A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Endless Space 2 is a downloadable strategy game focused on galactic exploration and expansion, exploitation of resources, and extermination or rival factions. Combat plays an essential role but involves no graphic violence. Players see ships shooting each other in space and simple holographic representations of tiny soldiers lining up on either side of a battlefield and shooting each other in ground wars but with no blood, gore, or dead bodies. It involves alien species and planets, but most players will easily recognize the types of civil conflicts that take place as well as their triggers, including territorial disputes, economic upheaval, opposed ideologies, rapid technological advancement, and religious aggression. The game leaves moral judgment and strategies up to the player, providing various options and routes to victory -- some decidedly more antagonistic than others.
What's it about?
In ENDLESS SPACE 2, players control an empire and explore and colonize the galaxy. First they choose a civilization, with characters ranging from peaceful knowledge seekers to a narcissistic trillionaire named Horatio who wants to seed the universe with clones of himself. Then they set parameters, including galaxy shape and size, the skill of competing computer-controlled factions, and the speed of play. Then they take to the stars, engaging in tactical play that spans multiple systems and planets. You'll need to send out probes to find new star systems and colonize habitable planets with special spacecraft, all while researching new technologies and carrying out construction projects on planets within your empire. Eventually players also will design and deploy fleets of ships to combat rival armadas, either to expand into their territory or protect your own. Players win if they conquer the other factions or get the highest score, but they can also win by focusing on scientific research or building a strong economy. An eight-player multiplayer mode lets you play against other people rather than AI.
Is it any good?
If you enjoy Civilization but wish it went beyond conquering a single planet, this might be for you. Much like the original Endless Space, this sequel borrows many of the mechanics popularized by developer Firaxis' classic 4X strategy game. It leads players through each turn, providing alerts about galactic events and prompts to ensure you don't miss any actions, such as commanding an idle fleet, initiating new research, or constructing new facilities on one of your planets. Combat is largely automated and depends on how you've outfitted your ships and how many vessels you have, but you can select specific tactics for your ships or ground troops and then sit back and watch the battles unfold.
But different factions function differently, meaning the game plays very differently if you play as the science-loving Sophons or the insect-like, resource-ravenous Cravers. And a quest system nudges you along specific paths, helping you focus on key short-term goals rather than become obsessed with simply building up an economy or expanding to as many planets as possible. That said, this is not quite as polished as other strategy games with bigger budgets. While the space vistas are undeniably pretty, there's not much eye candy beyond planets, stars, and ships. And while it's surprisingly approachable for such a complex game, certain parts are poorly explained and could prove frustrating for those new to Endless Space or to strategy games in general. That said, there's loads here to recommend for turn-based strategy fans -- and even more for fans of sweeping, interplanetary science fiction.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. Even the shortest Endless Space 2 game can take hours, while longer ones take days, so what do you think is the best way to break up a big turn-based strategy game like this one? Setting time limits on play sessions? Allotting yourself a certain number of turns?
Talk about how this game uses its sci-fi premise and setting to tackle problems that humans have faced on Earth throughout history, such as conflicts between opposed ideologies and disputes over territory. Does it feel realistic? How could the designers have changed the game to make these conflicts feel even more authentic?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.