Feature Article

How Shadow Warrior 2 Is Different to Doom

Lo Wang is back.

At first glance, Shadow Warrior 2 may look like a fast-paced and colored shooter with as little story as its predecessor, 2013's Shadow Warrior. In the time I had playing an early build with the game, I shot and sliced my way through hordes of towering demons without hesitation, the gameplay leaving little room for conversation. I raced between objective points, seeing how quickly I could shoot down my enemies, sparing only the briefest of glances at their rotting remains.

For all its seemingly indiscriminate demon-fighting, Shadow Warrior 2 does house a narrative, built around its new quest system. I began my session by initiating a quest via an NPC, who sent me on a fetch quest in order to solve a dilemma currently facing the returning main character, Lo Wang. It was stock-standard as far as video game questing designs go, but its existence in the game was surprising, given the nature of the combat. Writer and narrative designer Slawomir Uliasz would later explain to me how developer Flying Wild Hog structures the quest system in Shadow Warrior 2, and how the system helps to set the game apart from other first-person shooters.

GameSpot: When coming up with the new story for Shadow Warrior 2, how closely do you stick to what's been established in the previous games? Or do you have free reign on where you want to take the story?

Uliasz: The goal was to make something new, something interesting, something different from the previous Shadow Warrior. Not only in terms of gameplay experience, but also in terms of story and storytelling. That's why we came up with this strange world, which is kind of a mix of our own human realm and a demonic realm. It's a little bit apocalyptic, but not kind of Mad Max-ish apocalypse with a lot of suns and deserts around you, but with a lot of lavish, strange environments. It's a mix of a demonic world and, let's say, Japanese-like setting which is now the base of our game.

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As a shooter fan, there are a lot of great-looking FPS games to look forward to this year--we've got DOOM, Battlefield 1 has just been announced, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is coming up. What sets Shadow Warrior 2 apart from these games?

I think a lot of folks compared Shadow Warrior to Doom. And it's flattering for us. Most of our team are first-person shooter fans themselves, and we are quite… let's say, an old team, in terms of average age. So most of us played the original Doom and I can say I was raised on Doom and Wolfenstein as my first FPS games. So I'm flattered we were compared to Doom.

On the other hand, Shadow Warrior 2 is not Doom and it's not aiming to be Doom, Call of Duty, or Battlefield, as good as those games may be.

We drifted away from the idea of a corridor shooter, which all of those games are, or I think they will be. Especially in the story mode of those games. Right now, Shadow Warrior 2 will be more of an action-RPG than a classical shooter. We have a lot of things that we took from those kind of games, by which I mean Diablo or Borderlands, and a lot of other games from this genre. We have a much more open level that you can proceed through however you like; you can kill everything that moves, or just carve your path through enemies to reach your target, or you can try and go stealthy and use the vanish power to sneak past enemies and assassinate only the targets that you need to. In some missions you won't need to kill anyone at all.

We have this rich loot system which allows you to modify your weapons. There are a lot of upgrades that change how weapons work. We have maybe over 70 weapons in the game which will differ from each other. Not all of the weapons will be good at all points in the story. We have main story missions and we have optional missions and even side missions which are like short stories composed of three missions. And they are loosely tied to the main plot. So you can either rush head-on through the story or you can explore the world. You can even pick-up those randomly generated missions that don't have anything to do with the story, they are just for grinding and for you to search for loot and get experience.

So I think that we are a first-person shooter, but we are not exactly in the same genre of those three great games you mentioned.

Shadow Warrior has a specific type of tongue-in-cheek humour. How do you balance trying to be funny without being too tacky or lame?

With the humour, we took much more care not to follow the original 1997 game which was perceived by many as misogynist, racist even.

It's a good question, but it's also hard to answer! I'm not sure if we always succeed with our jokes. Sometimes we are a bit cheesy, and sometimes we are cheesy on purpose. Sometimes, we are more on a serious side. But the main tool of our narration in both games, there are differences between the two main [companion] characters. In the previous game it was Hoji, this smartass demon. And now, Lo Wang stuck with this young genius girl called Kamiko, and they're totally different characters. She's young, she's super smart, she's very self-aware. And she perceives him as… someone with bad taste, bad mouthing, and bad humour. And he's not so keen on having her in his head. He perceives her as a smartass, someone who keeps her nose too high for her standing. And so on and so forth, so there's a lot of conflict between those characters. A lot of places to make jokes to make humour into these conversations.

And Lo Wang as a character, he's the type who doesn't take the world too seriously. He's more of a joker, more of a devil, and he simply cannot take anything too seriously. So that's why he comments when he's attacking, or why he's a douchebag sometimes. He's not a perfect hero.

With the humour, we took much more care not to follow the original 1997 game which was perceived by many as misogynist, racist even. It was our goal from the previous game, and this game as well, to stay on a normal side. We know that you don't need to make jokes about women or make a racial joke to make it funny. There is a lot of humour in this world, not only racist or misogynist.

Is it difficult coming up with new Wang jokes that haven't been overdone?

Most of the Wang jokes I can credit to Scott Alexander, my colleague and fellow writer. Sometimes I think they come to him naturally. If you ask me it's a little bit difficult, but for him it's something he's got in his blood. He's got a good knack for comedy, and at the same time he's not afraid of using bad words. And we still try to balance the seriousness of a situation to make it more of a contrast than just a standing joke. I hope we will succeed with it.

You mentioned that you can go through some levels without killing monsters and adopt a stealthy approach. Does that mean I could play through the entire game and avoid all the monsters except the bosses?

That's a good question! I've never tried it. Technically, probably yes. It's not like we are encouraging a player to do this. But we are not forbidding it from happening either. It's not like we are Deus Ex, which is very focused on stealth. We don't have this stealth system using covers and everything else. But we still have some mechanics that can allow you to be stealthier. For example, not all of the weapons make sound. You can use a bow from a distance to stealthily kill some opponents. Or you can vanish completely from monsters' sight and use it to your advantage for an aggressive kill, escape, or just sneaking past monsters that you don't feel like fighting. Yes, there are stealthy elements in the game, but I wouldn't go as far as saying that we are a stealth-based game.

The main focus of our game is on fighting. And you can avoid fighting, but all the rewards for a player come from confronting enemies. But I can perceive that some of the players will try a stealthy approach and do perfect missions without killing anyone except the target. We'll see!

You have teased a release sometime in 2016, is there a window you could give us for expected release?

Fall, or maybe early winter of 2016. But I think it will be the last quarter of the year.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com


Zorine Te

Zorine “harli” Te is an editor based in GameSpot's Australian office. She wants to save the world.
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27 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for DrunkenPunk800

"With the humor, we took much more care not to follow the original 1997 game which was perceived by many as misogynist, racist even." And? That's what made the original funny.

Avatar image for naryanrobinson

@DrunkenPunk800: .

Stop the presses, new headline:

“Man Not Affected By Problem Doesn't Care About Problem”

Avatar image for hystavito

I wouldn't have thought you could play this stealthy, interesting.

Avatar image for deactivated-57aa19ab947c7

You mess with the bull, you get the Wang.

I'm so psyched for this game.

Avatar image for deactivated-58b0b257815cf

See lots of comments from folks who clearly didn't play the reboot. Chill guys, they aren't going to neuter the Wang. The reboot had great humor, much of it low brow just like the original.

Avatar image for CaptWaffle

Playing Shadow Warrior 1 (the remake) and i've been VERY impressed. Very funny, monty python-like jokes, great combat, rpg-like upgrade system, upgradable weapons.... very long game, at least on hard. I'm like 20 hours in and just started chapter 12. There are 17 or 18 chapters total. New weapons doled out every few hours and melee combat that is actually fun. Very difficult, too..... between spells, dodging, weapon swapping, special sword techniques: my hands would get so cramped after a long session..... gamepad might be a good idea.

Avatar image for nurnberg

When a dev claim that he doesn't want the new game to be "like in the 90s" because of some stuff that offends SJW extremists, all it tells me is that the 90s version was superior. You can't claim that a neutered and politically correct story is an improvement. It is not.

Avatar image for MrGeezer

@nurnberg: For whatever flaws the Shadow Warrior reboot might have had, the one thing that I have NEVER heard anyone complain about is "the game isn't offensive enough."

They already did a game without a bunch of politically incorrect 90's humor. It turned out just fine, and people were happy with it. So let's stop pretending that this is a series that requires that kind of humor.

Avatar image for bikskit

Jesus, as long as the game has an option to turn OFF that godawful hit-point dmg display, I might be interested. Loved the first one a few years ago.

Avatar image for cornbredx

"How is Shadow Warrior different than Doom?"

If it's anything like the first one it's kind of bland and gets boring to play after awhile. Doom starts off bland and gets more interesting to play after a while.

Avatar image for Dark_Matters

"Different to Doom"

Is there a ban on the word "than"?

Avatar image for darthrevenx

how is shadow Warrior different than Doom??? if one is asking this question do you know your games???

DOOM = hell, demons, cyberized demons, undead, lone Marine protagonist, lots of weapons, maximum carnage....

Shadow Warrior = ninja protagonist, modern day world, lots of ninja type weapons, demons, ninja enemies, Asian mysticism, bad jokes.....

clearly the 2 games are way different....hell one of em let's you use a katana to slice enemies in half....

Avatar image for turretx7

@darthrevenx: and the the other one lets you use a chainsaw to cut enemies in half. Chainsaw > Katana xD

Avatar image for darthrevenx

@turretx7: Katana is more elegant a weapon maybe not from a more civilized age but elegant all the same...

Chainsaw is more brutal and more powerful which reinforces Doom's themes and in Doom it's a great weapon.....i wouldn't say one is better than the other but I would say both have their place, you use what's there and a katana would be out of place on Mars but a chainsaw kinda makes sense lol and a chainsaw would be out of place in a ninja setting so yeah...

Avatar image for 00J

I'm not offended by much, been playing games since Atari 2600's "Adventure"...

If it's funny it's funny...

Glad to see games "FPS's" in this case being revitalized.

You know a good FPS Superhero game would really be a great idea. You'd think with the revitalization of the Superhero Epoch that "someone, anyone" would pick up on this, and i'm not talking about a movie tie in, although I wouldn't mind an Avengers movie tie in game...

I was surprised there were so many negative views of the COD in space idea, that's why games get stale, because a few nerds complain and gripe when a developer tries something new...

Avatar image for Red_hot_smasher

"With the humour, we took much more care not to follow the original 1997 game which was perceived by many as misogynist, racist even. It was our goal from the previous game, and this game as well, to stay on a normal side. We know that you don't need to make jokes about women or make a racial joke to make it funny. There is a lot of humour in this world, not only racist or misogynist."

Um... You really didn't think that through, did you? Making a Shadow Warrior game where Lo Wang isn't offensive to everyone in existence is about as non-offensive to us 90s kids as making a Duke Nukem game without offensive jokes - it just doesn't work.

Speaking of offensive, I surely can't be the only one offended by the fact that the game industry seems to think that adult gamers aren't capable of dealing with some offensive jokes, or even people having genitals (apparently nobody in the Mortal Kombat universe has genitals if the X-Ray attacks in MK9 are anything to go by). I'm offended by the fact that these people claim to be "classic shooter fans" yet don't seem to understand the way FPSes and pushing the censorship envelope went hand in hand back in those days. Like, SNES Wolf3D was the dullest experience ever because Nintendo forced Id to censor it to pieces and SNES Doom wasn't much better (though in fairness SNES Doom was held back by technical limitations as well), and on the N64 we got Doom 64 and Duke Nukem 64, and who the hell even remembers those?

I guess all culture has been PCized and pussified in the last 20 years to a degree. Still though, "No, let's not have a sense of humor like the original developers had and make an actual retro FPS, let's just keep everything family friendly and shove half an RPG in there with weapon upgrades and stuff, because that's what everyone does these days and we have no balls." - GROW A PAIR.

Avatar image for PS2fweak

@Red_hot_smasher: "I'm offended by the fact that these people claim to be "classic shooter fans" yet don't seem to understand the way FPSes and pushing the censorship envelope went hand in hand back in those days."

What you don't seem to understand is there's only a small amount of us who can STILL stomach that type of humor. Our favorite comedians don't tend to do the same numbers as the more mainstream ones. People are just changing and I'm talking about fans and devs.

We need to stop blaming companies for moving away from very specific types of jokes. It's not about getting rid of humor. They're just getting rid of tired material. "GROW A PAIR" for what? To upset a bunch of customers and employees and sell less copies?

I remember being upset about letting go of certain words I use to say, but now I realize I don't even want to use those words anymore. It just doesn't have the desired effect when so many people get offended. It's just not as funny if most people aren't laughing anymore. Even most of my favorite comedians are different now because they recognize this.

Just think about it. It was much easier to use a homophobic slur until multiple family members and friends finally felt comfortable enough to come out. It's not just about political correctness. EVERYTHING is changing all around us. The jokes from "back in those days" are hack material now. If you do that type of comedy, the vast majority of us will think it's lame and unoriginal.

Avatar image for MrGeezer

@Red_hot_smasher: Except that they did it last time, and it worked.

Avatar image for X-RS

@Red_hot_smasher: More like companies just want a name to cash in on _-_

Avatar image for snugglebear

Start working from someone else's home! It's by far the best job I've had. Last Thursday I stole some guy's BMW and his entertainment system. It was just an old Gameboy hooked up to a record player.

Avatar image for darthrevenx

@snugglebear: Please leave.......*calls security* Sir, we're afraid we need you to leave, come with us.....

Avatar image for snugglebear

@darthrevenx: Now that they've removed the spam posts, I'm never leaving!