My hands-on time with Shadow Warrior 2 started innocently enough: a quick run-through of the controls from Flying Wild Hog's, Tadeusz Zielinski before an introduction to the sequel's brand new level structure.
Flying Wild Hog's 2013 remake of 3D Realms' campy 1997 first-person shooter Shadow Warrior was so successful that the Polish developer has more than tripled in size in the last three years. This swift evolution from a niche team of around 30 to a triple-A developer roughly 100 strong is clear upon spending even a few minutes with its impending sequel, Shadow Warrior 2.
Predictably, this retail follow-up to a digital cult classic has seen an obvious boost in production value (it looks scrumptious enough to rival any blockbuster these days), but that's only the tip of the iceberg for what Flying Wild Hog is up to. It doesn't just want to make a better Shadow Warrior; it wants to transform the Shadow Warrior brand from an acquired taste to a mainstream hit. Based on an hour playing its early build at PAX East, it seems up to the task.
Arguably the biggest game-changer this time around is that the levels are procedurally generated. Designer Pawel Kowalewski told Eurogamer that each stage is comprised of two or three randomly generated 200 meter square tiles. Certain sections will look familiar as you'll see similar themes, architecture and enemy types specific to the stage, but the location of your foes, loot, and more will shuffle with each playthrough.