With the release of The Surge in May of 2017, it was very clear to me that Deck 13 was making slow but steady progress at mastering their gaming formula, and it was better than Lords of the Fallen in many ways. With the announcement of The Surge 2 not that long after, many people (myself included) were curious to see what changes would be made, and whether or not Deck 13 could continue to build upon the foundation that they had so carefully laid. In this Review we’ll tell you what we think, and how The Surge 2 measures up to the previous title.
The Surge 2 Review: A Nano Advancement
Genre: Action RPG
Developed by: Deck 13
Published by: Focus Home Interactive
Release date: September 24, 2019
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Price at time of review: $49.99
Story & Setting
The Surge 2 takes place after the events of its predecessor, humans of earth are on the brink of extinction, and those that remain gather in a place called Jericho City. Seeking refuge, many are turned away because of a cure-less Nano Virus that has taken the lives of countless citizens. Not a single person hasn’t been affected by the mistakes of CREO, mistakes that some are trying to reverse.
A mysterious and unexpected plane crash changed everything, and now Nano creatures have been seen around the city, preying on its populace. There were only two survivors of that Plane crash, and you are one of them. Your mission? To find the other survivor, save her, and the world…No problem right?
There is definite improvement here, not only in terms of the variation of locales and location, which is something Deck 13 was criticized for in the first installment, but also in characters and the general story of the game. The world, ironically, feels more alive than ever and more like a “role playing game” than The Surge 1. This is something I really enjoyed, and did improve the overall experience.
While I’m much more satisfied with the setting of the game in the sequel, there is still lots of room for improvement. Sure locales are more varied, and the color palettes are a bit more unique, but the it’s hard to make broken buildings and destroyed concrete look much different from other broken buildings and destroyed concrete. As I mentioned in my previous review, the setting of the game has really pigeon-holed Deck 13 into environments that are difficult to make feel different.
Audio, Visual & Performance
The graphics of The Surge 2 look very very similar to The Surge 1, which isn’t surprising. However, I was blown away in 2017 by The Surge’s graphics, and in this iteration I simply thought they were good, but not great. Particularly in the performance department, where I was struggling to keep 30 FPS in many places of the game. This of course may be improved by the day one patch.
The music of the game was great in some places, and barely noticeable in others. The Surge 2 isn’t a game that needs a vibrant sound track, so this isn’t something that bothered me at all. The sound effects were on point for the most part, except footsteps that always sounded like they are right next to you, when sometimes they weren’t even close. This made me look around in panic more times than I can count, and was a bit of an annoyance. The voice acting was a very pleasant surprise, and I found myself much more connected to some of the characters in the game world because of it. I actually enjoyed the dialogue this time around, so this was a very big improvement.
Deck 13 has a bit of a reputation for releasing buggy games, and one that I think is completely unjustified. I wanted to make a note here, just because of this, that I had ZERO crashes or bugs in my 25 hour playthrough. Not a single one!
Deck 13 games are all about the gameplay, and they’ve clearly listened to player feedback. Now there is Character Creation, Weapon Proficiency has been removed, and Armor Sets now have 3 and 6 piece bonuses, allowing you to mix and match. These and other quality of life improvements really smooth out the rougher edges of The Surge, of which there weren’t too many to begin with.
Character customization is at an all time high because of the addition of new Implants, partial Set Bonuses, new Stats, and a lot more Weapons to play with. There are even some Implants that require 18 Core Power to slot because they are so powerful, really forcing the player to make tough decisions about how they want to play. You always look forward to leveling in The Surge 2, because you need that Core Power to get the things you need!
Combat-wise things look and feel very much the same, you won’t notice that much of difference here, which is a very good thing. There are some new Weapon Types to try out, and you get a Drone to play around with, but all in all, it’s the same formula. Attack, dismember, rinse and repeat. And damn it if it isn’t fun!
The Surge 1 had about 6 Bosses, and Deck 13 took some heat for this lower number in a “Souls-Like” game. In The Surge 2 there are about 10 Bosses. However, there are really only about 5 memorable Boss fights, and the others are just repeats or faster or larger versions of typical enemies. This is one area I had really wanted to see some improvement in, and I was left disappointed.
The inclusion of new online elements, such as Graffiti Tags and Revenge Enemies were not overly memorable, but I was playing when very few people were online. There are so many Tags everywhere it almost overshadows the brilliant world that Deck 13 designed, and was a bit obnoxious. Revenge Enemies sometimes appear in your game when a player is killed in theirs, and is a nice novelty, but it just makes an enemy a bit harder to kill with a slightly better reward. There was definitely a missed opportunity there to make them into something more original.
Deck 13 has a good thing going, there is no doubt about that. I enjoyed my time with The Surge 2. The things I loved about the previous game are all there, and in some ways even better: great combat, responsive controls, nice enough visuals, character customization that is deep, cinematic executions, and progression that feels good. The whole experience is just a bit more polished and I think players will appreciate that. I know I did.
That said, many of the issues that were present in The Surge 1 are still present in The Surge 2. Things like a general lack of environmental variation, and a low boss count with uninspiring bosses, really hold The Surge 2 back, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly disappointed. Not because it isn’t a good game, but because Deck 13 set the bar very high with their previous title. And while they just reached it with The Surge 2, I know they can make an even better game, and I really want to see it.
If you enjoyed this review be sure to check out a few of our others including GreedFall Review – An RPG With Plenty Of Choices and Remnant From The Ashes Review: Merry Multiplayer Mayhem. If you want all the latest info about The Surge 2 be sure to drop by our wiki.
Summary: The Surge 2 picks up where The Surge left off and inches forward in both quality and execution. If you are a fan of the previous title you will feel right at home, and I highly recommend it. Even though it has its flaws, it does enough to warrant a purchase if you enjoy Action RPGs, and is likely the best Action RPG (that isn’t an expansion) until Elden Ring sometime next year.
Story & Setting (6.5)
Audio, Visual & Performance (7.5)