Yes, it is. Very. I’ll still elaborate on why, but if you’re wondering whether Tempest is a worthy successor to Endless Legend‘s [Review] past two DLCs, it is – and I say that as someone who thoroughly enjoyed playing as both the Forgotten and the Allayi. Like any strategy-game expansion worth its salt, Tempest doesn’t merely add or improve on the base game, it adds depth: the reworked ocean and sea-related aspects of the game are at the core of how the Morgawr, the new faction, play, but also heavily influence all other factions and alter the approaches you can take with any of them to consolidate your empire.
The guiding tenet behind the Tempest expansion is to give relevance to a part of the generated worlds that often surpasses the land regions in terms of size: the watery bits. There are new naval units, naval warfare, fortresses that allow you to project your dominance over the oceanic regions, alongside new quests, a weather system, a new minor faction and, of course, the seaborn Morgawr.
These seaweed-covered, constantly drenched pale creatures of the deep are shaped by their inherent advantage in controlling the seas and maintaining said control. This is done in direct ways with their starting technologies, which includes the Shipyard, the ability to embark and disembark at no cost, and two of their faction-specific units, which are naval and superior to their Fomorian counterparts, available to everyone. While these direct traits guide them into naval supremacy, the incentive to stick to the waters, building coastal cities and conquering as many sea fortresses as possible without giving the same amount of attention to your land-based affairs, is consolidated by their other exclusive traits.
The Morgawr can control roaming armies at the cost of influence, paying a higher upkeep but being able to make any neutral army – be it just walking, or even raiding or pillaging your possessions – a controlled unit, reducing the need to have a standing military to protect their cities. Their Black Spot ability also has an added effect, as by allowing the player to declare any other empire open for aggression from all empires (without the ability to retaliate), they can quickly poach enemy-controlled sea regions without being dragged into a full-scale conflict.
Playing as the Morgawr felt like I was in control of an empire of raiders and opportunists. They’re not as capable on land as other empires, favoring a geography that allows them to isolate themselves on islands and entirely stop enemies from venturing into their territory via naval patrols, all the while harassing their foes by means of their Seeds of Dissent, which turn a pacified village into a hostile one, or the various uses of the Black Spot: one moment in particular that I enjoyed was when a Necrophage empire had just conquered a contested oceanic region, a turn earlier than an incoming Wild Walkers navy could’ve taken for themselves, and by placing a Black Spot on the Necrophages I pushed the Wild Walkers into clearing the Necrophage navy, at the same time opening the fortresses there up to foreign conquest (by that I mean my conquest).
This maritime-focused gameplay of the Morgawr is only possible, of course, due to the improved naval mechanics mentioned above. The weather system creates several conditions over the sea tiles, from fogs that conceal armies, allowing for unexpected ambushes, to waves and seaweed that increase or decrease your movement speed, all of which also have an effect during battle. The Fomorian minor faction gives you plenty of new quests to pursue and their sea fortresses, enclaves you can capture that give you FIDS and resources, allow you to project your empire’s influence into the seas, coloring the oceanic regions with your banner and giving your navies free reign over the region. There’s also a roaming, end-game Sea Monster, similar to the Guardians in power, which you can try and slay for its riches.
Tempest introduces a whole new layer of gameplay to Endless Legend, one that’s best explored by the Morgawr but that can still be used by the other factions, similar to the Forgotten and Allayi and their expansion’s exclusive mechanics. As I’ve come to expect, there’s the usual level of Amplitude polish to it – from the questlines to the artwork for the Morgawr and Fomorians – and plenty of content that’ll give a new spin to any match, regardless of who you’re playing. It maintains Endless Legend’s asymmetric nature and gives players a whole new system to explore and exploit, making the game deeper than it’s ever been – in all senses possible.