Surgeon Simulator was, and continues to be, one of the best laugh-out-loud games you can get stuck into. Making its debut in 2013, Surgeon Simulator jumped to popularity in no small part thanks to its success on YouTube, where some of the biggest names in gaming racked up millions of views attempting to operate on poor old Bob. Surgeon Simulator has since migrated from PC to console and even VR, and now it’s time for the long-awaited follow-up: Surgeon Simulator 2.
Announced back in 2019, Surgeon Simulator 2 was teased to fans with a trailer which left a lot to the imagination. When GameByte was invited to attend a hands-on (virtual) preview of Surgeon 2 in action, I really didn’t know what to expect. I came out with a huge grin on my face.
If you’re a fan of the weird and wonderful, gut-busting hilarity that came from playing one of the best wonky physics games of all time, you’re going to absolutely fall in love with the upcoming sequel.
The developers at Bossa Studios have truly outdone themselves this time around, taking the core mechanics and – for lack of a better word – the heart of Surgeon Simulator 2013, carefully placing it into the brand-new body of its sequel.
I joined Marc Pick (Senior Producer), Nate Gallardo (Senior Game Designer) and Nick Marshall (Brand Manager) for the virtual experience, in which I watched the gang play through both the game’s Tutorial Mode and some of the Story Mode. For the first time, Surgeon Simulator is embracing full multiplayer, allowing you and up to three friends to tackle the surgeries and the puzzles together, as a team.
Gone are the basic operating tables, the small rooms and the lack of a body we’re all used to from the first game. In the words of the game developers, they’ve rescaled from “diorama-scale” to “world-scale.”
“Hopefully you can see this time around that we’ve somewhat increased the scope of the game compared to the first one. We tend to refer to the first game as a ‘diorama scale.’ So if you remember, you’ve just got the hand, you’ve got the patient…in the first one, that’s really all you’ve got. You’ve got Bob and you’ve got tables either side of him,” explains Pick.
“This time around we’ve gone what’s we’re calling ‘world scale,’ so not only are you the hand, you’re obviously full character. You can crouch and jump and everything. It’s a full-on first person game. But, it’s still retaining that magic of the very particular hand control.”
We begin the preview in what the devs call the “lobby area,” which – as you’ve probably guessed – is a hospital lobby. The team explains that it’s like a living, breathing main menu, allowing you to hang out with your friends, take advantage of voice chat, and generally just muck about with some of the game physics before you get stuck into the actual levels.
Describing the decisions behind the multiplayer, Pick said: “We really wanted to take what was one of the really appealing things about the original, which is that it’s a game which is as much fun to watch as it is to play.
“We wanted to replicate that in real time, by having up to three of your mates in front of you at any one time. Carrying chairs around or dropping things or flinging things around. We’ve brought a really co-operative element to the game which seems to be going pretty well so far!”
When it comes to the actual Story Mode of Surgeon Simulator 2, you can expect some huge differences from the first game. Story Mode promises to tell more of a story than the first game did, and there’s a range of new gameplay additions to boot.
Surgeon 2 introduces a scanner, a new game mechanic that’ll require you to “diagnose” Bob before surgery begins. From there, you’ll then have to figure out the best way to make Bob feel better, whether this be through the use of Blood Syringes to compensate for blood loss, figuring out which tools to use, or which body parts to remove.
Unlike the very basic level set-up of the first game, Surgeon 2 encourages more strategy, which in turn, will lead to more chaos thanks to the multiplayer mode. If my time with the Surgeon 2 preview taught me anything, it’s thing: Surgeon Sim 2 is going to be one heck of a wacky game, oozing more fun than Bob oozes…other things.
Answering questions and walking me through the preview, the developers never missed an opportunity to throw chairs at each other, play catch or sweep the desks clear of junk. At one point I even enjoyed watching a carefully-executed dance-off between the devs, who showed off their moves before making friends with a rubber duck who then joined us through some more surgical procedures.
“We’ve been working on this character controller. It’s intended to be really expressive so you can interact with the world in really nice ways, but you can also just express yourself. It’s really sort of tactile, you can move around, you can do dance moves,” Pick explained.
“We often end up coming into these levels that were meant to be, in theory, we’re meant to be building and testing the levels. We end up in them and just spending hours creating new dance moves instead.”
The surgical procedures themselves are as classic as they were in 2013. You’ll still need to do your best with the wonky physics to remove organs, but now you have diseased body parts to contend with, as well as other types of ailments and a few tools to help make surgery a little easier (like the Blood Syringes mentioned above).
Again, you have the option to truly test your surgery skills by aiming for perfect scores with a steady hand, but that’s not always the most fun. As Brand Manager Nick Marshall put it: “My style in this game is to toss all the organs out and cause absolute chaos, but there is potential for precision.”
One of many great things about the game is that it’s not just solely focused on you working with your pals. All the levels in Story Mode can be completed by one person, and if you happen to hate your friends for some reason, there’s also going to be online matchmaking available too.
Perhaps one of the most exciting things I learned from my time with Surgeon 2 is the fact it’ll be launching with a full Creation Mode which will allow players to create their own levels – and play through other users’ levels too.
Explaining just how the mode will work, the devs said: “Using Creation Mode, players can create their own levels, using all the exact same tools as in Story Mode with the exact same functionality. Players can start subverting the game immediately…[they love building levels] that really stick close to the SS 2013 vibe, but some have gone all out with bunkers.
“People are also really getting in there and subverting everything and building levels that have no resemblance to [Surgeon], and it’s amazing to think they were actually built inside Surgeon Simulator 2. Already we have the ability for this game to be any number of different things to different players, and in future I just hope we can continue to expand on that idea as well.”
It’s important to note just how important fan feedback has been to the development of Surgeon Simulator 2. Under its rubber ducks, rib-cracking and leg-amputating, this is a game that’s been created with nothing but the player in mind.
Gallardo told me: “We have our vision, we’ve always had our vision, what we wanted Surgeon 2 to be, which is just chaotic multiplayer surgery, and then it was on the fans to help us craft that. So we have got a community of around two thousand now who play the game regularly in closed alpha state, they give us feedback…t’s really a two-way collaborative process, especially for a game like this, where it’s really about being social and having a laugh with your mates. It just wouldn’t have landed if we hadn’t got the fans involved at really early doors, and just helped up see things from their perspective rather than the game devs, who can get really locked in on one problem…
“Players who’ve seen the trailer and think ‘wow, that looks different!’ yeah, it is but it’s still Surgeon Simulator,” said Gallardo. “We kind of knew when we set out making it that we had to escalate from the first game. It’s been seven years. I think players don’t want the same thing again. I suspect players will be excited. It feels like Surgeon, but it feels like we’ve blown it out in every single direction.”
I’m incredibly excited for Surgeon Simulator 2, and it’s definitely one to watch out for!
Surgeon Simulator 2 is set to launch on The Epic Games Store, August 2020.
Featured Image Credit: Bossa Studios