Endless Space 2 Review: Galactic Adventure Worth Exploring 2024


Released in 2017 by French developer Amplitude Studios, Endless Space 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to their 2012 4X space strategy game Endless Space. Set in the “Endless” universe first introduced in their 2011 dungeon crawler Endless Dungeons, Endless Space 2 improves upon the original in almost every way. With stunning visuals, exciting real-time space battles, and deeper strategic gameplay, Endless Space 2 is a must-play for 4X and sci-fi fans.

In this in-depth review, we’ll cover what’s new and improved in Endless Space 2, highlight the key features of the game, provide gameplay impressions and screenshots, discuss the expansions and DLC, and give an overall recommendation. Whether you’re a seasoned space admiral or are looking to traverse the stars for the first time, read on to see if Endless Space 2 is the galactic adventure you’ve been searching for!

What’s New in Endless Space 2

Endless Space 2 retains the core 4X gameplay of exploring a procedurally generated galaxy, expanding your empire, exploiting resources, and exterminating rivals. You’ll colonize new planets, research technology, manage planetary economies, negotiate diplomatic relations, and command epic space battles. While the sequel retains much of what made the original beloved by strategy fans, Amplitude Studios introduced several key changes:

  • Faction Affinity System: There are now 8 major factions, each with unique traits, perks, and playstyles based on their affinity like Scientists, Traders, and Warriors. This encourages replayability and diverse strategies.
  • Quest System: Unique quest chains allow you to unlock new technologies, gain resources, influence faction relations, and make key strategic choices.
  • Upgraded Visuals: With a complete graphical overhaul, ES2 features stunning space vistas and intricately detailed ship models. The UI and menus are also far more intuitive and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Real-Time with Pause Battles: The RTS-style battles now allow you to pause to issue commands, providing greater tactical control during clashes.
  • Expanded Tech Tree: With further advances to strive for on the tech tree and strategic resources to incentivize exploration and expansion.
  • Improved Diplomacy: The revamped diplomatic system includes alliances, federations, trade deals, and elected leaders to encourage greater political machinations.
  • Senate and Political Parties: Manage political parties to balance the demands of different factions and ideologies.

Key Features Overview Endless Space 2

Immersive Factions and Questlines

The 8 major factions each have their backgrounds, traits, strengths/weaknesses, and questlines to pursue. Whether you want to play as the religious Vaulters, imperial Sophons, or capitalist Riftborn, the affinity system allows for replayability and diverse narrative paths to explore. The quests also help guide your expansion and technological goals.

Colonization and Empire Building

Expand across a vibrant galaxy as you scout uncharted systems, colonize new planets, establish trade routes, and construct improvements. Discover anomalies and resources while managing the economy, industry, food, approval, and defenses of your systems. There’s a lot to juggle as your burgeoning interstellar empire grows.

Advanced Diplomacy

Negotiate trade deals, form alliances and federations, foster collaborations, and incite wars between AI factions. The Senate provides a democratic means of passing galactic mandates. You can also attempt to win through diplomatic means by getting elected as the Supreme Leader. Politics plays a huge role in your success.

Customizable Ship Design

Unlock new modules as you research technology to create specialized military and civilian vessels. Customize the perfect warship for each admiral in your fleet and optimize your colonizers and constructors. The ship designer allows for deep strategic customization.

Stunning Visual Presentation

Traverse jaw-dropping star systems are filled with colorful nebulas, asteroid belts, ringed planets, and technologically advanced megastructures. The graphics engine makes exploration a wonderful joy. Even the UI conveys information beautifully while remaining intuitive.

Real-Time with Pause Battles

When rival factions meet on the field of battle, you have complete tactical control during the spectacular clashes. Issue commands to squadrons, position them for flanking maneuvers, concentrate fire on weakened shields, activate special abilities, and turn the tide of battle using skill and strategy.

Faction Breakdown

Before diving into a new game of ES2, you must choose which of the 8 factions you wish to guide to galactic dominance. Each has its characteristics, advantages, and playstyles to suit different preferences:

United Empire

The expansionist humans are excellent colonizers who can swiftly spread across the stars. Their leaders provide boosts to system development and their powerful military fleets inspire cooperation through brute force.


This religious group seeks the “Promised Land” and starts on a remote homeworld. But their teleportation portals allow rapid troop deployment and their reliance on science provides technological advantages.


An android race created by the Virtual Endless, the Sophons possess powerful AI and computing skills reflected by their science and research bonuses. But their weakness is inefficient industry.


With a focus on free trade and economics, the Lumeris thrive on commerce and acquiring wealth. Their ability to buy out colonies and accelerate construction by “printing” money gives them financial flexibility.


Genetically engineered clones make up this narcissistic faction obsessed with their creator Horatio. They gain bonuses to planetary exploitation and food generation to fuel their rapid expansion across the stars.


A hivemind of destructive insectoid creatures, the Cravers live only to consume and ravage worlds. They must continually expand and destroy to survive, relying on overwhelming military might and colonization.


Originating from another dimension, the materialist Riftborn relies on antimatter energy and robotic constructs. They thrive on industry and particle physics research but have trouble with food production.


A hybrid race of human colonists and benevolent forest dwellers, the Unfallen established harmonic colonies and spread vine networks. They utilize biotechnology and grow rapidly but are less productive early on.

Gameplay Impressions

Early Exploration and Expansion

After choosing your faction, you start with a single system containing your homeworld. Early on your priorities are scouting nearby systems, establishing colony ships, and rapidly expanding your borders. The faction quests help provide goals to pursue technologically while building up your fleets and defensive starbases. Each new planet presents choices about whether to focus its development on industry, food, science, or commerce.

The pace is generally leisurely at first as you get a feel for your faction’s playstyle and strengths. The genome randomness in each new game leads to fresh strategic considerations. Are there many hot planets suitable for the Cravers nearby or hazardous environments favoring the hardy Riftborn? The Senate also soon formed granting you a voice in the galactic community.

Mid-Game Empire Development

Once your colonies are secured and expanded, you enter a phase of technological advancement, galactic politics, and military growth. Here you must balance various competing priorities and threats. Invest too much in building up starbases and your technological progress may suffer. But ignoring defenses leaves you open to marauding pirates and rivals.

Diplomacy also grows more complicated as you encounter more factions. Should you ally with an ideological friend or opportunistically side with an enemy against a mutual foe? Proposing and passing mandates in the Senate can provide galactic advantages. Unique random events like space anomalies, leader promotions, and quest branches ensure each game tells an engaging emergent story.

End-Game and Victory

In the final era, mature empires clash as galactic territory becomes crowded and prime planets grow scarce. You’ll need to leverage your faction’s unique strengths to gain an advantage and pursue one of ES2’s victory conditions:

  • Supremacy: Build up an unstoppable military force and conquer enemy homeworlds.
  • Wonder: Construct the mysterious Endless Wonder by researching arcane technologies.
  • Economic: Acquire enough wealth and strategic resources to become the dominant economic power.
  • Quest: Follow your faction’s questline to its conclusion and unlock your faction’s ultimate victory.
  • Score: Simply have the highest overall score by the turn limit based on metrics like fleet power, population, and planets colonized.
  • Diplomacy: Get elected Supreme Leader of the Senate through political maneuvering.

The path to success depends on your faction, nearby opponents, random events, and chosen playstyle. The AI provides cunning opposition, relentlessly pursuing their preferred victory condition.

Expansions and DLC

Amplitude has supported ES2 since launch with paid expansions and free updates adding content:

Supremacy DLC

  • Introduced the Hissho faction of bird-like Japanese-inspired warriors
  • Added Behemoth-class titan vessels that act as mobile starbases

Penumbra DLC

  • Added the hacking-focused Nakalim faction who utilize cloaking technology
  • Included espionage operations to infiltrate and sabotage enemies

Awakening DLC

  • Added the Nakalim faction who begin planetless but have mobile ark ships
  • Included Minor Factions that inhabit the galaxy and offer unique benefits

Revelations DLC

  • Added the Umbral Choir faction who conceal their existence in the cosmic shadows
  • Included Lumen exploration bursts that reveal the map and valuable secrets

Overlord DLC

  • Added the Terrans faction focused on assimilation and system improvement
  • The New Academy feature provides impactful bonuses by sacrificing existing colonies

Galactic Statecraft Update

  • Revamped the political system by replacing the senate with parties, leaders, and political ideologies
  • Added trade sanctions, filtering trade routes, and criminal networks

Metropolis Update

  • Added governors to help manage all your empire’s colonies from a central UI
  • Policies allow the enacting of empire-wide edicts that provide powerful bonuses
  • Improved and expanded the Academy introduced in Overlord

Verdict: Endless Space 2 – A Must-Play 4X Experience

Endless Space 2 - A Must-Play 4X Experience

From its visually resplendent galaxy and factions brimming with character to the deep strategic gameplay full of meaningful choices, Endless Space 2 delivers an exceptional 4X experience. Exploring the unknown, colonizing alien worlds, conducting impactful research, and battling rivals across the cosmos has never been more engaging thanks to Amplitude’s meticulous and thoughtful design.

Each race provides a fresh gameplay style to master while random elements ensure new challenges, surprises, and memorable emergent stories unfold across the stars. The UI conveys intricate information once learned and the ship battles lend tactical flair. The expansions introduce fantastic new content elevating an already stellar game. While a few minor grievances exist like repetitive colony management, they fade into the background given the sweeping sci-fi saga on offer.

Overall, Endless Space 2 remains one of the finest space-based 4X strategy games money can buy. Both veterans and newcomers to the genre will find many hours of enjoyment in this content-rich galactic civilization simulator. Its blend of hard sci-fi and visually stunning presentation creates an incredibly immersive backdrop to build your interstellar empire. If exploring the cosmos and ruling an alien civilization sounds appealing, Endless Space 2 is worth playing. An easy recommendation for PC gamers seeking an expansive, thought-provoking, and majestic journey among the stars.

Frequently Asked Questions About Endless Space 2

What kind of game is Endless Space 2?

Endless Space 2 belongs to the 4X game genre, which stands for explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. It involves strategically building an interstellar empire by colonizing planets, managing resources, developing technology, commanding fleets, and competing with rival alien factions for control of the galaxy.

Do I need to play Endless Space 1 first?

While Endless Space 1 isn’t required, it does take place earlier in the universe’s timeline. However, ES2 is very much designed to be accessible to new players. The tutorials teach you the basics and the faction quests help guide your early progress. Veterans will recognize callbacks but the games are disconnected enough that you can jump right into ES2.

How is the combat different from the first game?

The original Endless Space had simplistic automated combat determined by calculations in the background. ES2 introduces pausable real-time battles that you can tactically control to gain advantages in scouting, positioning, and ship abilities. This makes combat much more hands-on and exciting.

Is there a campaign?

There is no single overarching campaign. However, each faction features a unique questline that helps direct their technological progress and expansion strategy. These quest chains encourage exploring different narrative paths across various playthroughs.

How long does an average game take?

Games can last anywhere from 4-12 hours depending on map size, number of opponents, and victory conditions. You can adjust the turn limits or playtime limitations based on your preferences via the game rules.

Are there ways to win besides total conquest?

Yes, there are 6 possible victory types in ES2. You can win through military Supremacy by controlling enemy homeworlds. Or construct the Endless Wonder through science for a Wonder victory. Having the best score, economy, or diplomatically getting elected Supreme Leader provides alternative non-violent paths as well.

How does diplomacy work?

You can negotiate treaties and trade deals, offer threats and ultimatums, enact joint declarations of war, provide gifts, foster cooperation or instill fear. AI personalities and ideologies influence negotiations. There’s even a galactic political system where laws get passed. Alliances and federations can help mutually achieve goals.

Can I customize ship designs?

Yes, the ship designer allows you to mix and match unlocked modules to create specialized military and civilian vessels optimized for different strategic purposes. Customizing your navy is a key aspect of success.

Can I play Endless Space 2 multiplayer?

Online multiplayer is supported so you can compete or ally with friends. Hotseat mode also allows passing off turns on the same computer. The expansions introduce new factions and content for expanded replayability.


Endless Space 2 refines the 4X genre formula Amplitude established with the original game and enhances it in nearly every way. With 8 unique factions pursuing divergent victory conditions across a gorgeously realized sci-fi universe, no two playthroughs ever unfold the same. Managing an entire interstellar civilization has never felt so full of compelling strategic choices and meaningful hiccups that twist your carefully laid plans.

Any fan of space exploration, galactic empires, 4X gameplay, or just immersive strategy, in general, owes it to themselves to traverse the cosmos in Endless Space 2. Both veterans and newcomers alike will find the game accessible to learn yet deeply nuanced in its execution. While post-launch expansions provide worthwhile additional content and factions, the base game alone offers countless hours of premium entertainment. From the visual marvels of unknown worlds to the grand machinations of interstellar politics, Endless Space 2 delivers a spectacular trip across the stars that lingers long after the end turn button stops calling.

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