I got my hands on Endless Legend yesterday. My entire knowledge of the game beforehand was based on screenshots, which looked wonderful.
Once I broke into the game, I was pleasantly surprised that it was a turn-based strategy game much like Civilization V. The twist here is that the races and units are based on fantasy rather than history.
The great selling point of this game, what sets it above its counterparts, is its battle system. When you encounter enemies, the hexagonal world map becomes the battle map. Now the game plays like a turn-based strategy RPG, similar to Heroes of Might and Magic. It's a more simplified version where you assign targets then initiate a round, instead of moving and attacking with each unit individually. This makes battles a lot faster, but certainly removes a lot of control.
The game extends this RPG concept to the units themselves. You can assign equipment to units, some of which cost special mined resources to produce. And there are hero units with skill trees, the typical fare.
The problem with this game is how close the rest of it is to Civilization. Despite having a deep battle component, the game still offers all the typical victory conditions, including diplomatic. You can win without ever touching the battle side of this game, and that just feels strange. And because I'm more compelled to expand my city and knowledge than to build an army, I find myself skipping out on the most interesting aspect of this game, and it saddens me.
It feels like the developers were too afraid to break from the Civilization mold, or that players would complain if they were forced into a military victory. But if I want a Civilization game, I'll just play Civilization. Endless Legend needs to put its strength on the forefront and modify the city expansion to more wholly incorporate the building of units.