The Surge 2 First Impressions - Shockingly Good

Deck 13 is a developer that has been in love with the Dark Souls games for as long as I can remember. They've been around since 2002, but look back to their previous work and I couldn't tell what they made before 2014 when they came out with Bad Souls....err Shitty Souls...no wait...Fallen Souls...no Lords of the Fallen, that's it. Yeah Lords of the Fallen, a Dark Souls clone that was not a great game all told, but it wasn't an absolute abomination. I mean it was a bad game, but you know....it TRIED.

Their next attempt was the Surge, taking the logical step that everyone who was a Soul's fan was asking for and moved the Souls formula into a Sci-Fi world. And frankly this game was pretty damn good. It offered enough unique things to the Souls-genre that it stood out as something original. Sadly the game still had a lot of problems. For example the map sucked, being basically a ruins sci-fi place it made everything look the same. Metallic hallways for ages. Additionally it had balancing problems with a few enemy types. The first problem was that there weren't many types, and that the robots were fucking impossible to read which caused difficulty spikes.

This year's attempt in The Surge 2 does a lot to fix these issues and as a result it is a very very good Sci-Fi Souls-like proxy.

Namely the map. The Surge 2 takes place in a city section that has districts and alleys and streets that all wind around each other, doubling back to places, and leading to vertical places you wouldn't expect. The map goes everywhere and because you aren't locked in a single facility the locations vary up extremely quickly. From city streets and alleys, to a harbor district and a strip mall. The map impressed me pretty quickly when there were four shortcuts that wound back to the very first "boundfire/medbay" in the game.

Then there is the combat, which like the first game allows you to target parts of an enemy to break off specific pieces. Breaking off a piece from an enemy results in a badass and gory execution animation which has not gotten old in over 5 hours of dismemberment. And it's not just for gore either, you cut off parts of armor so you can get those parts for your self, which is how you gear up in The Surge. Unlike in souls games where weapons and armor are basically lying around, in The Surge you have to take your gear from enemies. The first time you sever a new part from the enemy you'll learn how to build that part of armor, additionally farming that same piece will get you parts that can be used to upgrade that armor.

And that is what becomes the basic gameplay loop, you find new enemies with new armors and proceed to murder them horribly over and over again until you get all the parts you need for that set (or the higher quality parts to upgrade the set of armor you like). Speaking of sets, every armor set provides two set bonuses. Of the six pieces of armor, you get a bonus at 3 pieces equipped and 6 pieces equipped. These bonuses end up being game changers in terms of how you play the game. Even the early sets of armor appears to have viability all the way to the end game. Which means that you can find the set you like and stick with it until the end.

So the combat is great, it's tight and responsive, and the exploration is good. The Surge 2 must be perfect then right?

Well, no. Deck 13 still has problems with enemy placements, in which enemies pop out of places where the player would have no possible way of seeing them until they've popped out and maybe taken a chunk of your health. Additionally they seem to place too many enemies together, especially big melee enemies along with enemies with guns. Which can make some trash encounters tedious and rely on cheese tactics to kill them.

Additionally the game runs like shit on consoles, with loads of texture pop in and long load times for area transitions. Though the frame rate seems.....ok for consoles I guess. On PC it runs great for me with the one exception being it takes my system a LONG time to boot up the game. But once it's booted it's fine.

All in all The Surge 2 is pretty good. It's like Deck 13 finally figured out not only how to make a decent Souls-like but also add their own voice to the genre to make something truly great.

Our reviewer for The Surge 2 was not a fan, to say the least haha. https://www.escapistmagazine.com/v2/2019/09/23/the-surge-2-is-bug-riddled-unbalanced-and-incoherent/

Nick Calandra:
Our reviewer for The Surge 2 was not a fan, to say the least haha. https://www.escapistmagazine.com/v2/2019/09/23/the-surge-2-is-bug-riddled-unbalanced-and-incoherent/

I saw that. But I've not seen a single problem issue really on PC at all, which doesn't make sense considering the reviewer saw enough to call the game buggy (something I haven't seen in any other critique of the game outside of clear console issues). Also your reviewer played the game with key-board and mouse judging by all the screen shots. Which is probably the worse possible way to play a Souls game.

The review also complains about a certain weapon making every other weapon obsolete, which isn't true. The Surge, like Souls, has weapons the play differently, and just because they got comfortable and felt the best when using a certain weapon does not automatically make the rest of the games arsenal worthless or poor. The review really reads to me like someone who just doesn't know what the hell they are talking about, even when comparing the game to other completely unrelated games for no other reason than to add more Hashtags onto the end of the review.

To me the review seems rushed. Especially when they state, "The design is so warped that core lessons of the Souls-like genre like blocking, countering, and strategic positioning are often discouraged wholesale" yet one of the very FIRST tutorial's explains the elaborate and deep blocking/parrying system. It's like the reviewer hated the game because the way he wanted to play the game (like a souls game apparently), is not the way the game is designed. It's a Soul-like but not a souls game and it requires a different approach, upgrades, gear farming, state farming, core power gains, etc, it's a different type of game that shares a framework of a Souls game but isn't a souls-game itself. In fact, I'd say The Surge is a series more related to Nioh than Souls.

Anyway sorry he didn't like the game, but some of the information in that review is flat out wrong. In the closing lines he calls the game open world when it isn't open world at all. The individual maps between loading screens are actually very very small and follow linear paths. I....what is he talking about? Did he play the game? He got screenshots, with keyboard and mouse controls (something that boggles my mine considering the genre of game here), but did he actually PLAY it? And on what turkey of a PC because my laptop runs this game without issues, and those lighting "bugs" sound like he didn't update his graphic card's drivers.

I mean... surge 1 was a pretty big disappointment, full of baffling decision. The game pretty much locked you in a specific weapon since the more you used a weapon type the more you level you would gain in it (which affected damage). This severely limited weapon variety since half way trough the game if you wanted to use a different weapon they'd all suck since you wouldn't have any level with them, so you were stuck using the same weapon the entire game or grind like crazy. Also humanoid enemy were all the same, since there attack pattern was entirely dependent on what weapon they'd wield (which were the same as yours, I think there were 6-7 weapon type). Add to that the super repetitive environment and you end up in a situation where you fought the same enemy the entire game, using the same weapon in the same kind of environment. That got really boring really fast. A far cry from "pretty darn good".

The dismemberment mechanic was also pretty pointless, you needed to cut part of enemy to get pattern/material, but like I said, getting new weapon was pretty pointless and armor barely changed over the game, sure I could get a new armor, but the difference from one suit of armor to another was so small it didn't matter, you could just keep upgrading the starting armor and you'd be fine. So I'd do it just enough to upgrade my armor and then would ignore the mechanic entirely until the next tier of enemy.

The review sounded more like the game can easily be won by just button mashing because it's improperly balanced. Soul game unsung hero is the very tight balance, so it sounds like the game replicate superficial elements of soul game but missed one of the key aspect. You can say it's not a soul game, but that doesn't change the fact that, according to the review, the game devolve into button mashing, which is usually pretty darn boring.

This was Jim Sterling's take too, that while it had technical issues it was an amazing game that just grabbed him.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUusalRc7y4

Meiam:
I mean... surge 1 was a pretty big disappointment, full of baffling decision. The game pretty much locked you in a specific weapon since the more you used a weapon type the more you level you would gain in it (which affected damage). This severely limited weapon variety since half way trough the game if you wanted to use a different weapon they'd all suck since you wouldn't have any level with them, so you were stuck using the same weapon the entire game or grind like crazy. Also humanoid enemy were all the same, since there attack pattern was entirely dependent on what weapon they'd wield (which were the same as yours, I think there were 6-7 weapon type). Add to that the super repetitive environment and you end up in a situation where you fought the same enemy the entire game, using the same weapon in the same kind of environment. That got really boring really fast. A far cry from "pretty darn good".

The dismemberment mechanic was also pretty pointless, you needed to cut part of enemy to get pattern/material, but like I said, getting new weapon was pretty pointless and armor barely changed over the game, sure I could get a new armor, but the difference from one suit of armor to another was so small it didn't matter, you could just keep upgrading the starting armor and you'd be fine. So I'd do it just enough to upgrade my armor and then would ignore the mechanic entirely until the next tier of enemy.

The review sounded more like the game can easily be won by just button mashing because it's improperly balanced. Soul game unsung hero is the very tight balance, so it sounds like the game replicate superficial elements of soul game but missed one of the key aspect. You can say it's not a soul game, but that doesn't change the fact that, according to the review, the game devolve into button mashing, which is usually pretty darn boring.

That mechanic from the surge 1 in which your passive ability with a weapon goes up as you use it, is gone. The surge 2 uses stand Souls stuff of upgrading your equipment with parts ala titanite.

Button mashing in this game sounds like a 1-way ticket to the deadzone. Because armored enemies will one shot you through your flailing. You never seem to get quite enough impact damage to stagger through armor entirely. Though you can out level and out gear an area with enough grinding to make things pretty easy up till boss encounters which require effort to defeat. I'm three bosses into the game, four if you count the tutorial boss, and it's been fairly hard for most of what I've played. Though it does offer that Souls feeling of getting good at the basic enemies in a given area to make repeat trips through the area easier and easier for you.

Worgen:
This was Jim Sterling's take too, that while it had technical issues it was an amazing game that just grabbed him.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUusalRc7y4

I dunno if I'd call this amazing yet. The game has great combat, but the flow from area to area seems off. Like Deck 13 was so afraid of making anything linear that there isn't much ramp up in normal enemies throughout the game. They only seem to be able to get to a certain power level and once you hit or surpass that, they become trivial and leave bosses as your only threat. Bosses however always seem to be a threat. It's a really good game and easily Deck 13's best effort. But I'm not ready to call it amazing just yet.

As long as the game doesn't have those insanely over-powered enemies that crawled around the final area of the first game, those weird shape-shifting blob-like enemies.

Are the bosses better? The camera was not built to accommodate bosses at all in the first one. It was really frustrating dying to a boss randomly because the camera cuts off half the boss's body, thus hiding its tells. Surge 1 really made me appreciate Dark Souls' cameras and those are dodgy as hell.

Dansen:
Are the bosses better? The camera was not built to accommodate bosses at all in the first one. It was really frustrating dying to a boss randomly because the camera cuts off half the boss's body, thus hiding its tells. Surge 1 really made me appreciate Dark Souls' cameras and those are dodgy as hell.

I've only fought 1 major boss so far and three super powered man sized bosses, but the 1 big ass robot I faces was fine. It had a neat mechanic to the fight and the camera wasn't too problematic. Though the boss does shoot across the screen which can be a little hard to track, but i got him in like 3 or 4 tries so he wasn't a big deal.

 

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