Endless Space 2 is turn based and set in the Endless universe. The Endless universe is one where the “Endless” once dominated the galaxy, but for reasons unknown they no longer exist. They left behind a material known as “dust,” a near magical substance that’s highly valued by all empires. But how does it compare to a game like Stellaris?
If you like a game that can sometimes be completed after 100 turns or so and like a little more control over space battles, plus one that has more of a “space opera” flavor to it then Endless Space 2 is better. For complexity and a game that lasts virtually forever, Stellaris would be the choice. It really comes down to a personal preference, both games provide hours of fun.
The tutorial in Endless Space 2 walks you through every screen and only pops up when you’re at a new screen. Similar to Stellaris, your advisor appears to tell you what the screen is all about and what to click next if you need to take some kind of action. Its text based but very good at what it does.
Stellaris is great for creating your own custom empire, the best out of any space games currently on the market. Stellaris also excels at the exploration portion of the game but it can “bog down” and become boring in the mid to late game, although Paradox has worked at making the end-game more interesting and action packed with the release of the Nemesis DLC and the recent “Dick” patch.
Diplomacy is better in this game than most, even Stellaris (this link takes you to my 101 Stellaris Tips page), although Stellaris diplomacy has also been improved by the “Dick” patch and nemesis DLC . You can start a dialog on trade in Endless Space 2, for example, and the game will show you how favorable the deal is to the other empire and will provide you with suggested, acceptable terms if you’d like. But even if you have a deal that is highly favored by the other party they may still reject it, it’s not a sure think like diplomacy in other games.
Like Stellaris this game generates multiple events, like quests and elections, that demand your attention and hold your interest. Every event influences your empire so it’s good to keep your overall objective in mind when deciding what to do.
Until the introduction of Origins by Stellaris Endless Space 2 was a little better in this department. Each empire in Endless Space 2 has its own storyline and intro complete with a basic history of the empire. For example, the Sophons “are a curious, peace loving race…” who are essentially pacifists. They are an advanced race that is very irresponsible with their power.
The user interface in Endless Space 2 is intuitive and easy to learn, at least for the most part. It does have a few subtleties that can be annoying, like the technology screen. This is a minor issue but once zoomed in you can’t scroll around on the screen by using the mouse cursor or arrow keys, you must zoom out and back in using the mouse wheel. So, when you just need a gentle nudge to see the rest of that icon that’s at the bottom of the screen you can’t do it, you need to zoom out and back into the area you’re interested in. But overall, the UI is very good and easy to use. Major options are no more than two clicks away from the main screen. It is well designed and instinctual.
When comparing the game length of Stellaris to Endless Space 2, or any other space game for that matter, Stellaris is by far the game that lasts the longest per game session due to it’s “open ended’ design. While a Stellaris game can last weeks and even months, depending on how frequently you play it, Endless Space 2 can sometimes be completed in a few evenings in around 100 turns. If you’re someone who likes closure in a game Endless Space 2 will give you that, the open ended style of Stellaris will never give you that feeling of grinding everyone else into dust with your military might and dominating the entire galaxy.
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The biggest difference between these two games is the complexity and depth. Stellaris is much deeper and complex than Endless Space 2, which can actually work to its disadvantage. Stellaris presents a full universe with a vast amount of options but it can get to be a grind after a while. Once the thrill of exploring new systems is gone it turns into an economic game and a game of war between alliances with typically only relatively small chunks of real estate gained at the end of the war. If you’re looking for a game that gives you a clear winner without playing it endlessly Endless Space 2 is preferable. Regardless, you can’t go wrong with either game, both are outstanding in their own respects, so it really depends on what you’re looing for in a game.
Endless Space 2 vs Galactic Civilizations 3
In Galactic Civilizations 3 you can expand until you conquer the entire galaxy, in Endless Space 2 expansion penalties reduce that expansion capability greatly, having a large empire is not impossible but much more difficult. Endless Space 2 also has better graphics than Galactic Civilizations 3.
Endless Space 2 and Galactic Civilizations 3 are both turn-based games. Gal Civ 3 is similar in play to the Civilization games and uses a hex tile system, again one that’s similar to the Civilization games. In this game you can build and design ships and build starbases that can focus on military might or economic strength just to name a few of their specialties. You can also conduct colony management in Gal Civ 3 in more detail the in Endless Space 2. Although not overwhelming the AI can be very challenging in both games. When compared to Galactic Civilizations, and most other 4x space strategy games, Endless Space 2 has a much different tone and game style, it has more of a background story and “space opera” flavor than most others.
Endless Space 2 vs Sins of a Solar Empire
While Endless Space 2 is turn based SINs is a pausable real time game. Endless Space 2 is more of a game where you can manage an economy, planets, and focus on numerous things like diplomacy and politics. Sins of a Solare Empire focuses primarily on expansion and conquest through the might of your space fleets. Sins is light on diplomacy and has very little planetary management while most of the improvements occur in space, like research stations and orbital defenses.
Sins of a Solar Empire is a game that relies on a lot of ship micromanagement and vast fleets that you can start building very early in the game. It has a faster pace than Endless Space 2 due to less game complexity and it’s easier to learn than Endless Space 2. The drawback when compared to Endless Space 2 is that there is no colony management and not much in the way of economic management or diplomacy. The sole purpose in SINs is to expand and dominate, Endless Space 2 presents a more well-rounded approach to the idea of a space faring empire.
Endless Space 2 vs Distant Worlds
Distant Worlds is a much deeper game than Endless Space 2. The level of customization is great with ship design being one example, right down to the types of fuel they use although the graphics in Distant Worlds leave something to be desired if that’s important to you. When compared to Endless Space 2 technologies are limited plus this is an older game, although Distant Worlds 2 is due to be released soon and should have as much complexity and depth as the original, with greatly improved graphics.
Is Endless Space 2 Hard?
At first it can be overwhelming since it throws so much at you in the beginning and because it plays a little differently than most other games. One thing that adds to the difficulty are the quests. There’s no way to successfully pursue them all so what do you do? The best thing is to focus on the quests that are specific to your empire and not worry too much about the rest. The quests that tend to be universal in nature tend to be of little benefit if won.
One problem, and this is frequently a complaint about most games, is that the AI gets unfair advantages in ships and economic might. The AI oftentimes has more ships than you that are more powerful and faster than yours. Once you catch up, if you survive, that advantage is not maintained by the AI.
Another problem is deciding what to research at first. The technology paths are not clear and knowing what the best options are is almost impossible. Experience is the best teacher, guess wrong and it will probably be a short game. Another option besides the school of hard knocks is to watch some YouTube game guides, there are plenty of them available.
Another tactic for reducing the difficulty is to just play it for 10 or 20 turns, remember what you learned and then start over. If there are still weak areas in your understanding, start over again and focus on those areas. That has worked well for me in the past for most games that I have trouble getting started with.