The Surge – The Good, The Bad and The Augmented DLC just landed and I’ll be completely honest… it’s pretty underwhelming. As the name would suggest the DLC features a Western Frontier theme where Warren stumbles upon an old abandoned “testing station” for a show called Frontier Riders that got canceled. There’s a collection of new weapons, armors matching the western theme, as well as a bunch of new mods to pick up and collect along the way.
The Good, The Bad and The Augmented is a departure from the formula of the rest of The Surge and the previous DLC, A Walk in the Park, as it doesn’t feature the usual Hub area that branches off into a series of interconnected environments. In this DLC you instead find yourself in a Hub area that hosts a large computer console, which generates each episodic test scenario. These scenarios can be enhanced to improve the loot, rewards, and difficulty of each run, using up to 4 of 16 different and unique challenge modifiers. Each one gives a separate reward when first used.
Challenges include vampiric healing, exploding enemies, auto-equip of enemy weapons and a variety of other mods. Of course, some have greater impacts than others and can cause serious complications in gameplay. For example, one modifier states perfect combos deal extra damage while imperfect combos deal less. Much less. Imperfect combos render your attacks practically pointless, while perfect combos deal massive amounts of damage, dispatching enemies in 2 or 3 hits. The different possible combinations of modifiers offer a nice variety to each episode, however…
The stages themselves are pooled from a small set of different test chambers, arranged in different orders. Each episode, of which there are 9, consists of 2 rooms and then a boss fight. The different arrangements of these levels is a little disappointing, offering little variety and they get pretty stale. Perhaps it’s because, just as with the last DLC, I tackled the DLC area from a late point in the main game, meaning I was hilariously overpowered and over-equipped for most of the challenges.
What’s odd is that access to The Good, The Bad and The Augmented can only take place after progressing to accessing the areas just prior to the Executive Forum, which is pretty late on anyway… So maybe I wasn’t overpowered and the enemies are just horribly underpowered compared to some of the enemies you’ve had to cut through in order to get there.
Aesthetically, the text chambers are different from anything else you’ll encounter throughout the CREO facility, but still retaining that characteristic charm of The Surge and everything is just a bit broken. Of course, you’re not going to confuse The Good, The Bad and The Augmented for Red Dead Redemption 2 anytime soon, but the frontier theme is pretty well designed, just not incredibly well put together.
Running through a sort of behind-the-scenes environment is cool and all, it just feels horrendously out of place within the CREO facility, given everything they’re creating and running from within it. Sure they’ve done it because they can and it’s fun, but it doesn’t really fit the theme of the game at all. A Walk in the Park got away with it by transporting you to a totally different area away from the CREO facility to their destroyed theme park, which if you’re an evil world-killing corporation, is exactly the kind of place you’d build to say that you’re nice guys.
So the environments get pretty samey and the enemies fall a little flat as they appear to be pretty easy across the board. Getting attacked by more than one enemy is usually a death sentence, but you’re often swarmed by 3 or 4 enemies and carve through them like a hot-plasma axe through butter. Even the boss enemies are pretty easy to put down; owing to the fact that they are squishy humans, all you have to do is target a specific limb then execute them when they’re sufficiently weakened.
Dispatching them in this way often yields another unique weapon or armor that looks pretty sweet (let’s be honest Fashion-Souls has always been the most important part) but otherwise quite underwhelming. It feels as though we were spoiled with the early game bosses such as the Torchbug and similar creations, unique and challenging designs.
The audio logs and story elements behind The Good, The Bad and The Augmented are interesting but don’t really add all that much to the game. After all, we gleaned some new and interesting information regarding Warren’s mysterious backstory while investigating CREO World in A Walk in the Park. Again, the extra content just feels too out of place with the rest of the game, there’s no reason for a random Wild West test sequence to exist in the middle of the CREO facility.
All in all The Good, The Bad and The Augmented isn’t exactly bad…it’s just out of place and a little disappointing. The combat lacks creativity or variety after an initial couple of stages, with the bosses being the only half challenging encounters or interesting battles. The environments look great and the behind-the-scenes areas fit the collapsing industrial theme quite nicely but the recycled stages just feel quite lazy. That being said, it’s not killed my enthusiasm for The Surge 2 coming next year. Hopefully, the guys at Deck 13 learn from their missteps, as they aren’t big enough foul-ups to be fully fledged mistakes, like most of the ideas behind The Good, The Bad and The Augmented.