Sanctum 2 Preview: Tougher And Leaner
Analog or Digital?
For those who don’t want to do all the killing on their own, turret upgrading has been made analog. This means that pouring money into a turret upgrades its damage and range accordingly, and you can dump little bits of money in at a time rather than having to do it all at once. Once you put enough money in and get a new turret level, the turret will behave differently instead of only getting raw stats upgrades. For example, the cannon turret gets a huge boost to damage every upgrade level, but loses attack speed as a result. If you pour money into a turret beyond its max level, you will “overcharge” it, which boosts the damage. This helps keep those upgraded turrets relevant into the endgame, rather than requiring you to make a huge maze of max level turrets to kill a single enemy.
After playing with this system, I find myself wondering why it hasn’t been used in a big-name TD before now. It’s absolutely brilliant. The incremental upgrades of an analog system do wonders to fight the common genre perception that you either have to upgrade to the next tier or build a million more turrets. Instead, I can put some money into one turret and some into another, upgrade neither to the next tier, and still get a nice boost to damage and range. I really hope this catches on outside of Sanctum 2, because it makes me feel less constrained in my choices of what to build and upgrade.
Purpose to the Slaughter
For those looking for a greater addictive quality to their tower defense, Sanctum 2 adds a leveling system between matches. After you finish a match – win or loss – you get XP based on how long you survived and the difficulty of the match. Each experience level unlocks more turrets, weapons, and (new to Sanctum 2) perks. Perks in particular change the way your character or turrets behave. Sample perks include core healing between waves, extreme damage every third shot, and damaging enemies that are attacking the core. It’s a good system to keep players engaged, but I can’t help but wish for a skirmish or testing mode where all towers, weapons, perks, and slots are unlocked so you can try out different builds.
Sanctum 2 is a bigger, louder, more immediate game than Sanctum, and this extends to the visuals as well. Textures are cleaner and better defined, character silhouettes are instantly distinguishable, and the turret and weapon designs are far more stylized than they were in Sanctum. While Sanctum looked nice, it lacked character and style to keep players hooked on the visuals. Everything was a blur of generic techno-future white and sleek lines. Sanctum 2 does not suffer from this problem, and as a result is far easier on the eyes.
Overall, Sanctum 2 is looking to be a worthy sequel and – more importantly – a genuinely great game. The granular changes to monster health and quantity, the (frankly, revolutionary) changes to how turrets are upgraded, and the addition of a progression system all work wonders to make Sanctum 2 more engaging than its predecessor. It’s still in development, but it’s already looking, playing, and feeling like a polished title.
Want to prepare for Sanctum 2? You can check out the first Sanctum on Steam.