AUSTIN, TX—About a month ago, we called the retro-themed Descent-style shooter Sublevel Zero an awesome Descent-like experience, but lamented its lack of multiplayer. Well, good news this morning for folks who are still craving multiplayer tunnel-shooting: as of 11:00 EDT, Descent Underground is available on Steam Early Access for $29.99. Players will be able to jump in and fly three classes of ships in five maps, in a few different game modes.
The product of a small Austin company called Descendent Studios founded by former Star Citizen Austin studio head Eric “Wingman” Peterson, Descent Underground was originally envisioned as a Descent clone under the working title “Ships That Fight Underground” (abbreviated as “STFU”). However, the game changed course when an encounter with an Interplay shareholder led to a licensing agreement with Interplay, the studio that controls the bulk of the Descent intellectual property. The licensing deal meant that the game could be re-envisioned as an actual branded Descent game—though because the licensing agreement doesn’t include the character models or sound assets from the original trilogy, some creativity had to be applied.
The result is Descent Underground, a prequel to the original Descent series. In it, the player takes on the role of a miner who remote-pilots drones through mines, blasting other drones and occasionally doing some actual mining to collect resources. Lead designer Peterson explained to us that the eventual goal is to have a meta-game that has some hints of Dune about it: players would fly around in a large mothership, cruising through asteroid fields and looking for choice places to mine. A nice asteroid might already have another player group’s ship docked on it, and you can hove up next to it and deploy your own drones to try to fight them for the asteroid. (This is what’s going on in the launch trailer at the top of the page.)