Here's everything new in The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners - Chapter 2
We finally got to see what the streets have been hiding.
On the post-apocalyptic streets of New Orleans, you've got to do what's necessary to survive. On your left is a horde of zombies pining for your brains. On your right is a turf war raging between the gangs of remaining humans. In front of you is The Tower and its ever-ominous presence, having an invisible hand in seemingly everything happening to what's left of the city.
It's the sequel to The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners (opens in new tab), quite possibly my favorite single-player VR game of all time, and it looks to take a nearly-perfect formula and improve upon it in the only way necessary: by adding new things.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners — Chapter 2: Retribution was announced way back in January (opens in new tab) of this year, and is scheduled to debut over the course of the next few months for the Oculus Quest 2 (opens in new tab), PSVR, and PC VR platforms. We got a chance to see the game in action thanks to a special press briefing from Skydance interactive and lived to tell the tale.
Beginning a new day
As in the original title, you'll wake up every day to an increased zombie presence and a reduced number of items to scavenge throughout the land. It makes perfect sense in a post-apocalyptic city where no new goods are being shipped in and people are falling to the zombie horde every hour. To that extent, the original's gameplay loop is fully intact.
But there's something new in the mix this time around: The Tower.
As you progress throughout the game, The Tower's presence will also become more prevalent on your travels throughout the city. That city, of course, features plenty of new areas to explore — as well as familiar ones — and it makes another new mechanic all the more necessary: nighttime traversal.
See, while The Tower's goons might be out in full force during the day, nighttime means most humans are locked behind barred doors and windows to keep the zombie horde at bay. As The Tourist, you're either braver or dumber than the rest of the human populace that's left, as certain areas will allow players to take a nighttime jaunt and test their reflexes as much as their bravery.
In these darker areas, you'll be able to make use of two new tools at your disposal. The UV flashlight is designed to help players discover hidden passages and other treasure troves scattered throughout the city, while flares can be tossed to keep the hordes at bay. After all, zombies thrive at night because of the dark. A sudden burst of bright light is sure to scare them away temporarily, right?
You'd certainly hope, at least. But there's apparently one enemy that might not be scared away as easily. At this point in time, we only know him as Gary, and he's a big, hulking mass of a zombie that appears to act as a Nemesis-style enemy.
We're not sure how often you'll see Gary, or if there are safe rooms like in Resident Evil 3 (opens in new tab) where Gary can't reach players, but it's clear Skydance Interactive wants to keep Gary as much of a secret as possible.
While Gary is sure to give plenty of players heart palpitations every time he appears, Skydance Interactive was nice enough to deliver a handful of new weapons for players to dispatch Gary with (and other adversaries) along the way.
Getting an armory update
As you might have guessed from the initial teaser of the game, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners — Chapter 2: Retribution gives players the chance to scavenge together a powerful chainsaw to defend themselves with. From the looks of things, Doom must have been a very keen influence for the developers at Skydance. And, why not? Few mechanics are as fun in the new Doom games as that gloriously brutal chainsaw.
From what I've seen, the chainsaw will make quick work of any adversary that gets in your path. As with anything in the Saints & Sinners universe, the chainsaw will need gas to power it, and chains with teeth to carve through all that rotten flesh. For those, you'll need to scavenge and craft your way to ultimate glory.
If you're not a fan of getting so close to zombies just to slay them — and who could blame you? — then you'll be happy to hear that there are two main new gun types to play around with.
The first is another Doom-inspired weapon: the sawed-off shotgun. As you might expect, this one requires you to be a bit closer to get the most of the scattershot, but the gun's smaller (and shorter) stature means you can actually dual-wield shotguns while roaming the streets. Now that's some impressive firepower!
The second is the SMG, which will allow players to keep a safe distance from zombies, while still dispatching them without trouble. Like the sawed-off shotgun, the SMG can be dual-wielded. If you're really feeling frisky, toss one in each hand and alternate your battle tactics.
Just be aware that loud actions — especially clawing your way through a horde with a chainsaw — will attract zombies. You've been warned.
While I didn't get confirmation, I imagine that both of these weapons will have some alternative designs that can be crafted as you progress in the game and find new recipes.
Skydance did tell me that they are implementing brand new crafting options, though, including new crafting stations, new recipes, options, and even materials to craft with.
They did show off one of the new crafting additions, at least, which is a laser sight you can attach to any gun — yes, even the bow. Skydance says new enemies will require players to be more cunning and accurate with their shots than ever before, and additions like the laser sight should make it substantially easier to land the shot and save all that precious ammunition for later encounters.
If you're having trouble scavenging items for crafting (or would rather just buy them), you'll be able to pay a visit to the new pawn broker to exchange other valuables for whatever you need. It's a great new addition that should help players who are having difficulties finding items, or don't care for the scavenging aspect of the game.
Physics and the new environments
The original Saints & Sinners was one of the early pioneers of realistic-feeling physics in a VR title. As far as I can recall, it was the first game that made me feel like I was holding an actual axe or shooting actual arrows, thanks to the weighted physics engine.
In Chapter 2, Skydance has tweaked every single weapon and object to better adhere to the team's vision of what a zombie survival VR title should feel like. While I don't have specifics, the team told me that seasoned players will be able to tell the difference right away, and some tweaks will be far more obvious than others.
The goal was to create a haptics response system that makes the human brain think it's physically holding the object in a virtual pair of hands. To that extent, the team has developed a brand-new haptics response system that vibrates the controllers differently based on what's happening.
It's so detailed that the chainsaw's vibrations will even match the feeling of the chain getting stuck in a particularly meaty zombie. Gross, but amazing.
The team has also paid special attention to environmental traversal, which now includes more opportunities to move vertically than ever before. Players have always been able to climb ledges and pipes, where possible, but new areas will challenge players who get their kicks playing great Quest 2 games (opens in new tab) like The Climb or Espire 1. Those sound like polar opposites, but the melding of the two makes a lot more sense once you've seen the new environments.
The only thing missing from Chapter 2 seems to be the much-requested co-op functionality, as the team is still laser-focused on delivering a single-player experience with as much story as there is action. As such, players can expect to find new NPCs to talk to, new quest types to take part in, and new roles to play in the future of post-apocalyptic New Orleans when the game launches later this year.
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