Remnant: From the Ashes was one of my favorite and underrated games from the last decade. Combining third-person shooting with a soulslike atmosphere, it was far from being perfect, but showed a lot of potential. With Remnant 2 this succeeds as a sequel — providing more of what works and iterating on what doesn’t. While it won’t win back the people who hated the first, this is a fantastic game for people looking for a little shooting with their soulslikes.
The Root of the Problem
If you’re expecting a lengthy breakdown of the series’ lore, you’re not going to find that from me. Continuing from the first game, the Earth was invaded by an eldritch threat known as “the root.” Our hero of the last game managed to defeat the tether it had to our world and saved it with the remaining people trying to rebuild. However, something has gone wrong and the root is still invading other worlds and it’s going to be up to us, and maybe 2 other friends, to loot and shoot our way across reality to put things right.
The star of Remnant 2 is its gunplay and gameplay. This time around, instead of focusing a lot of procgen on basic environments, there has been more done to make each playthrough and piece of content stand out. As before, you are going to explore three “worlds”, each world has multiple variations that will determine which points of interest you’ll find, which optional and required dungeons you’ll fight through, and the world boss that you must defeat at the end. The new side content is greatly expanded — complete with secrets, secrets in secrets, puzzles, and more events beyond just fighting bosses to clear them.
This is important because every boss and encounter has a unique reward associated with it. This can be a new weapon, a new mod that acts as special attacks, or one of many different rings and amulets that allow you to fine-tune and create a build for playing. And the builds this time around are greatly improved with a new focus.
In the first game, while you could start with a specific class, the class itself only determined what your starting gear was. Each armor set had a specific set bonus for wearing it, and this was what you would do to make a build in Remnant: From the Ashes. The problem I had was that it was very restrictive and didn’t really do anything to change how you would play the game.
Now, the developers have taken inspiration from ARPG design, strangely enough, from Grim Dawn and Titan Quest. At the beginning, you’ll choose from one of several archetypes, with more unlocked as you play. Each archetype will come with a primary skill, which you can slot one of three variants as you level it up, passive perks, and a unique trait that fits with the redesigned system.
Traits now have an end cap of how many points you can put into each one; in return, the traits offer far more impactful benefits, and you’ll automatically level up the archetype exclusive one for free. Those rings I mentioned earlier, you can now equip five of them and one amulet, and they also have far more build-defining impacts. For me, I went with the handler who comes with a pet dog. By combining rings that provide life steal when enemies bleed, which the dog does, and health and armor for having summons, I made myself far more tankier than I ever was in the first game.
Further still, you can equip a second archetype, complete with another unique trait, a second main skill, and more passives to help you. These improvements greatly add to the gameplay of Remnant 2 and give it a far stronger foundation for more content and more challenges down the road. What I like the most is that the different archetypes don’t force you for the most part to use specific weapon types, if you want to be a summoning sniper like me, there are ways of doing that.
And this is all still tied to the same third-person shooting that made the first one really enjoyable for me. With all that said, while the developers have made a better game, Remnant 2 still has some of the pain points and frustrations from the first.
Remnant: From the Ashes had some design issues that were baked into their third-person shooting soulslike, and those aspects have made a return. Remnant 2 is not what I would call “solo friendly”, it’s still possible to play this game by yourself on the highest difficulties like I did, but I wouldn’t say that it was a “happy affair.” The game’s MO of spawning enemy waves with elites making their return, and if you get the wrong wave at the wrong time, you are going to be in for a world of hurt. There are no on-screen tells for attacks coming at you from your blind spot, and some encounters just don’t feel balanced to fight solo. The boss designs are greatly improved and feature a lot of variety to them, but they can still feel a bit tanky to fight. You will still have to make due with limited ammo supplies for your weapons, and the bosses continually summoning minions to get in your way. Some enemy attack combos feel very awkward to dodge; the game has a basic weight system that affects the speed of your dodge roll, and going “heavy” makes it very hard to avoid certain attacks.
Despite so many varieties of areas and points of interest, the level design is still one of the weakest parts of the game. There is more platforming to do this time, but the levels lack a sense of personality to them. Every hallway and big room is just an excuse to throw an enemy wave at the player, and the game is still a far cry from the personality of environments seen in the Dark Souls series. The highlight of the game remains fighting bosses, and the boss designs have been greatly expanded on with many devious tricks to deal with. But that does mean that the difficulty of your game is going to greatly depend on what bosses you get along with modifiers.
I would have liked to have seen more random events or special things that can happen in the regular areas. The jungle world has a mini-event that lets you earn a special resource, but the other two worlds don’t have that.
A Better Second Verse
Remnant 2 is one of those sequels that in a way supersedes the first game. If you had any liking of the concept of From the Ashes, Remnant 2 improves on all the parts that worked. While it doesn’t quite fix the inherent issues with the gameplay and camera, it does present everything far better. I hope that the DLC they have planned will add more to the game and hopefully a third game will iron out the remaining issues.
This was played with a retail key.
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