Review

Ziggurat 2 on Xbox Series X is one of the best roguelike shooters ever

Screenshots of Ziggurat 2 on Xbox Series X

Ziggurat 2 is the long-awaited sequel to 2015’s Ziggurat and follows the same roguelike formula. You step into the shoes of a wizard of your choosing and are tasked with saving the realm from terrifying — and somewhat adorable — foes. The sequel builds upon the original in a number of ways, particularly when it comes to the variety of content offered. There’s something for everyone to enjoy this time around.

Campaign and gameplay

Ziggurat 2 features a campaign mode, but the story is quite simplistic from my understanding. You just have to protect your lands from magical threats. Players take on a variety of missions and have to engage hordes of creatures in claustrophobic rooms. If you defeat the first boss, you move onto the second floor of the dungeon where even more challenges, and another boss, await.

The levels are randomized so you never know what to expect. For example, one room may require you to slay minions like aggressive carrots, while another may focus on opening a chest by unlocking certain contraptions in the correct order. Ziggurat 2 constantly throws new challenges at you and gets progressively harder the deeper you delve into the campaign. If you want to really test your skills, you can always play the Classic endless dungeon mode.

Whenever you’re done with a campaign mission, you don’t lose your progress completely even though it’s a roguelike. Aside from purchasing permanent upgrades like increased damage in the Laboratory, you can unlock weapons and other magical items — like amulets that increase your rate of fire or shield — and bring them with you on your next quest. You also gain a lot of objects along the way, mostly through chests in levels, so there’s a plethora of weapons and trinkets to choose from.

When you’re on a mission, you’ll automatically gain experience and level up. Ziggurat 2 gives you the option to choose what you want your temporary build to be like. You can increase your rate of fire, mana, or health each time you gain a rank. There are also shrines in each level where you can take an oath. These grant similar buffs, but sometimes also have detrimental effects like less resistance to elemental damage.

Weapons and accessibility

Screenshots of Ziggurat 2 on Xbox Series X

Ziggurat 2 gameplay is exactly like first-person shooters of old. The title takes heavy inspiration from shooters like Doom, Hexen, or Wolfenstein. You may even consider it a modern version of Hexen because both focus on magic. Instead of using traditional firearms — though there are some guns in the game — Ziggurat 2 relies on spells, wands, and other arcane artifacts to inflict damage on enemies.

I would recommend using Very Fast weapons because they seem to dispatch monsters the quickest. However, there are plenty of items in the game so it’s up to you to figure out what works. I imagine different players will adopt different playstyles.

Ziggurat 2 requires constant evasion because you’ll be targeted nonstop. If you stand still for even a few seconds, you’ll immediately get killed. Just like Doom, you need to jump on various structures, move around monsters, and remain agile while also firing your weapon. Luckily, nowadays a lot of games require this strategy, to some degree, so it’s easy to pick up in Ziggurat 2.

The title also features varying difficulty levels and is much more accessible than its predecessor. You can start the game on any setting you’re comfortable with and, if you want a greater challenge once you’re familiar with the gameplay, you can change the difficulty. This is an important addition to Ziggurat 2 because a lot more people will be able to play the game without feeling frustrated.

Whenever a roguelike gets a difficulty setting, some gamers express concern about how it’s straying away from its foundation. However, I don’t think that should be the case. Every game should be designed to be enjoyed by players of varying skill levels.

Performance and visuals

Screenshots of Ziggurat 2 on Xbox Series X

Ziggurat 2 looks incredibly crisp on Xbox Series X and features two modes. The resolution appears to be 1440p or 1800p. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the look of a full 4K presentation. If you’re playing on Quality mode, the resolution and visual effects are bumped up, but the frame rate seems to take a slight hit. If you choose Performance, the title runs at a smooth 60 frames per second with minimal issues, but it’s a little blurry.

I would recommend experiencing the game on Performance because the shooter requires split-second decisions and any frame rate drops can be detrimental during tense combat scenarios.

Ziggurat 2 features a stunning cartoon-like aesthetic that’s rare in games nowadays on PC, PlayStation 5, or Xbox Series X. Most developers adopt a realistic design language and games don’t age well as a result of this. Luckily, Ziggurat 2 looks like a painting in motion on a 4K display due to its bold colors, unique textures, and character models.

Conclusion

Screenshots of Ziggurat 2 on Xbox Series X

In my opinion, Ziggurat 2 is one of the best first-person roguelike shooters on Xbox Series X. The other one I really liked was Immortal Redneck from 2017, but Ziggurat 2 has more content and is much more accessible. If you’re in the market for a challenging experience with a tremendous amount of replayability, you should pick this title up.

It’s $24.99 on the Xbox Store and definitely worth the investment. Ziggurat 2 is a game you’ll always keep on your hard drive because it will always offer a greater hurdle to overcome. This is easily a 9 out of 10 game. It would’ve been perfect had the campaign told a meaningful story.


Have you played Ziggurat 2? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below. Developer Milkstone Studios provided a review code for the game. The title was played on an Xbox Series X console.

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