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Endless Dungeon shows promise but its steep learning curve may alienate casual roguelite fans

Lost in space.

UPDATE 31st March 2023: Since publication of this piece, SEGA has been in touch to clarify a few things about Endless Dungeon's shared progression.

"Any story progress that you get with the hero that you are playing in a multiplayer game you do indeed get to keep on the main game. So, let's say you are playing Bunker and you advance her quest - that would still be the case on your 'main' game and any solo or other multiplayer games after that.

"When you play with a person who is hosting, you get to keep everything you earn, except for unlocking new heroes. So to clarify - any currency earned, quests advanced, hero chips, district keys, beverages, and any progression unlocked in a co-op game you can keep and take home to your main game.

"In short - all progression is shared apart from unlocking new heroes."

ORIGINAL STORY 30/03/23: I love a roguelike/lite, whatever they're called, and I've clocked up countless hours on things like Enter the Gungeon and The Binding of Isaac. Because of this I was the first to put my hand up for a trip to see the almost final build of Endless Dungeon, which described itself as 'roguelite tactical action game'. When it came time to play the game however, I was thrown in at the deep end and was, quite frankly, overwhelmed by the amount of mechanics there were to learn.

You see, Endless Dungeon isn't just a 'roguelite tactical action game' it's actually a 'roguelite, squad based, tactical action, twin stick shooter game with an RPG and tower defence twist'. That's why, in my preview video above which also includes a bunch of new gameplay that I captured during my three hour hands-on with the game, I've decided to not only talk about my time playing the game, but also give you the basics on all the key mechanics.

Well OK, it's not actually me, it's an alien bartender named EON, but the infomation available is still the same.

After you get to grips with the busy UI, the mish-mash of mechanics and the angry hordes, the twin-stick shooting starts to get quite moreish.

There's a lot to get your head around when you first start playing Endless Dungeon. Due to things like the resource management and turret placements through to the way each of the eight playable characters perform differently and how much movement is on screen at one time, being rushed through the levels by an experienced player was an aggravating way to learn the ropes. Initially I felt very out of my depth as other players raced ahead and did things I couldn’t see off-screen, which led to more and more confusion on my part.

While Endless Dungeon has been designed as an online multiplayer game, and this preview session was specifically held to demo this aspect, it wasn’t until I jumped in and tried it solo that I was able to take things at my own pace and work out exactly what was going on. In solo mode, you control two characters and can switch between them at will, or you can just stick with your favourite and issue some simple orders to your AI companion. Once you start to understand what rooms do what, how waves of enemies are triggered and all of the resource gathering mechanics, things get way more enjoyable. Due to the amount of strategic thinking involved in resource management and turret placements though, I do think people like me who just enjoy simple action roguelikes may find this one difficult to get into.

*spits drink* I'm sorry, Cartie, you're a what?!

Another aspect that may prove troubling to those looking forward to the game is its lack of shared progression (shoutout to PC Gamer's Mollie Taylor who discovered this). Players who join a host will still earn currency and resources to level up and buy perks for their chosen characters or weapons but, if they want to progess the story on their own save, they will need to host their own game or play it through solo.

Endless Dungeon is currently scheduled to release on May 18th but I did encounter a fair few bugs while playing it (the developer taking us through it filled a page of a notebook with fixes ranging from UI problems due to certain screen resolutions through to inexplicable hard freezes mid game) so perhaps it would benefit with a bit of extra time in the oven. Undercooked or not, Endless Dungeon is set to some out on PC, Playstation's 4 and 5 and Xbox One & Xbox Series X/S with a Switch release coming later down the line.

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