How Playing As Plague Knight Introduces New Challenges To Shovel Knight

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It’s already known that you’ll be playing as Plague Knight in the upcoming “Plague of Shadows” DLC for Shovel Knight. But what developer Yacht Club Games recently revealed was how playing as Plague Knight introduces new challenges to the game.


Writing on Gamasutra, Yacht Club’s programmer David D’Angelo explained the major fundamental differences between playing as Plague Knight and playing as Shovel Knight. First of all, he outlines the characteristics of Plague Knight that Yacht Club wanted to capture in his basic moveset. These are:


  • Plague Knight is all about explosions!
  • Plague Knight is a scientist that creates items through alchemy.
  • Plague Knight is wild, maniacal, and dangerous!
  • Plague Knight should feel like you’re controlling the character you saw in the original boss fight! (A few key components from his fight: lots of bombs, wild big jumping leaps, explosions everywhere! He generally feels out of control!)


With these in mind, Yacht Club got to designing Plague Knight’s basic moveset, the core of which is his Burst move. It’s used by holding down the attack button, charging it up, so it requires a degree of thinking ahead and precise timing to pull off. The result is a much further reaching horizontal jump than Shovel Knight could ever manage.


“Once a horizontal burst is detonated, the player’s left and right input does very little to change it! This captures Plague Knight’s wild spirit, the seemingly out of control jumping in his boss fight,” writes D’Angelo.


To make the Burst feel even more wild, Yacht Club has made Plague Knight’s running speed slower than Shovel Knight’s, and the jump height is nowhere near as springy either. However, to ensure that Plague Knight can reach the same heights at Shovel Knight, he has a double jump.


This double jump can be used in tandem with the Burst to reach really far away platforms. “When combined with burst jumps, players can more accurately adjust where and how to land. Or they can even take advantage of the burst’s momentum to keep their faster momentum,” D’Angelo explained.


Next up is Plague Knight’s attack. Instead of a shovel it’s thrown explosives – bombs. He throws a series of three short-range bombs in quick succession. This means you can attack from more of a distance than Shovel Knight but the real difference is made when throwing the bombs in the air.


When Plague Knight attacks from the air, the bombs are thrown at a 45 degree angle, allowing you to clear platforms before landing on them (whereas Shovel Knight had to bounce on the heads of enemies in the same situation). More importantly, throwing bombs in the air slows down Plague Knight’s movement speed.


“This was an important design element for two reasons,” D’Angelo says. “First, it provides a consistent way to control Plague’s air speed. Since the bomb bursts’s speed and arc is fixed, giving the player the ability to stop themselves or slow down was very important.”


“Second, it makes it much easier to be accurate with the bomb as an attack, as the player can lock into the right place before unloading attacks on the same target. Without slowing down Plague, a lot of players would be showering an area with bombs rather than pin pointedly hitting their targets.”


Lastly, Plague Knight’s knockback distance when taking damage is much greater than Shovel Knight’s. This means it can be easy to fall into pits if coming into contact with an enemy. However, Plague Knight’s double jump allows you to avoid unlucky falls if you react quick enough.


That’s it for the major differences between Plague Knight and Shovel Knight’s basic movesets. However, D’Angelo notes that Plague Knight will further differ to Shovel Knight as you upgrade him and unlock new armors.


There’s no current release date for the “Plague of Shadows” DLC but it’s said to be arriving soon.

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Chris Priestman
Former Siliconera staff writer and fan of both games made in Japan and indie games.