The Surge 2 has finally received some heavy-hitting content, which means, it’s time to see if The Surge 2 is worth picking up in 2020, and if so, why. Let’s find out in our review for The Surge 2 followed by a review for The Surge 2: Kraken DLC.
+Beautifully crafted open world that improves heavily upon its predecessor’s shortcomings
+Enemies are perfectly challenging, offering just enough incentive for players to not give up when defeated
+Loadouts and kits are extremely unique offering a wide variety of gameplay styles
-Difficulty scaling seems a bit off from time-to-time, making the game a bit more challenging than preferred
-Framerate and performance issues remain regardless of what Graphic mode you choose
I’ve seen his face before, we’ve talked a plethora of times, but rather, he did the talking as we did the exploring. We’re deep inside an A.I.D. research building, watching over all that is around us, each enemy possessing different traits than the other, each one offering more challenge than the other, but both seemingly weaker where others are stronger.
I’m still reeling from the Nano debuff they’ve given me, taking down half my health in a single shot, leaving me low on healing items as well. It’s a rough experience, especially since I’ve been at this for nearly eighteen hours, re-exploring corridors I’d been to in a previous playthrough, but wanting to re-ground myself with an all-new experience to a game I’d played in late 2019.
Unlike The Surge, I’ve opted for a lighter build, but with heavier hitting items. I’ve geared my mods towards healing and defensive capabilities, allowing me to take a few extra blows, gaining extra damage as I do, before whittling their health down with rapid attacks from my fist weapons that seem to send them reeling with each and every blow.
I’ll break the arms off one, take the head of another, and the leg of the other. It’s how I’ve been grinding my scrap I need to level up or improve my equipment. Before long, I’d find comfort in a medbay, resting there so I can level up, heal, and regenerate my healing items to what they were before I’d encountered that enemy with the glowing number 7 beside his health bar.
The Surge 2 isn’t just sci-fi Souls, but something else, something bigger
Much like Dark Souls, you’ll find parallels you can draw between The Surge 2 and the dark-fantasy franchise that has created an entirely new sub-genre within the action-RPG category itself. You’ll find the medbay acts like a bonfire, you’ll find that tech scrap will act like your souls, and you’ll even find that you will level up all-the-while using your tech scrap to pay for your weapon upgrades.
Unlike Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Lords of the Fallen, or even Code Vein; it’s learning through repetition, finding patterns in how enemies work, and then moving on; where the others are about clearing an area, leveling up and ultimately finding better gear along the way.
The story here is also quite clear where it wasn’t in the Dark Souls franchise or Bloodborne themselves. Unlike the Soulsborne titles before it, The Surge 2 takes the moments of combat a step further, using its science-fiction setting to its advantage, allowing Deck13 to make one of the most robust combat engines you’ll experience yet.
It’s not just about beating an enemy to a bloody pulp, but rather, beating their limbs to a pulp, ripping, cutting, breaking, or burning it off in order to craft brand new weapons and substantive gear. Don’t let this fool you though, The Surge 2 is more unforgiving than those that came before it. It’s a dark, grim world, one where you’ll find cringeworthy dialogue at its finest, a lackluster world-building experience, leaving you to wonder what you’re even fighting for.
For what it’s worth, saving a little kid is worth it. Saving those who have a chance to give that world life are actually worth it. Except how you got there, which honestly, is probably the weirdest yet: A plane crash, one where nanotechnology triggers an environmental disaster, causing a city-wide quarantine and leaving those who are infected by the nano swarm to remain among those left behind.
By the way? You’re on that plane and somehow, you end up in the medbay of a jail. Yep, that’s how it gets there, and your only goal now? To save the granddaughter of the CEO behind CREO Industries, the very people behind the event that has begun to unfold before your eyes.
The Surge 2 oozes through and through with strategic combat and it’s an improvement over its predecessor
One of the biggest enhancements The Surge 2 has over its predecessor is the fact it’s jampacked full of improvements, but also minor changes that hurt it more, which isn’t always the best, but we’re rather okay with that – to an extent. Combat itself is one of the areas that both shines and diminishes a bit under its shell.
Combat is strategic, it’s not a system where you can haplessly swing away at a foe. Rather, you’ll have to time your attacks, time your counters perfectly, and even plan on when to use your drone to disrupt an enemy’s assault. Thankfully, you can even manage multiple enemies at once. It’s not like the first game where it’s a constant affair of players taking down a single target.
Combat, however, does require you to pay close attention to their movements, to bounce between targets if necessary in order to get a proper parry off. Just know, no matter what, you will die rather easily. Enemies themselves will come with different approaches to how they must be defeated. Some will come with shields, turtling behind them, another may be in the backline with a rifle, taking advantage of the situation and dishing out serious damage every few seconds.
Sometimes, it’s best to take out the guy in the back, rushing past their pals just to smack them a few good times before turning your attention on the others. During your time through the game, you’ll even find that not all weapons work the same and there are quite a few differences this time around; minus the fact that weapons of the same class will share the same movesets throughout your time with the game.
All weapons do come with a light and heavy attack, each one determining whether or not you’ll dish out more ranged damage or go for light, but rapid attacks that can stack up rather quickly. The difference here will be noticeable from the get-go. You won’t use as much stamina what-so-ever. You’ll find that stamina usage will go up with the latter, forcing you to consistently keep an eye on your stamina gauge before trying to attack, dodge or parry.
Stats on weapons and armor actually have weight to them in The Surge 2
One of the biggest things here is that combat, as stated, is heavily focused on its melee attacks. Your drone does come with some usefulness to it, but it’s not something you’ll rely on all that much and for a rather good reason as well. It’s a utility, not a weapon. Because of that very fact, you’ll want to keep an eye on your armor and weapons stats as well as what their set bonuses (armor only) tend to do.
Some armor sets will remove your need to have a battery charge in order to commit to an execution attack, allowing you to remove a limb from an enemy assailant, allowing you a chance at a weapon, armor, or upgrade piece. Some armors, such as the Liquidator Set, will allow you to increase your elemental resistances, making some of the in-game bosses easier to handle, but only by a smidgen as these armors don’t DRASTICALLY increase your resistances.
Weapons are, in a sense, much the same. Your weapons, to be quite honest, aren’t going to be outright better than others. You’ll find some are of higher quality, higher damage, and at the time – a major advantage over what you have one, but nothing really comes down to being considered a ‘meta’ item. Sure, you might find one of a heavy weapon type that has a higher damage output (perhaps maybe 20-30 damage at most), but you may notice its stamina drain is higher, it’s the ability to recharge your batteries a little lower, and its quality to be a higher grade also – that’s it though.
You will find that some weapons, especially later in the game have elemental effects including electric (paralyzes enemies), nano (drains a massive amount of health once maxed out), and fire (damage over time). These are all extremely useful, but they come at the cost you constantly have to attack, consistently tallying up their ability to actually activate before they become useful against a foe. Bosses aren’t exempt from this and some may actually be immune to the damage in which you are trying to hurt them with.
Just keep that in mind, as your drone can help you do even more damage or perhaps, set them on fire if you have the right turret equipped. There is one change here: The double-duty class of weapons. These guys are fast and can deliver extremely heavy hits when they are needed to do so. You’ll find enemies staggered, attempting to recover from the blows that they just took, and even sometimes dead before you know it. It’s worth giving them a try and perhaps even building your stats around those pieces of gear.
While the game itself feels amazing, performance is an issue for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One users
In order to find if this issue was solely a PlayStation 4 problem, we had to hit both the Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game, both tested on a PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. Sadly, the framerate issues and screen tearing remained – even with an SSD in the PlayStation 4 Pro.
We found that The Surge 2 struggles to keep up with what players want to experience regardless if they are playing in Performance or Quality modes. The game, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to be able to steady itself out, giving players the best experience possible like it should.
Even though this is something Dark Souls fans of yesteryear grew accustomed to, it’s a nuisance for games in our modern time, especially ones that require actions to be executed within a moment’s notice before a framerate slowdown actually hits. It even took a bit after the game first released in September 2019 before the game really hit its strides and get a few stability patches.
Except, that’s not the problem – the problem is that framerate issues remain even with the release of the Kraken DLC pack. Here’s to hoping that gets ironed out a bit more in the future as the game is absolutely gorgeous and so are the set pieces Deck13 has designed.
One of the things that’s hard to admit is that despite its performance issues, The Surge 2 is fantastic and the Premium Edition assures this to newcomers and veterans alike with plenty of DLC (coming in a separate review) to enjoy. It’s a game that when bundled together or not, delivers and its quite possibly one of the most strategic games of its type as each encounter will never play the same, every enemy may be just as hard as the one you fought before.
Toss in your ever-changing routine and the need to sometimes move from weapons you’ve come accustomed to, you’ll find things to become a bit unpredictable. With that said, The Surge 2 is a shining example of how to move forward and not change too much of the identity your series has come to be known for. It’s a game that, quite honestly, everyone that enjoys a good action-RPG should give a try and enjoy its 15-20 hour campaign.
The Surge 2
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $59.99 (Standard – prices vary based on retailer) | $74.99 (Premium Edition)
Just, set some time aside to learn the mechanics if you are new, it’s a bit of a doozie despite the tutorials.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game purchased by the review for the purpose of reviewing. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!