As a culmination of a lot of different things, Endless Dungeon has the potential to be the new favourite game for a certain subset of the game playing audience. As part of the long-running “Endless” series, this is a very different take on things, and Amplitude Studios has put away the 4x strategy gaming pedigree for now, in favour of making a twin-stick tower defence dungeon crawler. It’s a lot of buzz-words, for sure, but it works and the game itself could be serious fun with friends.
Rather than ditching the past entirely, though, Endless Dungeon is a reaction to what fans enjoyed. The studio explained during a presentation that the co-op of previous games was an afterthought, but went down well that it became the basis for an idea for a new game. So that’s why this new title is a three-player experience that, while in missions, is a very, very shared experience, and will require a lot of communication to get through successfully.
While it looks the business, with a gorgeous aesthetic, it also has tight shooting, responsive movement, meaning it has all the trappings of the best the genre has to offer. Here, your loot and health packs are shared, meaning you really do need to communicate with your team so nobody is being selfish with the goodies.
But Endless Dungeon actually goes one further here with its unique ideas. As a wave based dungeon crawler, doors are locked everywhere. Every time you open a door, resources are added to your pool, and this can be enhanced further by finding generators and picking one of the three resources to increase with every door opened. The reason you need these is because that’s how you build your tower defences.
Essentially, each mission is an escort type, making sure a crystal makes it safely to the end of the level, and getting increasingly more and more difficult as you progress. All the while you’re increasing your persistent goodies, upgrading your canteen (read: hub), enhancing your heroes, and generally getting better. Littered along every room are spots to place turrets, starting with a simple gun, you can find research stations to unlock new turret-types for each run. Want a flamethrower turret to fend off bugs weak to fire? Do some research, fend off a wave, unlock the turret.
While the crystal “tower”, as such, is safe for most of the mission, it’s when moving that everything becomes carnage. Even with three human players, the difficulty gets on top of you quickly, and how you’ve laid your defences matters. In fact, how you’ve secured your route matters, too. If you’ve opened every door everywhere, that means the baddies, whether they’re bugs, robots, or anything else, can get to your crystal quicker, and make your life hell.
The tactics matter, then, but so does team composition. Each of the playable characters are of a type: support, DPS, tank, etc. Furthermore, each has a special move, and an ultimate ability that is relevant to the class. The DPS I tried could enhance everyone who stayed near them, or shoot an electric bolt out to do big damage. The support can heal with souls collected from kills, and the tank can smash down a shield to damage and push enemies back. Some weapons found can only be equipped by certain types, and loot will fire out in a way that someone can’t selfishly grab it all, or so it seems.
In truth, even after a few hours it was barely all beginning to click. This is a complex game that demands concentration and hard work. If you have a rogue player running off and doing his or her own thing, you’re going to be in trouble pretty quickly. As such, I’d suggest that early impressions put this in that Rainbow Six Siege style bracket of games you’d only want to play solo (which you can do, with an AI partner) or with people you know and trust.
It has to be said, too, that while it’s due in May, there were a few bugs that’ll need to be ironed out before then. The developer I played with was pretty confident that most of the issues I experience were down to the newly pushed build for the preview session, and I think it’s fair to take that at face value.
That said, Endless Dungeon is showing promising early signs. For those that love the Diablo-style loot game, or roguelike genre, this is that, but it’s also a twin-stick shooter tower defence game as well. With full controller support, and persistent options for improving your character from the get-go, there’s no reason you should ever feel like you’re bashing your head against the difficulty, either.
Endless Dungeon is coming to PC in May, and is also confirmed for consoles.