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Endless Dungeon Trailer
The PC Gaming Show: 2023 Preview trailer introduces the team
Endless Dungeon's latest trailer shows us more of the world and its unique characters. So far, four members of the roster have been announced: there's damage dealer Zed, AoE specialist Blaze, tanky robot Bunker, and Shroom, the support, who also narrates the trailer.
Endless Dungeon Gameplay
It's not a sequel to Dungeon of the Endless
Endless Dungeon’s connection to DOTE has been downplayed, but there are many of the same words in the title, and plenty of shared DNA, as both games trap a band of misfits in a science fiction setting. DOTE was a 2D, top-down and quasi-turn-based roguelite, asking you to explore a mysterious facility while protecting a powerful crystal on each floor. You clicked on an unexplored room to send one of your characters there, at which point time would advance, and probably some monsters would crawl out of a floor or wall panel.
Endless Dungeon keeps the central premise—a bunch of characters trapped together (this time on an abandoned space station), who have to protect yet another crystal from quartz-hungry monsters. However, nearly everything on the periphery has changed. The most striking difference is the perspective, of course. Endless Dungeon sports an isometric view, with beautifully fluid 3D animation and an art style bursting with colour and character. Weapon and ability effects fire off in dazzling firework displays, while comic-book-style text pops up to punctuate the action. It’s a game you really have to see in motion.
You directly control the characters now
Gone is the 'click here, do that' exploration and combat of DOTE, as Endless Dungeon grants you full control over your characters. You’ll move with the keyboard and aim with the mouse (or do the same with a controller), while using abilities that will help to turn the tide of combat. Abilities like Bunker’s Hunker move, which throws up a big protective dome that will also draw enemies towards it, or Blaze’s Brimstone, which launches heat-seeking bombs.
You can control the entire three-person squad yourself, swapping between them as necessary and letting the AI handle the others, or you can hop into a multiplayer game with up to two other people. Whichever way you play it, you’ll still be cautiously opening new rooms, and placing turrets down in floor nodes to help thin out the enemy, but you’ll have a lot more on your plate now that you’re fighting battles directly.
Enemies come in waves now
DOTE was a challenging game, but it allowed you to take your time between enemy incursions, as they would only spawn when you cracked open a new room. Not so here. Monsters will spawn every few minutes, as they seek to smash up your resource-gathering structures, and ultimately destroy the crystal—and if you let that happen it’s game over.
Amplitude has said in a Steam post that the purpose of the timed waves is to “create tension and a rhythm between quiet planning and frantic action”, though they’re not just based on a timer ticking down. Mysteriously, we’re told that our actions as we explore the dungeon will affect how soon the next wave appears, so it sounds like there’s some complex behind-the-scenes stuff going on. Timed waves are a big change from the previous game, but should result in a tenser experience, and one that has more in common with other tower defence games.
The crystal's got legs
DOTE was an atypical tower defence game, in that you had to physically pick up the tower (it’s a crystal, but you know what I mean) and carry it to the exit to advance to the next floor. That meant one of your party couldn’t participate in combat, as they were too busy lugging the mineral from room to room.
It’s all different now, as the crystal has legs—or rather, a dinky robot sitting beneath it, only too happy to shift the crystal around for you. That leaves all three heroes free to defend it with their lives, as the robot works its way to the exit point. On the way it will be attacked by monsters, so hopefully you took the time to plan its route, by placing turrets along the path and keeping the dungeon layout to a manageable size.
Opening doors is a risk
As in many roguelikes, there’s a tension between expediency and thoroughness in Endless Dungeon. You’ll want to power up and open as many rooms as you can get away with—they might contain loot, a merchant, or new nodes you can use to harvest resources—but they might also house a spawn point for that floor’s monsters. Uncover another spawn point and you’ll have even more monsters to deal with, next time the timer counts down to zero. Once uncovered, these nests can’t be destroyed.
A further wrinkle lies in the fact that you need to expend a rare resource to even open rooms, so you might not be able to explore the entire floor, even if you wanted to.
Once a room is powered up and its doors are opened, it will stay permanently switched on (unlike in DOTE, where you could turn rooms on and off to control the flow of monsters). If you decide to open a room, just be aware of the consequences. If you’ve already discovered the exit, is it worth the risk?
You won't have to completely start from scratch when you die
Endless Dungeon will have meta progression, meaning there will be a certain level of persistence after you inevitably die and have to restart the dungeon from the beginning. As in DOTE, you will unlock extra characters to play as, but you’ll also be able to improve your chances slightly by enhancing weapons and characters with in-game mods. Amplitude is largely aiming for unlockable options, however—additional ways to tackle the dungeon, not necessarily to make the game easier.