While The Evil Within earned relatively strong review scores, the game was criticized at the time of its release for its unlikable main character, Sebastian Castellanos, and for having a weak story. Bethesda has heard these complaints, and according to VP of marketing Pete Hines and game designer John Johanas, The Evil Within 2 will focus more on story than the first game.
As explained by Hines, The Evil Within 2 will begin with Sebastian at "rock bottom." After the events of the first game, Sebastian is struggling with alcoholism, but he is given a new sense of purpose when detective Juli Kidman tells him that his daughter is alive and being held by the Mobius organization. Driven by the desire to save his daughter, Sebastian thrusts himself back into the nightmarish world of monsters from the first game.
If Johanas and the other developers working on The Evil Within 2 accomplish their goals with the game's narrative, Sebastian will come across as a much more likable character than before.
"We definitely wanted to have a game that focused more on characters, more on story. We put a lot of effort into it this time. Sebastian is coming back - he’s a much more relatable character. And you get to really journey with him from the beginning of the game to the end, and see his evolution as a character. [...] It’s a redemption story, so you really get the quality out of there."
Perhaps this focus on story in The Evil Within 2 is a product of Shinji Mikami not directing the game. While Mikami has created some of the most critically-acclaimed games of all time, his titles are not exactly known for their profound narratives with complex character development. On the contrary, many of his games have thin plots and tend to focus on gameplay above everything else.
Regardless of why The Evil Within 2 has a bigger focus on story than the first game, though, we've already seen evidence of it from the little that has been shown of the sequel so far. In fact, Bethesda released a second trailer for The Evil Within 2 not long after its E3 2017 debut that focused mainly on Sebastian's struggles and how they will play a role in the game's story.
Bethesda seems serious about focusing more on The Evil Within 2's story, and we will find out if its efforts pay off this October.
The Evil Within 2 will launch on October 13th for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.