Setting the (low) standard for offline gacha games!
Mega Man X DiVE Offline Review
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), iOS, Android
Developer: Capcom Taiwan
Part 00: Pre-DiVE into Mega Man X
Mega Man X DiVE was a PC and mobile live service made predominantly for the East and Southeast Asia markets that was available to play from March 24, 2020 to September 27, 2023. It was one of the many franchise-based gacha games, using familiar iconography and characters to lure in dedicated fans. Particularly those willing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars by gambling for a chance to add these characters to their collection.
Titles like this crop up, build up content, and then die out after a few years all the time, ranging from licensed anime games to mobile spin-offs of (mostly Japanese) game franchises. And for a company with the IP portfolio like Capcom, it was inevitable that they would experiment with titles like this. So they did just that, putting out titles like Teppen, an ongoing crossover card game, and Monster Hunter Explore, a mobile Monster Hunter game that was available from 2015 to 2020. Both of these made sense… But something about Mega Man X DiVE Offline never did to me, and for several reasons.
- The previous Mega Man live service title, Rockman Xover, was widely derided by fans, and… just looked terrible.
- The other Mega Man live service, NeoWiz’s Rockman Online, was canceled after several years of development, and setting a bad omen for any similar multiplayer venture.
- Despite being the golden series of Capcom for almost two decades, the series was on a slump throughout the 2010s, seeing only two new releases. Street Fighter X Mega Man and Mega Man 11.
- The Mega Man X series had been dormant since 2005’s Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, a remake of the first game meant to reboot the sub-series, but it sold very poorly in Japan.
- There was also another attempted reboot from Meta’s Armature Studio, Maverick Hunter, but it was canceled early on in development.
Sure, the Mega Man series has a lot of ancillary characters who are prime fodder for a gacha game, and by a lot, I mean probably over 400. But that still does not answer why Mega Man X specifically?
Well, I’m sure I could dig through some developer interviews from the folks at Capcom Taiwan to figure that out. But I’m pretty sure I can tell why this game came to be just by playing it. Because somebody had a vision for this game, and a story they wanted to tell. …I just don’t know if they knew how to tell it.
Also, just to clarify, this is a review of Mega Man X DiVE Offline. Not the online version that ended service on September 27, 2023, Mega Man X DiVE. I have never played that game, and any comparisons made to it are based on secondhand information.
Part 01: DiVE into the Deep Log
…So, Mega Man X DiVE Offline is an isekai.
The game begins with the player character, a man by the name of Player, who started up a game of Mega Man X only to find himself sucked into the Deep Log. A digital world that stores the game data, experiences, and memories of every player and every game. There is a Deep Log for every game a gamer plays, but X DiVE Offline is only about Player’s Deep Log— or rather his Deep Logs— for the Mega Man X and broader Mega Man series.
In the years it spent without new game data, the Mega Man X Deep Log has become corrupted by ‘Irregular Data’ that has been causing errors. Mostly in the form of mixing together various Mega Man games, altering familiar elements, and causing things to happen in slightly different ways. It is up to the player to fix these errors using Hunter Programs— playable characters— and go through various stages, defeating enemies or bosses to erase the irregular data and preserve their precious memories. …Even though, if Player is doing this by playing a game, which I’m almost certain is the case, then isn’t this just creating a Deep Log for Mega Man X DiVE Offline? So isn’t this entire expeirence about effectively moving this data, rather than erasing it?
…Yeah, needless to say, this is a complicated concept, but it remains the core of the game’s narrative. No matter what, Player is always trying to remove Irregular Data, and pretty much every dialogue scene can be traced to that goal. Every story section is built toward the pursuit of doing away with Irregular Data. Every special or seasonal event is about the characters trying to fix some irregularity that cropped up, or gain something to help them in this pursuit. In fact, I would say it’s focused to a fault, and viewing it as a crossover title… it almost completely misses the appeal from a story perspective.
There are virtually no instances where characters from different Mega Man games meet or speak to each other. No familiar characters from the series play a remotely prominent role in the story, resulting in them feeling like glorified cameos. And instead, the game opts to tell a story about a group of original characters.
This includes RiCO, a ditzy female navigator who serves as the game’s cover girl and the primary speaker throughout the game. She mostly offers exposition, enthusiasm, colorful commentary, and occasional bits of trivia, but she is definitely a ‘love or hate’ type of character. I found her to be endearing due to her cute demeanor, unflinching enthusiasm, and belief in the power of friendship. But her blabbermouth tendencies and airheadedness could easily turn off fans of the series who want something a bit more serious.
As for the other characters, there’s ViA, a Zero recolor who presents himself as a lax big brother type, trying to get things done, but always finding time to tease RiCO. He makes for a far more mellow source of commentary, his dynamic with RiCO is enjoyable, as they are basically siblings, and is unsurprisingly a secret antagonist. A fact that the game spoils to anybody who so much as scrolls through one of many menus.
While the other characters… are fine, but don’t have much of a role. The game tries to build on the family dynamic of RiCO and ViA by adding an iCO, an emotionless little sister who is poised as some sort of third party agent with mysterious desires. But beyond that, she contributes little more than adding some extra spice to conversations. While the trio of new characters introduced during the tail end of the game are… just kind of strange. They are fully original characters without any clear parallel to anything from the entire Mega Man series, and they mostly exist to introduce the Sigma Virus. Which isn’t a spoiler, because if you know what the Sigma Virus is, you know it’s a staple of the Mega Man X series.
That might make it sound like X DiVE Offline is just rehashing the familiar plot structure of the Mega Man X series, but… that’s not really true.
X DiVE Offline’s story is trying to say a lot of things. It wants to speak about the nature of canon, what it means to add to something established, and for characters to become true characters. It wants to tell the story about the power of memories, how one’s experience with games and the bonds made around them is just as much a part of a game as the game’s data. It wants to subvert and reassess the idea of Mavericks, or rather Irregulars, as being a destructive force, and show how irregularities and corruption are, ultimately, a type of creation.
It is possible to present and word the narrative of X DiVE Offline as something grand and far more thoughtful that one would ever assume a mobile spin-off like this to be. …But that would also be disingenuous.
The story of X DiVE Offline is a collection of good ideas with poor execution. As a story, it is not well told, with the structure of the game makes the story repetitive and fragmented. The narrative presentation is about as low budget as possible, with just small snippets of character sprites floating above a dialog box, over backgrounds of the game idling. And the actual writing, the quality of the English script, is just amateurish.
It consistently fails the ‘read out loud’ test in a way that makes it clear that this wasn’t translated by a native English speaker. Phrases and sentence structures are adapted in a way that simply feels like a translation. While legible and understandable, I regularly felt like I was missing something by not analyzing and processing every single line. And as someone who regularly reads ELS works, I thought the quality of English was lower than average. Or in other words, I have read works from ELS amateur writers that are better than this script.
The script is in dire need of an editor in general, but it also has a level of inconsistency and sloppiness that I find… genuinely bizarre. Characters are misgendered. Terms are weird or inconsistent. Sometimes the script contradicts itself. And the style guide for this game is… basically no style guide. It arbitrarily changes between presentational styles when it comes to terms like naive and naïve. It has no idea how to properly use ellipses, sometimes using them with a space at the end, other times not, sometimes only two periods are used. And sometimes it extends it into an arbitrary number of dots to convey a longer pause. However, the most egregious is the fact that… they can’t even get the name of the series right.
Most of the time it writes the Mega Man series as “Mega Man” quotation marks and all. But it also refers to the series as just Mega Man without the quotation marks, MegaMan, or Megaman. I can understand how this happened, as the series is just called Rockman in Japan and other regions, and it has a history with certain characters who are named MegaMan. However, the fact that this mistake happens regularly— the fact that this crossover can’t even get the name of its IP right, shows a general disregard for editing and a lack of attention. Hell, they couldn’t even get the capitalization and style rules right in the menus! How do you write “Combine Armor,” “Disassemble Armor,” and “Armor enhancement” and not think that something might be off?
I might be willing to accept this if this was a smaller project, or only released for Asian English-speaking markets (where the standards for English are typically lower). But this is an official product of a billion dollar game company with an in-house translation team, released for an international audience, for $30. They could have done better, they should have done better, but they just didn’t. There wasn’t any time, there wasn’t any money, there wasn’t any budgeted stuff they were allowed to do… so they just left it as is. Warts, boils, tumors, and all!
I could transition into how that sentiment carries over to just about every facet of this game’s design! But first, I should explain the structure of this game.
Part 02: Rockman Without the Rock
The Mega Man series, or at least the… 30-ish platformers to its name, is pretty well known for its simple yet engaging gameplay. The games are all about running and shooting, with later subseries, namely Mega Man X, introducing additional mobility features like wall kicks and dashes. The mechanics are simple, but they work well, feel good, and give the player a large level of control, letting them feel like every action is their doing, and making the games feel fair. …Assuming the game isn’t being a total bastard with its level designs.
Stages test the reflexes of the player as they deal with enemies, hazards, stage gimmicks, and general platforming. The games are filled with great little bits of design, allowing them to function as prime ways to display minute details or concepts about game/level design. Due to their structure, each being themed around a boss with a unique pattern and design, they are generally quite memorable.
…So, how do you adapt that to a game meant to be played on a phone, with stages broken up into small 2 to 5 minute long chunks? Well… X DiVE Offline definitely tries. The game regularly draws inspiration from games in the series with its worlds, captures the vibe and design language of its predecessors at times, and even introduces gimmicks that only exist in a few stages.
You have disappearing blocks, ride armor sections, terrain gimmicks, and bosses lifted from other games in the series, complete with similar movesets. The game clearly wants to feel like a Mega Man game… but there are two major issues. One, there simply is not enough room or creativity to spread good level design across the hundreds of ‘stages’ found throughout this game. And two, levels are broken up between three types of gameplay.
Action platforming sections, where the player needs to defeat or avoid enemies, while searching for collectible globules hidden throughout stages. These are generally the best parts, as they are… platforming sections where the player is free to traverse a world and is incentivized to explore. Enemies are numerous, yet easy to dispatch if given the right terrain, and it gives the player many opportunities to engage with the movement system. It might not be as precise or polished, but it does at least feel like a Mega Man game.
Boss encounters, where players need to learn the movesets and skills of imposing enemies with unique attack patterns and larger health reserves. They are a foundational part of the series, and because most bosses are lifted from Mega Man X games, they work pretty well here. …At least conceptually.
And what I am going to call enemy gauntlets. Instances where the player needs to take on waves of enemies who gradually spawn before they can progress through a stage. These things are in at least 80% of all story and event stages, and are a foundational part of a 175 floor challenge mode (with three difficulties) that is nothing but enemy gauntlets and boss battles. Enemy gauntlets have never been a core component of any Mega Man platformer action game I can think of, and they neatly illustrate a core problem with the underlying gameplay of X DiVE Offline.
In X DiVE Offline, the jumping and platforming are… just okay. The game gives the player a good amount of tools with the wall kick, jump, dash, and double jump, so it should be empowering to the player, but it… just doesn’t. The ground dash has this terrible drop off if used on the ground, where the player character limply falls onto the next platform. The double jump feels stilted and unnatural, like the character is being yanked upward by an invisible claw. And the platforms are often arranged in a way that takes into account the player’s wall kick, often wanting them to double jump toward a floating platform, only to wall kick their way up it. Which sounds like it should be fine, but in practice, it just feels like the game world is too big for the characters. Moving around feels serviceable, but lacks the finesse and extra features that distinguish a game where moving around is functional, versus fun in and of itself.
While shooting… is completely different. Rather than emphasizing aiming and precision, X DiVE Offline auto-targets enemies by default. Kind of like in Mega Man X7, but not quite. This makes sense considering the imprecision of a touch-based interface, but it also turns the act of aiming or being around enemies into an afterthought. You don’t need to think about where you are aiming, just where the enemy is, how to avoid them, and if there are any walls in the way. While the action shooting itself is… different.
Instead of featuring a robust arsenal of generally-element-based weapons to use in accordance with an energy meter, X DiVE Offline has characters enter stages with two alternating weapons. Both of which have a limited amount of energy that can be used before the weapon needs to recharge. Similarly, every character has two ‘unique’ skills that, once used, are put on a cooldown before they can be used again.
In practice, this turns combat into a series of running around, using skills, and then using standard weapons to defeat enemies during the interim. That is not a bad system in and of itself, but… the combat just doesn’t feel very good. When using a skill or weapon on an enemy, it does not feel like there is any weight behind it. It feels like effects are colliding with models to trigger animations or decrease a health variable. The act of cycling through skills and managing weapon cooldowns makes everything feel… artificial. And despite boasting about 100 weapons, over 100 characters, and two skills for every character… it all feels incredibly samey.
Oh, and I probably should talk about how this game manages health. In most stages, there are no health drops. There are no energy tanks or sub-tanks. Healing is only possible through health drops that I only ever saw in ‘challenge stages’ or through the use of character-specific skills. …Which makes characters who can heal themselves far more valuable than those who cannot. Though, it also kind of doesn’t matter if the player dies in a stage, as they get to use up to three revive items. Readily purchasable items that can be used without any penalty, and that includes getting a higher rank on a stage. Meaning that if the player fights a boss and gets their HP knocked down to 20%, they should die and use a revive so they get a bonus for finishing the stage with more than 30% HP.
Now that’s what I call game design!
Part 03: Gacha Garbage and Live Service Slog
I’m going to start this segment off with a thesis statement. Mega Man X DiVE Offline does the bare minimum as an offline version of a gacha game live service. This means the game is deeply hampered by the generally bad, time wasting, and power-creeping mechanics emblematic to the genre. This makes the game worse… but it also makes it a game with immense historical value. Due to the murderous tendencies of the live service model, it is one of the few ways that people will be able to experience what an early 2020s gacha game was like in… 20 years from now.
That all being said, from a sheer design, structure, layout, and respecting the player’s time perspective, Mega Man X DiVE Offline is a piece of crap.
It is a game with obviously bad design decisions there is no way that the people working on it weren’t intimately aware of them. Its progression system sucks. Its upgrade system sucks. The quality of life improvements it does offer do little to fix deep underlying issues with the game. And in playing the game, I constantly imagined the designers, wanting to change things, but not having the permission to make the game good. When the game has all the elements to make itself… maybe not good, but substantially better.
Let’s start by defining the sheer number of things that the player can upgrade and how they are upgraded. I know this is redundant for a gacha game, but this is being presented as a single-player packaged game, an offline experience. Also, for added fun, I’m going to use this game’s terminology for these things, because it freaking sucks.
Characters, also known as Hunter Programs, are the characters the player controls. There are a total of 129 available in Mega Man X DiVE Offline, after 12 Capcom crossover characters were cut for reasons behind the comprehension of mere mortals. Players can only choose one character at a time, and with no sort of elemental system, there really is not much incentive to switch between a wide variety of characters. Their upgrade cycle involves the following steps:
- Unlock new characters using character-specific memories
- Rank up characters from 0-stars to 5-stars using character-specific memories
- Upgrade two “active skills” using Zenny, with the level cap rising based on the player’s level
- Select one of three unlockable skill modifiers for each character’s two active skills
- Unlock the character’s three to five “passive skills” using Zenny and Compound Energy
- Unlock three DNA Codes, or “Fixed DNA” using Zenny, which are like “passive skills” but I assume were added later in the game’s development
- If the character has additional skins, unlock them using an character-specific skin item or Zenny (I think, only a few characters have different skins) (skins increase a character’s stats)
Weapons are the primary means of attacking enemies. They come in five general styles: busters, melee, machine guns, launchers, and sprayers, but they all serve the role of doling out damage. Two are equipped at a time, each of which having their own replenishing ammo count or cooldown meter that needs to be refreshed when extinguished. There are a total of 97 weapons available in Mega Man X DiVE Offline, after 4 Capcom crossover weapons were cut from the online version. There is no real weapon weakness/resistance system, which means players can just play through the game with a buster and saber, like I did. Their upgrade cycle involves the following steps:
- Unlock new weapons using weapon-specific memories
- Rank up weapons from 0-stars to 5-stars using weapon-specific memories
- Level up weapons using Weapon EXP Program consumable items, with the level cap being the player’s level
- Upgrade the weapon’s ATK, HP, HIT, CRI, and Luck levels using Zenny, with the level cap rising based on the player’s level
- Unlock the character’s three to five “skills” using Zenny and Compound Energy
- Level up certain weapon “skills” using Zenny, with a level cap of 80
- Equip chips that boost a weapon’s ATK, HP, and DEF stats
Chips are similar to the special weapons from typical Mega Man action platformers, but are used simultaneously with regular weapons, often functioning as an additional attack. Some of them can be used with all weapon types, while others are more picky about which weapons they work with. They are typically earned by defeating story bosses several times, and are in turn the most grind-centric upgrade resource, requiring 20 to 30 runs to fully upgrade, complete with ~20 seconds of buffer time between each run. Fortunately, there are only a total of 18 chips in Mega Man X DiVE Offline, and two of them can just be bought at the in-game shop, for some reason. Their upgrade cycle involves the following steps:
- Unlock new chips using boss-specific memories
- Rank up chips from 0-stars to 5-stars using chip-specific memories
- Level up chips using Chip EXP Program consumable items, with the level cap being the player’s level
- Analyze chips up to five times to improve their ATK, HP, and DEF stats using Zenny and Compound Energy
Armor is a Mega Man X staple, known for giving X access to new abilities and enhancements. Here, Armor merely increases the HP, ATK, and DEF of the executed character. There are a total of 18 regular armor sets and 15 advanced armor sets, all consisting of 6 pieces. These armor sets have no functional differences, and are clearly delineated in terms of level and stats. Once a set of higher level armor is created, there is no reason to use a set of lower level armor, and there is no benefit to keeping the lower level armor. Their upgrade cycle involves the following steps:
- Consume primer armor using Armor Parts or Advanced Armor Parts materials to combine new pieces of armor
- Change armor via the armor menu
- Enhance armor to a higher level using Zenny and the Shock Absorber consumable item, with the level cap being the lesser of the player’s level and the armor’s level plus ten
- Also, the ‘enhance armor level’ is universal across armor pieces. So if you upgrade a level 120 armor helmet to level 127, and then craft a level 140 helmet, the ‘enhance armor level’ will still be 127. It’s a weird quirk that, combined with the fact that every piece of armor is a 3-star rank upon being crafted, makes me think this system was gutted at some point.
- Dismantle armor for a fraction of the Armor Parts or Advanced Armor Parts used to combine them
Cards are recycled art from the Mega Man series, but turned into equippable items that grant characters passive effects. Every character can equip 3, and there are over 350 cards in Mega Man X DiVE Offline. I spent 5 minutes trying to understand how cards worked, gave up, looked up a good build in the Steam community guides, and then spent five minutes trying to find the cards that were referenced. I then saved the loadout and used it for the remainder of the game, never looking into what the other cards did. Also, cards are the only piece of character-specific equipment, and if you want to switch characters, you need to re-equip your card loadout. There is no in-game option to change this. Cards are a terribly managed piece of crap system that suffers from a lack of sorting, search, or filtering options, and only offer minor effects on character stats. Their upgrade cycle involves the following steps:
- Power up cards using different cards to gain EXP
- Unprotect all copies of the 250+ 5-star cards so they can be used to power up other cards
- Since players need 6 copies of a card for a complete set, that means clicking the same icon 1,250+ times
- No, there is no option to disable this automatic protect system, like there is in some gacha games
- Since players need 6 copies of a card for a complete set, that means clicking the same icon 1,250+ times
- Power up cards using copies of the same card to rank up chips from 0-stars to 5-stars
- Item power up cards using Chip EXP Program consumable items to increase their level estimate, with the level cap being the player’s level
Skills are one-use super moves that can be used in stages to make the game a bit easier, but as a cooldown-less ability in an action game. Despite being a static screen element, it’s easy to forget they exist, and only wind up using them a dozen or so times even after 20+ hours of gameplay. Their upgrade cycle involves the following steps:
- Unlock skills using skill-specific memories
- Rank up skills from 0-stars to 5-stars using skill-specific memories
- Level up skills using Zenny and the self-learning system consumable item, with the level cap ranging from 25 to 50
After unlocking and upgrading characters, weapons, and cards, the player is prompted to visit the gallery, where they have thousands of character/weapon/card specific targets. These targets include unlocking the character/weapon/card, increasing it to a higher rank, and reaching certain upgrade thresholds. By reaching these targets, the player is prompted to interact with the corresponding icon within the gallery, where they are rewarded with character/weapon/card gallery EXP, increasing their character/weapon/card gallery level. Meaning that players need to manually click nearly 600 different icons at least once, possibly multiple times. By reaching the desired level of 200 across characters, weapons, and cards, the player is rewarded with an extra 82,800 ‘power,’ in a game where the maximum power threshold exceeds 1.3 million.
…Gee, you think that’s all complicated enough?
I get that there is an argument that a direct and simple leveling system is uninvolved, blasé, and ‘dated.’ There is a reason why skill trees, randomized loot, and the like have become popular. But this is all just so damn excessive and so deprived of ease of use that it truly feels as if the game never intended on players unlocking everything. Or, more likely, the developers lacked the budget to improve even fairly basic QoL features. Upgrading all of this is a chore. It’s a job. And is one of the most blatant examples of turning a fun process— upgrading things and getting more options and higher stats in a game— into a damn slog.
Oh! But I haven’t gotten to the worst parts!
Part 04: C.R.E.A.M.M.X.D.O.
Currencies Rule Everything Around Mega Man X DiVE Offline
The distribution for upgrade resources in this game is the pits. The game barely makes any effort to distribute upgrades to the player in an even semi-organic manner, and instead relies on three tried and true methods. Chapter specified rewards for getting enough stars when clearing stages. A checklist of hundreds of micro-tasks. And visiting the shop. In the shop, players can buy as many EXP items as they want using Zenny, while splitting character memories, weapon memories, and cards across three currencies. Zenny (Gold), Elemental Metals (Gems), and Event Vouchers (Rectangles)!
This is… not the worst system conceptually, but it fails in four regards:
- Players can only redeem 50 of a given item in a single transaction, when players need up 370 memories of most characters and weapons, meaning they need to make eight transactions to get everything they need. This is an arbitrary limit, and makes the entire purchase experience pretty terrible.
- Players only need to obtain 6 copies of a card, but because the UI is identical for redeeming memories, it is alarmingly easy to screw themselves over and accidentally buy 50 cards when they only wanted 6. And if they did that with a 5-star card… then have fun clicking three icons 50 times!
- There is no logic in what characters are obtained with what currency. Certain staple, low rarity, characters, like standard Mega Man and Servbot, are locked behind Event Vouchers, when the player cannot get Event Vouchers until they are level 60. Characters featured in events can be purchased with Zenny. Some characters can only be unlocked after reaching certain points in the main story for no reason. And… just looking at the distribution is mind-numbing. The currency assigned to most characters, weapons, and cards is arbitrary, and I hate it.
- Obtaining Zenny, Elemental Metals, and Event Vouchers sucks, and you need a LOT of it.
Now, I want to stress the fourth point there, because while it is clear that X DiVE Offline has seen some adjustments to the distribution of resources to make it less of a grindfest… it’s still an egregious grindfest. Just from looking as some of the results screens, I can tell the developers did some multiplication on the rewards to make the game less of a grind. Which works great in some respects, but not others.
The main story does give the player a meaningful amount of EXP and Zenny for each new clear, and it should be enough to allow the player to almost keep up with the challenges on offer. While the four dedicated ‘farming events,’ unlocked at level 20, offer fairly considerable rewards, have difficulties that scale with the player’s level, and don’t need to be replayed that many times. …But they also sorta suck ass.
Armor parts are obtained by breaking boxes across a simple stage with a fairly intuitive layout. At the very least, it captures the joy of breaking stuff. It’s fairly mindless, and since players can skip armor sets without any major penalty, it’s not even a noteworthy chore if they only go for every other advanced set.
Skill memories are earned from this somewhat bizarre conveyor belt stage where the player needs to kill enemies before they walk off a ledge to their doom. Which, while a bit finicky with the platforming, is fully functional and offers some facsimile of tension. Since the player only needs a very finite amount of skill memories, they will only need to play through this stage a relatively few number of times, so no complaints from me.
Player EXP is primarily earned via a… genuinely terrible stage where the player needs to defeat enemies, grab shiny items, and wait for the screen to slowly scroll downward while a ceiling of spikes slowly lowers. To reach level 200, the player needs to go through this stage at what I would estimate at 80 to 100 times. And it is one of the most boring stretches of two (really closer to three) minutes this game has to offer.
While Zenny is earned by playing through a routine, nothing special, stage, with the goal of speedrunning through it as quickly as possible. The layout never changes, the enemy spawns barely change by difficulty, and it can be cleared within a minute with the right character. …But it is really bloody boring, and only offers a maximum of just over 1,000,000 Zenny per run, in a game where a completionist player needs about 2,600,000,000 Zenny! How many times do you need to play through this stage then? There are so many supplemental different Zenny related awards that I truly have no idea! So let’s shift to talking about Element Metals and Event Vouchers!
Element Metals are earned piecemeal by completing various tasks, and the process kind of freaking blows. Because the amounts earned are tiny, and there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of tasks that reward players with these things. From clearing the 525 Jakob Elevator stages, to completing the challenge modes for 160-ish other stages, to doing bonus speedrun stages that seem hard as all hell. How many Elemental Metals are needed to get everything? 464,240! What does that mean? I DON’T KNOW!!!
While Event Vouchers are the… simplest currency of them all. Play a special or seasonal event, complete all three objectives, and get 2,000 Event Vouchers. How many Event Vouchers are needed to get everything? 562,140. Or in other words, players need to go through events a minimum of 282 times. And with there being 40 events that require a minimum of three run throughs to get all related rewards, that means 162 additional playthroughs are needed to get everything the shop has to offer. Also, beating events in challenge mode does not reward the player with any Event Vouchers, because that would make too much sense!
After ten hours with X DiVE Offline, I realized that this game’s progression system was genuinely terrible, and it would never give me as much Zenny, Element Metals, or Event Vouchers as I wanted. So I went through a stupid rigmarole involving BitDefender being a narc before using CrySearch to edit the values of these currencies, adding 990,000,000 Zenny, 900,000 Element Metals, and 500,000 Event Vouchers. This is, objectively, cheating. …But this game was already trying to cheat me. So I was not only getting even, but playing even, and saving the days worth of time this game was trying to steal from me.
…However, the game still won. Because not only did it force me to internalize its utterly stupid progression system, a hodgepodge that could have easily been made significantly palatable if somebody just threw a few extra zeros around. But it still took me over 12 hours just to unlock and upgrade everything I could. Well, not everything, as I skipped over some cards, and only did half the events. But I had all the characters, all the weapons, and a complete gallery. All because I wanted to see how terrible this system could get, and the answer I got was: very.
Mega Man X DiVE Offline is a Mega Man game that gives player Super Mega Man ten hours before giving them access to regular Mega Man. It overcomplicates itself with layers upon layers of mind-numbing depth and so many poorly contextualized complexities. All for a game that is, at its core, about running, jumping, and pressing a button to shoot enemies. It is a prime example of how overly complex game mechanics make for worse games. It shows an egregious disregard for any form of structured or intentional progression with how it just tells the player to buy what they want and build their own damn progression. And the process of engaging with its complex upgrade system is… hell.
Part 05: So Many Choices… But They All Feel The Same
Something that I view as a key strength of a game with as many characters as a typical gacha is the potential to make characters/units feel different, have different use cases, or develop their own identity. This can be accomplished via multitudinous ways. Different characters could have different movement abilities and animations. They could have unique elements and weapon types. Certain content can be good for certain characters over others. Characters could have unique sub mechanics all their own. Or the content offered could just be designed to accommodate different characters with different skill sets. Such as making challenges with multiple solutions.
This is something that I became incredibly aware of when I went through the roguelike dungeon crawler mode, Enter the Kaleidoscape, in the 2018 to 2022 mobile action RPG Dragalia Lost with 270 different adventurers. While a lot of them felt the same, they all had different voice clips, stats, mechanics, weapon types, and kits that ultimately made for similar yet unique experiences. It was a game where adventurers were clearly developed within a budget, mostly differentiated by their skills. But through unique attack patterns and passive abilities, the roster of Dragalia Lost was filled with characters who I wanted to play as, because they offered unique experiences. …Some of which were kind of crap to play, but that’s what happens when you make 298 adventurers.
Now, Dragalia Lost was a very special game, clearly one given a significant budget, while X DiVE Offline is one with an obviously limited budget. But… this is a 2D run and shoot game. Developers have found ways to make those feel unique and interesting since the NES days. There are so many ways that the developers could have made the characters feel unique. Ways they could have blended mechanics, built characters around weapon types, and overall given them unique flourishes that evolve how they played in their original titles.
To an extent, the developers do that. They change how the dash looks, they change their weight, they give them a unique pair of skills that reference something about them as characters.
…But after playing with about 50 different characters, the only major differencesI found between them are minor game feel factors, the active skills, and a clear tier list that characters fall into. With the top being characters with screen clearing moves and healing abilities, like Gangsta Girl Eratoeir, who became my go-to, because just freaking look at her. (Also, I could unlock her Gangsta Girl variant 25 hours before I encountered her in the main story.) The overpowered as heck DiVE armor renditions of familiar characters like X, Zero, Axyl, Iris, RiCO, and iCO. And the platforming GOD that is Falcon Armor X, who can just fly over any platforming obstacle in his way. He can fly higher than any character can jump, and soar across entire disappearing block puzzles. He makes finding the rotten grapes in stages so easy… it’s almost stupid not to use him for story mode. While the A-tier is probably just characters with access to shields that damage their opponents, like Ferham. …You know, from Mega Man X Command Mission? A bad PS2 RPG that Capcom wants people to forget about.
No matter the character though… they have the same dash, they have the same jump, they use the same weapons the same way. They feel like model swaps of each other, rather than unique characters. Skills are the only real point of differentiation. …But those are so bogged down with minutiae that you’re better off ignoring the poorly formatted flavor text and trying them out in a stage to see if they are good or not.
On that note, I recall skimming through an X DiVE Offline review, released hours after the game came out, talking about how the game had over 900 stages. Now, that might technically be true, but it’s actually closer to 200 depending on what your definition of ‘stage’ is. All 160-ish story missions have two difficulty modes, but the only major difference is the numbers attached to the enemies. …And maybe the quantity, I don’t care enough to fact check. 525 ‘stages’ are just the Jakob Elevator of ‘wasting my freaking time’ because of the 20 seconds of buffer to begin and finish these unskippable braindead elevator gauntlets. The 44 event missions all feature unique maps, often feature unique themes, and are generally more… unique with their design.
Sometimes they are just a frustrating batch of bullcrap that mirrors the design concepts of classic Mega Man, but just feels mean in this setting. Especially stages originally meant to be played as dailies. Like the spike-filled ceiling-crushing bullcrap of Mad Scientist or the high precision demanded of Attack of the Thugs. The latter of which was the first event I tried playing.
Sometimes they do something unique yet clumsy, like Maleficent Hero. An event set in an attempted recreation of the world of Mega Man Legends, where the player needs to steal various items lying around in order to become black. …Meaning the character model literally becomes blacker the more items the player steals within a time limit, and if they achieve a 70% theft rating, then they get an S-rank, because I guess that’s black enough.
Sometimes they’re actually pretty good, like Summer Vacation for the Lord of the Snowy Plains’ water park antics before fighting a watermelon themed Chill Penguin. It’s just a solid stage with good background details, a gosh darn waterslide section, a ferris wheel, and a reskinned boss. Re-Taking The Candy Factory has legitimately my favorite character in this entire game, who is just a giant ball of chocolate who wants to feel love before he is exploded to death. While The Savior Has Come was a cute tribute to the Mega Man Zero series, neatly capturing a core idea and delivering a solid enough platforming stage. Admittedly, it just recycles a stage assets from the story mode, but at least it has a unique boss!
However… they’re still just repeats of the same underlying gameplay which, as I previously alluded to, just isn’t that enjoyable. It feels loose, imprecise, hits do not feel impactful, and the number driven balance makes this often feel like something to be churned through once the story is pushed aside.
Mega Man X DiVE Offline never feels like it is being straight-up bad with the content it has to offer, but little about its gameplay or its levels ever really impressed me. It all works, it’s all functional, but nothing really stuck with me as all that distinct or interesting. It all feels like content that was developed by people who did their job, but never really went beyond that. Most likely due to a lack of time, budget, or focus. Which, um, brings me to my next point. That, in addition to being a 5.5/10 action platformer with a 2/10 upgrade system under the hood, it’s a pretty lopsided crossover.
Part 06: Fan Service and Fan Disservice
The Mega Man series is one of the most richly packed games series when it comes to characters, references, and overall little bits of lore that could be mixed, matched, and interwoven in order to populate a gacha game. When it comes to characters, weapons, locations, skills, music, and overall references, there are loads of things that could be carried over here. X DiVE Offline is ultimately a Mega Man X game, so the series should put that subseries at the forefront, and it does. But it is also a crossover, and its balance of elements from other subseries, and even its own series, is… questionable.
Let’s start with the way the game takes familiar locales from Mega Man games and uses them as environments in the main story. This is a great bit of fan service, a way to reprise many familiar, if not iconic, locations, but re-rendered in low end 3D visuals circa 2020. …But the choices are questionable just from the games that are chosen.
For its story mode, X DiVE Offline features four stages from Mega Man X, one from X3, six from X4, two from X5, two from Mega Man ZX Advent, and one from Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, Mega Man ZX, and Mega Man Network Transmission.
For its story bosses, X DiVE Offline features one from Mega Man 1, five from Mega Man X, three from X2, five from X3, and one from X4, X5, X7, and Command Mission.
…What? I’m sorry, but how the heck is this supposed to be representative from the Mega Man X series as a whole? Not a single stage or boss comes from Mega Man X8. Mega Man ZX Advent gets two stages despite only getting one darn character. There are six bloody stages from Mega Man X4, a game with 12 stages. All while X2, X6, X7, X8, and Command Mission get zero environmental representation? The game is about saving the world of Mega Man X, but half of this story doesn’t even take place in that world, and half the main games don’t even get stages? Also… who wanted stages from Mega Man 7, 8, and Network Transmission? Does Capcom even want to remember Network Transmission?
While the bosses are similarly an uneven grabbag. First off, why bother having the Yellow Devil from Mega Man 1, when Mega Man X5 already had its own recolor with the Shadow Devil? And that’s not some obscure easter egg. X DiVE Offline directly references that boss by name. Secondly, this is some pretty extreme bias toward the SNES titles, with the majority of bosses coming from those. I understand the favoritism toward the first game, it was the most impactful and best-selling, but if this is meant to celebrate the entire X series, then the developers simply should not play favorites.
As for the characters… Well, I went through the trouble of counting things, and when presented as just numbers, they seem reasonable. Of the 129 total playable characters, 12 are classic Mega Man, 64 are OG Mega Man X, 17 are X DiVE Offline, 7 are Legends, 10 are Battle Network, 11 are Zero, 5 are ZX, and 3 are Star Force. All of which seem like fair numbers, spreading the love around while showing obvious favoritism to the game’s namesake. However, of these 129 characters, 79 are just alternate versions of 50 base characters. Which is egregious even by gacha live service standards, as those just love doing alts of popular characters. Even then, the figures don’t seem terrible. 5 are from classic, 20 are from Mega Man X, 6 are X DiVE Offline originals, 4 are from Legends, 4 are from Battle Network, 6 are from Zero, 2 are from ZX, and 3 are from Star Force.
…So I’ll just stop trying to explain this and just show you a sorted version of the roster I made myself, with the help of the Rockman X DiVE Wiki:
First off… this roster looks really stupid. With 14 alts, there is simply too much representation for X here. I get that he is the titular protagonist, and I admire the drive to represent every armor variant, but this is just aggressive. Not helped by the inclusion of three characters using the same model and artwork. This game supports skins, so the choice to make these characters dedicated characters is just… too much. Zero is… less of a problem, but nine alts is too many, even if Zero is the most popular character in the series. The number of alts for MegaMan.exe and Bass.exe is strange to me, even if Battle Network is pretty dang popular in some circles, as… this isn’t their game. But what really kills me about these alts is the sheer number of female characters placed in seasonal outfits.
Swimsuit versions, bridal versions, a bunny girl loli version, Valentine’s and White Day versions. All of these are staples for live services… but X DiVE Offline doesn’t even try to balance things out with some cute, hot, or sexy male characters. The only one is White Day Axl. I don’t mind if you want to take an already sexualized female character and crank her up to 11, but at least give me a shirtless dude. I know I complained about the over-representation of X, but I would straight up love to have seen an alt with his helmet off, wearing nothing but swim trunks. Either he’d look like a generic anime dude from a beach episode, or he’d look hot as hell, and either way, I’d win!
As for the character choices themselves… I actually like the choices of representatives of the Mega Man X series. You have all ten playable characters from the games— if you exclude Spider. Colonel and Iris from X4 are thrown in, as I guess they’re fan favorites. Sigma makes his first playable debut in… anything. X3, X4, X5, and X6 all get a playable antagonist as a representative, which I find cool, as X7 has Axl and X8 has the three playable navigators. Ferham… is here because they needed a dominatrix character. And there’s a new evil X clone based on some toy, which I approve of as a deep cut.
Classic Mega Man has all the staples, and a cute Dr. Light inclusion that I appreciate. Legends’ four most iconic characters are present. The four biggest representatives of Battle Network are on display. Star Force similarly goes for its top three. But then we get to the Zero series, which is straight up missing Phantom and Fefnir of the Four Guardians, which I think is just wrong. These characters were bosses across five different games, and were an iconic part of both the Zero and ZX series. You simply cannot have two members of a group of four.
Speaking of ZX, only the female protagonist from the first game, Alie, and the main antagonist from the first game, Pandora, make an appearance. No Prometheus, even though he and Pandora were a duo in ZX. And while I understand the choice to forgo both Grey and Vent in favor of a female character (Mega Man is a notorious man-fest), why not throw in Ashe, the co-protagonist of ZX Advent? She’s a female character with a unique design, there are two stages from ZX Advent in this game, and the only playable character from it is the ZXA version of Alie. Who is just a boss and supporting character.
Moving onto the weapons… a lot of them are actually based on some pretty deep cut references to the entire Mega Man series. To the point where, unless one is a super fan, it’s tough to recognize them as coming from… anything. I actually appreciate this, as it shows some extreme thought and care was put into crafting things like this for players. …But there also is not much reason to view them as such, as there is zero story relevance around the weapons, and they are mostly just cosmetic clumps of stats.
…Which is precisely how I would describe the cards, which are simply recycled artwork, placed on a horribly complex template that crops a good chunk of the original image, with often random stats assigned. They rarely feature anything other than standard official art, rarely feature any new art, and feel like the most poorly distributed artbook imaginable. There’s no lore, no insights into what these cards reference, and you’d be better off looking at official art on a fan wiki. And all those use WebP nowadays! I mean, this game literally takes place in a compilation of game data and memories, but there’s no in-game codex? Come on!
Though, I will say I like the names given to each Mega Man game’s key art. They all sound like dope subtitles! Mega Man 9: The Ambition Resurges! Mega Man X8: Onward to Space… Mega Man ZX Advent: Trans On! …Oh. Oh. Maybe that’s why I like ZX Advent so much…
Part 07: You’re a Buncha Data! Sort Yourself Out!
For all the problems I have with Mega Man X DiVE Offline, I have not gotten to its biggest and most egregious one in my book. Its distribution and the sheer way it delivers content. Let’s start with the most simple one: how the game organizes its characters, weapons, and cards. This should be such a simple problem to solve. Just list things in… an order. ANY order. And so long as it follows a system, it should be understandable. …Well, that is too much for X DiVE Offline!
Characters are not sorted by grouping main versions and alts. They are not sorted by subseries. They are not sorted based on when they were released in the original version. They are not sorted in any sort of alphabetical order. They are just arranged in a random sequence that, if it has any facsimile of organization, is simply a result of randomness. With 129 characters, this makes sorting through characters virtually impossible, especially when characters are only displayed on one or two rows. It is so bad that it discouraged me from trying out characters, as I did not want to get lost in this game’s unsortable mess!
Oh, but aren’t there sorting options? Yes… but they all have the same damn problem, and the only way to find one’s preferred characters is by selecting favorites. Which can only be done on one screen, not within any subscreen, and not when selecting which character to deploy. Definitely one of the worst character selection interfaces I have ever seen, and a prime example of something that a developer could fix in, what, half a day? Capcom could have spent a few hundred bucks making this system not ass, but they decided to save some coins.
With weapons, there is a way to sort them by weapon type, but it’s weirdly under favorites, and it prioritizes the weakest weapon of each type first, while dumping the rest behind it. Honestly, I’m pretty sure the player only needs five weapons in active use, so sorting through this… really isn’t important. It’s not good, but the favorites system is sufficient.
But then we get to cards, and cards are… a digital manifestation of hatred. Cards are the real Sigma Virus. Cards trick players into thinking that there is some order, have clusters that make sense, like putting various Battle Network character cards together, but that’s all a trick. Partially because the series a card is from does not matter, as cards are a strictly mechanical toolset that just repurpose old artwork to distinguish them. And partially because cards really should be sorted by two things: Their color and what sort of set they belong to.
I didn’t explain this earlier, but higher rarity cards have “passive effects” that are only activated if they are part of a set with cards of different colors. So, a blue card might only activate its second ability if it is part of a blue, green, and yellow set. This is the first key factor that one should rely on for creating card loadouts. Because, mechanically, this is the most important information.
While the second key factor is the fact that certain cards have passive effects that work with one character (and their alts). It would be great if the game had some way to distinguish this without… clicking on the card to figure this out. But that’s the only tool players are given. Guess they’re just supposed to maintain a spreadsheet! Thank Dr. Light that cards have such miniscule effects, or else I would’ve lost even more sanity points to this deliberately complex trite.
Oh, but we have finally reached something I have been waiting weeks to tear into. How this game utterly mishandles events. Events are a staple of the live service genre, a series of ongoing limited run side missions. While in X DiVE Offline, they represent a good chunk of the overall appeal, featuring 23 seasonal events and 17 special events, all of which can be activated and deactivated from the main menu.
This is a pretty cool feature, but it has a bunch of problems. One, events cannot be accessed until the player reaches level 60, which they should reach a little over halfway through the story. Two, most events are way too hard for even overly upgraded players to take on events at level 60. Even with a fully upgraded character and maxed out gear, it was a struggle to survive during these. Three, these events are presented completely out of order, and the order they are assigned to is… baffling. Despite X DiVE Offline being an offline game— it’s in the damn name— it assigns a duration to each event. It says that events run for a specific week, and holds so true to this week format that it even changes the main menu music depending on the currently ‘relevant’ event.
It makes no sense, has no relevance, and is extra questionable when… the events actually have an order they are supposed to be experienced in. It’s called the order they were released in the online version. Events are directly referenced in the main story, complete with the world’s worst citations. But not only is the player unable to play these events until they are halfway done with the story, they’d have no idea which events happened in what order unless they look up a resource telling them this information.
However… you know what the most aggravating part of this all is? X DiVE Offline actually converted three events into story chapters. But everything else? They just relegated it away from players until they were significantly invested in the game, continuity be damned, and the overall experience be damned.
They could have offered side chapters or optional extensions of each main story chapter, interweaving the side content into the main story, and ultimately creating a more focused experience. They did not need to make events into ‘events’ because they could have just been story chapters. But they just didn’t!
And that sentiment remains true for just… everything about how the experience is doled out. They could have done something to make this game better. The developers clearly had the means, knowledge, and understanding to make the game a superior experience. Here’s an idea! Maybe instead of making this game a damn grindfest, the game could just give players all the goodies they would get from the shop… by playing the damn game once.
There is a form of value to dailies— but this is not a live service, and players should not need to engage with it like one.
Part 08: A Mobile Game for PC
Something that is obvious upon starting up X DiVE Offline is that this is a mobile game that was ported to PC, and given partial controller support. Enough for it to be technically fully playable with a controller, but not ideally by any stretch of the imagination. Menus can be navigated using the control sticks, but they only control a standard slow-moving mouse cursor. As such, while a controller is advised for action gameplay, this is very much a mouse and controller game on PC. Which I’m actually okay with.
What I’m less okay with is the presentation options. It only had graphical presets and no in-game way to make the game look sharper or improve the quality of the artifacted 2D artwork on loading screens and the title screen. It gives the game a cheap look, which isn’t really helped by how… everything else looks. I don’t like to stereotype… but this game just looks like a Southeast Asian live service with a Southeast Asian budget. Nothing looks bad, but aside from the character art, models, and familiar enemy designs, the game also does not really nail a distinct Mega Man look in my mind. As if many assets were deliberately kept plain enough that they could be repurposed for another IP altogether.
3D character models are afforded a lot of detail for enemies and player characters alike. But in gameplay it’s almost undermined by how tiny the characters are on screen, and the garish effects that cover their bodies when equipping chips. I don’t know why someone would want their character to glow green, mucking up their design, but I’m not a game developer. Animations can be a little stiff, but I actually kind of like that, as it makes these toyetic characters feel like toys. While the environments are… Hmm…
I can tell that a lot of effort went into creating the worlds of this game, and the end result is often an earnest 3D adaptation of the worlds from the earlier 2D titles. …But it has two major issues. One, a lot of the game looks like it was made using a 3D tileset, causing stages to look the same, as they are made using the same models and textures. With 2D pixel graphics, this is less of an issue, due to the abstract low resolution of the assets already, causing patterns to be less immediately noticeable. But with HD graphics, featuring more defined patterns… it’s really bloody obvious.
Two, this game is flat. Nothing is dark, everything has the most boring lightning, and every environment has an almost plastic quality to it. Just comparing, say, Shade Man’s stage from Mega Man 7 to the version from X DiVE Offline is really telling of the artist’s priorities. They can make something more detailed and technically faithful to the original, in some ways enhancing the original look… they just don’t capture the same personality.
…Also, I did the terrible thing of looking up longplays of Mega Man X8, Network Transmission, and Maverick Hunter X and… I think they all actually look better than X DiVE Offline. It all comes down to lighting, art direction, and making the environments feel like places, not playsets.
Part END: JACK OUT
When it was initially announced, I was fascinated in Mega Man X DiVE Offline as I, naively, thought that it would be a great example of how to transform a gacha game into an offline experience. I thought that I would learn something about how to convert games of this nature to something finite, fixed, and overall better. …But in reality, all I got was what was included on the tin. Mega Man X DiVE… but now playable offline, with all the online features cut, and a bunch of the cool crossover DLC locked behind fan patches.
As an offline gacha title, it does its job of preserving the original game, its events, its story, its mechanics, and most of its cast. But as a standalone single-player title, let alone a revival of the Mega Man X series? It’s bad.
The story is frothing with potential for being a metatextual analysis on the nature of canon, the way memories shape what a work of art is, and what it means for a series to be a series. But it is marred by subpar writing, a repetitive structure, wildly inconsistent editing, and a general… lack of willingness to build upon the theming of what came before it.
The gameplay is broken up into tiny platforming sections and relentless enemy gauntlets that require little thought to dispatch. With whatever depth, complexity, or challenge being offset by a power creeping number-heavy structure that only punishes the player. Either with frustrating number-driven failure, or with a lukewarm success.
The structure is corroded by a needlessly complex distribution of content and a fixation on repeating the same dull stages ad nauseam to progress. All of which is worsened by an upgrade system whose mind-numbing intricacies are the remnant of a game made overly complex for the sake of engagement and revenue. While the worlds and visual identity are a mostly hollow imitation of some truly vividly detailed environments for a series that consistently delivered in terms of style.
I spent 40 hours with X DiVE Offline, hoping to learn something. …And I sure don’t feel like I did. At most, it reminded me of things. Of how cool the Mega Man series truly is, and how much creativity was interjected into every one of its subseries. Of how much live service mechanics make games almost inarguably worse. Of how modern game development is such a mess that blatantly obvious issues and problems that any playtester could find with a game… might just go completely unaddressed.
X DiVE Offline is not a game without its finer features, but the overwhelming majority of it is drenched in this lukewarm live service gunk. It has the heart of a sloppy yet earnest game buried deep within, but rather than clear through the gunk… Capcom pretty much just stripped the game of its online elements, and threw it on Steam for $30.
As I said earlier, there is value in that approach, in having a preservable title that captures the various evils of the live service movement. …But it still does not make for a game that I would recommend to anybody as a ‘game.’