30XX early access impressions - Bustin' bots in the far-off future

Batterystaple Games' Mega Man-styled roguelike run-and-gun platformer has hit Steam early access, so we gave it several run-throughs.

2

30XX has been constantly on my radar since I first played an early demo version on the Indie-licious livestream back in 2020. Since then, there have been plenty of cool updates, new levels, music, features… all leading up to the recent launch of the game in Steam early access. Recently, I returned to the far future, and the randomized roguelike run-and-gun platforming of 30XX is feeling as good as ever with a solid wealth of content to show for it.

The fourth millennium is looking roguelike

For those who may have missed it, 30XX is the sequel to Batterystaple’s previous game, 20XX. This new title brings a fresh art style, new features, and brand new levels to a similar theme, which is playing through Mega Man-style levels where the entire layout is completely different each time you play. In its Standard Mode, you will play as far as you can through a random mix of the game’s available levels. Each features equally re-arranged obstacles and pitfalls on your way to defeating the level’s mid-boss and primary boss.

Both Nina and Ace return in the game as nods to X and Zero respectively from the Mega Man X games in that Nina can fire small shots and charge for a big buster shot while Ace has a laser sword that can be used to launch combo slashes. Both have fun upgrades to them as you beat levels. For instance, Ace can discover different melee weapons like a hammer or abilities like being able to do an fiery uppercut. Meanwhile, Nina can unlock powers like being able to launch a large gravity ball forward or emit a vertical tornado from her being. Both have unique advantages that are fun to play in both solo and co-op modes, and you can further augment them with power-ups like being able to use charge attacks twice per charge or sometimes getting an armor hit point when you pick up health.

Last year when I played early demos of 30XX, the only levels available at the time were the Echocave and Burning Temple biomes. We would go on to learn of the Clock Zone in a following interview with Batterystaple Games lead Chris King. However, the early access version of 30XX brought three more biomes into play, each with their own music, enemies, level gimmicks, mid-bosses, and final bosses. Each is slick as heck, brings interesting threats and wrinkles to the game, and features a wealth of platforming challenges. I think one of my favorites was the Absolution biome because not only does it feature an interesting futuristic dark church theme, but there are spots in the level where you can use angled platforms to launch enemy attacks away from you and occasionally back at foes.

Your preferred platforming

In its Standard Mode of play, 30XX is a roguelike game. That means that you go until you die and then start at the beginning, losing any powers and power-ups you gained along the way are lost when you die to foes. There are currencies you get to keep that can strengthen you permanently, such as increased health or the ability to auto charge weapons even when not holding the fire button. However, the core experience of going as far as you can either to succeed 100 percent or start back at zero in the vein of Dead Cells or Binding of Isaac is still here.

That’s why I’m happy to share they created an alternate mode for people who don’t like that style of play: Mega Mode. Mega Mode presents you with a standard style of Mega Man level select screen. It still takes you back to the hub to use your permanent resources and power-up when you die, but instead of making you start a run all over, it allows you to pick levels at your leisure, go at them as much as you want, and keep your progress once you’ve finished a level. It’s a great way to make 30XX feel a little bit more like a typical Mega Man-style game while still giving players all of the robust platforming and action the game has to offer.

On the other end of things, if you’re looking for more of a challenge, 30XX also provides you with the tools to help you suffer as well. There’s a difficulty modifier system that’s accessible in both Standard and Mega Mode versions of the game. In this menu is a number of unique features you can toggle to make the game harder, including making spikes, pits, and lava hazards do more damage, making levels longer, and giving bosses and mid-bosses more health to name a few. By toggling these features, you can increase the amount of permanent resources that can be gained when you complete levels too, so there’s rewards to go with your desire for a bigger challenge.

30XX even has a Level Editor system in which you can create and upload chunks of levels to be used in the overall level-building of various biomes. There’s a neat tutorial to show you how to use what’s on offer and a wealth of tools to craft sections to your heart’s content that can then be used in your randomly-generated levels. You can also download the chunks created by other players to change up your levels even further. I didn’t see any way to manually craft an entire level just yet, but you can create very large sections at once, and what’s available is still a robust and uniquely creative way to change up your levels if you feel like you’re seeing any particular patterns a little too often.

30XXceptional

30XX has come such a long way from even where I saw it last year to arrive here in early access. Between the fun new added biomes, Mega Mode, difficulty modifiers, and robust level chunk creator, the content that has come to the game since its humble two-level demo is all pretty great. What’s more, Batterystaple seems to have a pretty good idea of where it’s headed next with hints and teases throughout the the game. I was already impressed with how they had upgraded the core gameplay, visuals, and music to make 30XX a proper evolution of 20XX, but with all of the new added features, this one is sure to please any platforming fan whether you dig roguelikes or not.


These impressions are based upon an early access Steam copy provided by the publisher. 30XX is available in early access on Steam as of February 17, 2021.

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola