Where The Surge started out in an industrial complex, it’s no surprise that The Surge 2 went and took the setting to a whole city. Fans of the first game will be right at home. With the core gameplay of the original as a foundation, The Surge 2 builds on it, making a lot of meaningful changes that make the game more fun and less tedious than the first.
Going away from Warren and the CREO facility in the original game, The Surge 2 takes place in Jericho City, and players are now able to make their own character to play as. The character creator isn’t exactly anything outstanding but it is serviceable and adds a little more personalisation. While the game takes place in a city it does keep a similar design structure to the previous game, with separate areas being locked away behind certain items or progression, as well as the city being split into districts, keeping the game more semi-linear than open world. It’s possible to go back to previous areas but it’s obvious the game has a path it wants you to take.
The world design is simple but effective because of this. You’ll have your checkpoints marked by medbays where you can level up and upgrade your character, while scattered around each district there are various lifts and doors that can be unlocked as well as zip lines later on that act as shortcuts and make traversal much easier. The nature of the game being set in a city means there’s a lot more verticality to the world thanks to the buildings. Rather than being limited to just floors and walkways your fights and exploration can now be taken from streets, to buildings, to rooftops. Visually the world isn’t bad; the nature of it means there’s a lot of grey because it’s a city but it’s offset by the sunlight that brightens the world up rather than making it drab. Each district also has its own theme that has its own distinct style. The only issue that really bothered me visually was there was some pop-in issues. I noticed that there was an instance where character textures were very low res until I got to the first medbay in the city, and there was other times where there was smaller pop-in problems with character models. It’s not so bad that it affects the gameplay but it’s a small annoyance that once I noticed I couldn’t stop focusing on.
The gameplay itself is where The Surge 2 really shines. Just like the original it has the limb targeting and dismemberment system for loot, which is what made the original game so unique to begin with. I really don’t like making the comparison but it has Souls-like gameplay in that you collect a shared exp/currency, (scrap) and you can lose said currency whenever you die, but have the chance to recover it. The combat also uses a health and stamina system based around stamina management, Attack patterns and parrying (which I should note is directional this time instead of universal). Of course, to make The Surge unique there’s the spin on the combat with its limb targeting. When fighting an enemy each of the limbs, the body, and the head can be targeted and attacked individually. If you want a weapon or piece of armour you have to attack the limb that it’s attached to and use a finisher when it’s weakened to get the gear for yourself. When you already have a weapon or armour piece, any duplicates you dismember can lead to additional crafting materials and scrap, giving every encounter a risk-reward element and adding a lot of strategy to the game. Do you attack that enemy’s head and try and take the armour/extra scrap? Or maybe you hit their exposed arm and get a quick kill? Small decisions like this can be the difference between life and death in fights against multiple opponents and gives the game extra depth. It also provides unique opportunities for things like boss gear. New to The Surge 2 is the drone, which can be equipped with various projectile based weapons to attack enemies from afar, opening up more offensive opportunities.
Progression is tied to a couple of different things. The main one is your level. With each level you’ll have to gradually spend more scrap but you get to improve your health, stamina, and battery efficiency. You also get more power for your rig’s core which allows the use of better equipment and more implants. Implants are like perks for your character that you can choose to equip and de-equip, they essentially act as a way to further specialise your build alongside set bonuses from armour. The second form of progression is the collection of weapons, armour, and implants. Finally, the last form of progression is actually upgrading what you have so it’s even more effective. There is a lot of ways to build your character how you want and thanks to a couple of changes to how weapons work you can now experiment much more in The Surge 2.
The loadout system and use of quick-switching allows much more fluid character builds, giving you plenty of options to create a character with multiple specialisations. If you want to stick to one loadout that’s fine; but there’s also the chance to run a tank loadout with lots of defence, and an industrial drill for a weapon with implants that provide sustainability alongside another that’s completely speed based with light blades and gear that slows stamina and battery drain. So many doors open for deeper gameplay from the loadout system alone since you don’t have to go and manage each individual piece of your inventory anymore on one build.
The Surge 2 is a much more social experience than its predecessor as well. Both through NPCs and other players. The drone I mentioned earlier has the ability to use tags and leave banners around the world. These tags act like graffiti markers around the world that players can use to mark out pathways, hidden treasure or warn of enemies. Each message can also be “rated.” This social system is perfect for Jericho City thanks to all the nooks and crannies dotted about as well as giving players the opportunity to co-operate with each other and guide each other to things like side quest items and NPCs. While NPCs were in the original game there’s a lot more focus on them and interacting in The Surge 2. Things like audio logs that build on the world’s lore can still be found around the districts (and even given to an NPC that wants them) but there’s a lot to learn and do from the residence of the city as well. Some people may be familiar faces from the previous game while others are new but you’re given more chances to do side objectives and actually interact with others this time around compared to before. This does come at a small cost to that there’s not as much environmental storytelling as the first game, unless you count the “echoes” you can find that link into the main narrative but I don’t want to discuss that much for spoiler reasons. One thing I will say about the main story is that it ties in directly with the first game so if you’re the lore type you’ll want to play the first game.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher