Steamworld Heist II is everything I hoped it would be and more | Hands-on preview

by on June 26, 2024

After almost three hours of Steamworld Heist II I felt like I’d formed a robot family with tons of potential for the journey ahead. We had taken on enemies across Backwater Bay and Angler’s Reef, sometimes barely escaping with our lives as we took on rescue missions, and other times watching the fruits of the Captain’s plans unfold like a dream. You never know exactly how a mission will play out, as things can change at any given moment, but I would be damned if I wasn’t going to give it everything I had in the process.

Steamworld Heist II is a game of many moving parts. You’ll do battle in turn-based combat against robot pirates and cult-like cutthroats, utilising your team’s various job roles and weapons to steal epic swag or save a friend in need, with various conditions affecting each mission. Sometimes an alarm will trigger every round bringing out more enemies and forcing you to survive until it reaches zero, or trying to get to the loot before it explodes. These missions are exciting, especially as you have plenty of say in your loadouts and crew members.

You can recruit new teammates and take them on missions, and each one has different roles that come with specific abilities. Brawlers are fantastic in melee and recharge health whenever they kill someone, and snipers have exceptional ranged shots. Reapers get another free shot if their bullet eliminates a foe, and Engineers can build barriers for free that stops incoming fire. There are also tons of weapons to find and buy, allowing you to improve firepower with more damage being done per shot, or other buffs like splash damage and critical hits playing a role in your attacks.

You can also equip sidearms and grenades for extra firepower, and if that wasn’t enough, there are hats! Yep, don’t like the look of your beret? Shoot off a commander’s cap and claim it for your own. OK, so it doesn’t do anything to help you improve your stats or weaponry, but you do look cool and that’s important on the high seas. There are many variables for you to think of during each turn-based encounter, and not just with regard to equipment. Bullets can ricochet off walls and barrels can be blown up to do additional damage. Enemies spawn from nowhere, and other audibles are called by the enemy to allow fights to be tricky to win.

Outside of the turn-based combat, you get to steer your ship and explore the open seas for additional weapons and bullion. There are various currencies at play. Gems let you upgrade and unlock key components for your crew’s progression, and bounty points will allow you to grab some extra weapons, upgrades, and other bits and pieces to help you at the end of each day. The biggest resource is water, and while the lack of fresh water plays into the story, it’s also vital to buy new equipment for your ship, hire new crewmates, and more. There are hidden surprises in the overworld, but there’re also threats around every corner, giving you all the more reason to sail around every corner.

Steamworld Heist II has grabbed me instantly. I love the combat, the world, and the gorgeous art style. The humour is superb and the characters are wonderful, and I can’t get the catchy shanties and songs out of my head. There are plenty of ways in which your crew can thrive in battle, but the difficulty is also challenging, although this can be switched at any time. I’m already hooked and excited to venture further into this wonderful world and story that Thunderful has created. There’s no denying the developers are onto a winner with this, and if the rest of the game is as engaging as these early hours are, we are in for a treat.

Steamworld Heist II is coming to PC, Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox on August 8th.