We reviewed The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing last summer and mentioned that it was the first part of a planned trilogy. Nearly a year later, the sequel The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II is upon us unlike other planned trilogies that never saw a second game such as Too Human or Advent Rising. This preview is based on an hour-ish-long closed beta build that is missing a few of the big features like Runecrafting, the Chimera pet and multiplayer, so of course, everything mentioned is subject to change.
The beta plops players down in the middle of a siege on the Viaduct Junction of Borgova. General Harker, associate of the big baddy defeated in the first game, is leading the troops against Borgova. Van Helsing, of course, is assisting the Commander in defense against Harker, which means a majority of the beta is traveling the streets of a city in the middle of an invasion, avoiding explosions and shrapnel while fighting off the invaders.
Not too much has changed since the first game in terms of gameplay with Van Helsing II using the exact same engine. Players hack and slash with an assortment of skills in a very satisfying manner while giving commands to AI buddies and knocking out the enemy armaments. The beta seems to focus on a more embellished concept of the tower defense style elements that were introduced in the latter part of the first game. Defensive decisions are made while completing quests with the occasional large wave of enemies testing the defenses. While strategy/defense elements are present, the overall gameplay still feels like a traditional hack and slash.
The ability to import characters from the first game is available, but the imported character felt extremely weak against the enemy horde, while the new prebuilt characters seemed better equipped for the challenge. The new classes are built around the three classes from the original, two of which were added by DLC, with each of those classes having 2 different variants.
The standard Van Helsing a.k.a Hunter has variations of range and sword wielding. It is very traditional and was originally the only class in the first game. The Thaumaturge is the magic wielder of the bunch with one variant focused on elemental spells, while other variant has a few more utility styled skills. The Arcane Mechanic is a steampunk-styled character that is focused on machines with one variant being ranged and the other depending on mechanical pets and turrets.
The humor returns in a big way with the snarkiness in the back and forth between Van Helsing and Katarina ramping up especially with her disdain for this new shadowy stranger that Van Helsing seems to trust. The side quests are still filled with references such as saving Private Bryan or a character taking an arrow to the knee that, while overall funny, have been so overplayed in other games and media.
Overall, the beta is just a taste of the game that will be released towards the end of May. The game obviously feels, looks, sounds and plays very much like the first game due to the nature of the development being more like an episodic game. The addition of the DLC classes is a plus, and the new features that weren’t available in beta look to make The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II a must buy for fans of the first.