Screw it, we’re taking a detour to Roguelikeville this week. Because it’s easy. And by easy I mean checking in on an early access game I talked about nearly two years ago because it was finally fully released last week. For those who are not in the know, Roboquest is a roguelike first-person shooter developed by RyseUp Studios and released initially into Early Access in August 2020 and added to the Xbox Game Preview in late February of 2022. The only reason I remember that time so vividly is because the week it came to Game Pass was also in the same five-day stretch as The Witch Queen expansion of Destiny 2 and fucking Elden Ring. I talked about it in the first impressions series and I really liked what I played and now that it’s out, I’m excited to jump back in.
A lot of what I saying in the initial piece rings true here. Roboquest still has an incredible comic book style of presentation which makes it look like a kid-friendly version of Scud: The Disposable Assassin. It still has a banging soundtrack and it still has some of the most fun gunplay in an FPS I’ve played since DUSK and Turbo Overkill. But I’m also going to talk about a lot of the changes that Roboquest has made in the year since I last played it and since it was released. And this is a good thing because every facet of Roboquest has been improved for the better.
The main one is in the progression of both classes and the meta sense. I’ve checked out Roboquest a few times in the last year and every time I did, I noticed that the progression unlocks got some small things added to it and that it facilitated a reset of progression, same with the camp upgrades. Now? The same thing, but the progression has gotten a complete overhaul. Now there’s an entire skill/progression tree that shows off the kinds of upgrades that you can get and choose with the wrenches that you pick up in the main game. And that’s a good thing because you need a lot of them, the second tier of upgrades is 12 wrenches a piece, this stuff ain’t cheap. But it's made up for by having all of the upgrades be super powerful, like getting increased weapon choices in the start, starting with eight power cells (the in-run currency that’s lost upon death), increasing chances of weapons having alternate fire modes, increased healing duration, to even getting a second wind mechanic that gets stronger the more you invest in it. This stuff is a bit more on the passive side, but it’s still really strong. It’s a nice set of progression goals to work through.
The other main changes are in the levels themselves. The new way of unlocking different areas is by finding keys that are hidden throughout the levels. You start in the arid Canyons and from there you can go to either an oasis, a set of ruins, or a quarry that gets filtered out into either a set of fields or an aqua center, and then get funnelled into the target destination of a power plant that leads to the ultimate goal of the journey, Haven City. Each run consists of six of these nine levels and there’s enough variability to make it so that each run doesn’t get boring after a while. And as someone who’s played quite a bit of Roboqust in Early Access, a lot of the newer levels go a long way to making the experience feel fresh. It lends to a nice sense of escalation in terms of the areas getting more heavily defended as you get closer to civilization. The Energy Center and Haven City in particular have this bright, shiny “Science Saves The Future!” Look to it that does a lot of heavy lifting in regards to showing how in control the robots are.
Weapons and classes have by far gotten the biggest revamps because these are how you are gonna be interacting with the play space. In terms of weapons, there were only four categories and around fifty weapons, but now it’s increased to 5 categories and 72 weapons. This includes the standard weapons of pistols, shotguns, SMG, sniper rifles, cool robot tech weapons and more; on top of that, there’s more of those aforementioned weapons types and even an introduction of melee weapons like power fists, an actual chainsaw that can have life steal and a goddamn shovel. These can be levelled up and have affixes attached that interact with the rest of your build. All of these weapons feel great and there’s even a greater emphasis on elemental damage compared to when I played over a year ago, with a set of perks and even a new character class revolving around it.
Speaking of classes, Roboquest has a great variety of them in the 1.0 release. We still have the standard Guardian, Comando, Scout, and Engineer from early access. Joining them are two new classes, the precision-focused Ranger and the Elementalist, which deals with…elements. While the other classes have specific unlock requirements like the Commando requiring 750 confirmed kills (you can rack that up in like 3 or 4 runs), or the Scout requiring you to kill a boss in the second chapter, the Ranger and Elementalist require specific items be found in the world, which is neat because it gives you something to do that isn’t just killing stuff. From a gameplay standpoint, the Ranger uses limited stealth and its javelin to skewer enemies with precision damage and the Elementalist causes ridiculous amounts of chaos through the manipulation of fire, ice and lightning with its unique mantra mechanic where you can swap the element of your melee skill and increase the damage of the associated element by 15%. These two classes add a lot of new life to Roboquest because of their newer play styles and their class-unique stuff mixing with the general perk pool. All of which adds an incredibly ridiculous amount of depth to its customization and power of builds. I love it when roguelikes do this, so I’m like a kid in a candy shop whenever I play.
Roboquest is one hell of a video game that I do not hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoys roguelikes, shooters, customization, and quirky robots. It’s also got a robust co-op mode so you and a friend can frag out together. If you have a Game Pass subscription, then give it a shot. I highly recommend it.