Endless Space: Disharmony, Reviewed
One of the finest galactic 4X (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate) games around today, Endless Space receives its first official expansion: Disharmony. The biggest addition in-game is to the combat, including new content and reworkings of old content. A New Adaptive Multi-Agent System mixes up the AI, and a new race is presented which provides a vastly different approach to play. The end result is a sizable expansion to one of the deepest futuristic strategy games on PC.
Whereas every civilization, no matter how peaceful or barbaric, absolutely requires Dust (gold) in order to thrive, The Harmony sees the currency as blight upon the universe and seek to destroy it at every turn. The core mechanics of the faction rely on the player purging Dust from his system and from others. Rather than seeing the universe as a collection of diverse planets and races, some peaceful and multiplicative, others warlike and intent on domination, the Harmony (and player) see only binary: either the planet is infected with Dust and is to be destroyed, or it is clean and of no import.
Thus began the Era of Disharmony.
A sentient race of crystalline beings possibly predating the Endless, the Harmony provides a very game-changing and unique strategy to the galaxy. Simply, the Harmony does not use and in fact abhor Dust. This means that the player cannot buy their way to victory as others can, and they must take time to destroy Dust while they destroy others, yet they are suitably structured to be very efficient at this. The Harmony has no Approval modifiers, their food and industry output is decreased by the presence of Dust. The tech required to destroy dust, Personal Shielding, is deep in the Galactic Warfare tech tree, thus ensuring a reliably aggressive style.
Instead of a tax rate, there is a sliding bar for “Body & Mind”, shifting the focus by percentages between food and science. The faction-specific technologies for late game center wholly around eliminating Dust, and their starting techs form them into a precise, numerous and lethal bunch of crystals. What is most fun is the absolute change in approach and tactics that a player of the Harmony must bring to the galaxy, changing the face and direction of Endless Space for all players who encounter them.
To Battle Amongst the Stars
Combat in Endless Space before Disharmony consisted of players choosing three aggressive or defensive cards over the course of battle, in order of range (long, medium, melee). Cards are revealed at the same time to see which counters which. Basically, it’s like rock-paper-scissors with a much wider array of galactic scissors and space rocks. Disharmony adds several new additions to the combat, which provide a much needed depth to every battle.
The first major element comes in the form of Formation and Targeting cards. These allow for a much greater diversity in strategies by adding two card options on top of the existing three. While Targeting can be changed on the fly during battles, Formations cannot. With the bonuses to defense and attack, the debuffs and utility that can be achieved through proper fleet preparation and battle strategy transform what was the entirety of combat in Endless Space into a mere portion of your military endeavors.
The second and largest addition is new Invasion mechanic. Once at war, players use a fleet of any ships orbiting an enemy planet undefended by other fleets. From there, it simply takes a number of turns to complete based on what defenses were built beforehand by the invaded faction, the size and population of the star system, and what techs or ships the invader brings.
Third, new units do provide more options with fighters and bombers, though this is simply an expansion of existing mechanics. These units allow the player much more pointed and customized fleets, sent to each system for a particular purpose.
Overall, these new additions to one of the most expansive and in-depth 4X strategy games on PC provide a great amount of new and game-changing content. What’s more, the price tag of $10 makes this an absolute steal. Though not necessarily perfect, it’s hard to find a single negative aspect in Disharmony.