The Surge 2 Xbox One X Review

Once you overcome one of the many challenges The Surge 2 has to offer you'll be inspired to take on the next.

By Grayshadow, Posted 27 Sep 2019

The Surge 2 is about failure and success. Players are put into a dire situation and expected to survive, fighting against deadly humans and beasts that can easily tear through an adult human with ease. You will die, get pushed back, and expected to try again. This difficult journey through the quarantined city of Jericho can be vexing at times due to the lack of some modern conveniences but that makes success that much sweeter. Even with its shortcomings, The Surge 2 excels at providing a challenging science-fiction adventure overflowing with incredible boss fights.

The Surge 2,NoobFeed,Focus Home Interactive,Deck13,

The Surge 2 takes place right after the events of the first game. After a plane crashed in the pristine utopia of Jericho your nameless customized character wakes up in a hospital after being in a coma. The city has been quarantined after a vicious infection called "Defrag" spread throughout the city. Those inside are fighting have been abandoned and now its survival of the fittest.

The first game's protagonist, Warren, was a stale protagonist but was much better than the custom character. The protagonist is just there, a jack of all trades capable of doing what others cannot. Despite Warren's flaws at least he was a person with needs and desires. 

The narrative does open up small. You're just a survivor but things start to ramp up. You're placed in increasingly complicated situations, all while learning that there's something more insidious going up inside the city. Immoral experiments, military coverups, and somehow you're connected to all of this.

The Surge 2,NoobFeed,Focus Home Interactive,Deck13,

The developers did a great job of building out the city's world. Audio logs help showcase some of the things people have done to survive. It's unfortunate that none of the characters you actually interact with are very interesting. You have your basic religious fanatics, greedy criminals, and angry military leaders. With the exception of the main antagonist, I barely remembered most of the characters. 

The city of Jerchio is much more well-designed. Broken streets, military checkpoints, and propaganda help highlight the dire situation everyone is in. With each section of the city showing off the incredible wealth this city once had. Jericho may be interesting to explore but navigating the world is an issue.

Unlike the first game, The Surge 2 is a semi-open world. You can take on side missions and explore the environment to uncover hidden loot. The environments are densely packed and come with a variety of shortcuts that can become overwhelming. Those with basic observation skills will be able to find the best routes and take note of important areas. However, the lack of a map does become frustrating, especially when taking on side missions.

The Surge 2,NoobFeed,Focus Home Interactive,Deck13,

Side missions are usually fetched quests and kill a specific target. The game doesn't tell you that these have a certain time limit. Once you reach a specific point, the quest ends and consequences are executed. These don't impact the ending but due to the game's lack of waypoints or proper map, completing these missions can be an ordeal.

There are no markers or quest waypoints. You're told the general idea of where to go and have to locate it. In some instances, the goal isn't clear like when an important character tells you to meet him at his secret base. I immediately responded "Um where's that?" and it's likely you'll do the same.

The Surge 2 does encourage exploration but the lack of navigation doesn't complement the punishing toll death has. When killed, the player loses all collected "Tech Scrap". This material is used for purchasing items, leveling up, and upgrading equipment. You do have an average of 3 minutes to return to the point of your death and collect any fallen scrap. But having a map to navigate the environment instead of blindly searching areas in hopes of finding the primary quest objective just to be killed is annoying.

The Surge 2,NoobFeed,Focus Home Interactive,Deck13,

The Surge 2 does try to combat this lack of navigation with player aids. Other players can leave tips in the way of symbols to warn players of hidden loot or enemies or just to leave messages. To prevent the overuse of spam messages a like and dislike system highlights useful messages. There were dozens of times during the campaign where players alerted me of an ambush or hidden loot.

The Surge 2 is punishingly hard and you're going to die. Enemies come in a variety of options, including human and hybrid. For the most part, you can target any body part of an enemy and if enough damage is done cut off that limb. Unlike the first game, cutting off specific limbs yield different bonuses. Depending on the limb you can get specific gear and upgrades. For example, you want that enemy's weapon then cut off the arm they're using to swing it. This also works for bosses, providing the best weapons for those willing to take the risk as high-end rewards are only provided for cutting armored limbs.

The bosses are exceptionally designed. Only a couple are harder versions of base enemies but each one is a challenge to overcome. Having unique attacking patterns, weaknesses, strengths, and sometimes powerful weapons you can obtain these boss encounters are the best part of The Surge 2. Despite all the times I died beating them.

The Surge 2,NoobFeed,Focus Home Interactive,Deck13,

As this is a Souls-like game you can expect the stamina meter. Personally, I hate this mechanic but eventually adapted to the mobility restriction. For those unaware, the stamina meter drains as you perform mobility actions such as sprinting and evading and attack; it regenerates after not inputting actions for a second. This will take a lot of getting used to if you're unfamiliar with the system as enemies are not restricted in the same way. They can attack without pause.

Unique to The Surge 2 is the energy meter. This meter increases as you attack enemies, allowing you to perform flashy executions or use it for single-use "Injectors". The "Injectors" range from health regeneration, defense boost, and other benefits. The Surge 2 encourages you to continue attacking as the energy meter is paramount for survival. Since it drains after not taking action you're constantly encouraged to attack and push forward.

To add to the momentum is the parry system. This is new to The Surge 2 and requires pinpoint precision to execute. You have to block and point your weapon in the right direction to execute the mechanic, with stronger enemies like bosses requiring multiple parry executions. It's difficult to use and often unreliable but not necessary. I was terrible at it but the game allows for classic evasion for any of the combat situations.

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The upgrade system is pretty basic. Earning "Tech Scraps" allow you to boost your health, stamina, and energy meters. This also boosts your "Core" which allows you to equip more armor and boosters. Weapons and gear can be upgraded regardless of when you obtained it, allowing you to keep using what you like. But the game does encourage experimentation since some bosses are weak to certain elemental damage and some armor works better than others. But, for the most part, you're given free rein to use what you enjoy.

Weapons come in a lot of varieties. Spears have long-range, 1-hand swords are quick, fist weapons deal heavy damage, and so on. Each weapon has unique cutting animations when severing each limb. Each animation is brutal and has a satisfying crunch sound. Like the armor, you can pick and choose whatever you feel comfortable with. Some weapons work better than others in certain boss fights but I was able to keep using the same weapon type for the entire game without issue. I just had to upgrade it.

Graphically, The Surge 2 largely resembles the first game. The bosses still look amazing and the environments are well-designed. Enemies act and attack with fluid animations that allow players to easily read their movements. Weapons and armor share the same level of quality in terms of design. The NPCs, on the other hand, look very dull and bland. During the non-combat sections when you can talk and interact with survivors you get a close look at the character models. They aren't bad but they are low quality especially when compared to modern titles.

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The soundtrack and voice-acting are adequate. The character models for the interactive non-combat NPCs are a bit stiff and only the final boss soundtrack is truly memorable but the sound design is well done. 

After completing the 8-hour campaign you can restart the adventure in New Game Plus. You keep all your weapons and level but added to the adventure are new challenges and a special opening cutscene. If you thought the first time was hard the second round in The Surge 2 will be painful.

The Surge 2 depends heavily on obtaining resources to progress it's refreshing to see that no "Time Saver" microtransactions are available. You cannot purchase resources, weapons, or experience boosters to speed up progression. Instead, everything must be earned. It seems very odd to address this but it's something worth noting considering how more publishers are leaning towards monetizing everything, including earning rewards in games.

The Surge 2 is a challenging and thrilling science-fiction adventure. It doesn't make massive improvements from the original game but it does amplify the best qualities of the first title. You still get to brutally cut off body parts, fight against incredible bosses, and collect incredibly designed equipment. You will die a lot and navigating the various environments can be a struggle but The Surge 2 is about success through trial and error. And once you overcome one of the many challenges The Surge 2 has to offer you'll be inspired to take on the next.


Adam Siddiqui,
Senior Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

The Surge 2

85/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Focus Home Interactive
Developer(s): Deck13
Genres: Action-Adventure
Themes: Dystopian future
Release Date: 2019-09-24

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