Shadow Warrior 2 Is Bloody Good At Co-Op

Yesterday I started my review of Shadow Warrior 2. I went in wanting to play through the campaign in single-player. So I completed a couple missions, blasting enemies left and right before deciding that it wouldn't be a bad idea to play along with a friend.

As much as I found the 10+ hour campaign fun in single-player, co-op is where the game shines. Shadow Warrior 2 is a game focused on fun, with a large selection of exciting weapons, well designed enemies, and a fantastic kill, loot, and go style of play. As mentioned in Alessandro Fillari's preview, it has a gameplay loop most similar to the Diablo franchise; you crawl through levels clearing enemies, acquiring drops, and upgrading your gear constantly. However, this is a first-person shooter, and one with a farcical Japanese theme. So, while it provides similar entertainment value to Diablo 3, it delivers that value in its own fashion.

You and anyone you're playing with have many tools at your disposal. Not only are there nearly a dozen weapon types on the weapon wheel, but each can have distinct variations. For example, you can wield one or two swords for melee combat, completely changing the pacing of your attacks. You will find new versions of your favorite weapons often, and even have the opportunity to augment them with upgrade stones.

What I found worked best was having myself focus on melee combat with a sword and chainsaw while my friend picked off enemies with headshots from afar. To support this, I invested Skill Points into more tank-oriented options, such as increasing my health pool. Meanwhile, my friend pushed his damage multipliers as high as he could. This style of play came in handy during the more intense confrontations.

As much as I'm usually not a fan of melee combat in first-person games, Shadow Warrior 2 does a good job of delivering gameplay feedback. Misses and hits are telegraphed well, and where you hit an opponent matters as their limbs can be chopped off—apparently I'm a fan of slicing arms off with a katana. Yes, this is a violent game.

Unlike Diablo 3, you're never locked out of a style of play. While I was the melee master in our group, at any time I could pull out a shotgun or revolver and unload steel into the flesh of the enemies. In certain situations I did, especially when low on health or facing brute enemies. There's a great sense of freedom that the game delivers which allows you to change how you tackle situations at any given time.

I'll admit, I don't find the game's humor to be my liking, but it tries to be funny with puns and dick jokes. This is not a game that take itself seriously, instead going to great length to try and make you laugh and awe. It's a nice change of pace from the mature tones of many great games this year (i.e. Inside, Gears of War 4, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided).

I'm also very impressed by the procedural generation. Levels feel hand-designed despite being produced using a large library of art and mathematical algorithms. These levels come in a variety of flavors, quickly jumping from one theme to the next as if you're on a musical world tour.

All this comes together in what is a great pick up and play game. I don't think at any time I'll be playing it for five hours straight, but whenever a friend invites me to hop on, I won't hesitate for a second. This, in addition to the game's reasonable MSRP of $39.99, leads me to believe that Shadow Warrior 2 is a game that fits incredibly well into this Fall's game line-up.