When The Evil Within launched in 2014, hopes were high that it could revitalize the then-stagnating survival horror genre. After all, The Evil Within arrived when the Resident Evil series was in a tailspin (not anymore, thanks to Resident Evil 7), and was led by Resident Evil series creator Shinji Mikami. While The Evil Within received generally favorable reviews, many saw it as Resident Evil 4-lite, in reference to Mikami’s last survival horror title.
Following weekslong rumors of a follow-up for The Evil Within, Bethesda revealed The Evil Within 2 during its E3 2017 press conference. The Tango Gameworks-developed title will still see Mikami’s involvement, but in a less hands-on role. With the survival horror genre in a much better state than it was just a few years back, The Evil Within 2 will likely face increased scrutiny when it launches on October 13 (Friday the 13th). Will it eclipse the first one, which was merely good, and become great? Let’s hope. Here’s everything we know about The Evil Within 2 so far.
A new director
While Shinji Mikami directed 2014’s The Evil Within, he decided to take a less active role in the development of the sequel. John Johanas, who previously worked on downloadable content for the original game, has stepped into the director role, with scenario writer Hajime Ishimine having the most influence over the story.
The decision to step back from active development allowed Mikami to focus on managing the studio, Tango Gameworks. He told IGN in an interview that “younger talent” needed to get their chance to create a game. Mikami also told attendees at Quakecon that he “might” return to Capcom in order to direct a hypothetical Resident Evil 8, but only if he were offered complete creative freedom over the project. Following the reaction to the completely redesigned gameplay systems in Resident Evil 7 — as well as its first-person perspective — this likely wouldn’t be a problem.
Enter a dark, terrifying dreamscape
From the initial cinematic trailer above, we know that detective Sebastian Castellanos returns as the protagonist in The Evil Within 2. Following the events of The Evil Within, Sebastian quickly hit “rock bottom,” became an alcoholic, and to make matters worse, no one believes the once-respected police detective’s spooky stories.
Once again, Mobius will be the primary villain. Mobius, as a refresher, is the shadowy organization that funded the creation of STEM, a machine that links minds, lets people experience the memories of others, and basically creates a dreamscape world à la Inception. But this time around, Sebastian’s qualms with Mobius will hit closer to home.
In the first game, we learned that Sebastian’s daughter, Lily, died in a mysterious house fire when she was in kindergarten. Only a short time has passed since the events of The Evil Within when Juli Kidman, Sebastian’s old partner, informs him that Lily is, in fact, alive, and being held and experimented on by Mobius.
While that mix of good and bad news gives Sebastien a true goal in the new game, it also leads to haunting emotions bubbling to the surface. In the recent “Survive,” trailer, we see Sebastien tormented by his inability to save the girl, taunted by the idea that it’s all his fault. That he’s a failure as a father.
It’s in that emotional state that a down-on-his-luck Sebastian will have to reenter STEM, and explore a dark, sinister small town to save his daughter. He’ll face off against a variety of horrifying enemies, with mind-bending proportions and physical forms, some of them conjured into the seemingly-real world and others restricted to the twisted, artificial dreamscapes created by STEM.
An emphasis on characters
In a gameplay preview, shown above, Tango Gameworks designer John Johanas said one of the aspects that the team wanted to improve upon from the original was the story, particularly when it comes to characters. “Sebastian is coming back, but he’s a much more relatable character,” Johanas said. The Evil Within 2 is being sold as a redemption story, with a focus on showing the evolution of Sebastian as he attempts to piece back together what remains of his life.
The Evil Within 2 will also feature more elements of psychological horror and internal trauma. However, the game will still be filled with blood and gore, action sequences, and jump scares, Johanas confirmed.
One newcomer, Stefano Valenti, is a sadistic photographer who stages elaborate shots of his murdered victims, and appears to be after Sebastien’s daughter as his magnum opus. He has made his way into the STEM system and will almost certainly engage in a battle with Sebastien at some point, but before we meet him, we’ll encounter his “moment of death” looping scenes.
Resource management, crafting, weapons
Most survival horror games place an emphasis on inventory management and conservation. The Evil Within asked players to be careful not to waste bullets at inopportune times, and even let players craft new items to assist throughout the game’s chapters. This system has apparently undergone some revisions in the sequel in order to minimize frustration and grinding, and add customization options for Sebastian.
Sebastian’s primary arsenal from the original — pistol, shotgun, and crossbow — returns. In the Survive trailer, he also made liberal use of bladed weapons, as well as tripwire explosives and fire to burn through his devilish enemies.
The Gel used for customizing Sebastian and his weapons will still appear in The Evil Within 2, but it’s now only used for Sebastian himself. His upgrades are split into five categories: Health, Combat, Stealth, Recovery, and Athleticism. Available individual upgrades can increase his total health and health recovery speed, improve his stamina gauge, and even increase his movement speed when sneaking. Some of the abilities are also “active” special moves, including the “Bullet Cascade,” which temporarily increases gun damage “with each consecutive shot.”
To upgrade Sebastian’s weapons, you’ll make use of “Weapon Parts” scattered throughout the game’s world. For the crossbow, which is used quite a bit in the original game, you can upgrade specific types of bolts, as well as the time it takes to aim the weapon. Ammunition will still be scarce, but you can now convert found items into extra ammo for your gun of choice at workbenches you come across. You can also craft ammo when Sebastian is just out in the world, but it will cost more than it would at a workbench.
When can we re-enter STEM?
Executive producer Shinji Mikami said in an interview with GameSpot that he would like to see the game come to Nintendo Switch, as well, but he would have to spend more time with the console before making a final decision. Bethesda is currently bringing three of its games to Switch — Wolfenstein II, Doom, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Updated by Gabe Gurwin on 9-022-2017: Added information on possible Switch port, Xbox One X upgrades, and development team.