Hands On: 30XX February 2022 Content Update
Surprise! Early Access games are often pegged as messy/buggy works in process, but sometimes you come across games like Batterystaple’s 30XX and the steady updates that it’s been receiving since it “dropped” on Steam a year ago. We got the chance to check it out around that time, and even in that state I felt good about the direction it was heading even with how incomplete it was then.
Regardless, the devs have seen fit to go ahead and push out their latest content update, inching ever closer to a proper release. We can’t in good faith give a proper review of the game just yet because of the “work in progress” nature of Early Access games, but we’re more than happy to keep you posted with the latest on this jump-n-shoot flavored rougelite with every chance we get. Developed and published by Batterystaple Games, 30XX is currently available for purchase on Steam and is the version covered here.
With any new content, it’s always easy to go and pick through any new bit of information. The most prominent part of the update is the addition of a new stage: Watergrav. This new stage bears the mark of the water stages that influenced it, gimmicks and all. With this addition, we finally bring the amount of bosses to the bog standard eight stages you’d come to expect from a game like this.
Regardless of your choice of Nina or Ace, this stage has its own unique gimmicks centered around the aquatic theme it bears. Though it does like to play with gravity a little bit as well, there’s plenty of water manipulation to mess with that’s used in various ways. Case in point, the midboss in the stage. One of its attacks entails spewing goop on the water, and throwing the switch to move the water can help keep the projectiles out of your way.
If you’re looking to expand your understanding of the established storyline, you’re more than welcome to go ahead and seek out the numerous terminals scattered throughout. In a sense, it functions under a similar design process as the added terminals in Halo CE Anniversary and Halo 2 Anniversary. Part of me is happy to see this level of effort put into expanding the lore, though it’s not something that I can see everyone going after. It feels like something a little more attuned to Mega Mode, which isn’t entirely a bad thing. Though I feel like that there’s a little bit of line straddling between traditional Mega Man game and roguelike platformer; there’s going to be a little bit of weirdness.
Overall gameplay still feels pretty tight in general, but that’s to be expected. Thankfully Watergrav’s addition is a welcome one, and definitely bears the torch for the crowd that prefers to have their game with a little bit of a challenge instead of just breezing through. Those who prefer to have little room for error and would much prefer to show off their above average skill have the Spicy difficulty to look forward to to flex their gaming muscle. True to its name, it’s not messing around at all. My prior experience with this game and other Mega Man games didn’t really help me here. Mostly because this game isn’t much of a slouch even on the easier difficulties, you’re gonna have a bad time if you don’t bring the necessary skills to win the day. Spicy, indeed.
The visuals are not something I’m particularly worried about, as what was previously covered was a pretty strong showing even at such an early stage in development. Certain armor pieces that you can acquire do have a unique art style, and the overall sprite work looks really good at the moment, and I’m thinking it’ll look fantastic once things start moving towards the final build. While it isn’t much of a bullet hell of sorts, it does have a tendency to throw a lot of stuff at you visually while you do your best to avoid things as nimbly as you can. We may not be dealing with a demanding 3D game with the graphical demand that comes with it, but seeing a consistent framerate from any 2D game is a welcome sight regardless.
I’ll admit that it has been a while since I last picked this one up; the additional stages and accompanying aesthetics are impressive to say the least. With all of the stages finally available, it goes without saying that I’m happy to see the breadth and diversity of the art direction shine through the way it does here. It wasn’t very often where I ran into any graphical glitches that affected my gameplay, and the level of detail in every stage is impressive for what it is.
I still don’t have much to complain about in the audio presentation, either. Each of the new tracks I encountered were fun and enjoyable to listen to with a good air of fun and excitement surrounding it. I know that it’s an easy thing to point out, but I do enjoy the fact that Batterystaple knows the kind of expectations the Mega Man crowd has for their music. Because of that, they knew that they couldn’t miss with these stage tracks. They may not have the bangers that came from the likes of Spark Mandrill or Wily Stage 1 in Mega Man 10, but it’s an easy thing to say that they landed on some good tracks here.
Now that we’re seemingly in the home stretch for 30XX, Batterystaple should feel good with what they’ve accomplished so far. There are plenty of roguelikes running around various marketplaces, but not with the energy of something that begs for some kind of speedrun levied against it. Now that we have the Steam Deck getting into the hands of gamers, it wouldn’t surprise me that someone would take it on the go like other roguelikes have done on the Switch. It really lends itself to quick sessions, so I’m hoping once it goes final we’ll have something that eclipses its current form.
Solid as it is right now, it’s still incomplete. You can really tell the amount of love that’s on the screen, and this latest content update should excite fans for what’s to come. It’s not often I feel confident in levying a recommendation towards a work in progress, but it’s already available for purchase at a reasonable price. If you’re willing to weather the growing pains of game development, this is an easy pickup. Other games released in Early Access can and have been absolute dumpster fires, but not here. Once this goes final, don’t be surprised to see us come around to this one last time.
Preview code provided by Batterystaple Games for PC. Screenshots taken by writer. Featured image courtesy of Batterystaple Games.