Dust & Neon, like the Roguelike Borderlands, is the best of both worlds

From top to bottom Borderlands. Surely, that’s what you’re thinking as you look at the screenshots. And yes, Dust & Neon — with its shadowy graphics, wasteland setting, unlimited supply of weapons, and unflattering comments about their effectiveness — it shares many traits with Gearbox Software’s first-person shooter franchise.

But there are two mechanisms that do Dust & Neonout Thursday for Windows PC and Nintendo Switch, a thrilling white-knuckle ride where the Borderlands titles plunge into an impeccable risk. One is that you have to reload each round individually with the press of a button when your gun is empty (why no one has thought of this before, beats me). He makes some panicked kills and escapes. And the other is the near-permanent experience of losing your shit—literally, all of it—if you get killed on a mission. That’s what it does Dust & Neon a con artist, after all.

In other words, there are real stakes in his grind Dust & Neon. There are real options to consider in your firepower. Is this two-round magnum really worth it, despite its incredible damage, when I already have a three-barreled shotgun in my loadout?

Should I solve this sabotage mission and push myself for the boss fight? Because if I lose this grind mission, oh yeah, I’ll lose my Epic revolver and Legendary, one hit sniper rifle and start over with Common crap. And this will require even more grinding. So, really, when should I take on this boss?

I’ve never asked these questions in any Borderlands game, honestly. Not only does respawning in these games only require a pittance of in-world currency, but you also have a save file to go back to in case you really need the cash (like in Borderlands, the best guns in Dust & Neon found, not purchased). But aside from hitting that victorious dopamine rush with shooting, looting, and going out, developer David Marquardt found a way to make it feel like I earned what I stole.

Dust & NeonIts titular story follows you as the Gunslinger, a sort of undead cyborg unleashed by a mad scientist on a campaign of revenge against the robot oppressors of this world. Mowing down said oppressors grants skill points that the Gunslinger uses to get even better at killing them. There is a very familiar progression tree back at base where the player chooses from extra health, extra ammo, increased accuracy and other perks.

There are also greater base-level perks — like the ability to recover some of your equipment or create higher level weapons when killed. These perks are unlocked with the cores you retrieve from the droid corpses you leave behind. Here also, Dust & Neon it presents a thoughtful choice rather than a simple transition click for a perk tree: For example, I have enough cash to upgrade the weapon shop and get 5% off his gear, but all the weapons the guy sells are crap — I’d rather save up for the gear recovery perk. In other games, I just go through the perk tree in a linear fashion because there’s no benefit worth saving up for.

You deposit the cores and cash you collect from dead droids and chests at the end of a successful mission, so at least you won’t lose them if you get killed. Your perk tree upgrades also remain in effect. (Important, if you reach a new level in a mission but die, you won’t lose that level progress when you respawn.) But the good, good gear you’ve worked for is on the table every time you start a mission. There is also no exit from the board. Do it too by all means lose your stuff.

I reached level 8 before starting my first boss battle, a level 6 encounter as per the game’s recommendation. Technically, I didn’t need those last two missions, which I stumbled through with minimal health, but I was carrying three A-list weapons and a ton of cash. In Dust & Neon, you cannot carry more than one weapon per slot. There’s still plenty of loot with accompanying weapons to peruse, but since you don’t have a backpack, your options are to either trade a weapon for your carry weapon or liquidate it on site for cash. I appreciated this requirement – it got me back into the fun Dust & Neon without the hassle of inventory management, which, in my Borderlands games, sometimes requires pen and paper.

As for the cash, I’d save it for the vendor who actually sells something useful for combat — depending on when you get to him. These are “Mind Blowers”, upgrade microchips that the Gunslinger can insert into his noggin to gain three perks, but only for the next mission. And that, too, factored into my decision about when to take on the boss. Once I reached level 6 – which unlocked the first boss fight – I visited the shop Dust & Neon‘s hub world and saw a exceptional chip: improved gun accuracy overall, and first round damage multiplier on my revolver. But I still felt a little green for the challenge, considering my narrow escapes in the previous two missions.

So I opted for my decades-old, ossified approach to RPG shooters and overleveled. Now ready to face the boss – a robot named “Prototype 41” and his minions – the Mind Blower chip the shop offered was a waste. I bought a marginally better shotgun instead.

Me too yet i lost my first boss fight! Lord, how I swore at the screen when I did that. But you know what, it was one Good loss. Even if I lost everything, I won this result. I was connected to this challenge in ways that I am not in many big triple-A shooters. It sells Dust & Neon short to describe it with Borderlands features. Perhaps it’s better to say that Borderlands is just easier Dust & Neon.

Leave a Comment