We are only a little over two months away from the release of The Surge 2, but we had the pleasure of trying a preview of the first hours of the soulslike action-rpg developed by Deck13 and published by Focus Home Interactive.
PREVIOUSLY ON SURGE ...
The Surge showed us a dystopian future, with the Earth on the verge of total collapse. The population continues to age and many of the jobs that humans did to survive were rendered useless by the progress of technology. The evolution of technology, social unease and the relationship between man and environment have led humanity to a state of decadence that had never before been experienced in history.
The events of The Surge 2 take place a couple of months after those recounted in the first chapter where, as Warren, we had in our hands the destiny of the human race and of the Earth.
We abandon the claustrophobic settings of CREO Industries to move to Jericho City, a small oasis of beauty in this devastated world. In reality, everything you see in the city is artificial, a mere illusion wanted by the "powerful".
The first major novelty of The Surge 2 is right in the main character, since we will no longer have our commands Warren, but we have the ability to create our own alter ego from scratch, with a somewhat sparse but functional customization menu.
Created our character, we get to the heart of the story of The Surge 2, imprisoned and without memory in a detention facility just outside Jericho City. Although we have no idea how and why we are in this place, we immediately understand that the situation is quite serious, given that the prison is falling apart and we must find an escape route as soon as possible.
Let's forget for a moment the exoskeletons used in the first chapter, since in these first moments we are still "naked" and we must rely on makeshift weapons to face the other prisoners who are afflicted by what is called "Defrag Virus", which transforms into dangerous and aggressive beings.
Willing or not we find ourselves immediately forced to fight. The combat of The Surge 2, as a tradition of every soulslike, is very technical, with a mixture of parades, dodges and attacks (each of these moves uses a certain amount of stamina, so you can't abuse it) to perform with the right timing, for don't find yourself on the ground even against the simplest enemy.
Let's start with the parrying system that introduces what are called "directional parades". It is not sufficient to use the key used for the block to stop an opponent's attack, but it is also necessary to address the parade. This system, already seen for example on For Honor, is quite complicated to assimilate (at least until you find the implant that shows you the direction of the attack), but creates attack windows to exploit, in addition to giving you opportunity to launch a counterattack that inflicts heavy damage on the opponent.
The weapons available to us are varied, each with its own unique characteristics, but the choice of what to use is purely personal, influenced by the style of play you prefer, which may be that of double blades (excuse the terminology at Monster Hunter) or heavier and more powerful weapons.
The combat system of The Surge 2 also includes a very particular aiming system as after locking an enemy it is also possible to target specific points of the opponent's body. At this point the player is faced with a choice: to target the weaknesses of the opponent to win a simple, fast and painless victory or to aim at the most protected and armored parts, but which once destroyed can be collected, providing us with new ones equipment, construction schemes or material to upgrade our gear. Never before in this case is the saying "No Pain, No Gain".
Unless you are one of those hateful supernatural beings who manage to do the "nohit" runs in any soulslike, the advice is to get busy and dismember and collect as many pieces as possible to avoid being hopelessly (like myself) in front to a boss and clearly undergeared to deal with it.
The enemies, once defeated, leave the "Tech Scrap", a kind of currency for the experience; the system of The Surge 2 rewards those who love to risk, given that the greater the number of Tech Scraps we carry with us, the greater the multiplier of those dropped by our opponents. The downside is that if we lose the senses, we will also lose all the Tech Scrap collected up to that point, even if not definitively.
In fact, the game allows us to do a "corpse run" in time to try to recover our belongings where we died. The problem is that in the meantime all the enemies are respawned and obviously waiting for us there will be the enemy that made us the skin the previous time. Therefore it is not always possible to recover the lost loot, for this reason the player must wisely choose when to use them in order to improve their characteristics.
To do this you need to visit the medbays, the counterparts of the Dark Souls campfires, checkpoints from which we will restart our adventure in case we die, but which also have the role of a hub where we can manage and upgrade our character. In the crafting system it is also interesting to create various pieces of a single set (alla Diablo) that provide additional bonuses if used together.
To keep us company during our adventure we also have a drone, which we acquire after defeating the head of the guards in the prison where we have awakened. At first the drone has simple fighting skills (useful for weakening opponents at a distance), but with time and finding new modules, it can acquire various skills that can be useful both in combat and exploration.
Let's leave the fight aside and see what the setting of The Surge 2 has to offer.
As already mentioned, we abandon the closed environments of the first chapter to move to Jericho. Although we are not faced with a real open world, The Surge 2 has made giant strides, with the possibility for the player to move freely within the city, very well developed in all its aspects. Many locations will not be accessible on the first pass, so the "backtracking" component plays a very important role.
Narratively speaking, the few hours of play we have been able to experience do not show us clearly how the plot evolves. From time to time we encounter disturbed areas, species of "echo" that allow us to relive moments from the past that give us some additional information, but the streets of Jericho hide various mysteries. Compared to the past, the number of NPCs with which to interact has also increased, some of which, in addition to providing us with interesting details about the "lore" of the city, will assign us secondary quests with which to retrieve extra items or additional "tech scrap".
Speaking instead of technical component, we tried The Surge on an I7 with 8gb of RAM and Geforce 1060 from 6GB (so certainly not a high end configuration). The game, tweaking the graphic settings in a bit, runs perfectly with a discreet visual impact, even if sometimes the animations seem in a bit inaccurate, with not exactly perfect hitboxes. For a soulslike this is a problem absolutely to be solved to avoid the player's frustration for undesired and above all unplanned deaths.
In the fighting, great emphasis on the visual level is placed on the finisher, which differ depending on the weapon we are using and the part of the body we are targeting. Before seeing them all it will take some time, but it is also possible to deactivate the "cinematographic" option (the slow motion, so to speak) to make the fight and the flow of the game more fluid.
The Surge 2 has shown itself to be very entertaining in these early hours of the game, although sometimes, also because of the genre, you want to throw the pad or keyboard against the wall. Great recognition must be given to the guys at Deck13, who have been able to listen carefully to the feedback provided by the players on the first chapter. The game represents a nice step forward compared to The Surge, even though it still has some small defects but it does not undermine the decidedly positive judgment of the product.