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Why Dark Souls fans should pay attention to The Surge

We recently showed you four minutes of gameplay of the Surge, but there wasn't an awful lot to go on. We had little backstory and only the four-minute trailer to glean information from.

Now, The Surge has a confirmed release date of May 2017, and we have a new trailer:

What we know about The Surge so far

The Surge is set during a time when the Earth is dying. Whether it's dying in strict planetary terms of "oh no, the molten core of the planet is solidifying and cooling", or civilization is becoming unsustainable, we're still not sure. The former isn't due to happen for another few billion years (which is fine by me!), and the latter is a possibility we're already on the brink of (at least if you're a pessimist). Aging populations and illnesses becoming untreatable and replacing the humanly populated workforce with machines is something we're seeing today. People say games aren't political!

Deck13 has obviously been thinking long and hard about the potential future of our own civilization, and it created the Surge.

The company's vision for The Surge is near-apocalyptic. In order for us to even have a protagonist during this struggle for existence, humans are combining themselves with cybernetic and exoskeletal upgrades to make them more efficient and reduce their growing redundancy.

Deck13's first try at the hardcore action genre, Lords of the Fallen, was lauded by some as a "shameful" Dark Souls clone, but it ended up being a decent hardcore action game. It was always going to be hard to shrug off the shadow of Dark Souls, let alone contend with From Software as a "breakout" developer.

I think it's important that developers like Deck13 try to spread their wings a little and branch out and try to claim their own pieces of this largely uncontested hardcore action RPG pie. I think there is some reticence to get on board with Deck13 given its relative inexperience in this genre, let alone the console. Deck13 is most well known for its work on the Ankh games on PC, so this is a whole new market for the company to tackle. But I don't think we should discount Deck13's contributions to gaming.

From Software has been at the top of this market for almost a decade (and it has been in the game for almost 25 years), and it has set the bar high. Xbox gamers are at a disadvantage when it comes to the hardcore action games available. From Software has the market covered on consoles, from Demon Souls on PlayStation 3 (PS3) to the three Dark Souls games and Bloodborne on PS4. So when it comes to hardcore action RPGs, the only one on Xbox One until Lords of the Fallen, was Dark Souls 2.

An underdog worth rooting for

Fans of Dark Souls should keep their minds open. Japanese developers of Dark Souls and the Western developers of The Surge root their ideas in the same waters but grow two completely different flowers. If Dark Souls is a rose, the Surge will be a thistle, just as prickly and difficult to handle but fundamentally different.

Dark Souls has become the game where you're the best of the best if you can near-perfectly kill any boss, in no armor, and in some cases blindfolded, without getting hit. Deck13 seems to have a different approach, where you know you can still get tanked at any moment and you can try to avoid attacks, but mostly you have to take a beating to make progress.

Deck13 has a large shadow looming over it, but isn't it refreshing to see a company try to move the genre forward and bring some new ideas to the table? Will those ideas be any good? We have no way of knowing, but we're rooting for this underdog.

Lauren Relph is a games writer, focusing on Xbox. She doesn't like piña coladas but loves getting caught in the rain. Follow her on Twitter!

22 Comments
  • looks very nice, should be a X exclusive
  • Why should it be a naexclusive, because MS can't be bothereed to actually hire talent in-house and build new IPs from within? I hate when third-party stuff just gets a check cut to be an exclusive, even though I have a PS4 and XB1 (plus a 3DS and Wii U). I'd rather Microsoft actually have good developers, instead of just gutting their lineup and writing checks for one-off stuff, like they have done with Ryse, Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break, and others.
  • it should be exclusive to push X sales higher because without exclusive games X will die
  • Again, the onus should be on Microsoft to stop shedding talent and canceling games. Dumping a bunch of money to publish another company's game won't fix anything. Microsofty poured money into these one-off things, like I said. It didn't work. What's killing MS is the lack of recognizable brands. Paying the team making this game doesn't compete with having well-liked brands making stuff for Sony. Even Guerilla, makers of the mediocre Killzone​ series, have more clout with fans coming into the Horizon release then you'd get by having MS pay off a dev like Frontier for ​Screamride​. The problem isn't solved by just saying "we took this game from PS$!" They need to be able to say "We made this game. We made it happen. This is what we bring to the table." If Xbox fails, Halo​ dies. Forza dies. Gears dies. If Xbox fails, ​Insomiac, Crytek, Crystal Dynamics, and Frontier don't die. Snatching up an exclusive deal for Sunset Overdrive did nothing, as it wasn't a massive hit and Insomniac immediately went to make 2 exclusives for PS4, the Ratchet & Clank reboot and the upcoming Spider-Man. Buying up Titanfall s an exclusive didn't do jack because the second one's on PS4. HAving the CoD​ deal for early access did nothing because now Sony has it. Microsoft can't just try to shove money at other people's works because those other people can ALWAYS bail. They need to add to their dev roster, that thing they seem to have just cut 80% of the teams from.
  • Totally agree. For me these timed deals are anti-gaming and anti-consumer. MS should invest on their own studios and in making their own games. 
    Investing money to delay a game on other platforms bring nothing to XB gamers. Its just done to mislead people into thinking that they are exclusives. Some MS/XB "fans" are defending these deals even though it hurts them more in the process... I thought Phil Spencer would be the one to turn this around but they had Rise of Tomb Raider and closed Lionhead and Press play Studios. And instead of focusing on making new games looks like they are more focused on ways to play old games with features like BC and Xbox Game pass.
    For me Spencer has been a real disappointment...
  • No, it should not. Exclusives are everything that's wrong with the game industry.
  • ^^ This. Games don't make me buy consoles, but unfortunately, people are easily led. So it doesn't change his point.
  • I'm not so much of a fan of the Dark Souls series as I am a more of a mas-o-chist. Have all three titles and can't finish any of them. Yet this Surge game intrigues me. Maybe I'll put up with the punishment when this gets released.
  • Any Game developer that wishes and tries to challenge the norms in order push progress is fine by me and gets my vote. Interested in seeing how The Surge progresses as well as Deck13. Many aspiring devs and studios have come and gone through people not grasping the concepts as well as being bought out then subsequently shelved for no particular reason.
  • Been waiting for this. I love the Souls games.
  • Not keen on medieval games usually, although I fancied trying Dark Souls at some point (hoping it comes to Game Pass). The Surge looks far more appealing to me.
  • I'm in the same boat and find Souls games, played them all and Bloodborne, to be more satisfying than any game out there, with the exception of Naughty Dog's games. I'm a sucker for a good story.
  • Naughty Dog devs have storyline on lock. It's been awhile when we have had dev place so much on storyline. These days it's all about CGI, QTEs, some puzzles thrown in and propped up by a rather short back story. Games used to tell a story, it was an art form. I suppose during the days of yore when we had to read the text "spoken" by characters we may have projected our on imagination on to it. Who knows but it's been awhile never the less.
  • Reminds me of when they tried to replicate the success of Dungeon Siege with Space Siege... Hopefully they won't make it a technical disaster like that one was.
  • Someday, maybe. I have to get to Bloodborne​ first, it's been sitting on a shelf for 3-4 months. Almost done with other stuff. This might be more of a Black Friday purchase, with such a weak stable of games coming to XB1 in 2017 for me.
  • I'm still hopeful for a few, as yet, unannounced titles at E3. I'm ending towards ID games at the minute and possibly hitting up some previous Games With Gold titles. Just downloaded Styx, may also do ME1. I like what I see for the ID ones though. There is one at the minute called Death Squared that I like the look of. Also, Cuphead is coming. I'm hoping Game Pass opens me up to some new titles too. The Surge looks good also.
  • The only thing that hasn't been announced I could imagine getting me excited is if Scorpio launches with some Forza​ experience in VR. However, throwing on a $500 headset won't sell me on a new console. They've already said we get no Halo or Gears​ for Scorpio, beyond being able to play what already exists. WE also know they gutted their studios, so there's not exactly anything to appear out of the depths of a dev team that we weren't expecting. That leaves us with Forza​, indie stuff, and maybe a second-party deal. Given how terribly second-party stuff has gone thus far on XB1, I don't know if that excites me. It's produced some solid games (Sunset Overdrive​ was a blast, IMO), but I wouldn't say it's produced SUCCESSFUL games. If their super-duper Scorpio is seriously going to launch with a software lineup that boasts Forza​ and indie games, it's not going to sell. Sea of Thieves​ doesn't seem it would appeal to a wide audience (seems like a really fun group game, but something that might not be too fun by yourself). I don't see Crackdown​ as a system-seller. Normally, we can get an idea for what to expect. We knew Halo and Forza and ​Titanfall​ were coming to XB1. Scorpio? It's hard to see who could produce something by year's end that is both popular and exciting, beyond Forza in VR. Given Sony already has VR for ​Gran Turismo​ coming as well, Microsoft can't really push that as an experience you can't find on PlayStation (even though Forza is better).
  • I am really excited for this one.
  • Great... Another game I will like, but don't have the time to put the effort into finishing (or even playing). I really want to continue playing the first dark souls, but can't make myself go back. The little time I have to play I can't see it being in an endless loop of dying every 3-10 minutes.
  • Im somewhat interested in this game. Hoping it has ranged weponary as all ive seen so far was close combat weponary. Also I hope the story is good I feel iffy about it from what I have seen of it.
  • You had me at "Apocalyptic".
  • So it's gonna be as poor and overated than the dark soul series??? That game is a joke.... Anybody can crank up the difficulty and call it challenging deep gameplay.... Just put nightmare mode on any fantasy RPG and you have dark soul....
    Hopefully it won't be anything like DS