Back in 2019, Gunfire Games released Remnant From the Ashes, which was considered a sleeper hit at the time. Not many knew of the game, but those who enjoy the Soulslike genre were keenly aware of the game and loved every bit of it. I and countless others coined the game “Soulslike with Guns” because that’s pretty much what it was. Now, four years later, Gunfire Games is back at it again with the follow-up, Remnant 2. Is it as good as the prequel? No, it’s leaps and bounds better. Read on to find out why I am simply in love with this game.
Game Name: Remnant 2 Platform(s): PC (reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X|S Publisher(s): Gearbox Publishing Developer(s): Gunfire Games Release Date: July 25, 2023
Before we go into this review, I want to thank Gunfire Games for providing me with a week of early access to Remnant 2. In the gaming industry, it’s rare to get so much hands-on with a game such as this, and having this much time has allowed me to not only play the game from start to finish but unlock a number of secrets and dive deeper into the lore. So, to you, Gunfire Games, I tip my hat.
The Root Strikes Back
First, a bit of story. In the prequel, Remnant From the Ashes, players were finally able to shut the door in the face of the Root, an invading Alien who only had one thing on their mind, the destruction of the human race and any other race in the universe. Since then, the worlds (well, most of them) have been at peace, and those on Earth have been rebuilding what was lost in the costly battle with the Root. But somehow, the Root is back, and it’s up to players to pick up the fight and, finally, end the Root.
To be honest, the story in Remnant 2 does a fantastic job of progressing the lore of the series, which was established by Remnant From the Ashes, and prequel to that game, Chronos before the Ashes, a game that started out as a VR-only title but was remade for PC a few years ago. For those lore geeks like myself, this is heaven. However, things get weird right around the middle of the game. I’m not going to tell you what, as I don’t like spoiling games, especially story-driven ones.
The same tried, true gunplay (and melee) from the prequel is repeatedly refined. When I started playing the game, I didn’t miss a step, and everything felt like meeting a friend I hadn’t seen in years. What did change is how the armors are handled, as in you no longer can upgrade them. That’s out the window, as are armor set bonuses. But in its place are mods and mutators, which do various things, such as giving your weapons these wild abilities like freezing enemies, setting them on fire, and more. There are also what’s called Relic Fragments, best described as chips that provide bonuses that can be slotted into your Dragon Heart, now called a relic. With the mods, mutators, and relic fragments, you’ll be able to tweak your builds even further, which of course, is the plan.
Going into Remnant 2, I expected the game to be as large as Remnant From the Ashes, but I was woefully wrong. Not only does this game look better than the prequel in every way, but it’s also more significant. While there are only a few worlds, they have a more substantial number of areas players will fight through. While the story bits of the game will have players traversing nearly most areas, there are also many secondary areas that will reward players willing to take the time to explore them due to the hidden items such as weapons, relics, or other helpful things within them. Beyond that, there are hidden areas that are a bit harder to find but are worth the effort it takes to find them.
I also want to state that the art direction in the game is simply outstanding. Everything looks great, from the weapons, gear, and visuals to the worlds; each is painstakingly unique. There wasn’t a level that disappointed me, but some levels just took things to a different level. I won’t spoil it for everyone, but I want to state that there’s a level that feels like it was pulled from Bloodborne, while another feels like a mashup of Aliens meets Dune.
The game also features various puzzles, and I’ve spent more than my fair share of time trying to solve them. At several points, I threw my hands up and called upon my wife for some help. Thanks to the tandem of our two minds, we figured out nearly every puzzle I stumbled across.
The boss fights are challenging, yet I felt many of them were fair. If I died, it’s because I was either not paying attention, or I wasn’t geared or leveled up for the fight. One fight in particular really impressed me, which had me fighting two parts of a boss. One part was in my face and chasing me down, while the other fired a massive beam that could easily kill me, all while I had to jump between platforms. It’s things like this that kept me on my toes.
Lastly, like Remnant From the Ashes, Remnant 2 features dynamically generated worlds that draw from a randomized pool of events, dungeons, bosses, and other content available for each world. I’ve already beaten the game, started a new run with a different character, and encountered new events that I didn’t experience the first time. All of which is fantastic for the longevity of the game.
Archetypes steal the show
One of the biggest things you’ll notice upon starting Remnant 2 is how Gunfire Games has reworked the Archetype system. In Remnant From the Ashes, there wasn’t much you could do to make your characters stand out, and once you settled on which class you were going with, that’s it. But now, things have been completely reworked, and players have multiple ways on how they want to tailor their gaming experience. Now, you get to select a starting Archetype, such as the Handler, Challenger, Hunter, Medic, and Gunslinger, and gain access to the skills, perks, and traits that are specific to that Archetype and are leveled as you gain experience.
Then, once you reach a certain point and have the required item, or in this case, an emblem, you’ll be able to slot a secondary Archetype and gain access to its abilities and perks as you level that up. What makes things interesting is after you max out your primary Archetype, you can then swap the Archetypes, and make your secondary your primary, without losing any of the abilities and perks you previously had slotted as your first. Then you rinse and repeat until you max out your now-slotted primary Archetype. Then, that’s when the fun begins. While having two maxed Archetypes, you have full access to the skills, perks, and traits; you can either decide to stay with them or change things up and level up another Archetype.
Take my character, for instance. I started with the Medic, as I wanted more healing capability while I started out. Once I was nearly maxing it out, I grabbed the Challenger Archetype, which gave me access to some tanky qualities and the ability to revive after a fatal blow. Once my Medic Archetype was maxed out, I swapped them, giving me access to the Challenger-specific trait that allowed me to wear heavier gear. Long story short, I now have a character that is a walking killing machine that can survive fatal blows, thanks to the Challenger Archetype, but with access to better healing abilities and can mass heal and mass revive downed players, thanks to the maxed-out Medic Archetype. This reworked Archetype system is aimed at giving players more versatility, and after understanding out it works, I’m spoiled.
Now, about the Gunslinger, as I mentioned, unless you purchased the Ultimate Edition of the game, you won’t have access to it until much later in the game. And I feel that’s unfair for those looking forward to playing this class. Gunfire Games had been showcasing the Gunslinger for some time and didn’t explain that this character is locked behind a specific edition of the game or other means that I won’t spoil here. Regardless, I’m not a fan of how this is being handled.
Same great co-op gameplay, definitely more filling
Similar to Remnant From the Ashes, Remnant 2 features what I consider to be one of the best implementations for cooperative online play I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in a Soulslike game. There are no unnecessary steps to allow someone to enter your session or get you involved in someone else’s session. All you have to do is select public, allowing anyone to jump into your game, or friends-only, for an intimate session with you and your pals. This works for both the story-driven game mode and the Aventure mode.
Are you dying in the game? No problem, you have a certain amount of time before you or whoever is playing with you is down for the count. Of course, death isn’t the end, as you can revive them back at a checkpoint, or you all get revived if the last man up goes down. No worry about you or anyone else being sent back to their world.
Sadly, Remnant 2 does not support cross-platform play or cross-progression, and there’s no confirmation on if it will as of now.
Damned good PC performance
As I played Remnant 2 on my PC, this is the part where I get to tell you if I felt that game ran well or not, and I’m happy to report that, for the most part, the game runs very well. I tested the game on two different PCs, one with a Ryzen 3 3600 + RTX 3060 and a similarly equipped gaming laptop. On both machines, the game ran like butter. I did encounter some micro stutter here and there, such as when I finished fighting a boss, but it was hardly noticeable and didn’t cause me any reason to be concerned.
Outside of that, every so often, I’d get an error that the network dropped out, but it didn’t affect gameplay. I’ll chalk it up to me running on a review build and keep my fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen in the full build.
I’m beyond happy that the game has been one of the better AAA PC gaming experiences I’ve had this year. Especially given the state of PC gaming and the relatively poor state of ports the PC has received over the last few months. For those wondering, there’s no Denuvo support in the game, so you can stop worrying about that.
The game is also certified for the Steam Deck, which is great to know, as the game ran terribly on the mighty handheld during my review process.
Things I didn’t like
While everything sounds great so far, I have an issue with a few things. The controls are clunkier than I’d like, and I’m not a fan of holding down the L3 button/left analog stick to run, as it doesn’t work as intended when you’re being slapped around. There’s no ability to remap buttons or change controls, which is a bummer, though very minor. Some bosses can instantly jump out of your sight, and since the game doesn’t feature a lock-on ability, it’s a hassle to locate them. But more importantly, and frustratingly, there are no Accessibility Options. Video Games have come so far in the past year, so why this was ignored bothers me.
I’ve said much about Remnant 2, and hopefully, you read it all. As a fan of Remnant 2, I can confidently say that this game has taken everything about the prequel and turned it up to 11. Outside of some minor faults, this game has been one of my favorite gaming experiences of 2023, and despite already having close to 65 hours, I can see myself playing for another 65 more hours. I do wish there was some focus on accessibility options, but hopefully, that will be added at a later date.
If you read one thing in this review, it’s this. If you liked Remnant From the Ashes, you’re going to LOVE this. If you enjoy action RPGs, especially Soulslike games, you’ll also enjoy this. Gunfire Games has crafted yet another masterpiece that needs to be played. You can tell it put its heart and soul into this gem, and I hope this time around, Remnant 2 gets more recognition than its predecessor did.
Remnant 2 releases for the PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on July 25, 2023, or July 21, 2023, if you are going with the Ulitmate Edition of the game.
Review Disclosure Statement: Remnant 2 was provided to us for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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Gunfire Games has taken everything it learned with Remnant From the Ashes and expanded on it in such a massive way that I don’t think it can top it. But I’m more than happy to see them try. There’s something for Remnant junkies, action RPG and Soulslike fans to enjoy, but more importantly, the game screams fun.
Gameplay is still fun as well
The levels are both massive and beautiful
Archetypes, Mods, Mutators, and more make this a mix/max player dream game.
The lore just keeps getting deeper
Lots of replayability
No Accessibility Options
No way to remap buttons and change the control scheme
The story doesn’t give me that closure I was looking forward to