Swarm 2 Hands-On: A Roguelike Spider-Man With Guns

It’s pretty easy to describe the Swarm series as Spider-Man with guns. But how exactly does Swarm 2 build on the original? Read on for our hands-on impressions.

Yes, of course, Swarm 2 absolutely made me feel like your friendly neighborhood webslinger. The feeling of swinging across tall structures while high in the air has been exhilarating since the first Swarm in 2021. Mastering grapple maneuvers while dealing with fast moving targets can test the mettle of both new and seasoned players.

The game’s signature grapple-shot action mechanics, which many players loved in the original, are back. This time they lend a more natural rhythm to Swarm 2’s swinging and shooting action. After several runs, it’s apparent that Swarm 2 feels more fluid than the original, and it feels like developers spent time honing and refining how players interact with these VR environments. The original Swarm arrived during the middle of Quest 2’s reign, so it’s obviously a huge jump in resolution to check out the sequel on a Quest 3, and this is really a game that should be played as tether-free experience.

Swarm grants players the ability to grip on to virtually anything within your reach and, by using the dash move, players can execute mid-swoop direction changes seemingly negating the laws of physics. This can be coupled with a Jet Boost that propels you skyward like a jetpack and primes you for absolutely stellar kill runs.  These abilities really come together to amplify the sense of being an aerial badass.

I felt no sense of motion sickness at all while playing and, since I rarely am affected by this anyway, I asked a couple of friends and family members to test it as well. One of them who always gets sick was able to play for almost an hour and felt no discomfort.

If you’ve played the first Swarm this probably sounds pretty much just like the first game, so what truly sets Swarm 2 apart from its predecessor? At its core, Swarm 2 is a game designed to ramp up your survivability as your skills grow, delivering lots of entertainment and replay ability and, due to the introduction of roguelike elements into the game, it also now provides that ever-present urge for just one more turn. Each time you play it takes the form of a “run” and your success is measured by how far you can make it up the chain and how many hard-earned “shards” you’ve accumulated along the way. These shards essentially unlock permanent upgrades which allow players to expand stats like their base health and shield. Another element is unlocking new in-game abilities, like the powerful “Jet Boost” mentioned earlier.  

On the graphics and sound front, Swarm 2 delivers performance that aligns well with its predecessor. Some players might’ve hoped for, or expected, more dramatic enhancements in these areas, but it seems as if the developers have focused more on fine-tuning the gameplay mechanics and adding a bit more depth versus just giving it a fresh coat of paint. Nevertheless, the visual and audio elements of Swarm 2 serve to create an engaging VR environment and looked and sounded great on the Quest 3 that was used for testing.

The old sayings “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and “more of the same is a good thing” could be applied here. While Swarm 2 isn’t a remarkably different game from its first iteration, there’s still enough here that’s new and improved to set it apart.

Swarm 2 is available now on the Meta Quest store from Greensky Games.