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Summer Game Fest Preview: SteamWorld Heist II

by Alex Orona - June 26, 2024, 10:00 am EDT

SteamWorld Heist II Wows At Summer Game Fest

SteamWorld Heist 2 was announced back in April at the Nintendo Indie World Showcase, from Image & Form Games (formally Thunderful Games.) The SteamWorld series as a whole is a series that spans every genre from platforming to city builder and in the Heist entries, turn based strategy tactics. Despite varying genres, the overall SteamWorld aesthetic of a steampunk robot world remains consistent throughout. I was able to preview SteamWorld Heist 2 at Summer Game Fest and I was severely impressed on how well the sequel iterated on the original, updating the overall feel while maintaining the spirit of its predecessors. Let’s dig into what made this entry a big upgrade.

The game takes place in a big open sea that you can explore with your pirate ship and crew. There’s hidden treasures, brief sea battles and strategy combat encounters to take on. The combat progresses the story but there are plenty of side quests and side encounters to find and help bolster your ranks.

The SteamWorld Heist games both play as turn based strategy akin to X-Com. That means moving along a field, hiding behind cover and using action points to attack your foes, then awaiting their turn to do the same. There’s a lot of nuance to this interplay though, such as abilities like overwatch that will wait for an enemy to move into range, then auto attacking, or a player that heals as they do physical damage. What matters is that a game like this has a lot of diversity amongst its moveset and Heist 2 has an ingenious way of doing this.

There’s a class system based on weapons equipped: a sniper rifle will unlock a skill tree with a plethora of long distance attacks and abilities. These can be unlocked the more you use the weapon. Then if you equip a shotgun, you unlock the shotgun short range skill tree BUT there’s also a cog system that occurs as you level up and explore the world. Once you have cogs, you can use a shotgun with its short range abilities, but then use the cogs to carry over some of the long range sniper abilities you learned previously. This allows for a fantastic mix and match system so you can customize each character to be as well rounded or specialized as you like. My team composition may not be the same as your team composition and that’s a super exciting prospect.

Additionally, factions have been added which introduces an interesting wrinkle during combat because they will fight amongst themselves as well as you. This means that during a particular combat encounter, a second enemy faction can enter the fray. You can leave them to wipe each other out before going in, or join in the middle of the chaos. It’s a ton of fun and means no scenario ends up being the same.

Controls felt intuitive, moving troops and taking turns was easy to do using the Switch Pro controller. There was even a rewind mechanic in case you made a mistake on a turn, you could rewind and try again. Even with that, failing only meant returning to the world map to retool your strategy or level up some more, before taking another attempt. I really enjoyed what I played, especially considering that failure was relatively painless. A failure never meant the end, only that I learned something and I eagerly await the time I can hop back in and figure out more that lies within SteamWorld Heist 2 when it comes to all consoles August 8th 2024.

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Game Profile

Genre Strategy
Developer Thunderful

Worldwide Releases

na: SteamWorld Heist II
Release Aug 08, 2024
PublisherThunderful
RatingEveryone 10+
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