How Endless Dungeon Redefines Roguelite With Tower Defense Tactics

The first thing you need to know about Endless Dungeon is that it is not your standard roguelite. There are familiar components in how you play, but this isometric sci-fi shooter requires you to strategize your defence just as boldly as your offense. I found out exactly why in a recent hands-on with the upcoming game.

Endless Dungeon is a follow-up to 2014’s Dungeon of the Endless, but it is described to us as a “spiritual successor” rather than an all-out sequel. It looks and plays a lot differently, with a more vibrant 3D aesthetic and a new control system for players. The first game unfolds primarily in a turn-based style, whereas Endless Dungeon puts you in direct control of your characters’ movements and attacks. But that change is only part of what makes Endless Dungeon a fascinating new experiment in the genre.

The core dungeon loop is still present in Endless Dungeon; your character is dropped on an abandoned space station, and the only way to escape is to escort your Crystal_bot to The Core. While we’re unsure what is in The Core, we do know that’s absolutely imperative to reach it unscathed. Unfortunately, there are waves upon waves of monsters in between you and The Core, and it’s up to you to take them out while, crucially, making sure your fragile robot companion remains safe. That constant back-and-forth is what marks this game out as different from its peers. Endless Dungeon is a dance between blasting forward to discover as much loot as possible, while making sure your defenses are top notch and capable of protecting your Crystal_bot, research stations, and — if you’re playing with a group — fellow teammates.

Endless Dungeon stands out from the roguelite crowd because your defenses require forethought and proactivity; you’ll need to be prepared for threats before they even arrive. A room full of bugs will benefit from a deftly placed flamethrower, or a swarm of robots can be kept in check with electrical EMP blaster turret. However, you’ll need to research how to build these, and make you have enough resources to dedicate to it before the waves begin. All of this makes this the rare roguelite in which skill isn’t just about the moment-to-moment combat, but in learning how enemies work, and countering them.

You’ll progress through the station room by room in classic roguelite fashion, clearing the area while hunting for resources that’ll aid you in your journey. This can be offense inventory such as devastating elemental guns; it can be revelatory, in the form of new lore; or you can add upgrades to the turrets than can be placed as defenses in any area you’ve previously been to during your current run.

Your team’s resources are also shared, so if components are scarce, you’ll have to collaborate on what to spend it on. Perhaps the decision to push on into another room will turn into a fatal mistake if your resources are misplaced – collaboration is truly a necessity, and sticking together can sometimes be more important than progressing.

It’s this blend of tower defense, tactical gameplay and roguelite that makes Endless Dungeon feel unique. The primary objective is to blast your way through the station room by room, while mowing through the hordes along the way, while crafting a safe path to escort the Crystal bot out of the area and into the next one. Some rooms contain monster spawners, and the more you unlock, the more overwhelming these waves will become. Even opening doors requires strategy; if you enter a new room that’s too close to your Crystal bot, it might allow swarms to reach and chew it apart faster. If you’re unlucky, you’ll trigger a rare, deadlier wave with much tougher enemies. This is an extremely rare occurrence, (although we encountered this on our third wave, making for some extra chaos).

Once your character dies (and they will) you’ll be transported back to a hub world known as The Saloon, which is oozing with space western appeal. Creative Director Jean-Maxime Moris tells us that this area draws inspiration from the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars’ Cantina scenes to create a space that attracts a humdrum of oddballs.

Here, you can switch up your character’s look, grab a drink at the bar that will give you a selection of enhancements, or check out the library to read up on the monsters you’ve encountered. While you don’t necessarily need prior knowledge of this world to jump into Endless Dungeon, existing fans will also find connections to previous instalments in this loosely connected universe. And, of course, the more you know about your enemies, the better equipped you’ll be to take them down, and help your team survive just that little bit longer in the next run.

It’s all the more motivation to get stuck back into another round, and if our playtime was anything to by, there will be many, many more rounds of Endless Dungeon when it launches May 18.

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ENDLESS™ Dungeon

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Pre-Order ENDLESS™ Dungeon now and get your hands (or tentacles) on exclusive content! – Standard Game
– ‘Pioneer Elite’ Skin Pack (3 hero skins, 4 weapon skins, 1 Crystal Bot Skin) (Early Adopter Bonus) WE GOT TURRETS AND WE GOT GUNS You’re stranded on an abandoned space station chock-full of monsters and mysteries. To get out you’ll have to reach The Core, but you can’t do that without your crystal bot. That scuttling critter is your key to surviving the procedurally generated rooms of this space ruin. Sadly, it’s also a fragile soul, and every monster in the place wants a piece of it. You’re going to have to think quick, plan well, place your turrets, and then… fireworks! Bugs, bots and blobs will stop at nothing to turn you and that crystal into dust and debris. With a large choice of weapons and turrets, the right gear will be the difference between life and death. RIDE SOLO OR GIDDY UP WITH FRIENDS You can face the horrors of the Station riding solo, or squad up and run the gauntlet in 3 player co-op. Once you’ve got your posse, plan your moves. Pick their weapons from a wide choice ranging from flamethrowers to poison snipers. When you’re set, enter the Station to take on a character’s quest, take a stab at escaping, or just go loco on the locals. You’ll likely die trying, but hey, that’s the way it goes in this space dungeon! ASSEMBLE YOUR RECKLESS SQUAD Prepare to meet a cast of colorful heroes all gunning for the same goal: to get the hell out! Each brings their own cards to the table. There’s tanky Bunker who’ll soak up damage, fiery Blaze who loves to blow stuff up, or maybe Shroom who’ll heal her squadmates with her “unusual” incense. Select your heroes to build the team that works for you. As you get to know them, you’ll learn that they all have their own particular motivations and secrets… MONSTERS, DANGERS, SECRETS AND TREASURES, OH MY! Escaping means overcoming all the dangers of the Station. Yup, all of them. Deadly robots, merciless monsters, loot, and giant beasts await you at every corner. The deeper you delve into this scrap heap, the more you’ll discover its tragic history. Why does the Station reel in any ship that flies too close? Why do you come back every time you kick the bucket? No matter how familiar you are with the ENDLESS™ Universe, the Station has more stories to tell. THE MORE DYIN’, THE MORE GROWIN’ Hate to break it to you, this won’t be easy and you might die… a lot. But that’s okay, because every time you do, you get reloaded back into the Saloon. Think of it as your center of operations (and beverages), where you can upgrade your heroes and weapons, unlock new paths to The Core, chat with the locals, listen to tunes, and drink boosting (and delicious) libations. Then, jump back into the Station and try to get out — again.

[This article originally appeared on Xbox Wire]

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