Spelunky 2 looks like the perfect sequel for returning players

Spelunky 2
(Image credit: Mossmouth)

I’ve been eagerly awaiting more Spelunky 2 news ever since it was first announced in 2017. Apart from a few screenshots and occasional scraps of information, Mossmouth has been frustratingly quiet about its development. I’ve yet to tire from Spelunky’s charming, yet challenging design, and I had reservations about whether a sequel could live up to the high bar it had set for itself. Thankfully the new gameplay has me even more pumped for its release. 

As I watched the new trailer I spotted several new traps that will definitely kill me, and I'm already thinking about strategies for how to deal with the ladybugs shown in Hell. Teeming with new enemies and more tricky traversal, Spelunky 2 is showing signs that it will pose a true challenge for returning players. Until I'm able to sink countless hours into the follow-up to my favourite roguelike of all time, here are some of the most exciting things that I spotted in Spelunky 2's trailer.

We're landing on the Moon

Judging by the recent trailer, and hints from previous ones, Spelunky 2 is based around the original character's daughter. It's will be nice to have a family dynamic in the second game, though it doesn't quite explain why we're heading to the Moon this time.

One clip shows the playable character hopping out of a spaceship alongside the returning, beloved pug damsel. There's also a nod to Olmec—the boss from the first game—who appears to be peeking out from some rocks in the background. This is directly followed by a clip of a level that features similar props to Spelunky's Hell stages, but there's a huge red planet in the background, which once again enforces the space theme. While the first game featured aliens and a secret area that was dedicated to them, it seems as though we may be beginning the game by jetting off into space to tread a partially familiar path.

Expect to see familiar zones and enemies

A number of the levels look quite familiar. The Jungle and Ice zones in particular feature similar enemies and traps. However, it looks like Mossmouth is keen to ramp up the difficulty by adding some horrible new surprises. Some of the spike traps in the Jungle zone appear to be omnidirectional now so they can kill you anywhere. There are also flamethrowing ladybugs in Hell that lurk on the chains, making an already stressful section even more difficult.

There are interesting changes though. Spelunky 2's levels look much larger than we're used to. The irritating dark levels use a more saturated look that makes it easier to see your surroundings. They also seem to be more forgiving as they now encourage players to move towards a beacon of light. In the clip we catch a glimpse of the character dropping down through a dark level into a well-lit portion at the bottom of the screen. I can imagine this will feel fairer as there's less of a chance of plummeting to your death without warning.

(Image credit: Mossmouth)

Levels are more complex

One of the most exciting new changes affects how water, lava and sand behave. Breaking a rock under a pool of water previously saw the water drain away and disappear. However, in Spelunky 2 it'll flow into the next section of the level and submerge the surrounding blocks. The Jungle zone also features flammable blocks that will clear in a domino effect when you set off a bomb nearby or shoot an arrow through a flaming torch. It looks like there's more to interact with in each level now, from new switches that open specific doorways, to rerouting hazardous portions of the level elsewhere.

I'm particularly interested in exploring a brand new zone that's constructed of a beautiful mix of brightly-coloured coral and Chinese-inspired architecture. The stealable Golden Idol is precariously placed in the mouth of a clam on this level, and it snaps shut quickly when you land on it. There's even a Dark Souls-esque mimic chest that turns into a poisonous hermit crab when you venture too close. Returning enemies such as the restless Jiang Shi zombies spawn here, and the Piranhas from the first game have been swapped for less aggressive fish that jump at you, but won't chase you down like before.

(Image credit: Mossmouth)

The Clone Gun looks insane

There was nothing quite like the rush of grabbing the Plasma Cannon in Spelunky, and alongside the new Crossbow, Telepack and Hoverpack, we got a look at a crazy new item called the Clone Gun. This prototype is shown cloning the pug three times, close to one of Kali's altars. The fact that it's listed as 'one-of-a-kind' in its journal entry suggests that it's a rare item, and that it also has limited uses, similar to the Mattock tool. There's also a new item called the Power Pack which improves your weapon handling abilities. It has a price tag of 16,000 gold in the trailer, and while I'm unsure whether we've already seen it in action, I'd hazard a guess that it'll work similarly to the Pitcher's Mitt, instead improving weapon accuracy and range.

There's far too many details to squeeze into one article, but it's clear that Spelunky 2 has been designed with returning players in mind. From the faster animations on the playable character's whip, to a slower shopkeeper with new movement patterns, all the familiar components appear to have been tweaked to shake up the experience and make it more challenging. While I'm sure this will still be a great starting point for new players, I can't wait to hop in and begin combing every block for the new secrets woven into the levels. I'm also absolutely chuffed that the pug has become the default damsel, too.

Emma Matthews

As PC Gamer's guides writer, Emma is usually juggling several games at once. She loves competitive first-person shooters like CS:GO and Call of Duty, but she always has time for a few rounds of Hearthstone. She's happiest when she's rescuing pugs in Spelunky 2.