Ghostrunner 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: One More Level
Release Date: Oct. 26, 2023


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PS5/XSX/PC Preview - 'Ghostrunner 2'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 8, 2023 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Ghostrunner 2 is a first-person cyberpunk action video game set in a grim, dystopian future.

The original Ghostrunner came out in October of 2020, and it was an absolute blast to play. The fast action and parkour elements were addicting, and the fact that it was executed from a first-person perspective was lauded, since not many games do well in executing those combined elements . It became a high-water mark, and the announcement of a sequel was praised by those who just wanted more of it. We have a preview build of that sequel, and those fans will not be disappointed.

The preview build showed off two main gameplay components. The first is the on-foot sequences that will be familiar to those who played the first game. For those who haven't, the game relies on fast acrobatic movement and deft swordplay, and you can die with just one hit. Your normal movement is fast enough, but you'll also be able to slide at any time, use grapple points to swing to far-off ledges, ride pipes, and run on walls. You can also slow down time while in the air and adjust direction to avoid enemy fire. On offense, you have a shuriken that can be used to either kill an enemy or stun them, so you can use a tether to pull yourself closer, and it refills its energy once you kill someone. You gain an ability later to push objects, and that comes in handy for moving objects around to create pathways to your next objective. These tools are nice, but your sword is still your best friend, as you can kill just about everything with one hit, but that one-hit kill also applies to you. You'll still die often, but the game's quick load ensures that frustration from a missed jump or stray bullet is short-lived.

Defense is the one element that has seen some real tweaks. You could always block and deflect bullets, but now you feel more agile when doing so. Parrying is also a thing now, since there are more sword-wielding enemies and a good parry lets you knock them back for some breathing room and a chance to unleash a counter of your own. The perfect parry is what you want to strive for, as accomplishing it automatically lets you perform a killing move, like crack a guy's neck. Brutal but satisfying, it adds to the already visceral nature of the action.

The second gameplay component shown is the motorcycle, a now-standard vehicle for the futuristic cyberpunk genre. The sequence retains the first-person camera, and while there are no enemies, you'll still need to use a blade to hit switches and open gates. You have a turbo boost, which you'll use judiciously since you jump off ramps and need to maintain a good distance. While you have some fairly open roads filled with obstacles that you can't crash into, you'll also learn that you can wallride with the bike, a skill that has you biking down narrow tunnels and driving around partial barriers on your way to a white light that leads to the outside world — and the end of the preview build.

If you're the type to suffer from motion sickness but can stomach the game's normal combat, the motorcycle may put you over the edge. Even without using the turbo boost, the vehicle is wickedly fast enough to give you some F-Zero or WipeOut vibes, especially when you're driving all over the narrow pipes while avoiding lasers. The revelation that you can drive on walls is a very pleasant surprise, and the section is long enough that it feels more than just a small segue into more on-foot action. If anything, you'll be grateful for the instant load times and generous checkpoints, since you should expect to crash into obstacles often.

Steam Deck owners will be glad to know that Ghostrunner II runs on it, though not at a polished level yet. We have been told that optimization for the big portable devices like the Steam Deck and ASUS ROG Ally are still being done, and as it stands now, the game runs with a battery life of a little under two hours on a mix of high and low settings. Performance can go between 30-60fps, depending on where you're looking at and what's going on, but traversal works well even at those lower frame rates. Where things start to go bad is during combat, and the game pauses quite often. It isn't bad when dealing with one or two enemies, but any more than that, and the pauses are your most likely cause of death. Again, optimizations are promised before release and the game already has the upscaling tech from all three graphics manufacturers, so there's some relief for those who want to try to get higher frame rates.

Ghostrunner II follows the blueprint for a game sequel to the letter. Its core combat system remains awesome, while the small additions like a parry system make it cooler for those willing to master the timing consistently. The addition of a bike makes for a nice change of pace that fits thematically while also benefiting from the game's near-instant load times. We checked out a very small slice of the game, but the fact that the title hasn't regressed while teasing the addition of exploring the world outside of the tower is enough to make the wait until Oct. 26, 2023, just a little unbearable for those wanting to return to this world or discover it for the first time.

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