The year is 30XX. Everyone plays Mega Man at TAS levels of perfection. Because of this, the stages of the game are generated procedurally.
When we first sat down to play 30XX at PAX East, the developer from Batterystaple Games was careful to stress that it was a pre-alpha build of a game that was very early in development, but aside from the odd bug here and there, you probably could’ve convinced me that it was a game much closer to release given how great it felt to play. A sequel to 2017’s 20XX, 30XX takes obvious inspiration from the Mega Man X games, and it feels just as good to jump around shoot enemies here as it does in Capcom’s classic series. In 30XX, you control either Ace or Nina, and your combat abilities vary based on who you choose. If you go with Ace, you’ll be equipped with a sword, and if you choose Nina you’ll wield an arm cannon. Your basic weapons aren’t the only differences, though; the developers told us that as you progress through the game, each character will gain different abilities after defeating bosses, with Ace’s tending to upgrade his weapon for more offensive options, and Nina’s giving her entirely new abilities to experiment with.
30XX can be played either solo or co-op, and we played co-op for the PAX demo. The game populates stages procedurally, so even though we played in the same level layout as other people we watched play, different items could spawn in for us that would change how we were able to approach the level. I couldn’t tell if there was any difference in enemy placement, but given that 20XX had more extensive variation in its levels, I assume that there will be more features added to stage generation as development gets further along.
The most noticeable difference between 30XX and its predecessor is the shift to a sprite-based artstyle to more closely match the series that inspired it, and the result looks much better. Character sprites fit into the world more cohesively, and the environments all look great—the developer running the demo even told us that the game’s art was mostly placeholders that would be improved upon in the final game. 30XX impressed me a lot for how early in development it was, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from it by the time it launches on Switch next year.