We speak with The Surge 2’s creative director Jan Klose to talk about the upcoming sci-fi Soulslike action-RPG.
The Soulslike offshoot of the action-RPG genre has become increasingly popular over the years, and one of the best games to have come out of that is Deck13’s sci-fi title, The Surge, which garnered lots of fans and positive reception when it first launched in 2017. Next year sees Deck13 returning to the IP with The Surge 2, a sequel that’s promising to go bigger and better in every way possible, and as such, has a number of fans of the first game quite excited about it. Recently, we sent across a few of our questions about the upcoming RPG to Deck13, and got some very interesting responses from creative director Jan Klose. Read on below.
"The whole approach of The Surge 2 is to give players more choice."
You have talked about the ambitious level design that The Surge 2 will bring to players. Can you elaborate more on this and what it means for the game?
The whole approach of The Surge 2 is to give players more choice. We already tried to have several options available in part 1, but we really want to take it to the next level in all aspects with part 2. Level design plays an integral part because there are way more options now, the world is much more interconnected and there’s much more freedom to explore. You can just follow the direct path, but it might be more dangerous and there are more clever ways to solve a level, and you might miss out on hidden side quests too. Also, you can sometimes pick the order in which you want to approach part of the world, giving it a much more open feel.
What can you tell us about the expanded limb targeting system that will be in the game?
We use limb targeting for more dynamism in combat. Robotic enemies sometimes keep fighting after you’ve cut off a piece off them, adapting their combat behavior! Also, you can target special equipment of an enemy and destroy it mid-combat to change the way the fight goes on, for example if you disable the cloaking device of an opponent. You can also target special parts to receive extra weapons or consumables from your enemy.
The setting this time around seems very different from the industrial setting we had seen in the first game. What can you tell us about these changes in the setting?
Being located in a city gives us a lot of new options. We can be more open, we even have to be, since that’s what you expect from an urban environment, and there’s more variety we can offer in the visuals as well. We can show a city in the near future and elaborate on our vision of how mankind evolved. We can show natural places like parks, and we have underground areas and high-rise buildings, we think there’s a strong mix.
What is the story going to be focused on this time around?
We’re following up on the story of part 1, but at the same time it revolves around a fresh and new core idea. The city and its surrounding area is a completely different environment with its own problems, struggling to survive after the events of The Surge. We’ll be talking more about the story as we get closer to release.
"We try to give the player more direct control over their moves, you can react faster to what’s happening in combat now."
What are some of the changes that have been made to the AI this time around?
The AI is generally more cunning this time. Not so many brainless zombies anymore: many of your enemies can now team up, switch tactics depending on their positions, and they can use the verticality of levels, for example by using exo lifts to chase you!
In terms of combat, what are the major changes that are going to impact a player’s experience of the game?
We try to give the player more direct control over their moves, you can react faster to what’s happening in combat now. We included many new weapon classes to cater for more different play styles and for more variety in general. Also, there’s a new blocking mechanic that lets you parry in several directions, again giving you more options in reacting to your enemies.
It looks like the drone is going to be a lot more useful in this game. What are some of the major uses players can get out of their drones?
The drone features have been expanded in several ways. You can now also make use of your drone outside actual combat, using it as a scouting device to spot hidden enemies. You can stun enemies, attack several at once and target individual body parts with corresponding reactions. In general, the drone now is a much more useful flying gun and also a helper in different situations.
What are some of the new weapon types that we can see in this game?
For example, we have a heavy duty weapon, sort of an axe type of class, but you can split the weapon into two one-handed weapons and perform really fast combo swings with it.
You’ve stated that the game will feature many important characters who will play a role in the story. What inspired you to make this change with this game?
I think we underestimated a bit how much people like characters and storylines in their action RPGs, so maybe we toned this aspect down too much in part 1. And now with The Surge 2, we do what we actually wanted to do all along and make the game feel more alive, adding way more characters and storylines for the player to explore and engage with. Also, the whole gameplay is much more about the player’s choice, so naturally that should be the case for characters and their quests as well!
"We have increased the number of bosses, but also changed a bit our definition for “boss encounters”. There will be some smaller, tricky bosses as well as huge and scary ones."
The number of bosses in the original game was a bit on the lower side. How are you addressing this in the sequel?
We have increased the number of bosses, but also changed a bit our definition for “boss encounters”. There will be some smaller, tricky bosses as well as huge and scary ones. There is much more bandwidth in terms of boss fights now, which hopefully adds to the variety and also helps to provide some unexpected events.
Can you tell us about how you are handling the end-game?
There’s not much to tell right now other than that we have a lot of test players on it and we want to provide a polished experience. Keeping a high level of quality for everyone at the end of the game is always a tough thing when there’s a lot of different ways players can develop their characters, but we think that we have it covered quite well.
What can you tell us about the new crafting system?
We don’t go away too much from the crafting system in part 1, but there are some very different ways to how we handle core stats and how the player can change and update their character with the stuff they find in the field. Most likely we will let the player “hot swap” their implants this time around, and we extend the system by having the player obtain parts or items at vendors and offer consumables that can be looted or acquired otherwise.
Will the game feature Xbox One X enhancements?. What can players expect if they are playing the game on Xbox One X? Is 4K/60fps on the cards?
We’re working on it and will pump it up as high as possible. We have a lot going on on the screen, but we really want to keep the high fidelity when it comes to combat and movement. Therefore, a higher framerate is more important to us than the highest possible resolution. In any case, we want to make The Surge 2 look great on the Xbox One X.
And how will the PS4 Pro version turn out in terms of resolution and frame rate?
We hope we can push our tech to the limit to go as high as possible, and it’s currently looking pretty good.
From a development perspective, how do you find the Xbox One X to be? With so much GPU power, we are sure you must be doing some amazing things.
That’s true. But in the end, the base Xbox One is still an important platform where we can’t let fall short. So on the X, things will look and feel more awesome, but still, on the standard Xbox we’re aiming for a brilliant and fast experience.
"We wish that the next generation platforms are, simply put, just great gaming environments, they need to focus on the gamer like they did with the current gen. We’ll do the rest!"
How is the game running on the original Xbox One and PS4, frame rate and resolution wise?
These are still our focus, we won’t let these platforms feel inferior.
Do you have any plans to bring the game to Nintendo Switch? If not, why?
With a game that has so much going on visually, performance is a concern. But we’re big fans of the Switch, and who knows what the future may bring.
Next gen is coming sooner or later. From a development perspective, what is your biggest expectation from the next PlayStation and next Xbox?
We wish that the next generation platforms are, simply put, just great gaming environments, they need to focus on the gamer like they did with the current gen. We’ll do the rest!