Back in July 2021, IllFonic Games released Arcadegeddon in Early Access on Epic Games Store and PlayStation 5. It was a notable departure from the studio's prior output. While they were known for asymmetric multiplayer experiences like Predator: Hunting Grounds and the upcoming Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, Arcadegeddon is a fast-paced co-op shooter where you and up to 3 friends work together to shoot monsters, get loot, and take down bosses. Now, after so much time, effort, and carefully considered feedback from the community, IllFonic have announced that the game will be having its full release.
Why Early Access for Arcadegeddon?
I managed to sit down with IllFonic's Head of Creative Jarred Gerritzen and CEO Chuck Brungardt about what the Arcadegeddon full release will entail. For those who do not know, the game is primarily focused on fast-paced arena shooter mayhem with roguelite elements. Maps are designed to look more like fantastical laser tag arenas with neon colors, black lights, retro gaming paraphernalia, and simple geometric shapes. It's a heady mix of madcap retro action with a modern look; the game that has double jumps and scoreboards alongside a vaporwave color palette and ongoing challenges.
You and your team keep going from level to level, scoring points, picking up resources, picking up and upgrading gear, all while seeing if you can beat your personal best score from your last run. In a video game that involves protecting a retro arcade from a virus created by an evil corporation, it is fitting that the focus is on this addictive primary loop.
The studio has done an admirable job of transparancy with a content road map and consistent updates, and that attitude remained unchanged during our time together. As the conversation about Arcadegeddon starting in early access came up, Jerritzen and Brungardt were very forthcoming with their reasons:
“The point of us going into Early Access was we're working on our own IP, what we thought was a really fun core game loop, we really liked the artstyle that we're coming up with, and so it was a case of 'let's get it out there.' Let's build a community. Let's see what they like. Let's see what they don't like.”
The looming dread of the COVID-19 pandemic also indirectly played a part. “It's been a wild road. I don't know about you but I hate COVID more than anything else. It's been impossible to get games into people's hands without just sending them out.”
That feedback has been crucial to Arcadegeddon's development. For example, one of the more recent development updates on the game from Gamescom 2021 mentioned that the players really seemed to enjoy the PvP modes that were added to the game, so additional arenas and modes were implemented. As of right now, the game has nine Gang Leaders (characters that give out ongoing optional challenges), 5 different biomes, 32 different weapons, as well as three distinct bosses in its early access state.
Arcadegeddon New Modes
And IllFonic already have plans in motion for Arcadegeddon's full release. In addition to two more Gang Leaders, five additional weapons, and at least one more boss battle, new modes and features will be coming. This includes the release of the game's Hip Hop inspired soundtrack on music platforms like Spotify, as well as several notable quality-of-life features.
The most notable addition is a revised final version of Boss Loop mode. If you've been a dedicated player of Arcadegeddon, this is the mode for you. Once you beat all of the bosses, you can either end your run, or start a new “loop” and keep going. This is great if you're confident and are aiming for a spot on the global leaderboards.
Additionally, you have the ability to start a run with certain weapons rather than relying on loot drops. You'll have to grind out an experience bar with those weapons at first -- if you want a better rarity even more so -- but it does give you more agency. The only exception to this are the game's Power Weapons; you still need to find those in a level. Finally, you can just start at higher levels, skipping about twenty to thirty minutes of a run.
Arcadegeddon Community Feedback
Alternatively, Arcadegeddon will include an appreciated feature for more casual or curious players: the ability to suspend your current run. This is a problem that a lot of action-focused roguelites always face -- Housemarque's Returnal springs to mind -- giving players a chance to take a break without losing out on a stellar loadout or getting a lucky break on certain map or enemy configuration.
These particular improvements to Arcadegeddon were taken straight from community feedback. Reports of players that had a stellar set-up during a certain run but could never fully replicate it due to RNG led to the new starting weapon system. The ability to pause and suspend a run also came from seeing player habits. “It was one the funny pieces of feedback. 'Oooh I love the game, I wanna go on a five or six hour run and I don't have time for that.'” While Jerritzen and Brungardt were impressed with players going for north of 13 hours on a single run, even taking it as a personal challenge to make tougher AI opponents, it is good that these exit points are more plentiful.
If you've been playing in Early Access up to this point, your progress will be completely reset, but all cosmetics you've unlocked will stick around. Furthermore, everyone who picked up the game in Early Access will get the Adopter's Bundle for free in the full release. This will include an appreciation outfit, a five-day minimum XP boost, and a currency boost. This is coupled with an increased price. While the Early Access version of Arcadegeddon was sold at $19.99 on PlayStation 5 and Epic Game Store, this full retail version will be $29.99.
While you might miss out on the appreciation outfit if you don't purchase the game while it's still in Early Access playing the game will earn you a currency that you can spend on in-game items such as skins for your character.
Arcadegeddon will be coming out simultaneously across PlayStation 4, the Xbox Series X|S, and the Xbox One, with full cross-platform play. Furthermore, IllFonic have partnered with Nighthawk Interactive to publish physical copies of the game for the PlayStation and Xbox consoles.
Thankfully, if this is your first time hearing about IllFonic's title, you have some time to reap the Early Access benefits. If you have a PlayStation 5 or have no problem with using an Epic Games Store account, you can still pick up Arcadegeddon at its Early Access price and redeem the Adopter Pack for yourself. As for everyone else, the full release of the game will arrive July 5, 2022.