Mega Man 11 Demo Impressions
The Mega Man 11 demo recently dropped in order to prepare players for it's upcoming release on October 2nd, and there's a lot of information to unpack from the one level it offers.
Let's take a look and see how much progress Capcom has made in the eight years since Mega Man 10, and see if they can promise us something worth the wait.
The demo only gives you access to one of the eight stages available in the full game, that being Block Man's stage.
Upon starting the stage up you'll be greeted by the new 2.5D graphical style and some new music, both highly evocative of the classic era of Mega Man that this game evolves from. The new 3D graphics operating on a 2D plain do a splendid job of bringing the classic series' aesthetic into a new dimension. Enemy animations are a lot easier to read with newly added detail, and the world feels ever so slightly more alive around you.
The music hasn't really wormed its way into my every waking thought the way a lot of the other Classic Mega Man tunes have, but rest assured it's still good stuff. It's difficult to get full impressions on a game through just one level, music most of all, but what we've been presented with here still sets a strong precedent.
Block Man's stage starts off with a colorful daytime temple theme, and slowly progresses to a cool evening as the level goes on.
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
For anybody concerned that Mega Man 11 will be a major departure from the formula that made the series work, you can rest assured that all of the basics of the franchise are still here. Veteran players of Classic Mega Man will feel right at home. On the other hand, those who may not be as interested in Mega Man 11 because it seems too safe and familiar with little evolution needn't worry either.
Every basic essential in the Super Fighting Robot's toolkit is still here; the mega-buster, the charge shot, the slide, Rush coil, and so on. Mega Man's arsenal is what you'd expect, but the overall controls and game feel seem just that little bit tighter, and several quality-of-life additions make everything progress more smoothly. Robot Master weapons can now be quick-selected with both the triggers as well as a weapon-wheel using the right analog stick, and the selected power is made all the more clear through Mega Man's costume changing with each one.
The biggest additions to Mega Man 11 present in the demo come in the form of the Double Gear System and the multiple difficulty settings. The Double Gear System is a new mechanic that allows Mega Man to either briefly slow down time in order to tackle an intense situation, or power-up the mega-buster in order to blast through enemies faster.
Both powers are assigned to their own triggers, and if you press both at the same time you can activate both powers at once to get yourself out of a jam. All three of these techniques fill up a special meter, and if you push the limit on these powers too hard you'll be forced to let the gears cool down before you can use them again.
The other major addition is the return of multiple difficulty settings last seen in Mega Man 10, which this game further expands on. While the previous installment had three difficulty modes to choose from - the last being a Hard Mode that was unlocked upon beating the game on Normal Mode - Mega Man 11 has four to choose from.
There is of course an ultimate difficulty setting dubbed "Superhero" which you can unlock upon completing the game on Normal, but there is also a "Newcomer" Mode which is intended for first-time players who have never played a Mega Man game before. Each difficulty setting has fairly major differences in how much damage you both take and deal out, though the level design itself stays unaffected, unlike Mega Man 10's Easy Mode.
On that note, what little level design is showcased in the demo is very fun and very solid. The challenge is a fair balance on any difficulty setting
Let's Wrap Things Up
That's about everything of value that can be extracted from the Mega Man 11 demo. I for one was enthralled with what I got my hands on, and am more than likely going to pick the full game up when it releases next month.
My only nitpick really is that Capcom seems to have changed the Mega Man's iconic audio design quite a lot in this demo. The mega-buster's shot, Mega Man's jump and game over sound effects were all among some of the most iconic in gaming, and they've all gone out the window. This is by no means a serious issue with the game, but it's definitely a thing I and many other players will be weirded out by the absence of.
The demo does make a point that the game is still in development, but we're getting pretty close to release at this point, and I doubt that the new sound effects are just place holders. Perhaps the classic sound effects could be patched in at a later date as an audio setting in the options menu, or be made into an unlockable for completing a specific challenge.
Whatever happens, Mega Man 11 is shaping up to be a solid and very enjoyable entry in the Classic series, as well as a grand return to form for Mega Man after nearly a decade-long absence.
I've already made it to this congratulations screen about six times already.
The Mega Man 11 demo is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The game will be released in full on all platforms including PC on October 2nd.