Endless Space 2 DLC Guide

By Alexander Williams 15 Feb 2019 0

Endless Space 2 has a classic structure: a tight, turn based, 4X strategy space game with both solo and multiplayer, broad selection of races to choose from, and the ability to customize your own within certain limits. On top of that solid foundation, they’ve added a deeply integrated quest system which adds an element of almost RPG-like interplay, a fine diversity of play styles between species, and a space combat system which focuses more on choosing the right tactic for the ships you have and the enemies you’re up against than directly micromanaging the details of each engagement.

Grounded gameplay combined with spectacular graphics and compelling narratives make ES2 a standout example that should do well with DLC. Like Endless Space, downloadable content has added factions, game changing mechanics, and even changes to the soundtrack.

The best way to tackle what’s available is to split it up between that which you will pay for and that which you can have for free. For the most part, factions and mechanics are found in pay DLC and story and graphical updates are found in free DLC.

Premium Expansions

What can you get for your hard earned dollars in deep space?

Vaulters

All of Amplitude’s Endless games are in the same universe and timeline. One of the most popular factions from Legend (and the driver of Dungeon) are the Vaulters, the seeds of whom crash landed on the dying planet Auriga and fought their way back into space. Their personal narrative is all about finding where they came from and looking for a place to actually settle down. Also in this DLC are the Sisters of Mercy, who might have a band but definitely are a minor faction now who could be swayed to your side.

Mechanically, Vaulters add the ability for any faction to engage in diplomacy with the pirates, letting you support them, use diplomatic leverage to disrupt them, or most amusingly – hire them to go after one of your enemies. Nothing says love like paying someone to kill for you.

ES2 DLC 1

Worth It?

Absolutely. The Vaulters have an interesting storyline, their defensively focused ships both look cool and play well, and they provide a solid choice for those players who want a human faction to back who aren’t some kind of crazy violent empire. The pirate mechanics are really just gravy.

Lost Symphony

If you were looking for more music by the same composer to play in-game, Lost Symphony is the first DLC for ES2 to deliver that. Seven new tracks are nothing to sneeze at and the game music is evocative, but if you mute the soundtrack and play your own music instead, that might not be the big selling point here.

For me, the interesting part is that they’ve added a new minor faction which used to be a major faction in ES1, intergalactic travelers who give you a bonus to resource harvesting if you manage to sway them to your side. In their original incarnation, they sought to destroy Dust (the magic nanotech which is the MacGuffin of the setting) and it’s interesting to see them return in this less apocalyptic form.

ES2 DLC 2

Worth It?

Probably not. It’s extremely cheap but unless you are really into the soundtrack or have an emotional connection to the original Endless Space, it’s not for you.

Untold Tales

Here ES2 DLC heads off in a unique direction. Untold Tales focuses on the minor factions and heroes of the game, adding 21 minor faction quests, four minor factions (including the original Sowers, out of control autonomous sentient terraforming robots), and heroes from each of the new minor factions.

ES2 DLC 3

Worth It?

Yes, surprisingly. While one of the cheaper DLCs for the game, UT adds a lot of depth by expanding on the quest narrative portion of gameplay, which really breaks up what can be of very sort of rote 'most efficient' style of play. Balancing the pursuit of answers and resources to reach the end of these stories, fighting the pressure of everything else going on pushes play in new ways. Four new heroes is just a plus.

Supremacy

There’s always one DLC which generates the controversy in the player community, and for ES2, Supremacy is it. It’s not because of the introduction of the genre-mandated fanatical warrior race, the Hissho – they’re actually rather cool and interesting. Their unique mechanical quirk is that they have a social resource which can only be replenished through combat in order to activate their special abilities, and their population doesn’t have Happiness but instead Obedience. Nor does the controversy come from the minor faction which was introduced, obsessive survival of the fittest machines.

The controversy comes from the introduction of Behemoths, massive spaceships with the ability to upgrade and specialize, one such specialization effectively allowing you to destroy planets from multiple star systems away. Some decided that was simply too powerful.

From a game design perspective, it’s easy to understand why Behemoths were added. They provide late game pressure for pushing toward resolution. Eventually, someone will begin developing Behemoths, and it’s in your best interest to either be the first to do so or make sure you control the resources to prevent someone else from doing so. Once someone begins developing Behemoths, it gives other factions a good reason to cooperate and work against them.

ES2 DLC 4

Worth It?

Oh yes. The Hissho are an interesting implementation of a warrior race within the framework of the Endless Universe, and for that alone this would be worth the price, but Behemoths provide another source of pressure on gameplay which helps drive that sense of late game urgency and pull things away from feeling like it’s just going to be a grind to one of the victory conditions.

Harmonic Memories

Another of the soundtrack expansions, Harmonic Memories brings nine tracks which are re-arrangements of songs from the original ES with new instruments and musicians by the original composer. Cool if you’re into the original soundtrack, but probably not a big hook for most people. The game-mechanical bit is the addition of a new hero from the Harmony minor faction, which is solid but only if you care about heroes and their stories.

Worth It?

Nope. If the price is right and you enjoy the work Amplitude is doing, there’s no reason not to buy it to show support but that's about it. The tracks are nice enough but not really sufficient to make me feel that this is something you need in your life. Think of it as a purely voluntary contribution and it is alright.

Celestial Worlds

The quest lines and narrative really make ES2 stand out from the crowd, and Celestial Worlds puts them front and center. The core is a sprawling, multi-chapter quest which centers on the story of the hero Academy and its disintegration or security as characters start pursuing their own interests and you have to decide who to help or who to hinder along the way. There’s also several new heroes, two more unique planets, six weapon modules, and eight new things you can build to enhance your empire.

This is the sort of thing that low cost the DLC should do. If you pass over it, you haven’t made the game less playable; picking it up just gives you more options of content to experience.

ES2 DLC 5

Worth It?

Without a doubt. If there is any problem with this particular DLC, it’s that thanks to the number of narrative elements which are floating around in the game at this point, the timeline of what you know and when you know it is starting to get a little confused. If you have some experience with the game before, events being a little out of order won’t bother you at all. If you’re a stickler for only learning things in a very constrained order, this may bug you. You can always disable DLC and reenable it a little at a time if you want to replicate the original experience. You’ll definitely want CW to be part of where you end up.

Penumbra

Strategy Gamer has done a recent review of the Penumbra expansion which definitely bears reading. To recap: this is the real espionage expansion for this 4X game. The “hacking” system is a node-focused spying system with the serial numbers changed. The Umbral Choir are the extra-dimensional invisible influencers who are limited to a single hidden system and their secret invisible sanctuaries spread throughout the galaxy. The addition of cloaking/invisibility for ships on top of it all is a lot of things to add at one go.

ES2 DLC 6

Worth It?

Yes, with the caveat that it’s extremely likely there will be some fairly aggressive balancing that occurs in the next couple of months after release. There are a couple of bugs which are more annoying than game-breaking but the real focus is likely to be trying to put the Choir on the same footing as the rest of the major factions. That could come down to simply making their trade-offs more visible to players.

Free DLC

There’s no point in asking whether free DLC is worth it or not – any value at all makes it worthwhile. But what are you getting for your investment of bandwidth?

Endless Day

An exclusive quest, a unique hero, and a planet anomaly, all only available to play every year between the 21st and 25th of January in order to celebrate the original release of the game? It’s a built-in holiday!

Stellar Prisoner

The neutron star is a cool star system which looks amazing when you have fleets going at one another there, and once you discover it a quest unlocks for you. There’s also a couple of heroes who come along for the ride, including Koros Apogee, a charming member of the obligatory all-consuming hive-mind faction. Two more unique planets round out the content. In addition, Amplitude put in some tools which were squarely aimed at modders, who’ve been happy to take them and run.

Galactic Statecraft

This is the big Diplomacy patch, adding a ton more diplomatic interactions, things which require multiple turns in order to fully play out, and a way to ping parts of the map to let your allies know what you need. That the AI makes use of the same tools, understanding where you want to attack and defend and telling you where it would like you to attack and defend if you’re allies is a big deal. Weapons had a rework, pirates were introduced, and increasing the population and tech level of your systems will put space stations in orbit. There are some more narrative events to tell story, and the roots of the Academy experience which comes to a fruition in Celestial Worlds are planted here. Surprisingly, there’s also a leaderboard, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

ES2 DLC 7

Little Grin Man

The community for Amplitude games is really involved, and they like to both court and cultivate that community whenever they can. This Halloween update plays on speculation about a character who appears in the background of a lot of game art. The developers decided to build an entire quest line around him and a minor faction – and it’s surprisingly amusing.

Target Locked

Fighters and bombers were a big deal – first that they weren’t part of the base game, and then that they were. Here they were introduced and the cinematic battle mode became even more cinematic, explosions got bigger, planet destruction bits became even more joyously destructive, and a pirate heroine from the first ES popped in.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Not a big DLC by any means, a new quest, a new hero, a new empire improvement, and a new diplomacy contextual effect is nothing to sneeze at, but perhaps the most cruel addition to any turn based strategy game ever made was the addition of an in game clock so you never have the excuse of saying “just one more turn” without fully recognizing that it’s 4 AM and you have work in a few hours.

You’re going to say it anyway.

ES 2 DLC 8

Stories

Not in-game content at all, but instead a series of digital comic books, each focusing on one of the major factions. It’s no surprise that the art is beautiful, but the writing isn’t bad either and it’s certainly no burden to read and experience a little more of each of the factions’ back stories.

Renegade Fleets

The August 2018 free weekend was extremely popular, and as a result Amplitude released seven new fleet skins for core factions. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they are absolutely beautiful and my favorite is probably the Sophon red and black. Absolutely no game effect, absolutely no reason to have it – except that the skins are fun and really attractive.

Recommendation

If you're not looking to pick up every DLC all at once, here is an informal suggestion of which premium packs to buy and in what order. A few things are a bit situational - for example if you value Hacking or narrative over combat, you should pick say Penumbra over Supremacy, and so on...

  • Vaulters
  • Supremacy
  • Penumbra
  • Celestial Worlds
  • Untold Tales

If you like turn based 4X space strategy, this is a game that you probably want to keep an eye on. Even without a sale, Vaulters and Supremacy are less than $13 each and of the rest of the paid DLC are under $3 each. As content goes, it’s a bargain.

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