Lo Wang and co are returning for some more demon-killing action at the tail end of 2016. I had the chance to check out the game’s first mission, titled Hot Blooded, last week, and it’s definitely shaping up to be a big change from the original reboot that launched back in 2013. Here are four huge changes that developers Flying Wild Hog have made for Lo Wang’s return, and how that’s making for a better, more enjoyable Shadow Warrior experience.

Open World Gameplay
The biggest and most obvious change I noticed as soon as I jumped into the game’s first mission was that it was open world. Gone are the linear levels of Shadow Warrior and in – at least in this level – are beautifully detailed lush forests, Japanese housing, and creepy dark caves, all creating a wide open space to explore. The map is chocked full of things to see and discover, ranging from new weapon and elemental pickups to ammo drops and health statues. If you just want to complete the main objectives and leave the exploring to the more adventurous Wangs, there’s a helpful line that will guide you in the right direction as you slice and dice your way through hordes of demons.


There’s a Hub Area
The first thing that greeted me in the preview build was what appeared to be a central hub. Instead of just heading into missions like in the previous game, there was an area that allowed me to explore, take quests, and what I can only assume is upgrade and buy new weaponry. It definitely gave me more of an RPG feel than anything – also going hand in hand with the idea that Shadow Warrior 2 is much more open than its predecessor – and I’m definitely keen to see more of what this is about. If I can tailor my weapon selection before jumping into each mission, that would be a great option to have considering the plethora of weapons said to be available in the main game (70 or so).

New Movement System
On the gameplay side of the spectrum, Shadow Warrior 2 implements a new movement system that is akin to what you’d probably have played in one of the later Call of Duty games. Placing an emphasis on movement and speed, the game allows you to dodge enemies quickly and climb buildings with ease. It all feels a little different at first but becomes extremely useful after you get the hang of things. When combined with Lo Wang’s trusty katanas, the new movement system is incredibly satisfying to make use of and compliments the game’s other ideas really well.


Elemental Guns, Lots of Weapons, and Great New Enemies
An obvious one here, the inclusion of a vast variety of weaponry and new enemies to kill is a welcomed addition in Shadow Warrior 2. More so, some weapons come equipped with elemental damage that can play a big role in taking out the larger enemies and bosses. More on that in the hands-on preview that went up today.

I think, if anything, with all of the new weapons and everything that’s going on around you as you play through Shadow Warrior 2, the katanas still hold up as some of the most fun and enjoyable weapons available to use. I noticed that Lo Wang also had Wolverine-like claws he could equip as well, but after making use of some of the game’s weapons I insisted on using my katanas for the majority of my second playthrough of the 30 minute preview build. The enemies, as I’d assume, were not so pleased about that decision.


On the subject of the game’s enemies, I was greeted by a handful of new, gruesome looking demons throughout my travels. Some, as I mentioned above, could be taken out easily through the use of elemental weapons – as some were vulnerable to ice or fire, for example – and that made encounters a little more tactical than just equipping the katanas and swinging for dear life. Each of the new enemy types I came across interacted with Wang in a different way, and forced me to keep thinking on my feet. Similarly, when a swarm of enemies came my way, I had to improvise and make use of a handful of the weapons at my disposal rather than sticking with just one.

These are just four notable changes I noticed during my hour or so with Flying Wild Hog’s Shadow Warrior 2. For a more in-depth look at how my escapades with Wang and co went down, you can read my hands-on preview here.

Flying Wild Hog have implemented and changed up Shadow Warrior’s formula in fascinating ways, and it made for a much better experience than I’d originally anticipated. Shadow Warrior 2 is shaping up to be quite an interesting sequel, and I’m definitely keen to see more come launch.