The Surge is the second hardcore action game by Deck 13 Interactive and published by Focus Home Entertainment. Their first swing into the niche genre was Lords of the Fallen in 2014, securing their place as notable competition against the genre giant, Dark Souls. The hardcore action games are notoriously difficult, and progress can seem downright impossible. Here is what you need to know before you play so you don't get sent to the recycling bin.
Power cores, as the name suggests, power your exoskeleton rig. You can upgrade the power core at med-bays, using tech scrap metal as currency. Upgrading your power core doesn't alter your character Warren's stats in any way, but it does increase the capacity of your core.
Each piece of armor has a power consumption value, and in order to be able to equip the piece, you must have enough available energy in the core.
Upgrading the power core determines which level doors you will be able to Overcharge and open, and how many implants you can install on your rig.
Installing implants on your exo-rig will give you buffs and help you become more resilient. The rig can be equipped with light, medium or heavy attachments, and each one will draw some power from your core. Finding the right balance between energy requirements and benefits can be tricky, but will be well worth it when you have nine heals against a boss instead of three.
You can equip multiple of the same implants, and also sell them for scrap if you don't need them.
Upgrading your equipment
Upgrade your equipment with scrap metal tech at Gear Assembly bays. You will also need materials, which can be cut from enemies (more on this below).
Bear in mind that upgrading your power core at the med-bay won't change your base stats. Your damage output and defense stats are based on your gear, so upgrading these will keep you safer for longer.
Any parts you collect after defeating an enemy are broken down into useable upgrade materials, which can be then used to upgrade your weapon to the next level.
Almost all enemies will attack the second they see you, seeking to close the distance between you so they can hack you up.
Get the jump on them first with backstabs which act like critical hits, doing extra damage, allowing you time to knock them off their feet or stagger them while you work out your next moves.
Enemies will often be in numbers but spread across a small area, patrolling their section. Attract the attention of one at a time and lead them into an area away from other enemies to give yourself the space you need to take them. You can also use your drone to do this so you don't have to get too close personally.
Some of the areas are toxic and can be used to your advantage. If you can get an enemy to launch at you and land on the toxic waste floor, you don't even need to raise your makeshift buzzsaw in your own defense.
Make the most of combat multipliers
Unless you bank or spend your scrap tech metal (otherwise known as experience points/XP in other games), you risk losing everything you have on hand if you die.
For each enemy you decommission, you'll receive a multiplier on the scrap you receive at the end of each fight. At the start of the game the multiplier and bonus XP are negligible, but if you kept a roll going and didn't bank or spend any of it, you'll be swimming in scrap before long.
Take a beating
In the grand scheme of things, you're supposed to have the stuffing kicked out of you. But, if you can't learn how to recognize telegraphed attacks, you will take a lot of damage often.
Almost all enemies have an obvious 'tell' before their attack. Learning what these look like and what comes after these 'tells' will give you the time to get out of the way, learn their attack patterns and eventually not get hit at all.
Parts Mk1, Mk2, etc
As you upgrade your weapons and gear, you'll begin to need higher level materials. It's not obvious at the start, but if you keep cutting the heads off the enemies, you'll keep getting 'optical gear'. It doesn't matter which enemy, but it will always be the material you need for the head, and so on for each body part. As you progress to new areas, these parts level up, so if you're spending all your time looking around for them in an area that isn't giving the drops to you, then you need to move on!
Cutting for parts and energy
In order to upgrade your equipment, you'll need to get hack and slash with the enemies. When you're close enough to target them, use the right stick to target a body part. You can get close enough to some that you can target their parts before they've seen you. This is a good trick to stick to in the beginning, as it also gives you time to learn how they fight.
While you're hammering the sprockets out of them, the blue bar at the bottom of your heath and stamina indicators starts to fill up. The more attacks that connect, the more the energy bar fills up. If it fills up more than halfway when it's time to 'cut' the body part when the X command is shown, the chances of the part being successfully cut are increased.
Armored vs. unarmored
When you're targeting an enemy, his armored parts glow gold and unarmored show as blue. Attacking the gold armor parts makes the fight slightly tougher, but will reward with better schematics. Attacking the unarmored parts will do extra damage, thus ending the fight sooner.
Given the necessity of having to upgrade in order to do better damage and receive less, you will find yourself having to make the toss up.
Wooden crate? Hit it, mate!
Wooden crates are everywhere, and smashing them can reveal hidden items, or open up shortcuts to other areas. However, they could also contain enemies so the best players are cautious not to get ambushed.
Losing your on-hand scrap
If you die, you have around two and a half minutes to reclaim your dropped scrap. You will find them at the point of your last death. If you don't get to your scrap on time, or you are killed again on the way, the scrap is lost.
However, all is not lost. Many enemies drop piles of scrap upon death, and these are worth various amounts depending on the type of pile you pick up. If you hang onto them until you need them, you may find you have more than enough to carry you up a few power core levels, as well as make some upgrades.
Got any more tips that you think we should include? Sound off in the comments below!
The Surge is available to buy now for $59.99 on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.
I got started on this game tonight, so far I'm loving it, I am up to the P.A.X. Robot. I do feel this early area is very simple though as the enemies telegraph their attacks quite obviously (even the loader bot was easy once I figured out what to do), although I do feel like I'm still in the tutorial area so I'm hoping the difficulty ramps up after this. I think the various changes to the traditional Dark Souls gameplay are very welcome and the fights are really enjoyable. I am also finding myself actively getting my gear as good as I can to protect myself better which means lots of dismemberment. Long story short, this is a remarkable improvement on what they did in LotF.
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