Explore, expand, exploit, exterminate – the 4X genre is like a dream come true for the grand strategist minds out there.
We’ve got plenty of great 4X games to choose from, but some of you may find yourselves in a situation, where it’s only possible to choose between Stellaris or Endless Space 2. And that would be a surprisingly difficult choice to make, but today we’ll try our best to help you pick will suit your needs better, according to your personal preferences.
Which of the two you should pick next? Let’s find out together.
Endless Space 2
Endless Space 2 is a turn-based 4X strategy where you will be able to control one of the 8 major factions in order to conquer the galaxy through various means, from combat to diplomacy.
Each faction has its own sense of identity and plays differently from the rest – all factions stand out for different reasons, giving each faction a unique gameplay experience whenever you choose to play with something new. There is an option to create your own faction, but it’s very limited, at least when compared to what Stellaris has to offer – whatever you will make, it will be based on one of the already existing factions anyway.
The game may feel overwhelming at first, but after just a few game sessions you will quickly learn what each of the visual indicators does and what each of the displayed numbers means. The game is easier to pick up, which means that you can start having fun quicker. You also don’t need to have too many additional DLCs to enjoy the game to its full extent, as it feels whole and complete right off the bat in its original form.
|Grand strategy, 4X
|Paradox Development Studio
Stellaris is a grand strategy game that has more in common with a sandbox game that has some role-playing elements thrown into the mix than with an actual 4X game.
It’s also surprisingly easy to get into, at least when compared to other Paradox games – Endless Space 2 is still more accessible, especially for newcomers to the whole 4X thing.
Stellaris allows players to create their own custom faction in a more detailed and personalized way – that’s the role-playing part. You can make your very own playable faction and customize a number of its aspects to satisfy your own needs and improve immersion.
Stellaris is a game that requires more patience – games take longer, even to the point of becoming tedious during later stages. On the other hand, there are also more randomly generated events and random stuff in general, which greatly increases the game’s replayability, as no two playthroughs feel exactly the same. To get the most out of the experience, however, prepare to spend a few bucks here and there to get at least some of the paid DLCs.
Both games are more or less 4X strategies, which means that you will spend most of your time managing your fleet, developing your planets, and taking care of the resources to be able to explore nearby star systems in order to conquer them and make them part of your galactic empire.
Games in Endless Space 2 are shorter and more dynamic, which may sound weird, considering the fact that ES 2 is a turn-based game. Stellaris, on the other hand, is a real-time strategy with an option that allows players to pause the game at will. All in all, turn-based or real-time, it’s not as big of a difference as you may be thinking – in Stellaris you are encouraged to pause the game often to issue orders anyway, which ultimately leads to quite similar gameplay in this regard.
It’s worth noting that Stellaris feels more like a sandbox, where you can role-play your custom faction and just play around with it, while Endless Space 2 focuses on the actual gameplay, where each of the already created factions has its own unique identity to it. If you don’t care about role-playing, ES 2 may be a better choice.
Accessibility and Learning Curve
When it comes to accessibility and the learning curve, Endless Space 2 is a winner, hands down. Sure, at first it may look complex and even overwhelming to newer players, but it takes no more than a few game sessions to familiarize yourself with all the important elements and gameplay mechanics.
Stellaris feels bigger and it’s more of a grand experience – it’s harder to get through the initial newbie barrier, but once you manage to do that, there’s much more to enjoy. In other words, Stellaris is much harder to learn, but the rewards for not giving up are also much more substantial. If you’re willing to put time and effort into learning everything there is about Stellaris, it’s probably the game for you. Otherwise, if you want a game that doesn’t require a degree in space strategies, Endless Space 2 might be a worthier alternative.
Although both games come with a number of customization options, they are more meaningful in Stellaris, which is considered more of a sandbox game, where you are supposed to role-play and simply have fun with a faction you’ve made.
In Endless Space 2, you can create a custom faction, but it doesn’t feel unique in any way – in fact, you are simply picking one of the already existing factions and then you add some tweaks here and there to personalize it. With that being said, the default factions are amazing enough to warrant a pleasant and varied gameplay experience, but in terms of customization, Stellaris has the edge, as it allows players to create their very own faction from scratch. Sure, it’s still limited by the game’s gameplay mechanics and must obey certain rules, but there is certainly much more flexibility when compared to ES 2.
Although Stellaris gives players more freedom of choice when it comes to designing their fleet, the combat itself doesn’t feel that great and it’s – subjectively speaking – inferior to what Endless Space 2 has to offer. It’s still more or less like watching a cinematic once two fleets engage in combat in either of the games, but at least ES 2 features certain tactical options that can be used during battle to gain the upper hand if used correctly. In Stellaris, all you can do after the combat starts is to order your fleet to retreat.
There is one more thing that needs to be mentioned, though – battles in Stellaris are much bigger in terms of scale. If epic clashes are what you’re looking for, then sacrificing tactical options offered by ES 2 in favor of the more massive combat experience offered by Stellaris may be a good idea.
Both games look nice, but we should all agree that Endless Space 2 is a winner here. Maybe not by a huge margin, but the ships simply look better and are more detailed, which is an important factor if you’d like to watch how your spaceships shred through the enemy vessels. On the other hand, watching the encounters in close-up view won’t happen too often, as you’d rather focus on the management part than admire the views. It’s a strategy game, after all – the visuals don’t make that much of a difference.
Let’s just say that ES 2 is a feast for the eyes, while Stellaris is a tasty dinner.
Storyline and Lore
Neither game have a classic story going on, but Endless Space 2 at least provides players with some deep lore related to the existing factions. Stellaris, on the other hand, is about tailoring your own story – the galaxy is your oyster and you are encouraged to make the most of it. You are free to come up with some ridiculous ideas, but no matter how cool it will turn out to be, it will all be thanks to your own imagination and creativity, not to the game itself.
When it comes to downloadable content, Stellaris may have more things in the store for players to offer, but at the same time, it feels like the base game is missing too much stuff that should have been shipped together with the original game.
Endless Space 2, on the other hand, may have less content in form of paid DLCs, but it’s a bigger game with more features that are available out of the box, without the need to spend more on extra packs.
If you’re fine with the fact that to fully enjoy Stellaris it’s pretty much mandatory to get most if not all of the available DLCs, you should go for it. Some of Stellaris drawbacks that we mentioned earlier are entirely fixed by the DLCs – you get more content, more endgame, more random stuff, and so on. Otherwise, if you expect to get a game that will be fun to play right after the initial purchase, Endless Space 2 may be a safer and more budget-friendly choice.
To sum it up, Endless Space 2 and Stellaris are quite different games, and depending on your own personal needs you will end up choosing one or the other. None of the games is objectively superior to the other – they both simply scratch different kinds of itches.
If you’re not afraid of the steep learning curve in Stellaris and you value sandbox role-playing experience more than anything else, it may be a game made for you. You need to make sure, however, that you have some bucks left for the game’s DLCs – otherwise your Stellaris experience may feel lackluster. If you’re on a budget or you prefer easier but prettier games with more varied and tighter-packed gameplay, Endless Space 2 is probably the one you should go for instead.