2014’s Shadow Warrior reboot was a blast and a half. It was a raucous, old-school first-person blast-fest and slash-fest that pulled no punches and never apologized for being brainless. It was representative of the way video games always used to be. Now, that’s not necessarily a good thing because this industry has made great strides, and we’ve come a long way from those brainless, totally absurd adventures. Even so, despite that progression, we have to remember that not all games have to take themselves so seriously, and that we occasionally want to kick back with a Duke Nukem clone. Okay, maybe not a clone, but you know what I mean.
We don’t wanna think; we wanna kill stuff.
That’s why this series is so freakin’ great, and it’s also why I’m anxiously anticipating the sequel, which is slated to release later this year. As you might expect, the team at Devolver Digital is looking to amp up the insanity to the nth degree. They want to deliver an even more shocking and outrageous action game, with more blood and more weapons. But it’s not merely about increasing the quality and the amount of existing content; it’s also about improving and building upon the gameplay. For instance, not only will this anticipated follow-up boast four-player co-op, but we’ll get new “daring missions” and procedurally generated everything. In other words, the longevity should be through the roof.
And when I say procedurally generated everything, I really mean it: Despite a few pieces of story-driven content, each and every mission will be procedurally generated, including randomized enemy positions, terrain, building, and even weather conditions. Hell, they’re even giving the damage system a procedural structure, which will dictate how limbs go flying. Yeah, you can blow off – or lop off – opponent limbs with a variety of deadly firearms and blades and as you might expect, it’s a cornerstone of this gory experience. Protagonist Lo Wang isn’t exactly merciful; he doles out justice and pain in spades and as he can now go into battle with three other allies, well… Anybody remember Mr. T’s quote in “Rocky III” when asked what his prediction was for the fight?
Furthermore, the levels will be larger and more open this time around, which is nice to hear because the reboot’s levels felt a little cramped and old-fashioned. There’s even a dramatic change to the basic gameplay, as we’ll be able to climb walls and double-jump, which certainly sounds awesome. My only concern is on the mechanical side; Shadow Warrior works almost perfectly as a straightforward first-person action game. When you toss in platforming elements, no matter how minor, it could put a serious crimp in the proceedings if they’re not spot-on. But let’s be optimistic here and applaud the developers for seeking to build on the core gameplay system, because it could end up being a 100 percent positive. Besides, it’s not that hard to implement some simple jump and climb controls.
For those who want to power up or simply attempt to top their high score, they can revisit previously played missions. In other words, there’s definitely a more open theme the whole way ‘round, which is likely to be more inviting for today’s player. These improvements and additions should also go a long way to alleviating some of the repetition I experienced in the 2014 title. No matter how wildly entertaining a game can be, it can always regress just a bit when you start seeing the same crazy decapitation over and over. The reboot wasn’t as inspired as I wanted it to be, even though it was silly fun, and now I think the sequel will take the necessary step(s) forward. At this point, you’re probably not wondering about the narrative and really, you shouldn’t. Not the focus here at all.
Shadow Warrior 2 is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC and frankly, the sooner the better. At the very least, it’s a hugely promising and accessible co-op game and we can always use more of those!
3/1/2016 Ben Dutka