The Surge 2 PC preview: Brutal melee action with a coat of sci-fi paint

Unforgiving, hardcore melee games like Dark Souls or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are quite the rage. Unfortunately, there is a lack of games like them across the market overall. With The Surge 2, though, development studio Deck13 is helping to change that. And while it absolutely uses the Dark Souls-style as a foundation, The Surge 2 is filled with some different -and fun- mechanics that make it stand out from other titles in this genre. I got a chance to preview a beta build. And after playing for several hours, I can confidently say that, as long as the developers can iron out its bugs before the game's September 24 launch date, Deck13 is going to have a hit on their hands.

Overcome, survive, upgrade

The Surge 2 begins chaotically, as the plane you are flying in mysteriously gets taken down near the large, futuristic city of Jericho. When you wake, you have to fight your way through a wide array of monsters, soldiers, and robotic enemies to survive. You upgrade with scavenged parts as you go along, trying to unravel the mysteries of Jericho City and what's happening there. Without a doubt, the star of The Surge 2 is its combat system, which feels like if you were to take the core idea of Dark Souls and give it a robot-themed coat of paint and specific limb-targeting abilities. Like with the Souls games, combat boils down to a deadly dance of dodges, parries, and strikes, and one wrong move can spell doom for either you and your foes. There's a sizable variety of melee weapons to choose from, ranging from massive bone-shattering warhammers to pairs of blazingly-fast daggers. Each one of them has strengths and weaknesses, and trying out each of the different weapons to figure out which one is right for you is a lot of fun.

The aspect of The Surge 2's combat that feels the most unique is the limb-targeting mechanics. During a fight, you can opt to target a specific limb of an enemy with your attacks; if you choose to attack a poorly-armored area, you'll kill the enemy faster. There is a downside to this, though. The only way to get armor and new weapons of your own is to chop off the corresponding limb to get blueprints to make the gear yourself. This system presents you with a tactical choice to make at every turn. Do you make the fight harder for yourself by attacking a more damage-resistant limb, but getting a great piece of gear after winning? Or do you go for their least-protected area since you think your current armor is good enough?

Lastly, you also get a special drone on your back that you can use to dish out some ranged damage. Since the melee combat is the core focus of The Surge 2, don't expect the little guy to do a lot of heavy lifting in the fight. That being said, though, that damage can come in handy when multiple foes are attacking you at once. Some of the drone's abilities even allow you to stun an enemy momentarily, buying you some time to finish them off.

Rough around the edges

The Surge 2

The Surge 2 (Image credit: Deck 13)

In terms of performance, the build of The Surge 2 that I got to play was fairly buggy, although that was somewhat expected from a beta version of the game two months before the title's full launch. Nevertheless, they made the game harder than it's supposed to be at times; your attacks failing to register or enemies hitting you when you aren't quite in your range is grating. Hopefully these types of issues are ironed out before the game releases, because if they aren't, The Surge 2's excellence is going to be marred by technical issues. We'll just have to wait and see.

Final thoughts on The Surge 2

While the performance issues took away from my experience with The Surge 2 so far, that's to be expected with a beta build this early. As long as those kinks get smoothed out when the game launches, The Surge 2 is going to wow players with its incredibly engaging melee combat and unique limb-targeting system that forces you to tactically think about whether or not you want to do more damage, or get your hands on better gear. When you consider that the whole package is wrapped up with a wicked cool sci-fi aesthetic and mysterious lore to find, it's easy to see why The Surge 2 may just be one of 2019's finest titles.

The Surge 2 is expected to release on September 24, 2019 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. You can pre-order it now for $45 on PC, or for $60 on console.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.