The developers behind the acclaimed indie fighting game Rivals of Aether have silently been working on a sequel for three years, and they're hoping it'll usher in a new generation of platform fighters.
To give you some idea of how wildly popular the original game is, not to mention how good the sequel looks in the trailer, Rivals 2 started a Kickstarter campaign less than week ago to help pad out the studio's resources and it's already tripled its initial funding goal.
Rivals 2 is a Smash Bros-style multiplayer brawler with unique, animal-based, elemental characters and fast-paced gameplay. It's designed to support online play, which is one area the developers are seeking to improve for the sequel, as well as local battles "with a ton of content for competitive and casual players alike."
The most immediately apparent change from the first game is Rivals 2's delightful 3D models and 2.5D gameplay. There are also a bunch of new game mechanics including shields, ledges, grabs and throws in addition to returning features like hit-falling, wavedashing, wall-jumping, and parrying.
Although the core competitive modes are the current focus for launch, developer Aether Studios says a "completely overhauled story mode" is also in the works that'll teach new players the ropes and include some "skillful puzzle platforming for veterans."
If you played the first game, you'll recognize returning Rivals like Zetterburn, Ranno, Wrastor, Kragg and Maypul. Developer Aether Studios has revealed one newcomer, Fleet, who was a protagonist in the 2023 turn-based dungeon-crawler spinoff Dungeons of Aether, and more new fighters will be announced in time. The first game featured crossover characters like Ori and Sein from Ori and the Blind Forest, as well as the eponymous hero from Shovel Knight, but there's no word just yet on which, if any, will be on Rivals 2's roster.
Rivals 2 is due out on Steam sometime in 2024. Aether says it's "looking to expand to as many consoles as we can," but for now the focus is purely on a Steam launch.
In the meantime, here are the best fighting games you can play today.