So here are my initial thoughts after a first completion (I’ll update when I’ve finished with a character imported from Van Helsing 1).
This is a top notch action role playing game. There’s a lot of emphasis on the ‘action’ and it’s a pretty breathtaking journey from the opening scenes to the finale. In addition to standard ARPG fare, there is a pretty satisfying tower defence component (which can be completely skipped if you don’t like it, but I recommend giving it a try, I thought I’d hate it and I loved it) and a troop management minigame (a bit like they had in Assassins Creed Revelations – send soldiers on missions, they bring back loot, train them up etc).
I’d strongly recommend this to people who’ve played the first Van Helsing game – and if you haven’t, get both and support an excellent franchise.
There are a number of areas this game improves from Van Helsing 1. It has better graphics, greater variety of missions, very interesting boss battles (I love the finale), larger maps and more to be getting on with. My first playthrough was about 14 hours on hard mode, which is a nice length and included completing most of the side quests. There’s also two game modes, one for newcomers with a level 1 character, one for those importing a level 30 character. This means new tricks, new items and increased difficulty. All good stuff for those looking for more. I can see this occupying a lot of my time ...
It’s not all roses, however... there are a lot of re-used assets, both backgrounds, scenery and enemy types, you are never short on cash, and the loot drops are a little disappointing. Most of the loot (almost all the epic items) were repeated from the first game and dropped by very few enemies (there are too many empty chests). The best items appear at scripted moments and after level 15 I pretty much didn’t change out my loot (I finished the first playthrough at level 31). In addition, Katarina is still pretty useless as anything other than a bullet shield after about level 10, she dies way too easily even with lots of upgrades.
In sum it is better than Van Helsing 1 and stands on its own as a great ARPG that is more of an isometric Borderlands than Path of Exile and if that’s something you think you’d enjoy it’s well worth a couple of quid.