You’ll no doubt have seen that The Surge 2 has recently been added to Xbox Game Pass, and you may already be battling your way through its uniquely bleak vision of the end of the world. Obviously, it’s not the end of the actual world, but with a giant nanite swarm threatening to flatten the remnants of society, it surely feels like it. Anyway, what better time to take a look at the first DLC pack that has been released for the game – The Kraken. This pack promises a whole new area to explore, with new enemies to fight and new gear – both in terms of armour and weapons – to find and craft.
The first thing to say about this DLC is that it is locked, to a certain extent, by your progress through the main base game. Now, clearly, if you aren’t terribly far into the game at the moment, the next section will contain spoilers, as will the actual description of the DLC. I don’t like it, but it is literally impossible to put down any words about it otherwise. So, with that warning in place, here goes.
In order to access this portion of the game, should you choose to buy it, you’ll have to progress through the game to the point where you receive the Lifter Hook. This comes after you battle that complete and utter (expletive deleted) Major General Ezra Shields. It’s not enough that to start the fight he’s sat in his Metal Armour (think Metal Gear on steroids) either, as once he pops out he’s still a complete and utter pain in the ass to take down. Seriously, in all my years of gaming I have never had as much trouble with a boss fight as I have with this guy, not even in the very first Dark Souls with Ornstein and Smough. And you have to do this alone – there is no summoning friendly ghosts to help here. This guy is, without a word of a lie, the reason why my beloved limited edition Lunar White Xbox One controller has now gone to the silicon graveyard in the sky.
So, with the Lifter Hook attached to the Exo Suit, and after a short boat ride to some rocks offshore, we find ourselves at the foot of a cable leading up to the deck of the VBS Krakow, an enormous ship anchored just offshore. In a previous life, the Krakow was an aircraft carrier, but has since been retired and retrofitted to be a retreat for the rich and famous of this world. And it appears, from poking about the place, that the rich and famous appear to be stuck in the 1950s. The first location we land in is the stereotypical American backyard, complete with genial host driving a barbecue, and from him we learn about what’s going on on this ship. It appears that the AI security system has malfunctioned (no surprise there, if you’ve played the first game you’ll know that AI going haywire was a fairly big theme) and that CAIN, as the system is known, is trying to take over with an army of robots known as The Collective. Now, these robots actually seem to have been issued with a sense of humour, as they have decided to dress themselves up in the style of pirates. The upshot of this is that defeating them gets you bits of new armour sets, including one with a very cool looking skull helmet. This particular set also comes with a handy set bonus, as if you wear the full set it provides health every time an enemy is killed. And having played this far, the ability to heal yourself a bit while harvesting armour parts and weapons is very useful indeed.
So, having got the bits and bobs you fancy, the story progresses. While it is not very long, it is pretty good and fun to follow. As you leave the backyard idyll of Norm’s house, you’ll notice that the whole upper deck of the aircraft carrier has been turned into a kind of Stepford Wives neighbourhood, complete with drive-in cinema and stores. You’ll also notice that the streets are crawling with killer robots, and that an odd looking red spotlight seems to be sweeping the street, side to side. This is the gaze of CAIN, and if he sees you then all the local enemies immediately know where you are and swarm to the attack.
Included in these are some of the most annoying enemies I’ve ever fought in this game: sort of crab looking things that not only shoot corrosive bullets at you, causing you to take serious damage over time, but that disappear into the ground when you approach to give them a good stabbing. These things can be dislodged from hiding by utilising the Starfish attachment on your drone, causing them to pop out and be stunned briefly; getting the aim right when you’re being swamped by evil robots is trickier than it sounds.
Wandering the streets, dodging the spotlight and fighting to stay alive, backtracking to open shortcuts to the new areas – all The Surge tropes are present and correct, and the skills you’ve learned up to this point will continue to be pushed. There is one set piece fight that really made me sweat, in the Drive-In Cinema, and while I’m not going to explain what you have to do, it involves fighting off wave after wave of robots, complete with the corrosive crab things, while waiting for various things to happen and interactions to be made. I must have killed upwards of 20 enemies in this fight, and keeping track of who is where while trying not to get blindsided will test you to the limit.
The culmination of this fight opens the way to the last fight of the DLC, against CAIN itself. He is housed on a big white ball high above the ship, with large mechanical tentacles at his control, and I guess that this is where the name “The Kraken” comes from – looking like nothing so much as a giant mechanical octopus. After doing as we are told by one of the NPCs, CAIN is fired from the ball into a swimming pool, and it’s here where the last fight takes place. And boy is it a doozy. CAIN in this form is a kind of metal ball with arms on, armed with a giant spear and various attacks that are designed to make your life difficult. One of these is his seeming ability to secrete ink, like a squid, as he can dash away from you and leave your screen covered in black gooey nastiness. It’s a really cool effect, looking like someone has sprayed the inside of your screen with oil, making it hard to see what’s going on. You soon learn to adapt, which is just as well as he does this a lot.
The rest of his attacks are pretty hard to read as well, and directional blocks are tricky to time; the majority of your time will be spent dodging and then counter-attacking. Killing him with an amputation nets a great spear – one of the best weapons in The Surge 2 – so after the disappointment of the majority of the other weapons acquired this is a breath of fresh air.
The question you’re wanting to know though is whether or not The Surge 2: The Kraken is worth investing in. Well, it’s short – there’s no two ways about it. I spent upwards of 25 hours getting to the point where I could get to this section, but the expansion itself is pretty much done and dusted in a couple. The boss fight is memorable and challenging, the rumble at the Drive-In is another highlight, and the spear weapon that I acquired is awesome, but other than that it is business as usual.
Now, I like the Surge 2, and I liked its predecessor, and so to me The Kraken is an enjoyable break from the main story. It isn’t as big as the DLC from the first game, particularly the The Surge – A Walk in the Park expansion, but it is still fun. If you have the game for free with Xbox Game Pass I’d say that buying The Kraken is probably just about worth your time. If you like the Surge 2, The Kraken on Xbox One is a short but fun expansion at a reasonable price. And really, what more could you wish for?