Games of the Year

Endless Space 2

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Endless Space 2 is a Strategic Space Opera set in a mysterious universe. Your story unfolds in a galaxy that was first colonized by God-like beings known as the “Endless”, who rose and fell eons ago. All that remains of them are mystical ruins, powerful artifacts, and a strange, near-magical substance known as Dust. Endless Space 2 takes the classic “one more turn” formula to new heights. You will explore mysterious star systems, discover the secrets of ancient races, build colonies on distant planets, exploit trade routes, develop advanced technologies of unthinkable power; and, of course encounter new life forms to understand, to court or to conquer.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

I recently binged Endless Space 2 and Stellaris over this 2022 winter holidays. Mostly playing ES2 on the steam deck and Stellaris at my computer. ES2 is very playable on steamdeck, but Stellaris is difficult and clunky to control and it wasn't an enjoyable experience.
That being said, I was having a great time with ES2 UNTIL the DLC's went on sale and I scooped most of them up. Hacking is a weird side game that I really would rather not be bothered with. Behemoth's were interesting, but then became this weird unbalanced and high level nuisance for me and my enemies that really didn't enrich the game for me. The barrage of requests and objectives laid out by the Academy, I don't even get WTF the academy is and I don't want it. The DLC's made everything worse, not better.
Originally I had a very satisfying game loop going and an addictive 'just one more turn' vibe going as I explored the different factions and playstyles, but now my enthusiasm is fading and I wish the DLC's had been more worth it.
As for Stellaris, I find it goes into very granular detail, which isn't always good, but the exploration and making contact with aliens and archaeological dig sites and plot lines are all very interesting, dynamic, and fairly realistic. I don't enjoy the planet management system at all and much prefer the Civ/ES2 version which is a lot simpler. Another gripe I have with Stellaris is that I'm CONSTANTLY pausing the game, it might as well be a turn-based game because I'm pausing the game every month or two as it is as technologies get researched or events happen and you need to make decisions. I'm torn because the technology system in ES2 is kind of boring in that you can see everything laid out in front of you, but the Stellaris system has it's own issue of not being able to focus your scientists to tech development you're going for and instead playing a weird luck game, the best option would be a combination of both systems. That being said, I really like the empire development, combat fleets, storylines, race flexibility and advancements, and the more organic flow of the game in Stellaris. It also has a better end game with Galaxy shaking crisis' that add a layer of challenge to the entire arena.
In conclusion, if you want to play on steamdeck I recommend Endless Space 2 and wouldn't bother with the DLC unless they're on a massive sale and even then you may want to go into the advanced settings when starting a game and really tailor what you'll be using.
If you're playing on PC I'd go with Stellaris, the DLC are nice to have, but it can be a lot even if they are discounted. I'm a big fan of Paradox games, but if you're just getting into a game it's a little overwhelming to be looking at hundreds of dollars in DLC content. At some point they should start just integrating older DLC into the base game, because how can you expect someone to pay $300+ for 1 game (right now on steep sale the entire thing is just shy of $200 CAD). The additional races and options really do make a difference in the game, so maybe try the base game and then pick up some DLC when they're on sale.
Both games look great and have good visuals. Both games ran great, both on PC and on Steamdeck. I get about 2 hours of play time of ES2 on steamdeck per battery charge.

Review from Steam

Had a reservation as I thought it might be just a bad copy of Civilization but boy was I wrong. It's not only superior to Civ, it's also beautifully unique in design. Highly recommended strategy gem.
ADVICE TO PLAYER: Learn to play the base game and enjoy it for a while before pouring all them DLC's to your first playthrough. It would be extremely overwhelming and not recommended.

Review from Steam

Like blowing up planets? Like dealing with shady character to get fat stacks? You like............ war crimes? You like.............. making friends with tree people? Get this game.

Review from Steam

Im having way more fun playing this game than Stelaris.
Way more noob-friendly

Review from Steam

There's just something that feels good about super heating a planet full of people to blow it up, killing billions and getting no negative repercussions for it.
What do you mean that's "genocide" and that I'm a "war criminal"? There's no Geneva convention in space you can't stop me

Review from Steam

Hey hey people. Got this game four days ago, started playing the beginner mission. 19 hours later, I win.

Review from Steam

Very very fun if you have no friends. Sure, there are bugs, but I've played 100 hours of singleplayer campaign and had no bugs pop up. I think their all in multiplayer, but I don't have friends, and most of my steam acquaintances don't like/play this game. The space combat has alot of depth to it, though ground combat doesn't. The races are cool and have tons of replayablity, even without the DLCs. It isn't supported by amplitude, however, which means many bugs in multiplayer won't be fixed forever, but thats only if you have friends.

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