The lights are on
The tower defense genre, once a relatively unknown concept, exploded with the advent of Apple's mobile marketplace and quickly became oversaturated before the tides mercifully receded a few years later. Hidden Path believes the time is right to remind us why we fell in love with these games in the first place.
Defense Grid 2 adds new towers, aliens, and features that make the game more accessible without diminishing the challenge. In fact, there are four different difficulty levels now for those players that want to test themselves.
In the new title, players won't be able to drop a tower just anywhere. There are now squares, which eliminate the worry of towers being placed too close to one another. A new pathing line shows how your tower will affect the movement of oncoming aliens (and ensure that you're closing off a route when you intend to). This was immensely helpful to me in determing where to build.
Resources and score are now separate, with the former trickling in at a steady pace. This is a shift from traditional tower defense games, which award resources for killing enemies. "We can lower the skill floor, while raising the ceiling," CEO Jeff Pobst tells us. There's still a benefit for efficient play, but no longer will that be tied directly to the choices players can make mid-match.
Post-wave "interest" bonuses are still awarded, but the new format prevents good players from swimming in money at the end (and therefore having no challenge). Lower skilled players won't get behind on resources, and therefore may avoid having a negative experience.
A heat map feature can be toggled to show you where you're doing the most damage and where you need to place new armaments. Defense Grid 2 will also introduce levels with dynamic elements. These stages include pieces of pathway that appear midway through the match.
Comprehensive stat features show you how well you've done against your best score, friends, and global leaderboards. This constantly updates throughout a match and is available at the end (as opposed to Defense Grid 1, which only calculated performance post-match).
In addition to towers, like guns, canons, missiles, tesla coils, and inferno flamethrowers, players have access to five different special weapons. In our demo, that was the orbital laser, which does enormous damage from in a focused area. These are on a cooldown to prevent overuse.
Defense Grid 2 will feature co-operative and competitive modes, including one that is inspired by Puzzle Fighter. Players will face the same pool of enemies, but as an alien is killed, it will spawn stronger (and in the place it was defeated) on the opponent's map. These creatures are bounced back and forth between players until one is defeated.
There will also be 10 challenge modes, and Hidden Path will drop tradeable items to players that can be used to enhance towers, improving damage or giving them new abilities like damage over time or area of attack. The developer will also have access to Valve's premium workshop features, allowing players to create and (if approved by Hidden Path) sell new maps.
Beta will be starting in a couple of months, with release this fall on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
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