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20XX beginner’s guide

We’ll walk you through the basics of this Mega Man-esque roguelike

20XX Batterystaple Games/Batterystaple
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

If there’s one problem with Mega Man games, it’s that they are finite and predictable. Hell, most of the strategies in Mega Man involve memorizing a level to the point where you can play it backwards and forwards while blindfolded.

That won’t work in 20XX. This indie homage to Mega Man is a roguelike twist on Capcom’s classic franchise, building unique levels each time you play. That may sound daunting, but 20XX is actually friendlier than many roguelikes, so long as you know the basics. That’s where we come in.

Who should you play as?

20XX Batterystaple Games/Batterystaple

When you start 20XX, you’re given a choice between two playable characters: Ace and Nina. Ace is a melee-centric character, wielding a plasma sword, while Nina is uses the classic Mega Man-style blaster. Both characters can charge their primary attack to deal extra damage and have the same starting stats.

For beginners, our recommendation is to play as Nina. Her style should feel very familiar, and her blaster allows you to stay at range, which makes learning new enemies and boss patterns a lot easier.

As you become more experienced, feel free to transition over to Ace, who’s able to clear levels much faster than Nina, albeit at more risk to his personal well-being.

What difficulty?

20XX Batterystaple Games/Batterystaple

Before you start each run in 20XX, you’re given the option to change your difficulty. If you’re just starting out, you may feel inclined to select “Revenant” difficulty which, despite the badass name, is actually the equivalent of easy. It gives you three lives to beat the game instead of just one.

We’d suggest straying away from this easy mode and opting for “Normal.” Why? The game is really designed with a single life in mind, and Revenant feels like a bit of a crutch. That said, if you’re struggling to collect enough soul chips, dialing it down to easy may help you get over that hump and give you more chances to familiarize yourself with the late-game play.

Soul Chips explained

20XX Batterystaple Games/Batterystaple

In the previous section, we mentioned soul chips. Here we’ll dive a bit deeper into how they work.

You earn soul chips as you play, and they’ll increase in frequency the further you get in the game. Unlike all of the other items you find in 20XX, soul chips will stay with you when you return to base after a failed mission. Once there, you can spend them on various permanent upgrades to your character and the game.

For example, you can permanently increase your maximum health at the start of a run or have it so a weapon chest spawns right from the outset. These upgrades are super handy and will make future runs much easier, so it’s a good idea to spend your soul chips here first.

Very quickly, though, you’ll find that you don’t have enough soul chips to buy every permanent upgrade, especially since your supply zeroes out once you start a new run. In other words, you’ll want to spend as many soul chips as possible before leaving the base.

If you find you don’t have enough chips to buy a permanent upgrade, start picking up the items on the left side of the base. Spending soul chips on these items will cause them to randomly appear in future runs, which is very handy.

If you don’t have enough soul chips for either the permanent upgrades or the items on the left, you can toss them down on the items on the right. These are essentially one-time use items that you can carry into your next run, making it slightly easier.

If you’re looking to maximize your soul chips in a run, keep an eye out for enemies that glow. They’ll take a lot more damage, but they’ll net you soul chips for your trouble.

Powers, Augs and Armor

20XX Batterystaple Games/Batterystaple

20XX gets pretty overwhelming, tossing tons of pick-ups at you very quickly. In this section, we’ll explain how your character develops over the course of a run.

Powers are earned from beating a level-ending boss. Each boss has its own dedicated power that you can earn from beating them, and those powers are effective on other specific bosses (another nod to Mega Man). Even if you’re not able to match the right power with the right boss, powers will deal a lot more damage (at the cost of your energy bar) and are a great way to burn down a tricky boss.

Augs, quite simply, are passive upgrades that will increase stats like your maximum health, speed and luck (increasing enemy drop rates). You’ll find these in crates and chests, and they can also be chosen over a boss’s power at the end of a level, if you so choose. Falling behind on your augs will mean you won’t have enough health or damage to progress, so make sure you pick these up whenever possible.

Lastly there’s armor. These are also passive upgrades to your character, granting various abilities like double jumps (for boots) or bonus power efficiency (for armor). Unlike augs, armor is not permanent and will be replaced if you pick up another piece of armor in the equivalent slot. What you opt for is really up to your playstyle, but you should be aware that if you manage to collect all four pieces of a specific set of armor, it’ll grant you a sweet set bonus (like immunity to spikes for the Armatort set).

Keep at it

20XX may seem daunting, but if you keep at it you’ll find yourself getting closer and closer to the end each time you play. Granted you’ll have a few terrible runs here and there, but like all roguelikes ever death is going to result in a little more life experience for your next run until you find yourself cruising through levels you once struggled with. And hey, you can always bring a buddy along to help you out in co-op play!

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