So. Let’s talk about The Surge 2. I’m still dealing with some shit physically, but I’ve been playing The Surge 2 on and off. More on than off, and I have feelings. So. Many. Feelings. I’m about halfway done with the game, which answers the question of whether I beat the first real boss or not. Who, by the way, is officially the third boss, but I refer to him as the first boss because the other two were tutorial bosses. In fact, in looking up the bosses for this article, I didn’t even remember the first boss at all. I mean, I had to fight him because I got out of the detention area, but when I saw his name, I was like, “What the fuck?” Even after reading about him and watching the video, I did not remember him. That’s how unmemorable he is, and I wouldn’t even call him a boss. We’ll get to that in a second.
Little Johnny came down to sheer stubbornness on my part and something I mention often in playing Souls/Souls-like games: luck. There is always one or two moves by a boss that are troublesome for me.
Side Note: One thing I like about these games is how different people deal with different bosses. I’ve never had a problem with Gwyn, for example, and others took five hours to fight him. You’re supposed to parry him, and I’ve watched videos of people parrying him into oblivion. It’s a thing of beauty, and I really wish I could do it. More on that later as well.
I find in a good boss run, the boss doesn’t do the one move I hate that often. In the case of Little Johnny, it’s when he vomits the little spiders that shock you. He only did it once or twice in my successful run. Also, the stompy stompy bit. He didn’t do that much, either. I was pleased to be done with him and to be moving on with my life. Then, I encountered the area known as Gideon Rock, which was a microcosm of all I like and dislike about this game.
Let me just say flat out that gear is important in this game. In the original, I used the Liquidator set which was a light set with good resistance. Early on in this game, I wore the Scavenger set (Operator class) which was light, and the full set bonus was health regen on a finishing move. I will always take health regen over almost anything else. In Gideon’s Rock, I ran into an enemy that was way above my level. It’s called the GAIA Statue, and it’s a golden-plated statue that turns into a robotic enemy when you near it. When I first entered Gideon’s Rock, the statues had a red number–which meant they were waaaaay above me. I fought the first one right outside the hub for nearly an hour, and I didn’t manage to kill it once. I decided to run by it and continue on in the area.
I liked the new enemy type, Hunter, even if it frustrated me. They can go invisible, which they use to get next to you before trying to shank you. One thing I appreciate about The Surge 2 is that it has distinctive environments, which is so different than the drab industrial interiors of the original game. Gideon’s Rock is outdoors and very nature-based. I will say I had a chuckle at Metea Forest because it looked so much like a Souls‘ area, especially with the hunters, but that’s forgivable in my eyes.
I’m still ambivalent about the shortcuts because there are so goddamn many of them. When they do it well, it can have that ‘SWEET! SHORTCUT! feel to it, but when there are three shortcuts within a minute, it can feel cheap. In addition, and this was a problem in the original, there are times when a shortcut negates the one you found a minute ago, and it left me scratching my head. One thing about the original Dark Souls that was so brilliant was how the judicial placement of shortcuts made each one seem like a rainbow at the end of a really dark day. Yes, I’m mixing my metaphors, but I think you understand what I mean. The sense of relief and jubilation on realizing, “Wait, what? I’m back here! Hallelujah!” was unmatchable. It was the same in Bloodborne, and that is because of how sparse the bonfires were. There aren’t that many hubs in The Surge 2, but each area is so small, they don’t really call for elaborate shortcuts.
Back to gear. I switched over to the A.I.D. Nightfall Set (Goliath) which was a fairly chunky set. The reason I like to wear light sets is to save core power for implants. Hrm. How to explain. You have core energy that is a finite number. You get more with each level up, and almost everything you equip (except weapons) drains this energy. For example. The Scavenger set takes 13 units of energy and gives 63 defense at level one. The A.I.D. Nightfall set takes 30 units of energy and gives 260 defense on level one. That means I have 17 less units to use on implants. That’s a lot. There’s one I use that takes 18 units. Bumping up the gear helped me get through the area prior to Gideon’s Rock–Gideon’s Plaza–and most of Gideon’s Rock. To note, I use the Stranger’s Facemask because it was already level…three I think when I got it, decent defense, and costs zero core power. It also adds to any set bonuses, which is nice.
I also upgraded my weapons to level…four I think. One is level five, but you can’t get the materials for that until later. By the way, I’m still using multiple weapons, which is very unlike me. The staff, the hammer, the twin-rigged, and the spear are in heavy rotation. One of the issues is that most of the weapons I prefer do nano damage, and Gideon’s Rock is filled with nano enemies. You can probably guess how well nano weapons do on nano enemies. I really like that it’s so easy to switch weapons, however, and that I’m getting new weapons on a regular basis. Another cool thing is that you get a weapon every time you kill a boss (I think), and if you meet certain conditions, you can get the 2.0 version. I never bother with that because I just want to do the boss, but it’s a nice thing to have (it was in the original game as well). I did get one 2.0 version of a boss weapon in the original game’s DLC, but that was by wearing a specific armor set and had nothing to do with hacking off certain limbs.
My point about gear is that it’s important in this game in a way it wasn’t in the original. I never felt like I had to wear a certain armor set or be a certain level in the original game to tackle an area/boss (though, to be fair, I grinded a lot, so I was probably over-leveled for much of the game). In this game, I can tell when I’m under-leveled or wearing gear that isn’t good enough. I don’t like being a clunky, chunky clomper, but I’m not good enough to duck, juke, and jive.
You may have noticed that I haven’t talked about the story yet. That’s because it’s pretty silly, much like the original one. It’s pretty straightforward–very much post-apocalyptic let’s-fear-technology crap, and I don’t pay much attention to it. I do like that you can interact with NPCs more often and do side quests for them. It gets you good gear, and it does add flavor to the game. In general, though, the story is merely serviceable, which is about what I expect from the game.
I bring up the story because in Gideon’s Rock, you have to, um, something something three repellers something something. I don’t know what, exactly, except I had to find three of them and interact with them. The third one has a hellish run to it, and then, oh, what do you know? A boss fight. I knew this guy was coming up, but I wasn’t expecting him where I found him. He was a hunter like the common enemies in the area, but a very souped up version. He was annoying, and the worst part was that I had nearly thirty thousand tech scraps when I stumbled into the arena.
Side Note II: One interesting new mechanic is that your tech scraps give off a healing pulsing aura on the spot upon where you died. It’s there for 2:30, and if you kill an enemy, time is added. When you pick up your tech scraps, you’re healed to full, so it’s another part of the strategy you need to employ while fighting a boss.
To be honest, I wasn’t up for a boss fight. I was tired and sick, and I was thinking about quitting for the day. I hated the run up to the boss because it was confusing, and the immediate enemies were assholes, and I was usually down to half-health before I even entered the arena. I gave it four or five tries, and then I decided I was done for the day. The next day, I pumped up some shit, did some grinding, and then went into the boss fight again. I got him down to half-health, then I fired off what I thought was my pulsar drone at him to stun him, but it apparently was my Molotov cocktails drone or my sniper drone instead. Three shots later, he was dead, and the boss fight was over.
I mean, what??? I’ll take it, of course, but I’m not going to lie that it was very anticlimactic. It didn’t feel as if I actually won the fight, but I did. It also testament to how strong the drones are in this game. As I mentioned before, I didn’t use the drone at all in the last game, and it’s my constant mate in this one.
Funny Note: The GAIA Statues that gave me so much trouble are integral to a side quest. The bartender in Cloud 9 (hub area, bar) wanted a full armor set that could only be made from GAIA Statue parts. The GAIA near the Gideon Rock hub, the one that gave me such problems, was broken and could no longer move. I cheesed the hell out of it to get the statue parts, and I had to laugh at how almost trivial it had become. It underscored how important leveling up was, and it’s something I had to keep an eye on in the future.
Once I was done with Captain Cervantes and did the thing to the third repeller, I knew there was only one thing left to do in Gideon’s Rock–the nano beast that everyone had been nattering on about up to this point. I knew where it was–in the hole by the hub. I jumped in, only to be met by a huge nano beast named Delver. He was huge and lumbering, but he did massive damage–even with my Nightfall gear. The third or fourth time, I used my Mollies on him, and knocked his health bar all the way down. I had a suspicion that it wasn’t that easy, and I was right. He had a second health bar in which he shed his nano skin and became a sleek hyper-aggressive dog beast. Who could stick to the wall and fling his nanos at you. He shredded me the first time, and I put down the controller with a deep sigh. He seemed unbeatable, and I was not having a good time at all.
I honestly thought about quitting. I’ve babbled on and on about how there is a thin line between tough, but fair and flat-out unfair. Dark Souls usually lands on the former side whereas The Surge 2, to me, falls on the latter. or rather, the bosses are very uneven. It was the same in the original. Most of them were no biggie, but the last boss…yeah, still not ready to talk about it. We’ll talk about Delver instead .I looked up tips on the first and second stage (I found out there was a third one), and I put the tips for the first phase to good use.
Please note, this is one way I know that I’m not as into this game as I am into Souls games–I capitulate way too early and look shit up because I can’t be arsed to fight a couple dozen times to semi-figure things out myself. The first phase was basically like fighting a Souls boss–circle to the left and smack that ass. During this fight, I fell in love with the Dark Star, which is in the hammer category. I would let him do his combo as I circled around him, and then I would hit him once or twice before moving away.
By the way, I did not use the block at all up until this point. I just dodged and hit, which did not always serve me well. In watching the fight of this boss, the parry was heavily represented, and I gave it a go again with Delver. I managed to get the first one, but then fucked up on two and three. In the end, I decided it wasn’t worth it and gave up on it. I just cannot parry reliably, and I only get frustrated when I try.
This is getting long yet again, so I’ll leave it here for now. In the next post, I’ll talk about how to beat a boss my way.