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Shadow Warrior 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Release Date: Oct. 13, 2016

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Shadow Warrior 2'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on June 28, 2016 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Shadow Warrior 2 marks the triumphant return of Lo Wang and his trademark use of blades, bullets, and a sharp tongue to strike down the demonic hordes, but this time he's not going at it alone.

Last year at Devolver's area, I was able to see Shadow Warrior 2, and this year at E3 2016, I was able to get some hands-on time to see how the game is shaping up. While the previous game was essentially an old-school linear shooter, the new game features large, open environments where fights can develop. What's more, the levels are almost entirely procedurally generated, so every playthrough will be different.

Lo Wang is back, and with four-player co-op, there will be plenty of Wang to go around. At the beginning of my session, another journalist and I started off in an area with a quest giver, and we were tasked with retrieving a relic. Much as in the first game, Wang has a voice in his head, but this time, instead of a male demon, it's a brilliant female scientist who for some reason has her consciousness safeguarded within Wang's, because video games. (I'm sure there's probably a longer explanation, but that's the shorthand that one of the writers of the game gave me, so I'll take it.)

With the larger environments come more mobility options, so Wang is now able to climb over walls and combine double-jumps with dashes to reach different areas. The procedural generation affects anything that isn't a specific story area, so levels will have completely different designs. In the first session, the level was bright and sunny, with beautiful pagodas dotting the landscape at different elevations. In the second session, there was one towering building surrounded by foliage and cloaked in the dim light of dusk.

Enemy and loot placement is similarly randomized, so you really don't know what you'll find around the next corner. It might be a demonic samurai in full armor, goofy plant things that uses their tongues to grab and pull you to them, or little enemies that suddenly grow to eight-foot-tall monstrosities. Using Wang's mobility is more important than ever, whether you're dodging the attacks of a pack of enemies or double-jumping and dashing over them to shoot them in the head.

Of course, Wang uses his sword to dispatch enemies, and he has three special moves. The first is a forward lunging stab that does high damage to one target, while another is a horizontal slash that can cut through multiple enemies. The third one is a spin move that spins your vision and also cuts everything around you within melee range. Again, combining these moves with your mobility is important and awesome, as is stabbing someone in the head as you sail over them.

Enemies are also affected by a procedural damage system. Shotguns can blow holes in chests, and your sword can cut off arms and heads. For some enemies, losing an arm isn't even the end, but they'll be unable to attack with it from that point forward. It makes using the sword even more satisfying; pull off a spin move in a group of enemies, and there's a decent chance that you could have a fire sale of previously attached limbs afterward. The new chainsaw weapon is even more capable of some split division; just rake it through an enemy and see what falls off.

As you kill enemies, there's a chance they can drop items that can augment your weapons and gear. These can add elemental attacks to your weapons, such as making your grenade launcher also perform an electrical stun to anything it hits. However, some enemies are resistant to some types of elemental attacks; it's generally not a good idea to use a gun with fire damage against a guy who is already literally on fire.

Wang has some abilities he can use in combat as well. He's capable of healing himself using his energy, and he can also cloak himself and make his first attack deal bonus damage. There's a push that can knock back any enemy a few paces, and finally a spike attack that impales one enemy with a giant spike that comes up from the ground. Use it on the right enemy, break out your sword, and use it like you're operating the world's least appropriate shawarma joint.

Of course there are "wang" jokes everywhere. That relic I mentioned earlier? It's shaped like the full package. Take a look at the stars, and one particular constellation will be awfully dong-like. I'm told that the team sips fine whiskey and thinks of new and improved ways to insert even more Wang into the game, which has to be a pretty fun day at the office. The point here is the game continues to not take itself too seriously, very much in the spirit of the original.

If nothing else, I'm convinced that I need to get some beers and some friends together and get some four player co-op going when Shadow Warrior 2 comes out. It's obviously not a serious game, to the point of sometimes taking the piss out of itself, but the real draw is that the new gameplay feels very solid. With the procedural generation system at full tilt, I imagine it'll also remain fun if only for slicing enemies apart for the sake of it. We'll get more hands-on time with Wang as Shadow Warrior 2 gets closer to its release date.

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