Creative director Jan Klose speaks with GamingBolt about Deck13’s newest action RPG.
Deck13 are back again with their own unique take on the Souls-like genre, with The Surge 2’s sci-fi aesthetic, brutal combat, and buckets of dismemberments, and for fans of the first game, it’s turned out to be pretty much what it should have been- more, but better. Prior to the game’s recent launch, we sent across a few of our questions to the game’s developers in anticipation of its release. You can read our interview with creative director Jan Klose below.
NOTE: This interview was conducted prior to the game’s launch. You can read our review of The Surge 2 through here.
"We used the last year not only to finish the game properly but also to make its parts feel more imaginative, have more uniqueness and soul, and, most important, we had a lot of people test play the game so that we could find out what already worked and where we needed to make more improvements."
How has the game evolved in the last one year of development?
The last year was very special because most parts of the game were already in place but it was nowhere near the idea we had for the final product in terms of quality but also sometimes in terms of creativity. We used the last year not only to finish the game properly but also to make its parts feel more imaginative, have more uniqueness and soul, and, most important, we had a lot of people test play the game so that we could find out what already worked and where we needed to make more improvements.
With more weapon types and more implants, does The Surge 2 offer greater build diversity to players?
Yes, we wanted to give the players many more things to play around with so they could customize their gameplay experience. Freedom of choice is one of the big development goals we had for The Surge 2. We wanted the gamers to play the game the way they want and not the one way we were planning for.
Was it a huge focus for you guys to look at the feedback for the first game and make improvements in this one based on that? Because looking at things like the environments, the art, the enemy variety, and the bosses, that’s certainly the impression I’m getting.
Yes, it was one of our biggest goals. It was wonderful and frightening at the same time to see people play the first game and give us tons and tons of feedback about what they liked and where they would want to see improvement.
Can you tell us how big Jericho City is going to be?
It’s certainly the biggest game world we ever built! We tried to connect as many pieces of the world as possible in order to receive one living breathing environment. Being a city, we felt that we would need more open spaces, more verticality but also more connectivity, this is something you kind of expect from such an environment and we wanted to make use of that in terms of gameplay as good as possible.
"We feel that if you’re into exploration, it’s maybe 50% bigger than the first game. Counting just the main story, it’s still larger, but there’s much more hidden on side paths, in dark corners and behind secret doors that might expand your gameplay time way more."
You’ve said in the past that The Surge 2 is longer than the first game, but now that we’re quite close to launch, can you give us a rough estimate of how long an average playthrough of the game will be?
We feel that if you’re into exploration, it’s maybe 50% bigger than the first game. Counting just the main story, it’s still larger, but there’s much more hidden on side paths, in dark corners and behind secret doors that might expand your gameplay time way more.
There was a pretty big debate regarding accessibility in games not too long ago. What’s The Surge 2’s approach to accessibility in terms of things like difficulty options, especially considering how this is a game that places so much value in challenge as the crux of the experience?
We feel that it’s not possible to offer a real “easy mode” for a game that’s focused so much on challenging combat. If you take the challenge out of the game just by ticking a box in an options menu, you’d lose a lot of the game’s magic. Instead, we increased the choices the player has in the game. If you really want, and if you explore all the bits and pieces of the game and do a lot of side quests, you can level up your character and you’ll have a much easier time with some enemies and bosses. Also there are just more options this time to defeat an enemy with your own strategy instead of trying to find the one pattern we hid for you. Also, the game is filled with hints and tips in order to understand all of its functionality. Therefore I feel that while the game is not generally easier than the first one, it’s way more accessible and offers more value for different kinds of players.
Based on what we’ve seen from the game’s much larger and more diverse world, it seems like The Surge 2 is also putting a greater emphasis on story than its predecessor. Is that an accurate assertion? Is storytelling more of a focus for you guys this time around?
This is especially true for the environmental storytelling. We want the players to understand the world as they move through it. There are also more side quests and other little stories hidden in the game that will help you understand the backgrounds of the world.
For the players who did not play the first game, will getting into The Surge 2 – in terms of both story and mechanics – be a bit more difficult?
I don’t think so. We deliberately built everything in a way that you don’t need to know anything about the story or gameplay of the first one in order to enjoy part 2. But if you missed The Surge 1, you’ll miss out on some backgrounds like recurring characters or stories that continue from the first part.
The Surge received a lot of post-launch content from you guys, with some paid expansions and a couple of free DLCs as well. Do you have similar plans for The Surge 2’s post-launch support?
Yes, we absolutely do, although I can’t go into detail here just yet.
"We’d love to see the game run on as many devices as possible, but right now our focus is on Xbox One, PS4, and PC."
Considering the fact that we’ll be seeing the releases for next gen consoles not long from now, have you given any thought to next gen ports for The Surge 2?
We’ll see about that when we get there. In any case we’d love to see the game run on the new consoles and make use of their new capabilities.
Now that you’re almost at the finish line with Surge 2’s release, are you thinking about releasing the game on the Switch, or maybe Stadia?
We’d love to see the game run on as many devices as possible, but right now our focus is on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
What can you tell us about the graphical options of the PC version?
We’ve greatly increased the options that you can play around with in the menu, and there’s a variety of possibilities to adapt the game to your machine, especially to make use of the power of stronger machines.
Will the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X versions have multiple graphical options? Furthermore, what frame rate and resolution does the PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One and Xbox One X versions run at?
Yes, depending on the platform we’re offering HDR, higher resolutions and higher framerates. The players can choose where they want to put their focus on.
The PS5 is confirmed to have SSD. From a development perspective, how will this help you to improve game performance in the future?
This is especially interesting for anything that you would stream into memory from the hard disc, e.g. textures or geometry, and therefore it can increase the speed of the whole game. So this is of course very interesting for us.
"For a developer it’s super important that people can keep buying and playing games from our back catalogue so that we can reach a wider audience and still earn some revenue from past titles."
The PS5 will have a Zen 2 CPU processor which is a major leap over the CPUs found in the PS4 and Xbox One. From a development perspective, how will this help you in developing games of the future?
Anything that gives us more processing performance will make us put more things on the screen, or to improve the framerate. As we have a game where timing matters, it’s great to offer 60 fps on consoles while still having a high visual fidelity.
Xbox Scarlett features GDDR6 memory. How will this increase in memory bandwidth help you in the future?
We’re very happy to see that the next generation of consoles features various items that help increase the speed of all the components. More speed and more memory help us adding more details to the games at higher resolutions with higher framerates. All of those are greatly appreciated by developers as well as gamers of course.
Backwards compatibility is a big feature PS5. How will it help your past library to evolve and grow?
For a developer it’s super important that people can keep buying and playing games from our back catalogue so that we can reach a wider audience and still earn some revenue from past titles. Therefore we’re absolutely confident that this will help us as a studio in a variety of ways, but, more importantly, it offers gamers more cool stuff to play, and that’s what we’re here for!