Next year, Evil Genius 2: World Domination will flip the tables once more, letting players stick it to the good guys as they set off to bring the world to its knees through deception, force, and a good amount of building.
Earlier this month, we took part in a hands-off preview event, during which developer Rebellion showcased a chunk of gameplay taken from an alpha build of the satirical spy-fi lair building game, giving us a look at how being a super-smart criminal mastermind plays out.
Each playthrough of Evil Genius 2: World Domination starts with picking one of three tropical islands as a location for your lair. This is when you also pick one of the four playable geniuses that essentially act as your avatar. Both choices are permanent, lasting until you conquer the world, die, or hop onto a different playthrough. They also influence multiple aspects of gameplay, from certain modifiers to the narrative campaign that you’ll experience and the type of Doomsday Device that you must build.
With the two choices locked in, you’ll proceed to build your evil lair and cover operation. As everyone knows, devious plans take time to hatch. What better way of convincing people that nothing remotely mischievous is going on than keeping them busy with a swanky casino that’s conveniently situated at the front of your island? Pan the map to the right, however, and appearances will begin to shatter, as you spot a helipad which your underlings use to set off on missions, bring back loot and captured enemies, or maintain your worldwide criminal networks.
As distracting as a luxurious casino with multiple opportunities to spend money can be, tourists will ask questions if they keep seeing people disappearing behind mysteriously large iron doors. Luckily, you can employ minions to refocus their attention. For this purpose, you’ll want your underlings to pursue training in the Deception tree, one of three choices available in Evil Genius 2.
Unlocking the four upgraded minion types in each tree provides solutions to different problems. Valets might be the very first step along the way, but they’re vital for keeping your casino running and persuading people that there’s nothing else happening. When Valets become overwhelmed, Socialites can step in. These minions are even better at holding the attention of tourists, keeping them from getting in the way of their peers.
Spin Doctors can then confuse and distract the agents of the Forces of Justice – the primary antagonists – who’ve seen something suspicious, while Counter Agents can take off the disguises of the same enemy agents found snooping around.
Away from slot machines and deep in the bowels of the lair, Evil Genius 2’s Science minions tinker and research. Technicians – the first rank – play the role of frontline fixers when stuff in your lair is sabotaged, doesn’t work, or spontaneously explodes.
Scientists, Biologists and Quantum Chemists are then needed to research basic, mid-game and late-game technologies, respectively. Evil Genius 2’s tech tree gives you access to various traps, but also minion and Lair upgrades, all helping you achieve your nefarious goals.
With the brains secured, Muscle minions bring the brawn. If Guards act as basic footsoldiers tasked with defending your lair from unwanted visitors, Mercenaries are all-rounder weapon specialists. Martial Artists excel at getting up close and capturing enemies alive, while Hitmen – the top rank – are an efficient lethal solution to your human-shaped problems.
The bigger your lair, the more minions you’ll need. Evil Genius 2’s minion training screen, however, doesn’t behave like a simple recruitment queue. It, instead, sets target numbers for each minion type that your underlings will try to maintain at all times. If minions die, others will automatically train at specific stations – as long as you’ve built them – to fill up empty spots.
Traits determine the personalities of your minions. An underling with the Presses Flowers trait is less likely to fancy conflict. Some might end up having a hard time spotting disguises or, conversely, be very good at sniffing out enemy agents.
When it comes to minions with less than ideal traits, you can choose to keep them around, send them off on missions across the world so that they don’t affect the inner workings of your lair too much, or, when you really have it in for them, make use of a good old execution. New recruits, with hopefully better traits, will be happy to take their place.
During the Evil Genius 2 preview, Rebellion showcased playable genius Red Ivan who gave off the impression of being a no-nonsense leader with a penchant for tyranny. If his four-barrel bazooka’s lethal kisses can get rid of enemies quickly, his ability, Do It Know, forces nearby minions to perform actions in his vicinity, allowing players to prioritize urgent tasks.
Evil Genius 2 will feature familiar and recurring faces even aside from its main characters, and not without showing the effects of the passage of time. You can recruit Eli Barracuda Jr., the son of the Evil Genius 1 character, as a Henchman – the most powerful type of underlings – who is a capable ranged and melee fighter.
Jubei also returns with a Windwalk ability that lets him stealthily move around. His hairline, however, remains partly stuck in the past while his sword is now replaced with a cane.
While raising and managing your army of underlings is a big part of Evil Genius 2, so is building your lair. The Lair-builder 5000 modernizes this process. It is, essentially, a multi-tool that lets minions expand your secret home by carving through the island’s rock, carry items from depots or bodies that somehow end up on your lair’s floor, but also decorate the different rooms. You can see at a glance what type of item the minions are carrying thanks to some very handy color-coding.
Your lair will be made up of a variety of different room types. You’ll want to build Control Rooms, as they’re required to send minions on missions that maintain your worldwide criminal networks, just like you need training rooms to get access to the upgraded minion roles described above.
Your underlings will need a place to sleep and eat while storage spaces let you safely showcase stolen loot like the East Island head or the Liberty Statue’s lamp. These artifacts also have various effects on your Lair. The cosmetic decorations also grant small bonuses like increasing the efficiency of training equipment.
The Evil Genius 2 preview showcase concluded in a big way, with Havoc, the first iteration of Red Ivan’s Doomsday Device. Already imposing in its first stage, it takes up multiple floors as you near its completion, which makes it a rather awe-inspiring sight. When complete, you just need to point it at the Forces of Justice and demand surrender.
Players have access to Doomsday Devices from early on, being able to use them even while they’re being built, targeting places on the world map for devastating effects. Interestingly enough, each use triggers a state of high alert across your entire lair for a couple of minutes, as the weapon charges.
During this time, minions stop doing their usual jobs. Instead, they take up defensive positions in guard posts or actively search for intruders. Non-combat minions like Scientists won’t go out in search of their inner warrior and will choose to hide.
Forces of Justice agents will, unsurprisingly, try to stop you from firing the Doomsday Device, which should make for some rather intense showdowns on your lair’s corridors.
Outside of this state of full alert, the corridors play host to the different types of traps you can use to keep these very same agents away from your secret projects. These range from carnivorous plants to the classic shark tank hidden underneath the floor and even a researchable fan trap that’s useful in pushing enemies into other traps. Trap synergy sounds like a thing.
Although we only got a glimpse at the Doomsday Device, the hubbub it causes in your base alongside the countdown leading to its launch made setting it off look like a very satisfying event.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination already has many moving parts that go into building your lair and taking over the world. We delve deeper into some of them in our interview with Lead Designer Richard Edwards and Producer Ash Tregay, which you should definitely check out if you want to learn more.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is set to launch in the first half of 2021 and is headed to PC.
About Bogdan Robert Mateș
When not brewing coffee or debating serious topics with my cat, you'll either find me playing video games or writing about them.