Sure, Rune did Norse mythology 19 years ago, long before God of War came (back) around and won almost every Game of the Year award on the planet last year. But look, there’s just no planet on which Rune 2 won’t get compared to God of War on some level, as both are third-person Norse mythology action games. And it’s tough for any game to stand next to Sony Santa Monica’s masterpiece, Rune 2 included.
As such, your interest in Rune 2 is likely to hinge on what it does differently. And aside from being more of a survival-action game than an action-adventure, that primary different thing is dismemberment. It’s not just for show; it’s a gameplay element. You can lop the arms, legs, and heads off of the fantastical bad guys and, even better, use those displaced body parts as weapons to beat (or throw at) your enemies with.
And that combat is somewhat Souls-ish. When I made the comparison to Chris Rhinehart from developer Human Head Studios, he agreed but noted that Rune 2 aims to be a bit more fluid, i.e. he suggested that you should be moving at all times. Attacks vary based on where and how you’re moving. But yes, it’s an action-RPG with light survival elements. Weapons wear down and break, but there are also weapon and item drops to help spice up the action. There’s also a bit of crafting. You can build structures with wood you get from felling trees, and when you do build, your health will be replenished while you’re inside your structure.
You’ll progress through various Ages in pursuit of Loki, who’s freed himself and started Ragnarok. Heimdall resurrects you and assigns you the task of stopping Loki. Each Age lasts a set amount of real-world time; there’s a clock counting down in the upper left corner of the screen. When it hits 0:00, the world burns and resets to a new age – though you won’t lose any progression.
Rune 2 is a PC game and an Epic Games Store exclusive, and when it releases later this summer it will also include a multiplayer suite with deathmatch and team deathmatch, while Rhinehart told me that more game modes are coming post-launch (he heavily hinted at a return of the popular 1v1 mode Arena from the original Rune). But back to that inevitable comparison for a moment. Rune 2’s problem, as I see it, isn’t even God of War. It’s that summer release date. The build I saw (and the video above is from my gameplay session, with Rhinehart playing) still looks pretty early. I’m no developer, but it seems improbable that it would polish up too much from what I saw if it’s out in the next couple of months. Here’s hoping.