PAX Online has played host to many interesting and exciting game demos this year, one of which is the bigger and better follow-up to the Mega Man X-like 20XX. The sequel, 30XX, is offering fans a very much improved and enhanced experience, something that was immediately made clear in the PAX demo. The game looks beautiful, controls well and sounds great on top of everything else. There’s more going on in 30XX though, so Hardcore Gamer sat down with Creative Lead Chris King to talk about all the developments that have him and the rest of the Batterystaple Games team excited for 30XX.
The first things discussed were all the major changes and developments the team has made for 30XX. Those who played 20XX will immediately notice that 30XX is now sporting a detailed pixel-art aesthetic, something King said fits the game nicely. It seems that the Batterystaple team wanted these sorts of visuals for 20XX too, but they just couldn’t make it happen due to their limitations at the time. Thanks to the moderate success of 20XX, though, they were able to have their desired art style and much more for 30XX.
The next big development fans are sure to notice is how different Nina and Ace are from one another now. The two focus on different styles just like they did in 20XX, but this time their move sets and attacks won’t start blending together as player progress through their runs. King says that while Nina is built more around shooting and fusing boss powers together, Ace is a more technical character. He’s all about combos, constantly using everything in his toolkit and making those tools better. Fans will have plenty of opportunities to experiment too, because 30XX is implementing a new feature called “Mega Mode,” which takes out the perma-death aspect of the game.
According to King, “Mega Mode” differs in a couple of key ways. The first is that if a player dies during their run, they’ll just be kicked back to the HQ screen. From there, they’ll be able to buy new power-ups and/or enhancements and then pick up their last level from the beginning. King says this is possible because 30XX generates Mega Mode instances as one big chunk rather than generating levels one at a time. He even mentioned that players can save their progress mid-run and return to it later if they want.
Mega Mode (like the rest of 30XX) also supports two-player multiplayer; the second player can come and go as they please from the HQ screen and the game will even supply them with resources equivalent to the first player in the interest of keeping things fun and even for both. Fans of 20XX’s perma-death and procedural generation needn’t worry though, as they haven’t been replaced by Mega Mode. Both qualities are still present and have been enhanced just like everything else.
During the interview, King revealed that 30XX has eight new level themes and bosses for players to tackle and that the procedural generation has become more sophisticated in order to keep the experience both challenging and fresh. A prime example of this is mini-bosses. King played through the demo during the interview and highlighted one of these during his run. He said that the rooms for mini-bosses can change shape and offer different hazards depending on when they show up in a run. This means that even though a player may have seen a boss or mini-boss before, they won’t necessarily be able to fight it in the same way. Players might even have a tougher time of it depending on when they meet these bosses and how they’ve chosen to enhance their character.
Stages are treated in a similar way. They’re stable in a sense that players will be able to judge how far they are in it based on a handful of level chunks, but the rest of it can vary. A certain section might look the same, but have different enemies, new hazards or a more sophisticated platforming challenge than it did before. King says the team is also mixing things up by offering players more “entropy conditions” and turning power-ups into choices. These entropy conditions are basically difficulty modifiers for levels or even entire runs. They can affect things like enemy health, enemy damage, player damage or even just outright put a death timer on the run. Playing with them on yields greater rewards, so skilled players will likely get some fun challenge out of them.
As for the power-ups, they’re treated like points players can spend at any time. King says this was done to give players more interesting choices from moment to moment. Will they choose to spend their points quickly and get small boost needed in the moment or will they save up their points and buy a powerful new ability? The choice is 100% theirs and it might even be a tough one to make at times.
With 30XX, King says that the team is has the game right where they want it to be. They have all the tools and baseline capabilities they’ve wanted since the 20XX days, so they’re currently planning long-term support for 30XX via updates and possibly more depending on what they and the fans want. King says that 30XX is the game they’ve always wanted to make, so there will be plenty to look forward to at launch and beyond.