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Project Warlock 2 Early Access Review

Project Warlock II is a retro FPS and a sequel to the original Project Warlock, it’s currently in early access and let’s just get this out of the way first, Project Warlock 2 is good, I’m surprised by how much better this game is compared to the original. The original Project Warlock isn’t a bad game by any means, I just didn’t feel very engaged by the gameplay it was cool to see some interesting level variety but the combat didn’t offer much in my opinion.

Project Warlock 2 has massively improved on the original concept, firstly being the obvious improvement in the visual department, it’s a much more striking game this time that takes this colorful retro design and fleshes it out, the enemies in particular are fantastically animated, levels are well modeled and feel quite unique from each other, maps feature a decent amount of exploration and require thought to complete, there’s an in-game map that you can pull up while you’re moving and there’s a mini map which I tried to keep on screen. The game consistently ramps up the pressure of resource management though it doesn’t feel like it at first, the first couple levels make you feel like maybe you don’t need to worry about it, you’re picking up lots of shotgun and rifle ammo and the sword doesn’t feel like it’ll be that necessary since you can just blast everyone in the face, by the time I was on level 4 and 5 if I wasn’t intelligently incorporating that sword, I found myself in horrible situations of low ammo so my advice is to get used to it quickly and use it whenever it’s not too risky, the sword causes random ammo drops so we’ve got a similar system to shadow warrior 3 where sword kills and sword swipes grants ammo, pickups are randomized for different specific weapons so you can’t just run around with a sword all day because it uses stamina each hit doing less damage as your stamina gets lower. There’s also a combo meter that encourages you to move fast, play aggressively and execute smart shots to kill multiple enemies at once as you kill enemies you’ll see small ammo pickups appearing and when you hit a 10x multiplier through consecutive kills enemies start dropping cooldown orbs for your abilities each one takes a couple seconds off that ability’s cooldown and then a 15x multiplier causes enemies to drop health vials and armor shards this is wonderful incentive for fun and creative play.

Project Warlock 2 is a more streamlined experience compared to the first game you’ll have different characters to choose from but right now in early access there’s only one, as you play you’ll unlock a freezing ability which is invaluable, a burning spell to use on large groups so you can save ammo and an ability for dual wielding and this is where some of the most interesting mechanics come into play. The freeze ability has a default cooldown duration, the fire can be cancelled to have a shorter duration, for the akimbo ability if you let it run out naturally in about 10 seconds it has a full one minute cooldown period, but if you switch weapons at any point it’ll cancel the ability resulting in a much shorter cooldown between three to seven seconds depending on how long you’ve been using it. This creates really interesting strategies of dual wielding a weapon for just a few seconds to focus down a large enemy and then switching to something else and then duel wielding again right after, this ability also bypasses reloads so you can fire all your shotgun shells and then activate akimbo and fire again with no delay, combine this with insanely satisfying gore effects and challenging enemies and you’ve got a recipe for success! Weapons also have two distinct upgrade paths that create very different experiences.

In early access there’s still some bugs to iron out as expected, I haven’t had any crashes though I do get a lot of frame rate dips even just running at 1080p. Loading times can be a bit annoying, the length of loading times becomes more important the more you see them and in this game you could find yourself dying a lot and very quickly spending more time staring at the loading screen than actually playing because some parts can be hard to get through without dying immediately upon respawning into the game along with a few more minor issues.

Issues aside, Project Warlock 2 has mostly been a pleasure to play, it proves that retro FPS throwback titles can have modern depth. If you are the type that absolutely hates bugs and performance issues then I’d say wait until the game is out of early access or close to, otherwise I highly recommend the game especially if you are a fan of the retro FPS genre.

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