha. When the game launches in alpha later this year on Steam Early Access, Amplitude wants to work closely with players as they find bugs, suggest tweaks or provide creative input. The team is so committed to crowdsourced QA that it's developing a proprietary platform that streamlines bug submissions, and encourages open conversation about the game and ways to improve it.
As the titles suggests, Endless Legend
is part of the universe spawned by Endless Space
. Within that series timeline, Endless Legend
is a prequel to Endless Space
, and Dungeon of the Endless
fits somewhere within the world of Endless Legend
– the actual world, since the spaceship in Dungeon of the Endless
crash-lands on the planet of Endless Legend
, de Waubert said.
But that's a story for another time – or another world.