Ghostrunner 2 Preview: Bringing Bikes to Gunfights

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    Introduction

    The subgenre of first-person action parkour games is small but mighty. This includes the likes of EA’s Mirror’s Edge series, Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall franchise, and One More Level’s Ghostrunner – one of my favorite original games. I first played this game two years after its 2020 release, in the summer of July 2022, unemployed and depressed. It’s nice to live in a world where capitalist business executives make inhumane decisions about the last of humanity living in their dharma tower, except under their thumb, in, or rather, the main character. Ghostrunner, carrying a katana, reached straight up. Take it all down. The game ends with a new name freed from humanity and the Ghostrunner’s AI-driven cyber-wide trappings: Jake.

    I played a roughly 30-minute vertical slice of Ghostrunner 2, the upcoming sequel hitting current-gen consoles and PC later this month, and came away impressed. The demo didn’t consist of much – a short tutorial sequence, a few enemy-filled arenas to parkour your way through, and a finale I’ll get to soon. But this demo was also exactly what I needed: confirmation that Ghostrunner 2 is, in fact, one more installment of the excellent world it created three years ago.

    It’s good to be a geek.

    It’s good to be a geek.

    Immediately, Ghostrunner 2 feels just right. It’s sharp as hell, with jaw-dropping neon-lit showers turning the glass of skyscrapers into cyberpunk watercolor canvases, and incredibly tactile. Central to the entire Ghostrunner 2 experience, though, is its parkour. It looks as good as Ghostrunner, maybe even better, but it’s made some changes that studio head and CEO Szymon Bryła describes as an evolution, not a revolution, of the series’ formula.

    “You will see it. [evolution] On every layer, in gameplay, visuals, combat system and many others,” he tells me.

    Gameplay director Radosław Ratusznik says the team knew they couldn’t replace Jack’s parkour skills with something new, opting instead to improve what was already there. “The player who played the first game feels right at home playing the second Ghostrunner, but there are new ways to play for newcomers and those who like to experiment with their playstyle,” says Ratusznik. Ratusznik says.

    One of the biggest and most immediately impressive changes is the new blocking mechanic. You can deflect bullets in the first Ghostrunner, but only after unlocking a specific ability, and even then, you have to time the ability’s use with bullet contact to do so. Ghostrunner 2 features bullet blocking, which is activated by holding down a button. It has a gauge, which prevents you from being blocked forever, but it’s plenty of time to gauge what’s going on in the lightning-fast combat that’s going on around you.

    Ratusznik says blocking works great for players who struggled in the first game. But this is optional – experienced Ghostrunner players can stick to the ins and outs of combat required in the first game. I easily integrate Block into my playstyle, using it to hide Jack from machine gun fire while I hop, dash, slash, and shuriken throw to take out other enemies. Can take out with. What I like most is that blocking feels optional, even in puzzle-like battlegrounds.

    Cyberpo-zal

    Cyberpo-zal

    “It’s more like, ‘Try different options,'” Ratusznik told me. “Now you have access to abilities that you can use often, unlike in the first game where there were only ultimates that you couldn’t use very often. [So] Now you have the opportunity to somehow tie all of these mechanics together and blend them the way you want, and it’s really satisfying when you succeed. And of course, you’re getting better with each restart. You keep getting better and better, and then you get to that sweet spot where you know everything about the game and you can use all the tools that we provide and feel really powerful. do.”

    In one puzzle, I use the ability to push like a special force to move an air vent that shoots Jack into the air near a hole in the wall. I jump onto it and, after shooting into the air, quickly equip a shuriken to hit a switch through the opening, opening the door to proceed. It’s a familiar conundrum in the Ghostrunner world, and I smile at its return. The game is a first-person action game, but it is also a puzzle game. Puzzles As I mentioned above, every combat scenario is a puzzle due to the difficulty of the game.

    If Jack is hit once by a sword, bullet, shockwave or anything else, he dies. Every attack, move, dash, slow-mo in-air directional shift, and grapple matters because it’s a piece of the equation that moves you from X to Y and finally Z. This best-of-battle formula returns to arenas in even bigger arenas. In the first game and in other small areas where enemies wait.

    “First, when developing [Ghostrunner 1]that was new for us,” Ratusznik told me, about the team discovering that its first-person action parkour game also plays like a puzzle game. “When developing a top-down game. [referring to One More Level’s 2019 game, God’s Trigger], you are able to plan your action before entering the room. Like Hotline Miami, you can check out what’s in front of you but here, upon entering the room, everything is new to you. You have to go through the field and check the enemies and determine their location. When entering new areas, it is certain that you will die.

    But the beauty of death in Ghostrunner is now you know what’s coming and how it’s coming. So you’ll try again and maybe die again, but this third time, you’ve changed your strategy. “What works? What doesn’t? If I attack that enemy first, I can throw a shuriken at that explosive barrel to take them both out, before the zip line above. But let’s go and get the tank guy out of here.” These are the kinds of thoughts that ran through my mind several times in this short preview, and they’re exactly what One More Level wants me to think while playing, Ratusznik and Bryła say that Ghostrunner 2 is “a Super fast puzzle game”.

    A new set of wheels

    A new set of wheels

    While developing this sequel, the team knew that it needed to advance in several ways in terms of combat and its puzzles. And while he dealt with it by developing what was already there, he added something completely new: a motorbike. After only 10 minutes of sitting in the driver’s seat, I already like it.

    “We decided that Ghostrunner was a really fast game and asked ourselves, ‘Well, what if we want to get something even faster than Jack?’,” says Bryła. “We decided, ‘What if we have a motorcycle in the game and use it as a tool to get from one point to another and use it in the outside world?'”

    Almost immediately after using the motorbike, it is clear that this is a great addition to the next level. As I barrel down the futuristic highway, using my controller’s right trigger to propel it forward, I must think quickly. There is an in-world timer that I must stay ahead of in order to survive. There are jumps to hit, but I can only bridge the gap when I run up the first ramp. There are inevitable obstacles in front of me until I realize that this bike can ride round walls to avoid them entirely. The motorbike feels like an extension of Jack, and I look forward to seeing how else it is used. One more level teases a sequence where Jack must jump off a motorbike in mid-air to slash a switch that opens a path ahead and land back on the motorbike to continue, and I Can’t wait to see this and the inevitable. Akira-Slide that will accompany these moments.

    “It was more like, ‘OK, let’s not take this too seriously, let’s prototype it first,'” Ratusznik told me. “We knew we wanted to move away from the tower for a lot of the game. [and] There are levels outside the tower. [Jack] Will not travel much. [on foot] So we gave him something to fast travel there.

    He says he knew right away that the type of transportation Jack needed would be a motorbike, which has a brilliant in-game revelation moment. Bryła says motorbikes are already a big part of cyberpunk media and culture, so adding it was a no-brainer. Ignoring physics during the motorbike sections was also a no-brainer, he says, adding that arcade racing games like Mario Kart inspired him.

    “It’s always about connecting to the gameplay of Ghostrunner 2,” says Bryła. “We’re wall-running; let’s add wall-riding to the bike, but let’s not focus too much on physics and make it realistic. We took a pure arcade approach because you need to have fun.” is, not a replica of a real motorbike, and I think that’s a nice addition. It gives a really fresh approach to Ghostrunner.

    Ready for more

    Ready for more

    The bike is the breakout star of my brief preview with Ghost Runner 2, but it’s also the most noticeable addition. I’m not surprised that this is the biggest takeaway from my time with the sequel. What I want from Ghostrunner 2 is more – more of Jack’s story, more characters to interact with, this dark but beautiful cyberpunk world to explore, and thousands more enemies to parkour around. And to get out of it. So far, Ghostrunner 2 is delivering on that, with new additions like bikes, blocking, a new global hub to talk to characters in person (not as floating heads like the first game), and more. I’m longing for The game releases this month when I can only go beyond 30 minutes of play. Jake is back and I couldn’t be more excited.


    This article originally appeared in Game Informer issue 360.

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