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Endless Space: Disharmony

“Endless Space” received a 9/10 from yours truly, and with good reason.  It is one of my favorite 4x games ever to have crossed my path since the “Galactic Civilizations” series.  Since my review of “Endless Space” back on July 5, 2012 (almost exactly one year earlier, ironically), four free add-ons and an official expansion have made their way onto those next turn buttons everywhere.  For the purposes of this review, I’m going to assume that you have read the review of the core game (link above).  If you haven’t, I highly recommend that you do, as I’ll be skipping over some of the game’s core features so as not to repeat myself.  Before we take a look at what the expansion has to offer, I’d like to thank Mayke Griffioen from Iceberg Interactive for reaching out and providing me with a free review copy.

Endless Space: Disharmony

Endless Space: Disharmony (Windows, Mac)

The main menu looks roughly the same as it did in the core game.  You’ll have the ability to create a new game, load an existing one, join a game online, introduce mods, and adjust game options.  There’s also a button on the lower right corner of the menu screen that allows you to switch the game to classic, which in turn loads the core game without the expansion and its features.  The options menu is also keeps with the standard format, touching on things like screen resolution, quality levels, subtitles, vsync, audio sliders, and gameplay options.  While I didn’t see a setting for it, the expansion makes use of a new Adaptive Multi-Agent System (AMAS), giving the AI sharper teeth as they’ll be able to adapt to the strategies a player is incorporating in their gameplay.

The new faction is an interesting one, but probably not among my favorites.  The “Harmony” doesn’t use dust at all (the resource equivalent of coin), preventing me from doing some of the things I used to take for granted.  For example, I wasn’t able to speed up the construction of ships or structures, nor was I able to retrofit existing ships.  I found myself building a nice little military empire, full of powerful battleships and destroyers, only to be caught with my pants down when the enemy attacked.  The fleet I had was about one hundred turns old and when I went to upgrade them prior to the attack, I found that I couldn’t.  My ego took a big hit when the AI on newbie difficulty level wiped me out and proceeded to dance on my corpse.  Playing as the Harmony takes some getting used to and is very slow to react to changes, it seems.

I mentioned above that the AMAS system made the AI a bit more powerful.  That’s a bit of an understatement.  The AI at present is extremely ruthless, even on the newbie difficulty level.  I remember being able to sit back and take the game at my own pace when I played the game a year ago, but no longer.  After turn one hundred, I counted the number of ships invading my space and it totalled to be about three hundred.  I’m not sure if the increase in difficulty is a result of the new AMAS system, but the game could certainly be balanced a bit better to accommodate new and casual players.  The game does, after all, have about eight difficulty levels to choose from.  There needs to be some sort of cap on what the easier difficulties are capable of producing and how quickly they advance in tech.

Endless Space: Disharmony

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Turn 109, on newbie difficulty setting, I’m being invaded by over one hundred ships. Sadly, my advanced ships can’t keep up with that volume of attackers.

Fighters and bombers made their way into the game, providing an interesting twist to battles.  You’ll be able to assign formations and issue targeting orders, something that I don’t remember being able to do when I reviewed the core game a year ago.  What’s more, the ship creator screen seems to have been given a bit of an overhaul.  I found it easy to browse through the three build menus and add modules to the available slots.  I liked the new layout as it was simple enough to see, at a glance, what was equipped on my ship and how much tonnage I had left to use.  I was also a bit surprised by the siege, bombardment, and land battles capabilities.  It’s somewhat similar to the expansions featured in the “Galactic Civilization” series as you won’t be able to control ground troops directly, but you can build modules for them on your ships.

Overall, I found the expansion to be unplayable in single player, but enjoyable in multiplayer.  It’s not an expansion that I could recommend to all but the most diehard of fans due to how difficult the AI is, even on the easiest difficulty settings.  I don’t remember the game being this hard, and this is coming from an experienced 4X vet who’s been playing these games since “Civilization 1” on the PC.  The price tag of $9.99 is a fair one, considering the amount of free add-ons that were already released for the game.  I won’t go as far as to say that you’ll NEED this expansion to fully enjoy “Endless Space”, but those who get a lot of mileage out of the core game will appreciate the new features and the extras that they’ll be able to mess around with.  I think the developers need to address the AI difficulty levels before they can expect it to appeal to a wider audience.  Somewhere between my original review and the present, changes were made that made the AI incredibly unfriendly.  I even tried the game in “classic mode” (without the expansion) and ran into the same difficulty spikes.  As it stands, the game is just too difficult to be any fun and until the developers fix this problem, “Endless Space” will (with much regret) remain uninstalled on my games list.

Final Verdict: 4/10  

You can learn more about and purchase “Endless Space” and its expansion by visiting the following websites:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/208140

http://store.steampowered.com/app/241430/

http://endless-space.amplitude-studios.com/

  1. Nigel Stutt
    July 4th, 2013 at 16:55 | #1

    I am up to turn 95 in my present game which is set on normal difficulty, and I havent go any of the race’s ships attacking me yet only a couple of easily beat pirate fleets. I have made friends with all the surrounding races though so that might be why, picking on one at a time is important in not being swamped. Mind you I am third last in my game of eight races. I have one defensive fleets that is 11000 strong cmpared to the priates who were 2500 strong – you do that by getting heros on your fleets and upgrading your weapons often. So far I havent found the game difficult at all myself, no worse than my first game a year ago with the original version of the game. But admittedly I havent got into a war with another race yet so I may well see what you are saying in a few turns, when I plan to attack the Harmony.

  2. gm
    October 1st, 2013 at 12:01 | #2

    I’m not sure if changes were made to the AI since this review but I have found that the AI is reasonable. On normal difficulty the AI is pretty easy. The main issues are that you will generally be in a war at around turn 50 and if it goes badly you will be destroyed by turn 80. The game is multi-layered enough that if you work out the mechanics you will do well, essentially this means using tactics like building scouts to get an idea of what weapons the enemy is using and then make sure that you create fleets that can counter the constructed fleets. The main difference in difficulty settings is how the AI reacts to what you are doing. On normal difficulty the AI’s tactics remain static which allows you to make one type of ship design and then dominate, in the harder difficulty settings the AI adapts to what you are doing. I’ve played a couple of times and have found that the normal difficulty moderate in the early game and easy in the mid to late game. The harder difficulties are unforgiving and require that you constantly adapt to what the AI fields throughout the game. What impresses me about the AI is that it appears to take strategic objectives into account when it declares war. For instance if you stay in your corner of the galaxy you are more likely to be left alone, whereas if you expand into the centre and occupy strategic points, even the more peaceful empires will declare war on you. Getting peace generally requires taking at least one system off of the AI

  3. Pax
    January 12th, 2015 at 05:58 | #3

    AI in Disharmony is exceptionally poor. If you play a crowded universe, where being smart is important for winning, the ship-spamming is the only way for AI to keep up – it still looses hopelessly.

    The fact that AI cheats, even on Normal, becomes pretty apparent if you select just one opponent on a big galaxy. About 50 turns into the game, with both you and the opponent having about 10-12 planets his fleet will be about 10 times bigger than yours. This is mathematically impossible.

    You lose the game because on big galaxy there are no choke-points and AI invades like 6 of your planets at once. If you even manage to destroy these fleets, new ones show up immediately, as if the computer can manufacture 20 ships a turn (considering we are on turn 70 and his tech level is about the same as yours – this is BS). Another cheat – his heroes will be the same level as mine. Since there is NOBODY ELSE to fight in the galaxy but me, and the last 20 fleets I fought had no hero, how did he level up?

    Again, that completely fake AI is less obvious when there are multiple enemies in the galaxy and a lot of action going on is fake-AI on fake-AI. However once there is only you and the computer – you can see that computer fleet heroes level up without fighting and his 10 planets crank out 50-60 cruisers per turn, while doing research and building improvements at the same time.