I’d like to start this review by saying that Remnant: From the Ashes is one of my favorite souls-likes. It’s definitely flawed, but it captivated me ever since I first saw its trailer, and playing it was exactly what I wanted and expected.
It’s a game that I never thought would get a sequel, which is why Remnant 2 had me both excited and cautious. You see, Remnant: From the Ashes was an overall good experience, but the game had both positive and infuriating traits in equal amount.
The game was riddled with massive maps that were annoying to navigate, gimmicky boss fights, repetitive level design, and atrocious difficulty spikes, to name a few of my issues.
Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Microsoft Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: July 25th, 2023
Despite the flaws, I still enjoyed my time with it, and it got a few replays out of me. However, you are not here because of the first game; you are here because of Remnant 2. So let’s answer the question: Does Remnant 2 improve upon its predecessor?
Remnant 2‘s introduction seems to be going for a more cinematic approach to its storytelling; the environments already wouldn’t look out of place in a game like The Last of Us, but the story is not this game’s strong suit.
This is definitely not some BioWare title where every choice is extremely important and will affect the plot, so thankfully most of the storytelling is kept in the intro. To be honest, the game’s introduction is meant to serve as a tutorial, but in reality, it just gets in the way of connecting to your friend’s session.
I got to play Remnant 2 with fellow Niche Gamer reviewer Matt K., and the intro took a good 40 minutes for us to get through, which honestly we could have done without. Being locked from multiplayer for almost an hour is the exact opposite of what someone would want when buying this game.
It’s mean to say this, but much like in the first game, the story feels like filler. What players really want is to get absolutely destroyed by the game’s difficulty together, which Remnant 2 actually delivers really well.
Despite the long intro, connecting to multiplayer was a breeze, and I assume that the quick join feature will also be painless to use once the game actually comes out. I never had any trouble connecting to random people in the previous game, and I assume it’ll be the same here.
Sadly, there are some slight issues. Matt suffered a crash in the middle of our first session, and I had a few frame drops on some of the game’s busier dungeons. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Thankfully, Remnant 2 is as brutal as the first one; bosses hit like trucks and barely give you time to breathe. Some of their fights can even start completely out of nowhere, like the one I triggered by picking up an item randomly.
Speaking of items, Remnant 2 seems to share share the items between players; you can go ahead and pick everything up since your co-op partner will also receive it. The only thing that doesn’t seem to be shared is ammo, so make sure to leave some for the other players.
There is a real incentive to engage with the multiplayer in Remnant 2, since it serves maps to the player in a tiered pool, meaning that your friend’s world can be built from maps you have never seen before, which gives you an opportunity to participate in boss fights and collect items you may be missing in your world.
It’s also a viable method of progression to go and help another player if you get stuck on a particular boss fight, since that’ll net you some rewards that will help you progress in your own world. This works roughly the same as it did in Remnant: From the Ashes, and I’m glad it was kept in, it’s legitimately a fun way to introduce multiplayer.
I do have an issue with the game’s loot distribution, though. In my time with Remnant 2, almost every single reward I found was a ring, with the only guns being from quest rewards. I don’t know if I didn’t look hard enough, but I still haven’t found another armor set either.
It also doesn’t help that one of the guns I got was exchanged for one of the best rings I had. It’s really funny that I wanted more weapons, and the first one I find requires me to lose one of my best rings, like a monkey paw wish.
The archetype system is pretty interesting, and I enjoyed my time as the handler. Any game that gives me a class with pets gets my praise, and the handler’s dog is pretty good. His usefulness does fluctuate a bit, considering how many flying enemies there are in the game, but he’s still really fun to play with.
The possibility of having two archetypes lets you negate some of your weaknesses as well, since you can always supplement what’s missing in your playstyle with some useful traits. A new addition to the game are the archetype skills, which make your starting class a very meaningful choice.
Each archetype gets to choose between three similar skills, and some of them can be pretty layered, like the handler’s pet controls. Depending on a single tap, double tap, or hold, the handler’s pet will perform different actions, which helps to make the skill a little more interesting.
Remnant 2 unfortunately still suffers from some of the problems its predecessor had. The game is still riddled with gimmicky boss fights and mechanics that just waste your time. It’s an excellent game for 80% of the time, but some of the boss encounters are atrocious.
The worst offender I’ve encountered so far is a fight against massive cubes in the labyrinth; any wrong step can kill you instantly, and the fight just requires you to keep moving around the map to shoot all of the cube’s weak spots.
Blowing up one of the cube’s weak spots leaves them with a crater, which means you can hide in their indents if they intend to crush you, but this mechanic that was meant to give the player some safety is unreliable at best, since the game is really finicky about the safe spot.
It’s a real shame too, because the labyrinth feels like one of the game’s most souls-y areas, full of shortcuts and interesting progression, it’s a shame that it ends in such an awful boss fight against giant cubes.
Remnant 2 somewhat fixes the issues that the previous game’s maps had. Some of them are massive stretches of land that connect the dungeons, and they are definitely easier to explore. The previous game suffered a lot from repetitive backtracking and dungeons that were annoying to find, and thankfully these issues have been mostly fixed.
Overall, Remnant 2 is more of the same, which is not bad if you just want more Remnant. It follows the first game’s formula pretty closely, and despite not having any groundbreaking changes, it manages to be a fun experience with some rough spots here and there.
It’s definitely a game that will get a few replays from me, especially because I want to see all of the bosses and test out the archetypes, but it comes with the caveat of being nearly as flawed as its predecessor.
You can watch me and Matt play some of Remnant 2 on the video below:
Remnant 2 was reviewed on Microsoft Windows using a game code provided by Gearbox Publishing. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
Remnant 2 is set to release on July 25th, 2023, for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Microsoft Windows (through Steam). Players who purchase the game’s Ultimate Edition will be able to access it three days earlier, on July 21st, 2023.