A game that I covered at PAX West in 2014 was the original Hand of Fate by Defiant Development. With 2.2 million downloads in their back pocket, the action role-playing game with rogue-like and deck-building elements was a promising title which fell short in some areas, mainly the combat.

Now almost two-and-a-half years later, Defiant Development is back and in Boston at PAX East to show off the early stages of Hand of Fate 2. Somehow the protagonist, the Dealer, from the first game is back and out for revenge. Hey, when you develop your own game without a publisher to answer to, you can bring back whomever you like from the dead. Don’t second guess it, just accept it.

If you’ve ever played the original, you’ll feel at home here with the sequel. Familiar traits from the original are back such as the balance between playing a RPG storytelling card game while engaging in Rocksteady-esque combo-driven combat. My main gripe with the original game was the combat had all the greatest intentions in the world but the engine just couldn’t handle what the game was trying to offer. Meaning, there was a lot of frame rate issues while engaged in the fighting aspect of the game. I was happy to see that this was mostly corrected, however, at times the game could still have run a little smoother when engaged in combat. This was especially noticeable when many enemies were in one scene. To their credit, the game is still in progress and they have time to add the needed polish.

Some exciting new aspects to the game are a really cool map-based meta board game. Hitting all the right notes in style points, as it had somewhat of a Game of Thrones intro-vibe to it, this cool new feature gives players a sense of the layout of the game. Players can use this as an interactive checklist, as you can see where you’ve been and where you need to go. Everyone likes a good visual representation of their progression, right? Other niceties that have been added in regards to fighting is the ability for two-handed combat, dual-wielded weapons, and fighting companions. Plus, the folks from down under have spruced up the card game with what I hear are some powerful cards, which can change the balance of the game.

Continuing with the popular theme of having a female character, Hand of Fate 2 features an unknown heroine who will battle the Dealer in a game of life and death. You, as the player, will be handed challenges via the Dealer’s cards. As you progress, you’ll amass a collection of your own, but be warned, the Dealer will continue to try and trip you up with his own trials. With the cards laid out before you, you’ll quickly learn that new objectives in the form of challenges, combat, decision making, and deadly locales all have been amped up in Hand of Fate 2.

Defiant Development have a promising looking game with Hand of Fate 2. I hope they spend as much time fine tuning the combat, as they have in other areas, like storytelling, UI, and presentation. When ready, Hand of Fate 2 will be released on Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.