Deck13’s hardcore sci-fi hack and slash ended up being one of my favourite releases of last year, and I’ve spent many hours slicing and dicing my way to the top of the post-apocalyptic food chain. Much more than a simple Soulsbourne clone, it was the product of a talented studio growing in confidence, and has cemented The Surge 2 as one of my most anticipated releases. So to tide me over until the sequel drops, I got my power gloves on the latest Western-themed DLC, The Good, The Bad and the Augmented, and while it doesn’t really feel essential, it’s a fun distraction with enough sweet loot to maybe charm you back.
Fear The Reaper, Warren be his name
The story in this DLC is fairly light, and is more or less a slim pretext to drop you into a series of simulations with a distinct Western flavour. Your only guide throughout the experience is an omnipresent narrator called the Supervisor who appears to be a couple of lassos short of a rodeo. Completing all nine episodes of his simulation will reveal some mildly interesting backstory, but much like the main game, the story takes a backseat to the action.
You can jump into the DLC via various locales in the main game, and if you are starting a new game then certain episodes will be locked until you’ve progressed in the main story. If you are in New Game Plus (as I was), all nine episodes are available to play from the outset. I definitely appreciated this option, however it does have the potential to make a New Game Plus run a little easy, as you’ll be able to farm the highest level materials effectively from the first area of the main game.
Each episode is comprised of the same formula – two main areas followed by a boss battle. Unfortunately, the main areas and boss battles are recycled, and over the nine episodes you’ll only face three distinct bosses, and see six different locales. As you progress through each episode the main areas become populated with much harder enemy combinations, but it takes some of the trepidation out when you’ve already traversed an area several times in other episodes. Stranger still, once an area has been cleared in one episode, a shortcut opens which can be utilised in all future episodes. This diminishes the challenge of getting through an episode alive, however there is still the incentive of farming enemies for upgrade materials that may make you want to clear every area (that or the Supervisor insulting you when you take a shortcut).
Bosses are a little lacklustre in terms of mechanics – being relatively basic homo sapien foes – but their visual design is brilliant. The best part of a boss fight is the fact you can slice off their various body parts to craft brand new sets of armour (there are three in total), such as the Silent Assassin and Angel of Death sets. It makes facing them multiple times a bit more exciting, because each time you’re eyeing off one of their limbs to add to your collection.
Really, the loot is the best part of the experience. As well as the armour sets previously mentioned, there are five new weapons to hunt down, including an awesome heavy scythe and a giant coffin you can pummel enemies with. There are also vanity items such as cowboy boots and luchador masks that can be used to complete any armour set. Couple this with new and powerful implants and each episode you complete will always net you some interesting gear.
There’s only enough room for one Warren in this town
Looking good, Warren
To vastly increase the chance of enemies sporting rare gear, and to unlock more vanity items, each episode can have up to four difficulty modifiers applied. These range from the hilarious to the extremely difficult, but the allure of applying modifiers for better gear is strong
To vastly increase the chance of enemies sporting rare gear, and to unlock more vanity items, each episode can have up to four difficulty modifiers applied. These range from the hilarious to the extremely difficult, but the allure of applying modifiers for better gear is strong. For instance, one modifier gives the whole episode an old-timey filter replete with saloon-worthy piano accompaniment, and a comical increase in movement speed when you get into the action. Other modifiers can make enemies invisible except for their weapons, or force you to go in bare-handed and target unarmoured limbs to avoid damage. With sixteen modifiers there are plenty of ways to remix the episodes, and if you’ve got your heart set on completing all the special armour and weapon sets then applying as many as you can handle is your best chance.
Choose your own adventure, Warren-style
2 spooky 4 me (Warren)
I thoroughly enjoyed returning to the violent world of The Surge, even if this DLC does feel a little bite-sized. The episodic structure with the modifier system is clever, but it’s unfortunate that there is so much recycling in the environments and bosses. If anything is going to entice you to star in this sci-fi spaghetti Western, it’s the promise of powerful and visually impressive loot. That, or you have a hankering to once again play as a bloke named Warren – you just don’t get enough of those opportunities really.
Reviewed on PS4 | Review code supplied by publisher