E3 2018: Super Fighting Robots, THE SURGE 2! - Dread Central
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E3 2018: Super Fighting Robots, THE SURGE 2!

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I’ll admit, it raised an eyebrow when I got the invite to check out The Surge 2 at E3 2018. “Really?” I thought to myself, “A sequel to The Surge already? I’m pretty sure I have vegetables in my freezer older than that game.” I actually went back and checked the date on my review, and it’s only been a little over a year since the first The Surge dropped. Hell, the DLC only came out six months agoNow I’m not exactly sure the accepted development cycle on a Soulsborne game, but I’m pretty sure you don’t just make a New Year’s resolution and it’s ready by E3.

Now I don’t want to give off the impression that I’m not down with a new The Surge game. As a general rule of thumb, I’m basically down for anything with even the faint whiff of Soulsborne about it. All I’m saying is that with this short of time between the release of the first, I wasn’t expecting any groundbreaking changes. For the most part, I was right. In the 20-minute closed-door demonstration, what I saw of The Surge 2 looked like it could be from a new The Surge DLC pack. Which is honestly just fine. I don’t need The Surge 2 to reinvent the Soulsborne wheel. What I need it to do is improve upon the concepts of The Surge and polish up the blotches that held it back.

It would be kind of pointless to go over the beats of the demo, since the game was in such early alpha that it seemed more like a tech-demo. I mean sure, I learned stuff about the game, but there was a lot of pausing to show off new features as the level wasn’t developed enough to naturally showcase them. It took about 15 minutes to see it all, and in that time there were only maybe six regular enemies and a bossfight. If you need to know what it looked like, here’s some footage courtesy of IGN.

So like the developers did for me, let me break down a bit of what you’re seeing in The Surge 2. First off, the fundamentals of the combat are mostly the same. Attack, block, dodge, charge attack, etc. Attacks build your energy meter, which you can use to heal yourself, activate implants, and perform the iconic dismemberment executions. One big change right off the bat is that your drone now has it’s own ammunition. Previously, your drone would use the same energy supply that your healing and other implants would. Along with the new ammo system, the drone also now has improved combat applications. When the boss recoils in the demo, that’s because of the drone. You can use it to target vulnerable points and stagger the enemy mid-attack. Directional blocks are also a thing now. Block high at the right time to parry a high attack, low to parry a low attack, etc. For the love of god, I hope this replaces the terrible directional dodge of the The Surge. I seriously never pulled that shit off once.

Speaking of combat variety, the number of available weapon classes as been upped from five to ten. One of my criticisms of The Surge was that the weak weapon variety. The five different weapon types were all very different, but within each class the weapons were pretty much the same. A stave was a stave, a twin-rigged energy weapon was a twin rigged energy weapon, etc. With The Surge 2, Deck 13 is looking to mix things up with more interesting and diverse murder implements. The weapon was see in the demo is a kind of split-axe thing. Switching between a long two-handed axe and two faster smaller axes, it resembles one of the trick-weapons from Bloodborne. When asked, the developer said that many of the weapons would be their own take on this concept. At the same time, the special properties of a weapon won’t always just be splitting in half. So don’t expect every axe to split into two axes, or every splitting weapon to be an axe.

Now if you’re looking closely, you can see at the beginning of the gameplay that the enemy is coming out of a cloaking field to attack. This cloaking device is actually part of a larger new gameplay element: body specific abilities. Certain body parts (primarily the chest for most enemies) will come with a certain ability that can be disabled if the body part is destroyed. The larger mechanical enemies will also have even more destructible components. As you can see in the demo, knocking off the statue’s armor does more than just expose a weak-point. Disable your enemies system by system, then slice their legs off and take their shoes.

Speaking of the dismemberment, you might feel a bit more… bad about it this time around. While The Surge made pretty clear that the enemies were braindead husks/absolute assholes, most of the foes in The Surge 2 still have their wits about them. Gameplay wise, this means that your foes will strategize to take you down. In the brief demo I saw, this meant that one enemy would stay back and pelt you with ranged shots while the other would tie you up in melee. It’s pretty basic, but hopefully we’ll see more variety as more gameplay is revealed. They also promised that The Surge 2 would have far more bosses than the original. The general estimate was 3 times more, which if memory serves would mean about 15.

One last thing that I’m pretty sure no one will care about is that you now play as your own user created character. I never really got this part of Soulsborne games, as everyone looks the same in full Havel’s anyways.

I wish I could say more, but that’s really all we got to see in the brief demo. The level showcased was in pre-alpha, so it’s unclear if the looping design and secret nooks and crannies will be all there. But I can’t imagine they would suddenly forget something so fundamental. This is Deck 13’s third crack at the Soulsborne genre, and so far the games have only gotten better. I know that Lords of the Fallen and The Surge get some shit from people who make a living out of being enraged by video games. As a massive fan of Soulsborne games, I found The Surge to be a unique enough take on the genre to make up for the shortcomings. With the improvements made in The Surge 2I can easily see this game taking a top spot in the tier list.

Stay tuned for more info on The Surge 2 as it comes. Release isn’t until a nebulous “2019,” so expect plenty more news before it releases on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. For all our E3 coverage, make sure to follow our social media tag #DreadE3 and you can also read all our other coverage right here!

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