Endless Dungeon First Run Open Dev (PC) Preview

Endless Dungeon First Run Open Dev Preview 1

The creators of great 4X games like Humankind and the innovative roguelike RPG, tower-defense game, Dungeon of the Endless (DOTE) introduced their latest, exhilarating project. CGMagazine was invited to explore the world and experience the gameplay of Endless Dungeon’s Open Dev preview—a spiritual successor to DOTE. The team at Amplitude Studios and Sega were thrilled to show off this ambitious adventure back into the space dungeon world that evolved in all aspects.

After the presentation and live digital hands-on event, I was able to take part in a group Q&A session with Endless Dungeon’s Narrative Director, Jeff Spock, and Lead Game Designer, Arthur Prudent. I was able to find out more about the game that was not covered in the other portions of the event, and then, I had the special opportunity to sit down with the Chief Creative Officer and Studio Head, Romain de Waubert, and the Creative Director, Jean-Maxime Moris, to discuss where this game fits in the Endless universe and what it means for the future.

As a disclaimer, I have never played DOTE, but I was able to watch some gameplay beforehand to get the general gist of where this loose sequel was going. I had played the studio’s latest release, Humankind and I liked the strategy elements in that game, so I brought that knowledge into the hands-on experience. As for previous experiences with this genre, I played Moonlighter, which was a more relaxed action roguelike game. For tower-defense games, I had only played titles like Bloons TD from my childhood/pre-teen era.

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Endless Dungeon is a game where multiple space travellers have been sucked up and marooned in a space dungeon that allows them to explore and escape. Many have tried to escape, and many have failed. They do not die in the dungeon, but they respawn in a hub for some miraculous reason. To beat the game, players simply have to escort the Crystal Bot through various sections and levels while traversing to a potential escape ship/pod and get out of the space dungeon. The problem is that endless waves of monsters stand in the players’ way.

Surprisingly when I jumped into the Endless Dungeon world for the first time in this Open Dev preview, I did not die after the first wave of enemies. The presentation portion prior broke down the basic mechanics fairly well. For this build, I was only able to test out three characters: Zed (Zédoé), Bunker and Blaze—sadly no Shroom yet, even though he was teased in the trailer.

Zed was a solid Berserker class character (or DPS) who used heavy weapons to deal quick, overwhelming damage. Her Special Skill fired an audio wave that kills monsters in a straight line, perfect for narrow hallways or long lines of mobs. Bunker was more of a Tank/Support character who used handguns to cause damage and her shield to slow down monsters—also repaired turrets faster. Her Special Skill was deploying her shield and knocking back/stunning monsters in front of her within a sizable rectangle space.

Blaze was a little more intricate to learn with his Sniper class kit of heavy weapons and explosives. His Special Skill was being able to place three charges of explosives on the floor as traps, per wave. Each hero was able to carry two weapons that fit their class and one device/item to improve their hero stats.

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The intended run for the full game is to have three members before entering the dungeon, but this build only allowed me to select two—also, I had to control both since I was playing solo. I thought these three heroes were a great start to experiment with different team compositions because they each synergized in several ways.

As with most RPG/strategy games like World of Warcraft or League of Legends, high damage and tanky characters tend to be a nice balance. After multiple tries, I found Zed and Bunker, or Blaze and Bunker to be the most well-rounded compositions. Having both DPS heroes, Zed and Blaze together could have worked, but I thought it was tough to manage without someone tanking the damage or providing supportive slows against enemies.

The standard gameplay was simple enough: explore by opening doors to find the path to the level exit or checkpoint, resources or equipment; prepare for monster mobs by building turrets in available slots; and protecting the Crystal Bot by all means (otherwise, it was game over). For players experienced with DOTE, the resources stayed the same with Science, Industry and Food being primary—and Dust and Medikits were secondary resources.

Opening more doors helped generate these resources but also opened more paths for potential enemy spawns. I was a bit lost with how the resource generating worked in terms of the long game strategy but eventually learned the tricks of the trade. I was only allowed 24 hours with this Open Dev build, but I found myself glued to this game for hours.

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At first, I was disappointed with the lack of available roguelike elements that would have come with rewards from dying, but the developers mentioned they would be available in the full game. Spock and Prudent explained how craftable cocktails would be an important aspect of going into runs because they would grant players buffs for the party prior to the run—so the reason was justified as it was a feature still in development.

The level design of the random map generator in each run was stunning with many rooms having holes and added a third dimension to the game. It was like peering down a peephole filled with a beautiful chasm of lush green forests and waterfalls. There was only one level in the Procedural Factory that seemed like the level was not fully completed as a certain part looked like I should not have been able to walk over it. Otherwise, every room looked up to par and the squares on the ground to build turrets were distinguished enough to see.

While there was no linear story for this style of game, the conversations and voice lines gave hints of personalities and storylines to come. Aside from the hero trailers that provided some backstory on certain characters, the dialogue in the lobby teased some other names of potentially some other upcoming heroes to play in the full game. With the chillaxing music and monsters constantly trying to kill me or the Crystal, I was enthralled and immersed in the Endless Dungeon world.

I cannot wait to see how the roguelike elements will play and how multiplayer will be with three players in total. Both de Waubert and Moris explained that they wanted the focus of Endless Dungeon to be on the multiplayer aspect and push the game to be primarily played with controllers versus mouse and keyboard. I found the mouse was more accurate with regular shooting and pointing my Special Skills but the controls, aside from movement on keyboard, were not as great as with my gaming controller.

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For fans who remember the characters from DOTE and are wondering if they will see a return in Endless Dungeon, the short answer was no. De Waubert joked “they’re all dead” while Moris explained that while they wanted to keep the essence of DOTE, they also wanted to push other avenues into more action and console gaming. Moris continued that this was their “first time pushing for console gaming in mind” versus PC, even though the game will be on both.

When asked about whether Endless Dungeon would be too redundant in its original game, de Waubert and Moris explained how they have “redefined the genre as no one else has” with the game being a roguelike, twin-stick shooter and RPG. Moris expanded that he “hoped they would have more decades” to create more games as they “continued to innovate” new ideas and concepts for games with players in mind.

I also hope they stick around for a few more decades as I am loving this genre mashup that somehow works in a straightforward way and looked absolutely stunning. If you loved DOTE or other roguelike games like Hades or Binding of Isaac, this will be like the beefed-up version that will be accessible and made for console gamers for the first time. Time to grab some controllers and reel in some friends to tackle the Endless Dungeon!

De Waubert and Moris commented that there was no official release date on their game yet, as it is still in early development, and they encouraged lots of community feedback as the First Run Open Dev will be open by invitation soon. Signups have already started and will launch on June 30th. Endless Dungeon is coming soon to PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch and Steam (PC).

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