As part of Focus Home Interactive’s What’s Next event, we got to play a section of The Surge 2 from developer Deck 13. If you’re unaware, this is a sequel to 2017’s The Surge, and expands on the game’s third-person action combat. Looking at it more generally, The Surge 2 plays like a lot of action RPGs you’d see today, with an emphasis on combat, twitch reflexes, and exploring to find items that will aid you as you play.
A comparison commonly made is that it plays like a futuristic/industrial version of Dark Souls, which isn’t a totally unfair point. This will give you a basic understanding of the moment to moment combat, but in all honesty, I struggled with The Surge 2 way more than any Souls game.
Interestingly, you’re able to target an enemy’s individual limbs and focus on chopping it off. But it’s way more complicated than that, as there are incentives to chop certain limbs over another. For example, if you need more ammo for one of your drones, you’ll want to chop an enemy’s leg, since that’s typically where they store their ammo pouches.
This idea is novel and not something you see in video games too often, but in practice, it seems to be more finicky than anything. Since you have six different options to choose from (head, left and right arms, left and right legs, and chest), you have to think on the fly very quickly, and in the heat of battle that’s easier said than done.
In addition to that, there is a blocking system that requires you to aim the stick in the direction of an enemy’s attack, much like a fighting game. Again, this is an interesting idea, but the complexity adds up when trying to juggle that with multiple enemies, chopping limbs, healing, and dodging. And more often than not, the timing is so tight, that I usually ended up getting hit. There is a UI indicator that appears to indicate which direction an attack is coming from, but only for certain attacks, so you can’t always rely on it.
Since The Surge 2 focuses heavily on timing and reflexes, I suggested to a developer that there should be a way to cancel out of attack animations to prioritize a dodge or block. As it stands now, once you’ve initiated an attack, you’re committed to it, so if you realize halfway through that you need to dodge or guard, you can’t. In many action games like these, there is a way to dodge or guard immediately, even if you’ve already committed to an attack.
Aside from the combat, this game will expand upon its predecessor and allow for much more exploration in an open environment. It’s not quite open world or anything like that, but Jericho City has lots of little paths that can be taken, in addition to wider areas to explore.
The Surge 2 Preview – Asynchronous Multiplayer
The Surge 2 includes a multiplayer component that you might find all too familiar. Players can leave graffiti signs throughout the world to assist other players, or troll them if they so desire. The developers did not outright confirm if there would be synchronous multiplayer included, but hinted that it was something they were interested in. The idea of playing cooperatively with someone sounds fun, but it might break the game, which is probably something Deck 13 is looking into.
While all of the press was playing, a few reps were on standby to assist us during the demo. It’s comforting to know that every single one of us were having issues, as the reps went down a line and gave advice to all. It’s possible that The Surge 2 is a game that just doesn’t demo well, since it requires so much focus and learning. It’s a game that you need to spend hours with to understand how the combat works, so playing for 20 – 30 minutes won’t do it justice.
I admire the complexity and think it will be quite rewarding once you get the hang of it, but in a demo environment, it isn’t as easy to grasp as I’d hoped. Luckily, the first Surge is available as a PS Plus game right now, so you have a chance to get acclimated to the combat before The Surge 2 drops this year at an unknown date.