Dieselstormers Preview 2.0
A while back, I’ve had the privilege of previewing an Early Access version of Dieselstormers – a sidescroller in which players were tasked with exterminating hordes of orcs and goblins that have overrun the city the game is set in. Along the way, random weapon parts were dropped and there was generally an abundance of procedurally generated content to wade through. It was a fun, albeit faulty experience whose flaws I attributed to the fact that it wasn’t quite done at that point. Black Forest Games, the developers, felt differently and decided to rebuild the game from scratch, turning it into a rogue-lite sidescroller in the process. This is why the editorial staff at Mouse ‘n’ Joypad felt it fair for us to revisit the game and cover it with another preview, which is what you’re currently reading.
To an untrained eye, the game hasn’t changed at all. The visuals remained largely the same, and the gameplay still consists of player-controlled dieselknights massacring dozens of ork-like creatures on each and every level. Beneath the hood, things are much different however. Firstly, there’s no more weapon modification to fiddle with. Instead, you’ll find random weapon drops upon taking down mini-bosses or activating certain machines that are spread out through the level nodes. I’m not sure whether I’m happy with this change or not, as I prefer player-controlled customization over RNG, but it does fit with the rest of the switcheroo the game’s undergone. The positive outcome of this is that the devs now have much more freedom when it comes to designing certain weapon part combos, as the guns are still built of random parts – quality of which depends entirely on the number of four-leaved clovers and rabbit paws you’ve got in your pockets. My personal favourites are the acid-disposing launchers, which spew all kinds of ominously glowing fluids over the poor mobs you encounter. It’s great fun, and none of the weapons I created in the old version of Dieselstormers felt quite as devastating as some of the armaments I’ve come across nowadays. One of these overpowered weapons being the blunderbuss that shot projectiles in a round circle all around my knight. All I had to do is close in to the heavy orcs and fire off a pellet or two and it was instagib time. Another change in gameplay mechanics themselves comes in the form of ‘perks’ that represent different knights in-game. The one I had the most fun with is the explosives-focused knight, who will be able to deal AOE damage whenever hit in melee, for example. The basic knight you start with, on the other hand, is invulnerable while dashing.
Speaking of dashing, the mechanic is still here, thankfully, and it now feels much more reactive and tactile than it felt before. manoeuvering around enemies is quick and easy, and since the game is now much more of a bullet-hell-alike than it was before. The level design has also been revamped, as it is now entirely randomly generated from a selection of nodes the devs have previously prepared, whereas it wasn’t quite as malleable the first time around. This means that, in theory, you’ll never see the same level twice, but since the environments are still pretty repetitive, the slight and nuanced changes the algorithm comes up with will remain unnoticed for the most part. I’d be willing to say that the most of the work has to be done on that front, even, as it’s good levels that make for a great rogue-lite.
Word of warning for those who play on laptops with dedicated Nvidia graphics cards – the game oftentimes fails to register you have the damned chip, and thus runs like a slideshow on the integrated processor. This is why at first I thought any and all optimization was thrown out the window, yet the issue was completely on my behalf. The truth is that the game runs just as it did when I first played it, perhaps even a tad bit better. The game definitely should be optimized a bit better than it currently is, but it’s not as horrifying as it seemed to be at first on my end. Visually, little has changed. If my memory serves me right, some of the post-processing effects weren’t available when I last played, while it all works nicely this time around. Each tileset also has a different lighting system, thus enforcing the green, blue, orange or red overtones on the plain textures below. It’s a colourful and vivid experience, all in all, and I doubt anybody’s eyes will be tired upon looking at this game for a while.
On a final note, Dieselstormers now feels like more of a finished product than it was before, even after undergoing a wholesome rework of its gameplay systems. The roguelite mechanics work in favour of the game, and the movement and guns feel much more reactive and immediate, not to mention fun than they were before. The fact that everything’s been streamlined and reappropriated also makes way for a decent amount of perk/weapon/ability combinations between players themselves, as Dieselstormers is a cooperative game after all. Balancing all of the content might prove a difficult task, but BFG are sure to be able to tackle it properly. The game now offers both local and online CO-OP, which is a major bonus for those of us with bored spouses and extra controllers. With all of that in mind, I applaud the changes and look forward to the game’s eventual release, as it’s sure to be an amusing title once all of the building blocks are in place.