For all intents and purposes, Flying Wild Hog’s Shadow Warrior – a remake of the 3D Realms shooter of the same name – didn’t seem like it could be as good as it eventually turned out to be. The remake was a surprising release with its hack and slash mechanics and before we knew it, Shadow Warrior 2 was already announced. The game has since received a release date of October 13th for PC and Mac with a console release happening in 2017 but what can fans of the previous game look forward to in the sequel?
GamingBolt spoke PR representative Tadeusz Zielinski and programmer Krzysztof Narkowicz from Flying Wild Hog for more information.
"Homeless in a cruel world with only the clothes on his back, Lo Wang set up a crude living space inside a former nightclub on the outskirts of the Yakuza’s town known as The Calamity."
Shadow Warrior 2 is the sequel to the remake inspired by the 3D Realms FPS of the same name. What are your thoughts on the transformation the franchise has undergone in recent times?
Zielinski: Well, it’s really hard for us to judge, since our company conducted the transformation, but looking from a distance seems like we did a good job. We wanted to ease up on the racism – lot of things have changed since the 90’s, but we are not giving up on humor, especially when it’s immature. After all – our hero is called “Wang” right? Also – we think that what we managed to achieve, when it comes to melee and sword fighting, is something really special – we don’t know any other game in which you could do stuff you can in Shadow Warrior and its upcoming sequel.
What is Lo Wang’s story in Shadow Warrior 2? How does it differ in tone and will we see any changes to Wang’s character in the five years since the previous game?
Zielinski: Lo Wang, the former corporate assassin, master swordsman and all around bad motherf***er, just wants to be left alone. His days of fast cars, faster women, strong drinks and murder for hire evaporated along with the corporations that supplied him with rare comic books and exotic weapons. After decades of constructing a life in which he needed no one, he finally made a true friend. Then he looked on helplessly as that friend died. Homeless in a cruel world with only the clothes on his back, Lo Wang set up a crude living space inside a former nightclub on the outskirts of the Yakuza’s town known as The Calamity. He makes ends meet doing jobs too dirty or too difficult for the local Yakuza, Most of the time this involves taking care of the lower demons and mutant animals that emerge from the forest from time to time to terrorize the locals. In other words, he’s a dog catcher.
One of the biggest changes with Shadow Warrior 2 is the implementation of four player co-op. How does this significantly change up the experience?
Zielinski: We wanted players to be able to play together, but in the same moment to keep that unique single player experience. So every player sees him/herself as Lo Wang and all other players as what we call “dojo kids”, ninjas in different outfits. This way everybody can differentiate themselves, but also “stay in character”.
As for the co-op itself – our character progression system is based on upgrades you will find on your way. Some of those will function only in cooperation mode so you will be able to heal your friends or take aggro from the enemy. We don’t want to spoil the fun but rest assured that the game is as fun in single player as in co-operation mode.
Along with more open levels, what is the impact of player’ abilities to scale walls and double jump?
Zielinski: The impact is huge. We ditched the stamina system, so now Lo Wang is much more agile, not losing the flow of movement. You can combine jumping, double jumping and dashing (also mid-air) so you become this zigzagging bundle of blades and guns, that swooshes through the level, obliterating anything in its path. It’s not a parkour game, but you will have tons of joy with just traversing from one end of the map to another.
How does this affect one’s approach to battles and is there an increased emphasis on verticality for the same?
Zielinski: Of course expanded and more accessible movement has a great impact on the fights themselves. Especially dashing is something that players will have to embrace and use a lot – you will be dodging attacks coming from all directions (also from above), double jumping over the heads of the enemies, climbing roofs to gain tactical advantage, and then descend using our superhero landing move (which has an actual professional stunt name – “5-point landing”).
As for verticality – when we designed the levels, one of the main drives was to create them as vertical as possible. Not all of them of course, but a fair amount. You will explore huge caverns and mines, you will experience an out worldly dangers of floating fractured islands, so the short answer is “yes – you will have to embrace verticality to fully experience our level design”.
What can you tell us about the 70 weapons present in game?
Zielinski: I can tell you that it will be one of the best arsenals you can imagine in a First Person Shooter. We have guns, blades, chainsaws and some other toys we don’t want to talk about now – we need some surprises for the launch. All of those will be fully upgradable with up to three upgrades and all of those are friggin lethal.
I can also tell you that we are planning on some really cool weapon cameos. Keep your fingers crossed!
How does the upgrade system work? What kinds of buffs and other rewards can players earn to make their characters strong?
Zielinski: The whole progression system is based on perks and upgrades. Perks you will unlock on the course of the game, and upgrades are the “items” dropped by some monsters or found in chests. You will also receive them as rewards for quests. In every weapon you can slot up to three upgrades, adding some effects (like extra crit %, extra power, or elemental effects like ice or fire), and sometimes – changing the way the weapon works entirely! One of the upgrades allows you to dual wield smaller firearms, another adds a quick shoot option (think – gunslingers in the Wild West), there is even one that allows you to set up your guns as stationary defenses.
You can also upgrade Lo Wang’s armor (again – adding some cool stats) and the perks themselves, making them last longer, heal more, or deal more damage.
"The combat system didn’t change a bit. It’s still as tight, responsive and visceral as it used to be…"
Level design was reported to be procedurally generated. What kind of variety does this add to the experience and how does it encourage replay value?
Zielinski: There is a small misunderstanding here – our levels are not procedurally generated but rather randomized from a pre-designed pool. We wanted to keep the artistic control on the visuals of the game and procedural generation would cause too much chaos and would be too unpredictable. So we resorted to randomization – we prepared a set number of level layouts and when you load the game they are being picked at random. Furthermore we also randomize some parts of pre-selected levels, so even if you see a familiar environment rest assured there will be some surprises waiting for you. At the end of the day every time you play through the game your experience will be unique.
Will there be different modifiers or special versions of missions that players can experience in order to gain greater rewards?
Zielinski: You will be able to play the game on different difficulty levels but we’re not planning on creating “Heroics”. But we will have something for all the players that like to “grind”.
The combat was one of the greatest appeals of Shadow Warrior and Shadow Warrior 2 appears to up the ante with a procedural damage system for limbs. How does this work and how do you prevent any severe glitches from turning up?
Zielinski: What glitches? There are no glitches. Move along. Nothing to see here. But on more serious note – the combat system didn’t change a bit. It’s still as tight, responsive and visceral as it used to be with one small exception you already mentioned – our procedural cut system. The way it changes the fights is not that obvious at first as it seems like a rather cosmetic upgrade. In the reality it’s the reason why you will look for enemies and weapons – to have fun with their bodies. To cut them in slices, puncture them or nail them to the walls. It’s difficult to find a game in which you can have so much fun just by mutilating the monsters you encounter.
Is the game going to run at 1080p and 60fps on both the PS4 and Xbox One?
Zielinski: We are aiming for 30fps 1080p. Both consoles. It will probably change on Neo/Scorpio.
"We entirely rebuilt almost every part of the engine – from optimizations in order to make use of multiple CPU cores, to a new physically based renderer."
With Scorpio, Microsoft is talking a lot about blurring the line between PC and console. What do you think of that? What’s your own understanding of where that line might be in the future?
Narkowicz: I rather expect consoles to become tablet-like. Something in-between previous gen consoles with long lasting single configuration and ever changing PC.
Do you have any plans to bring Shadow Warrior 2 to Xbox Scorpio given the rather big claims of the “most powerful console” ever?
Narkowicz: Yes, sure. We will bring Shadow Warrior 2 to Xbox Scorpio when it will be available. The claim was made a bit in advance. At the moment, we don’t have any Scorpio dev kits and don’t have any official information about it, so those claims don’t have any valid basis.
“There have been reports that the PS4 NEO will be weaker in specs compared to Xbox One? What is your take on that? Will we see a repeat of the resolutiongate but with the Scorpio in the lead instead?”
Narkowicz: None of those consoles have been released, or even have an exact release date, so comparing them makes no sense. Basically, the later new hardware will be released the more powerful it will be. On the other hand, you can’t play games on the unreleased hardware and there is always something better from the competition lurking behind the corner. If the consoles are to be updated every few years, then I guess every vendor will take the lead in turns and gamers will have to choose to buy and play now or wait for the next better one. Just like with iPads or iPhones.
“What kind of updates you have done to the game’s engine in the last couple of years? What kind of advancements (in terms of physics, graphics and AI) can players expect?”
Narkowicz: We entirely rebuilt almost every part of the engine – from optimizations in order to make use of multiple CPU cores, to a new physically based renderer. You should expect a huge leap from our previous Shadow Warrior title. It’s a lot of changes, so I’ll just mention a few highlights. We have new fancy renderer with volumetric lighting, realistic materials and weather effects. Engine now supports generated and open levels. AI learned to navigate and fight in a more vertical levels – e.g. enemies can jump from a rooftop to a rooftop. Last but not least it wouldn’t be a Shadow Warrior without gore, so we have new systems for (literally) making holes in enemies, spectacular flying guts and procedural cutting of enemies.