When Remnant: From the Ashes was released in 2019, it took a while to gain popularity. This could be because an unrecognized developer created it at the time, or it could be due to the fact that it was a third-person shooter inspired by the souls-like genre. Either way, the original Remnant gathered a cult following due to its brutal combat and addicting structure. Fast forward four years later, and we have Remnant 2, a sequel that looked promising from the start of its marketing cycle. It promises improved gameplay mechanics and even more replayability. So how does Remnant 2 hold up? I’d say pretty well.
Right at the start of Remnant 2, you can’t help but be impressed by how the game looks visually. The colors of the first level, as you make your way through the sewers filled with rot, really pop on screen, making you instantly realize that you’re playing a sequel. All levels, also known as biomes, look uniquely beautiful and testify to how far Gunfire Games has come regarding the Remnant universe. What makes this so great is that these worlds are constantly changing as you can reroll the campaign and play the story over again, with each run feeling unique compared to the last. With that said, though, stunning graphics is only part of what makes a game great. How does Remnant 2 do with combat and story?
Combat and Gameplay – Both Familiar and New
What made Remnant: From the Ashes’ combat so satisfying was the feel of the controls, which is essential to how it works in the souls-like subgenre. That said, it had some issues that needed to be addressed, and I’m pleased to say that Remnant 2 takes care of them.
Combat is improved upon the first in more ways than one. The nature of making decisive actions is still there to create a challenging experience, arguably even more. Still, it’s more accessible to the player as builds have the potential to be developed into something that wasn’t possible in the original.
There are an incredible amount of ways you can go about your build in Remnant 2: through the use of rings, fragments, weapon mods, and mutators, but most importantly, Archetypes. Archetypes can be considered the same as classes from other games, where each has unique abilities and specializations.
Selecting an Archetype isn’t the end to “choosing a class,” though, as the game allows you to mix two Archetypes as you progress further into the game. Combining two makes for some unique builds and gives the player leniency in deciding what kind of build they would like to create. For example, I ran the handler and hunter Archetype together on my character, which provided buff support on the Handler side of things but long-range precision from the Hunter Archetype. This system that Gunfire Games has created allows for replayability and customization freedom.
Speaking of replayability, Remnant 2 has the most out of any game I have played in a very long time. This stems from the reroll campaign option similar to the mechanic in Remnant: From the Ashes, where you can start over the main story from the beginning, but everything will be different now. This includes the level you start on, the enemies and bosses you encounter, and even the order of cutscenes and puzzles. It’s the same premise as in the original, but there’s more reason to do it in the sequel, as the changes are even more significant.
Bosses shine through in Remnant 2 with incredible designs that left me in awe. Despite the way the bosses look, I fear a lack of balance is present. It’s understandable to have a range of difficulties for bosses, but some are weak as all get out, and others are straight-up overpowered. Before you say, “You’re probably just bad at the game,” I can assure you that may very well be true, but these types of games should provide plausible solutions and a trial-and-error playstyle for the player instead of having to rely on pure luck. This fact is especially true for a game like Remnant 2, considering the game’s fundamental boils down to its souls-like gameplay.
Remnant 2 has a great share of puzzles that are so complex that it left me scratching my head for hours (literally). Rarely do I find a game that requires so much thinking to find a solution, something that should be present more in video games. It will sometimes cause frustration for the player, but once you bring it upon yourself or your co-op buddy to find the answer to the puzzle, it feels fantastic and incredibly rewarding as the game makes you feel a real sense of satisfaction for your determination and hard work.
Story and Lore – Leave Much to Be Desired
Remnant 2 takes place several decades after the original story, in a world where a dangerous Root is taking over, and it is up to the player to stop it once and for all. Boring, right? That’s because it is. This is where Remnant 2 lacks severely — the story is nothing to write home about, and that fact shows in its boring dialogue. I often wanted to skip over NPC’s conversations because they didn’t offer much value except for maybe a clue or a little lore detail. Speaking of lore, you can tell that Gunfire Games gave it its all in that regard, which I applaud, but it’s also a clear testament to the fact that the studio does other things better.
The discovery of NPC’s hidden well in the world, a staple of lore in souls-like games, is present in the game, and I encountered some incredible-looking character designs on my journey. But, I never felt the need to revisit most of them outside of receiving a secret item or a clue towards a side quest. I say “most” of the NPCs are pointless because some are indeed great at world-building of the current level you’re on, but I just wish there was more depth to them. It would have been nice for some of these characters to add more value, such as vendors I could stop by mid-run instead of returning to the hub. Regardless, sometimes it felt like these well-hidden characters are randomly placed there just because and with no substantial reason, and that is a real shame.
If you’re looking for a game that is story driven and will keep you intrigued, this isn’t the one for you. This is clearly a game that focuses more on the combat and gameplay experience, which is okay, but it negates and hinders the reason why we fans wanted to revisit the Remnant universe in the first place.
For the most part, Remnant 2 ran just fine on my PlayStation 5. Occasionally, my character would get stuck, or the game completely crashed on me, but not enough for it to ruin the entire experience. It can be frustrating and unacceptable, especially when the original had so many issues on the console. Still, it runs 100 times better than Remnant: From the Ashes, as it should, considering it’s next-gen, and console players should have no worries picking this up on their home console. I can’t speak for Xbox, but if you’re a PlayStation 5 player, then have at it.
Remnant 2 feels like a love letter to the fans of the first, with an emphasis on replayability and some new features. The different experiences the game can generate from one person to the next are impressive, as each run feels unique. Combat feels great, and the freedom in build creation is a huge improvement over its predecessor. Still, some issues with the game’s core may leave some disappointed. The story is lacking, it can run into performance issues, and the world-building leaves much to be desired. Regardless, if you’re looking for more Remnant, the sequel will please you and scratch that itch.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
- This article was updated on July 31st, 2023