Shadow Warrior 2 Preview: Magic & Chainsaws
Kalvin Martinez / Oct 4th, 2016 No Comments
Shadow Warrior 2 is a radically different game from its predecessor. Flying Hogs went into the development of the game with a mind to improve upon the flaws in Shadow Warrior.
The result is a new philosophy on level design and story, and a more robust approach to combat.
Like Gory Confetti
Battling demons from another dimension one time is a coincidence, but every time after that is a habit. Five years after the last encounter with dimensional demons, Lo Wang is once again tasked with saving the land from an army of demons under Zilla’s command.
Shadow Warrior 2’s old-school shooter gameplay is once again be driven by story. Unlike Shadow Warrior, the sequel will leave how story missions are approached to the player. There will be more freedom and less hand holding.
In the demo I checked out at PAX West, I went through two maps, fought a load of demons, and tied out the new weapons Shadow Warrior 2 has to offer.
First off, the combat was fun as hell. There is a good mix of modern techniques with an old-school shooter feel that make the combat satisfying. Much of the satisfaction comes from a wide arsenal of weapons.
There are plenty of weapons to choose from, including a new chainsaw that can slice in any direction, allowing unprecedented freedom in how players disassemble demons. The neat thing about the chainsaw is how the gore reacts to the angle of the cut.
Lo Wang also has access to plenty of different guns and swords. Melee sword combat is exceptional.
Weapons now have charge attacks that change depending on the direction you move when you initiate them. If you move backwards, forward or stand still, the charge attack will change as a result. This means you’ll have plenty of ways to use charge attacks to decimate demons.
One major change from the first game is now dodge is infinite and there is no fall damage. Infinite dodge helps add to the mobility of the game. It allows Lo Wang to flit across the battlefield and move quickly out of the way of an enemy attack. It can also be combined with jump and double jump for added maneuverability.
Lo Wang’s ninjutsu, or magic, is a helpful way to manage enemies. It helps level the playing field. A ninjutsu that launches spikes from the ground trapping enemies in their tracks while you pick them off is especially helpful when a lot of enemies are on screen.
He also has a healing spell that can either be used in short bursts to get a quick boost of health or used continually to heal up completely at the expense of continuing the fight.
Everything about the combat feels comfortable and easy to pick up. There is added depth with RPG elements and new elemental buffs.
Certain enemies have natural resistances, such as tech enemies being resistant to poison damage but weak to lightning. Higher class enemies and bosses require specific types of weapons to be bested.
While there was a lot of exciting stuff about the demo, the mission variety seemed a little lacking. Most of the missions were fetch-and-grab quests, which weren’t novel. As a vertical slice, that may just be what was shown off in the demo to highlight the combat.
Don’t Call it Procedural
A big change for Shadow Warrior 2 is its approach to level design. Levels are less linear than Shadow Warrior, and now are far more open.
Both maps on display in the demo featured large open areas with plenty of different paths to explore. One was a giant mountainous area with wooden bridges connecting large areas and nooks to explore.
The other map was a futuristic-looking business district. This map was open, but also focused on verticality. There were portals scattered around that allow Lo Wang to ascend to higher areas of the map and fight more enemies. The verticality could also be used to change the flow of combat.
While open levels aren’t novel, what is novel about the approach to level design is the game’s randomized construction of levels. Every level in the game, including enemy placement and upgrades, will be randomly selected when the player enters it.
This isn’t to be confused with procedural generation based on an algorithms. All of the elements and possibilities in a level have been hand crafted with a purpose. Each of those elements can simply be combined randomly and in new ways every time you play a level.
The Element of Surprise
Shadow Warrior 2’s combat is a lot of fun and there are a crazy amount of weapons to choose from and different ways to upgrade them. The game also looks absolutely gorgeous.
The best thing Shadow Warrior 2 has going for it is its ability to surprise you. Even if you didn’t play or didn’t care for Shadow Warrior, its sequel definitely is worth a look.
Shadow Warrior 2 releases for PC, Mac and Linux on Oct. 13.
tags: PAX , PAX West , preview , shadow warrior , Shadow Warrior 2 , Shadow Warrior 2 Preview