It’s been one of the worst-kept secrets in the video game industry for the better part of a year, but last night, amid a myriad of leaks, publisher Bethesda finally officially announced The Evil Within 2 at its press conference at E3 2017.
Despite rumors to the contrary, horror specialist Shinji Mikami is returning to the directorial helm for the latest iteration of his brainchild, The Evil Within 2, and one thing’s for sure, it’s looking bigger and better than ever before. Aptly releasing on Friday, October 13, developer Tango Gameworks’ latest venture is set to continue protagonist Sebastian’s descent into madness as he searches for his family, all the while going toe-to-toe with some of the most fiendish creatures imaginable.
Make no mistake, though, for The Evil Within 2 to be an unequivocal upgrade over its predecessor we reckon it’s got to learn from its past mistakes and expand upon what made the original such a refreshing, and indeed horrific, experience.
Without any further digression, here’s what Evil Within 2 needs to do to knock it out of the park.
Up the ante with performance
Despite the well-documented praise leveled at The Evil Within’s blood-curdling stylistic trappings, fact is, the original game ran significantly poorer than it had any right to. A badly-optimized showing from the id Tech 5 engine, with a forced letterbox mode and a frame rate – and indeed frame pacing – that was more erratic than the YouTubers you find on the floor of E3, we’ll perhaps forgivingly chalk it down to it being the maiden title from Tango Gameworks but for the upcoming sequel we’re going to be less than enthused if it’s not up to snuff. At a minimum, we’re expecting an engine upgrade (Doom ran beautifully on id Tech 6, though it’s unclear how well it’s set for a third-person game), a locked frame rate (whatever it may be), and a favourable resolution in light of PS4 Pro’s release. Safe to say, though, just from the trailer, it’s looking a lot more refined while still maintaining its recognizable style.
Watch the Evil Within 2 trailer
What’ll prove fascinating, mind, is the gulf in quality between the base PS4 and the Pro – though the latest offering from publisher Bethesda, the reboot of Prey, didn’t even launch with PS4 Pro enhancements despite it being advertised on the box.
Refine the convoluted story
The Evil Within’s story, and by extension its expanded lore, was an intriguing psychological profile that was sadly bogged down by just how convoluted it all was. Sebastian’s descent into otherworldly madness with hooded stalker Ruvik in tow took far too many poorly thought-out turns and it became increasingly hard for the player to get invested in both the characters and the narrative as a result. In an ideal world, you should be give the bones of a good story in no more than five lines, and you’d be hard-pressed to get to the bottom of The Evil Within’s story in an entire essay. With that in mind, for us, The Evil Within 2’s story needs to be refined to within an inch of its life – a concise, tight narrative that knows its message and themes; an accessible, yet deep and harrowing, story. Thankfully, The Evil Within 2 seems to be providing some respite as it revolves around Sebastian’s quest to win back his family; fingers crossed Mikami-san continues to buckle the trends set from the original and provides something a little more palatable.
Double down on tension and fear
We’re not in the business of demanding wholesale changes for an upcoming sequel to a game we very much enjoyed, and with that in mind, one of the truly triumphant aspects of The Evil Within was its unsettling atmosphere which was underpinned by a near-unrivalled sense of tension and fear. From the first few moments onwards, you could palpably sense Sebastian’s sheer desperation, as he hobbled through narrow corridors and grotesque environments whilst The Keeper – a butcher-esque behemoth with a safe as a head – followed in earnest. And despite some lulls, for the majority of the game, there was no let up in that tension. Consequently, The Evil Within 2 needs to retain that sense of desperation and compliment it with refined stealth mechanics and a subtler move towards being able to defend yourself against an onslaught of enemies. There’s nothing quite like beginning a game feeling like you’re on a knife’s edge, where one wrong move will result in death, to then slowly being able to get to grips with the world and survive, though not thrive, within it. Simply put, The Evil Within 2 needs to toy with player agency and never let us settle or rest on our laurels.
Thankfully, one of the key features at the heart of The Evil Within 2 is choosing how to survive – you’re now able to proficiently circumvent combat if you so prefer or go in all guns blazing and take out whatever enemies populate an area. Due to many a factor – namely fear and bullet scarcity – we’ll probably take the former route, and in doing so, that aforementioned tension will still be intact, just the way we like it.
One thing’s for sure, we haven’t got long to wait, as The Evil Within 2 is officially releasing on October 13 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Let us know in the comments what you want to see from Mikami-san’s latest sequel and don’t forget to stay tuned all this week for up-to-the-minute E3 coverage from LA.