How to Survive 2 is a Survival Action “horror” game developed by Eko Software and published by 505 Games as a sequel to the first game back in 2013. Hitting consoles, HTS2 aims to improve on the mechanics put in place by its processor, allowing 4-player co-op in local games and up to 16 online and an improved crafting system with base building to boot.
Set several years after the original, HTS2 starts you off within a world where the infection of Los Riscos has taken the world by storm and groups of survivors are doing their best to fight back. Finding a transmission from a man called Kovac our character heads to his bunker in hopes of safety. Sad to say, Kovac lives in a bunker and isn’t just going to let you stay there for free, after gathering some oil for his hatch he tells you how to make your own camp outside of his own.
After some tutorial missions and introductory segments you are continually provided quests and missions to undertake, progressing the story as well as giving you experience to level up your camp, character and skills. You will uncover some things about the infection, the NPCs and a secret ending… however just like it’s addition of multiplayer, the story becomes open-ended and simply allows you to continue play with friends forever and ever.
Playing in a similar fashion to the first game, HTS2 has a top-down isometric camera that follows you as you move around. The left Thumbstick or movement, right for aiming, R2 for shooting and square for melee attacks. X button for interactions, L2 for sprinting and L1 for item use. Whenever you hit a target you will do a set amount of damage, visible if you turn on damage numbers, headshots obviously do more damage.
As you complete missions you will gain exp to level up your camp, allowing new buildings to be placed and upgraded along with new items to craft. This exp can also be used to level up your character, unlocking new bonuses and skills in your separate skill levelling up page. A major issue is that exp is used across all 3 of these pages, forcing you to grind missions or take on higher difficulty ones for more exp to even unlock the next stage. As you level up the zombies and monsters will become stronger, meaning you will need to improve your base, which will make the zombies stronger etc etc.
When you’ve gathered up some materials you can craft medicine, weapons and base buildings, in a rather straight forward manner. All of this crafting is done through the menu with a list of ingredients, taking from your trunk when necessary. However, the whole system feels plain and archaic, showing one of the many flaws that HTS2 has within its design. There is no flash or flourish to crafting and building, it’s just plot down and continue.
As a survival game you will need to eat and drink, as well as craft recovery items, however if you grind missions both water and food is easily available and healing items can be crafted incredibly easy. The system of survival kind of feels tacked on and unnecessary by how easy it is to secure these supplies. Manoeuvring the menus also still uses a mouse cursor, moving with the left Thumbstick, which feels like a leftover feature from the PC release… which should have been removed or hastened.
Overall thoughts and feelings
If HTS2 didn’t feel empty and void of life already, the musical score adds even more to that. From simple ambient noises to tracks that only play while hunted, HTS2 is too quiet and boring for a lot of its playtime. No tracks really stood out to me and the score left a lot to be desired, though if this was on PC you could play your own music, on consoles it feels like an oversight at times.
The difficulty of HTS2 is a rollercoaster, setting missions up to 7 points higher than normal means almost nothing when they are simple find and collect missions. On the other hand some have you fighting against 35 zombies to satisfy an NPC, requiring good fighting abilities or lower difficulty settings. On your camp map the difficulty is also thrown into question, where at low levels you are hardly ever attacked, if at all, before getting further into the game.
We’ve had quite a few zombie, horror, survival games releasing in recent years, like 7 Days to Die and plenty of more arcade style ones. To the bad luck of HTS2, the market is full of these types of games that do the genre better justice. Splitting the story into missions and adding a mechanic that emphasises repeated replays, HTS2 pads itself too much when time would have been better invested into better story and crafting mechanics.
Overall How to Survive 2 gets a 5/10, it feels unrefined, rough and boring for a majority of its game length. Housing archaic controls with a rather clustered control layout, HTS2 doesn’t feel like a 2016/2017 game release, nor does it look like one. The acting is almost completely centred on Kovac until later in the game and the focus on multiplayer, reminiscent of Torchlight, has seemed to worsen the single player aspects of the game. I advise the PC release over console as right now it’s on offer for £3 which is a better deal than the £12 asked for on PS4, putting it in line with other Arcade games.
How to Survive 2 was reviewed on the PlayStation4, the game is also available on Xbox One and PC