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Rune: Ragnarok rebrands as Rune 2 and sets sail for a summer launch

Rune 2 – formerly known as Rune: Ragnarok – nearly ready, and now apparently signed up to launch on Epic this summer. Developed by Human Head Games, the long-standing studio probably known best for their work on Prey (the dumb fast shooter one with the portals, not the other one) are returning to their roots. Now officially a numbered sequel, it’s a Viking-themed mythological hack n’ slasher, full of beefy people swinging axes at giants, dragons and other beasties. Below, a trailer showing off some demon-bothering action as the game heads towards launch.

The trailer feels like they’re trying to tick off all the boxes of Viking fantasy as fast as possible. Huge flaming swords, dragons, giants, axes, all present and correct. Shouty angry people hacking each other to bits? Absolutely. Historically inaccurate horned helmets that would be silly to complain about when there’s far more implausible demons running about? Yep, some of them too. Still, glimpses of fights continuing even with limbs missing (’tis but a scratch!), and some apparently team-scale rumbles do look interesting. I do have some reservations, though.

While much loved by the early 2000s PC gaming crowd, Rune never impressed me, mainly because of its must-praised melee combat focus. To me, it felt like a whole lot of mashing the left mouse button and wiggling around to try and make sure my axe was within range on the downswing, then backpedalling to avoid the counter-swing. Even before the likes of Dark Souls and Monster Hunter taught people to love committed, weighty animations, it still left me cold. Give me Heretic 2 – released two years prior – any day, with its far heavier combat animations.

Why do I bring that up? Because in the trailer above, they try not to show too much of it, but I feel I can see a bit of that style of combat still represented. Legs dashing around underneath otherwise-committed torsos, like the two halves of the character are separate entities, working as a strange team. After 2018’s God Of War (let’s just call it God Of War 4 and have done), any game wanting to make hitting giants and other beasts of Norse myth with axes cool has some strong competition.

Still, Human Head seem eager to put fears to rest. They’ll be livestreaming the game and answering audience questions here on Twitch on Friday, May 24th at 1pm PST/9pm BST. I hope they prove my cynicism foolish. And make us forget their involvement in The Quiet Man, easily one of the worst games of the past decade.

Rune 2 is due out this summer, and will be launching on the Epic Games Store here. The game is funded by ESDF Management.

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Dominic Tarason

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