For the majority of its life, Amplitude Studios’ Endless series has remained focused on delivering 4X strategy experiences, but perhaps its brightest spark so far has been Dungeon of the Endless, a roguelite action title that has endeared itself to many since its launch nearly a decade ago. Now, the developer is ready to come out with a sequel in the form of Endless Dungeon, and it’s shaping up to be an exciting follow-up. From the way it’s evolving its approach to multiplayer co-op to the significant changes it’s making to the combat to how gorgeous its art style has looked in all that we’ve seen of it so far, Endless Dungeon has looked increasingly promising with each of its showings thus far. We recently reached out to its developers with a few of our most burning questions about the game and what it will bring to the table when it launches in October. Below, you can read our interview with creative director Jean-Maxime Noris.
"We knew from day one that co-op would juice up the experience and be at its heart. Going to consoles and giving direct control over characters to players, we soon realized that things got stale quickly with the original’s turn-based approach to enemy waves. Hence real time was introduced so that both solo and multiplayer would keep players on their toes for hours on end."
What was behind the decision to take the franchise back to the Dungeon line, so to speak? Was there ever a discussion early on in development to maybe do something entirely new?
We wanted to make Endless Dungeon for many reasons. The original, Dungeon of the Endless team enjoyed the project, and a core of the Amplitude community also really enjoyed it. The game was a strange hybrid, but it resonated strongly with a lot of players, who for instance, kept talking to us about the fantastic times they had with the original’s multiplayer.
We also really liked the “space Western” atmosphere and found that it would make a very interesting and enjoyable setting when combining and contrasting the science fiction elements with the cowboy/Western elements.
Finally, while we enjoy doing our big 4X games, it is also fun to sometimes work on a different style and scope of strategy / tactical game!
Of course, we also like to develop brand-new concepts, but in this case, going back to the dungeon was a no-brainer!
Endless Dungeon is placing a much greater emphasis on multiplayer than Dungeon of the Endless. Can you talk about how that shift in focus came about, and what are the biggest changes you’re making to accommodate that shift?
Whenever we spoke with our community, whether online or at real-life get-together events, what kept coming back (aside from the game’s unique mix of genres) was how much fun it was to play it with friends and coordinate efforts to beat the game. One bad decision could mean the end of a run, so the pressure was real and made for some exhilarating situations and laughs!
So we knew from day one that co-op would juice up the experience and be at its heart. Going to consoles and giving direct control over characters to players, we soon realized that things got stale quickly with the original’s turn-based approach to enemy waves. Hence real time was introduced so that both solo and multiplayer would keep players on their toes for hours on end!
What was behind the decision to reduce the number of players in co-op from four to three for Endless Dungeon?
Originally the game allowed players to control four heroes in single player; running around to protect the generators and the crystal is already a challenge and doing that with four characters became extremely complex for both the player’s cognitive load and simple things like camera position and movement. In the same way, as Endless Dungeon does not have the level design of a more linear or channeled shooter, MP with four people seemed too overwhelming for the player to manage in combination with everything else, so we decided to make it a three player co-op which, with player feedback, seemed to make it just the right balance for the player to have fun while at the same time still challenging.
"Unleashing a devastating guitar riff attack, slowing down enemies with a wave of detergent, or healing your crew with a whirlwind of plant aromas are only a few of the ways Endless Dungeon’s heroes will stand out in combat."
What level of variety can players expect from the game’s roster of playable characters, in terms of both design and what they will play like?
Just like in the original, heroes are defined by several stats that will allow them to be more DPS or defense-oriented, move or repair turrets faster…
On top of that, heroes have distinct passive, active, and ultimate skills that can turn the tide of battle in various ways! Unleashing a devastating guitar riff attack, slowing down enemies with a wave of detergent, or healing your crew with a whirlwind of plant aromas are only a few of the ways Endless Dungeon’s heroes will stand out in combat!
Given Endless Dungeon’s nature as a roguelite, what sort of a balance is it looking to strike between losing progress between runs and permanent upgrades?
Characters grow stronger over time, or rather, they are gradually given more and more options to try out in combat through meta-progression. All these items and upgrades are purchased in the saloon at various stands using two meta currencies, scrap, and cells, that you earn from run to run. For instance, at the saloon bar, you can buy beverages: passive upgrades that you get to equip for a run. If you collect blueprints in the station, you can give them to the Gunsmith, who will turn them into new weapon attachments or new hero upgrades. You’ll be able to carry a growing amount of these upgrades.
There are also upgrades that you gain during a run: the hero upgrades you buy with Food or the Crystal upgrades you get spending Crystal Shards. You also meet the good old Merchant who will sell you weapons and devices that will in turn, level up in combat!
The Saloon is looking like a promising hub location. What sort of activities will players find here? Will the Saloon expand and change as players get deeper into the experience?
The Saloon is where heroes are “reloaded” every time they die trying to get to the core of the station.
In the saloon, players get to meet the Bartender (passive upgrades via beverages), the Locksmith (station information), the Stranger (starter chests), the Archivist (station lore), and the Gunsmith (hero & saloon upgrades, weapon attachments). Their stands will unlock progressively as the player progresses deeper and deeper into the station.
And, of course, the highlight of the saloon is the band, led by Lera Lynn! Tracks and musicians will be unlocked progressively and are sure to keep heroes motivated in between runs!
"The solo and multiplayer experiences are complementary. While the latter favors communication and coordination, the former will ask players to think tactically and spatially on their own and use heroes’ specificities to their full potential."
For those who’d prefer to play the game solo, how viable is Endless Dungeon as a single player experience? How does the game balance difficulty and combat encounters for different numbers of players?
The solo and multiplayer experiences are complementary. While the latter favors communication and coordination, the former will ask players to think tactically and spatially on their own and use heroes’ specificities to their full potential.
The difficulty is balanced according to the number of Heroes in the game, not the number of players. However, a solo player has all the tools at their disposal to complete a run: ordering their heroes to protect a particular room, using the safe state between waves to improve their turret-building strategy, and using their economy wisely to build up their arsenal.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of the game be?
The game has been designed to require many playthroughs to see and experience everything – so ranging from 20 to 30 hours for a full completion. To complete one ‘full run’ from the start to the Core (the core being the final level), it will take between 2 and 4 hours – depending on your and your friend’s ability to survive the waves of monsters, of course.
What do you have planned for Endless Dungeon where post-launch support is concerned?
We do have plans to provide lots of support and content post-launch, but we are not quite ready to share those details, so make sure you stay tuned as we have more exciting content to come.