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- Shadow Warrior
It's one thing to reboot a classic title, but it's another to see where you can take it after it's made its debut. With the upcoming release of Shadow Warrior 2 on October 13, Devolver Digital is opening up a bit more about what they have planned for the return of one of their surprise hits from 2013. In development for more than three years, the folks at Flying Wild Hog have big plans for Lo Wang and his new battle against the demon horde—which aims to take things to an even more over the top and marvelously stupid level.
Set five years after the events of the original game, the international assassin Lo Wang is back on the job fighting yakuza and strange otherworldly creatures. After a run-of-the-mill mission goes wrong, he finds himself caught in the middle of cross-dimensional battle between the powerful yakuza and the forces of hell led by the returning Zilla. Along the way, his soul fuses with that of a young scientist, who's not only a reluctant passenger in Lo Wang's bizarre journey, but who may also be the key to stopping Zilla's army from taking over the Earth.
As a continuation of the 2013 reboot of the original, it's no surprise that Shadow Warrior continues with the same low brow and juvenile humor, which is totally fine. Shadow Warrior 2 totally revels in its style and over-the-top nature, and it somehow goes way further than ever before. I was worried about it coming off a bit too strong, but I was surprisingly entertained by the banter between Lo Wang and the female scientist who's sharing his body. While Wang is in his element fighting against his enemies, his 'soul passenger' is put off by his abrasive and pompous attitude.
During my session, I played through the mission 'Hot Blooded' which sent me on a fetch quest to find demonic relics and crystals for Wang's Master. Wang is teleported to an area in the wilderness that has been taken over by Zilla's forces, and you'll have to fight your way through. Eventually, you'll reach a portal which takes you to one of Zilla's bases filled with cyber-demons and cyborg soldiers using high-tech weaponry. This twenty-minute level did well to show off how crazy SW2 gets, and according to the developer on hand, this was only the beginning.
Instead of seeing this as another sequel and simply being content with just doing the same thing again, the developers at Flying Wild Hog sought to design Shadow Warrior 2 as more of a natural evolution on what came before. As Lo Wang's battle is now more expansive, the gameplay now follows suit. Instead of linear story progression through static levels, SW2 now features a HUB world where players can interact with various NPC characters, strengthen your abilities and weapons, and take on new missions and side-quests through various randomly-generated levels. To put it simply, they went full 'Diablo' with this game.
While still an FPS action/melee game, the developers have incorporated fairly robust RPG elements and an expansive loot system. With over 70 unique weapons in the game (with different modifiers and buffs), you'll constantly be finding new weapons ranging from rocket launchers, dual SMGs, twin katanas, shotguns, and even a cybernetic chainsaw-katana. In addition this to, Lo Wang still has access to a whole suite of ninja magic, which allows him to turn invisible, summon spikes from the ground to pin foes, and of course ninja healing.
While I really enjoyed the new approach, I found that increased focus on loot and more enemies on screen made it feel more chaotic. I struggled at times keeping track of the enemies coming my way, and the mini-map on display felt a bit cluttered. The game throws a ton of loot your way too, which automatically replaces your old outdated gear. After awhile, you'll find your quick select menu for gear looking drastically different, which can make it hard to switch to your desired weapon on the fly.
One feature I didn't get the chance to see is the new four-player co-op mode. Players will be able to tackle missions online with other players. Much like Diablo, you can invite friends quickly and jump into the action. Citing games like Borderlands, Flying Wild Hog stated that they placed a lot of emphasis on the co-operative mode, and in addition to the randomly generated levels and higher difficulties, replay value was their biggest focus this time around. Even in single-player, I could see there's a lot of potential here for something engaging for pick up and play, and more elaborate runs with friends.
I was an admirer of the previous game, and Shadow Warrior 2 takes things further in a big way. It's incredibly dumb, stupid, and ridiculously over-the-top, and I wouldn't have it any other way. And with its release coming next month, fans will be able to play it sooner than they think. Shadow Warrior 2 releases on Oct 13, 2016 for PC, PS4, Xbox One.