Posted: July 5
I will preface this by stating that I am reviewing this game with the Disharmony DLC.
This game has some good and some bad for both stages of the game: The empire building and combat. First, I will discuss empire building.
The Empire building in this game is fairly well done. It's easy to understand once you understand the symbols and what each tech does. However, the downside is that the AI cheats. Even on normal, it gets bonuses to it's production (FIDS). This means that the AI will quickly overcome the player in Food, Industry Dust, and Science unless the player is playing a race dedicated to that specific philosophy (IE: Sophons = Science production, United Empire = Dust production). This means that the AI will be outbuilding the players in both population (thus even more FIDS) and ship production (more combat prowess). To make matters worse is that certain victory conditions are based on overall production of a specific FIDS (IE: Economic = overall dust production level for the game and Science = researching all ultimate techs in the 4 tech trees). So, the AI will usually be able to accomplish this faster than the player due to their bonuses. To that, I would recommend every player turn off all the victory conditions except Conquest and Diplomacy.
The combat part of the game seems simple, but it has some massive flaws that destroys the viability of the game. First, as I said before, due to the bonuses of the AI's production, they will almost always have larger fleets than the player. However, the AI is not very bright in combat tactics. So, it takes the AI a while to adapt to what they player is doing.
Second, the weapon choices and change in range for each weapon seem good on paper. However, in practice, they are completely unbalanced. Example: Long Range Kinetics are the god weapon... with Mid Range Beams and Melee Range Kinetics being a close second. Long Range Missiles are alpha strike weapons... but they take forever to hit the target and makes your ship very vulnerable to the 4 attacks per round from Kinetics and 2 attacks per round from Beams while waiting for the missiles to hit their target. Not to mention that they're completely and utterly useless vs targets that retreat as the retreat comes before the missile even hits their targets. The rest of the ranges of weapons (mid Kinetics, long and melee beams, and mid and melee missiles) are completely inferior to the ones listed above.
Now, that talks about the current system. The system they had in place before they changed it, where rate of fire for each weapon was tied to the range choice for the weapon (IE: Long range weapons = 1 slow, powerful shot per combat phase while melee range weapons = many fast, weak shots per combat) was much better in balance. It needed tweaks... but it was far better than what we currently had. The devs decided to change it to what we have now because they were unable to "fix" the issues with melee missiles being very strong... yet ignoring the fact that Flax defenses (defense dedicated to countering missiles) was very cheap and very small so players could fit a lot of them on ships without hampering the overall combat capabilities of the ships. Again, it wasn't perfect, but it was far better than what we have currently.
Sad part is, these things could be remedied if the devs decided to fix them. However, they have moved on to Endless Legends (another imbalanced mess when it comes to combat) and Dungeons of the Endless. There is no word that they will ever revisit Endless Space to fix these glaring issues.
I enjoy the game. However, from my experience with how much of an imbalanced mess this game is and the very low likelihood of this game ever being fixed by the devs, I have no alternative but not to recommend this to anyone.