As I've grown up, I feel as if the number of video games I'm exicted to play each year has been slowly decreasing. I don't know if it's because I've become more jaded with my views on games, or because I just expect every game to be shit nowadays. When I was younger, I remember being able to name off almost every single game that was going to be released within the next three months. Now, there's only a couple of games each year that I end up being even remotely hyped to play.
So what does this have to do with Shadow Warrior 2? Well, it just so happens that THIS was one of the few games this year that I was truly hyped up to play. It did so by meeting a couple criteria. One, it was going to be released on GOG, meaning it has zero DRM and have a selling point of around 40 dollars. Two, it was being made by some goddamn polacks, the same country that produced the national treasure that is the Witcher 3. And finally, the dev's of this game outright denouced denuvo, essentially stating that implementing it in the game would only cause performance issues. This 100% earned my trust and cemented them as absolutely based as fug developers.
With all that information I mind, I can without a doubt state that Shadow Warrior 2 IS my favorite game to be released this year. Honestly, I absolutely love this game. The controls are much more fluid, the freedom of movement has been expanded upon. The stamina bar has been completely removed allowing the player to dash infinite, as well you can double jump, climb ledges, and no long take fall damage.
Skill are simpler to use now since they're located on dedicated keys rather then having to double tap with a movement key and then left click. The sword itself just feels better because of this since sword skills only require you move in a direction and hold right click. It's alot easier to tell how charged your attack are since it actually fills a small circle in the center now to indicated charge power. Even the gore system has been improved, as every time you kill someone, the direction the blade was traveling causes their body to gib at that angle as well.
I love the expanded arsenal, I love listening the main character banter on in cutscenes, I love the fact that the game has co-op now, I love how good the randomly generated evniroments and overall graphics look, It's just all so awesome. The game just feels so much more fun and faster then the previous one does.
But, of course I'm not going just going to sit here and do nothing but slobber all over this games virtual wang. Nothing perfect, everything has problems, which I honestly feel could be my catch phrases or something some would write on my tombstone. [tombstone pic]
There are a plethora of things I adore about this game, but I want to talk about some of the things that it got wrong, because nothing can escape constructive criticism.
[picture of randy pitchford]
So to get started, I'm just gonna go and say that this games story is almost compltely forgetable. It has something to do with demons and powerful swords and tyrannical governments. I know this games story is by no way supposed to be it's selling point, but you really can just skip every cutscene, and still have just as much fun playing it without watching them. Pretty much every encounter with either an new or returning character is an exchange of banter and exposition that results in Wang recieving some quests to go somewhere to either find or kill something.
This is pretty much how the entire pace of the game goes, go to the hub world, pick up a quest, travel to an area, kill some dudes, come back and do another one. And while this is may seem to sound monotonus, it doesn't entirely end up feeling that way since the core gameplay is so fun. It the aren't weren't so open and easily traversable, then this would end up being a huge detriment to the games pacing.
Which again brings me to my next point, level design. So you might not be able to tell, but according to the dev's shadow warrior 2 has randomly gnerated enviroments. Apparently, this works off large tilesets so you won't just clutter like trees and buildings clipped together randomly across the level, it's more like their fusing these big squares next to one another to create something a little different for every player.
And while some people might say this expands the exploration aspect of this game, I honestly feel like it hinders it. The original game was linear, which meant that the secrets you could find would have you explore the levels to find them off the beaten path. Since the devs can't really predict how a certain level is going to be laid out, secrets and bonus like this are kind of randomly placed inside of tilesets.
Not only that but the hud does not help this at all. Now, there are again, parts of the hud I'm really glad they added, like on screen objective markers, since in the first game, you could end up wandering around for 30 minutes trying to find where to go next, unable to spot the lightly pulsing button on a panel you needed to press. Now I can just look in the direction I need to go, so I never end up getting lost like I did in the first game.
Althought pretty much every other new addition complete hindered the experience I had, cause I eventually turned off almost every new feature. The minimap, uh uh, I have never liked minimaps in video games unless it's a multiplayer game. I feel like whenever I'm playing a game that has a minimap, half of my time playing that game is spent looking at the minimap, and not the actual game. The minimap in shadow warrior 2 just shows you EVERYTHING around you, so you don't even have to search for secrets, money and ammo boxes anymore. Because of that, it was one of the feature's of the hud I decied to just turn off.
Another thing that I ended up not liking was seeing enemy weaknesses, health bars and just damage numbers in general. I again found myself looking far to much at these aspects of the hud rather then actually focusing on aiming correctly. Having Health bar and damage numbers in general made the games enemies feel like bullet sponges on harder difficulties, because when I turned them off on hard, I found I was just having more fun attacking them then worrying about how much health I was chipping off of them.
Although, I think the real culprit behind the damage number, health bars, and weaknesses enemies now have is because of how much the games core designed changed. Now while I absolutely love games that have Co-op, having to play a game that was designed with co-op in mind alone, can really hurt the experience. Shadow Warrior 2 feels very different from the first game because of one core aspect, the loot system.
Shadow Warrior 2 is very akin to recent games like Destiny and The Division, or Borderlands if you want to look back a little further. The difference here is that you don't get randomly generated weapons, instead you get a fuckload of randomly generated gems.
Every gem you pick up has a varying quality to it, in order of white, green, blue, yellow, then orange. Gems can do differnt thing's like make you reload faster, shoot electric bullets, or cause your bullets to do lifesteal damage. In order to use gems, you socket them into one of the games many acquireable weapons.
In concept, this sounds like a great idea to me, but in reality, it's retarded. So You'd think that the best gems are orange gems right? Well wrong, most orange gems are shit because they have red stats, while white gems have nothing but green stats. I don't understand why they thought giving the most powerful/ gems negatives was a good idea. It's not like a co-op/singleplayer game needs to be balanced so nothing feels overpowered. Things should feel overpowered because you aren't going against other players, you're just fighting AI, and AI can't complain if something is broken.
The modifer gems that let you dual wield or rapid fire, just make guns you use them with feel worse. In Shadow Warrior, I never used the pistol until I had enough points left over too which I didn't know what to spend on, so more then half way through the game, it became my favorite weapon. Now in Shadow Warrior 2, when I attach a pistol with Rapid Fire or Dual Wield, it absolutely sucks, cause it makes the accuracy utterly terrible.
I honestly perfer the upgrade system in Shadow Warrior 1 over the gem/card system in shadow warrior 2. I say that cause I practically ignored most of the orange gems I recieved in the early through late game and almost exclusively used white +11% damage gems on almost all my swords. And the only modifer gem I ended up using was a charge shot on my shotgun, cause holy fuck that made any weapon I put it on completely OP.
It's just, this game has so many strange design choices that at first seem like neat or interesting ideas, but just fall flat or make the game less fun because of them. Although by no means, do I think the game is bad because of the majority of the things I mentioned, they just kind of hindered the overall enjoyment I had when playing through this game for the first time.
I honestly still think Shadow Warrior 2 is a fantastic game despite all I just stated, because it's positive features heavily outweigh it's negatives features. It's a damn good game, and I'd imagine an ever better one with friends.