Endless Space is a turn-based strategy game based on the 4X concept set in space. Players select one of the eight available factions to dominate space through economic or scientific advances, military interventions or diplomacy. Instead of scenarios the game offers a sandbox approach where the parameters and victory conditions can be defined for each match. The characteristics of each faction can also be altered to suit a specific playing style.
From the starting position the player can colonize star systems with different planets. Based on the population's approval taxes can be imposed but they mainly serve as a means to gather the four resources: food, industry, science and dust, of which the latter is the main currency in the game. A fleet can be assembled by building custom ships where each element, both offensive and defensive, can be defined. Space battles are not played out as in a real-time strategy game. Instead, general orders can be issued along with small interventions, even though they are presented in 3D with a cinematic camera angle. Different heroes can be hired to improve morale and guide the fleet. The game contains an extensive tech tree with a plethora of advances based around four domains: Exploration and Expansion, Applied Sciences, Diplomacy and Trade, and Galactic Warfare. Further game elements include rogue pirates and random planet anomalies.
Online multiplayer is available for up to eight players. The host can define the parameters and it is also possible to impose a time limit per turn. The game includes the GAMES2GETHER initiative where players can participate in the development process and vote on future objectives, art, design and expansions.
This retail release requires a Steam account to activate it, download content and play the game. It is not clear if this retail release also provides access to the additional content of Endless Space (Admiral Edition), which was initially the default digital download release. If that is the case, the two releases are identical and should be considered a single game entry.