I’m running through a facility that is tearing itself apart, made of rows of white capsules against black machinery. I look like a Mad Max extra, but my gun is now covered in flowing silver and lobs firebombs. My player-controlled ally is wearing most of a gnarled tree, accompanied by a dog and a handgun made of cubes. As the music builds, we fight blackened, shambling corpses while a misshapen mass covered in capacitors tries to bowl us over.
Remnant 2 is a third-person action-adventure game brought to us by Gunfire Games and Gearbox Publishing. The game is built around dimension-hopping, combat through both ranged and melee attacks, and excellent customization. You play the Traveler, one of the survivors of Earth’s invasion by the Root. The invaders have lost their power on Earth but threaten other worlds. Every new setting brings fresh threats, new friends, and an impressive amount of loot.
Go New Places, Meet New Monsters, Take Their Stuff
Something Remnant: From the Ashes did poorly was getting players hooked. The variety in areas, enemies, and equipment isn’t shown until you’ve beaten your first World Boss. Remnant 2 does a better job of establishing the game’s premise and the fun it contains.
Remnant 2 is a looter-shooter done right. Every new weapon, boss fight, and trinket brings new ways to play. Most modifiers are situational, letting you tailor your build to your playstyle over only chasing bigger numbers. I find the core gameplay loop infinitely more compelling than something like Grim Dawn or the Borderlands games.
Between runs, you return to Ward 13. Here, you can upgrade your equipment, craft new weapon mods, and stock up for the next adventure. On top of this, the Ward contains a big part of a well-written supporting cast. There are even references to the first game and its hero, now shrouded in mystery. Between that and some old friends, I’ll admit I got sentimental seeing the place again.
The dialogue choices help you feel like part of the world rather than a tourist. Your character will whoop or cackle after close wins and cuss loudly when the fight turns sour.
Remnant 2’s worlds are beautiful. For all the multiverse stories out there, most of them have the other ‘verses be 99% the same. Instead, the Earth most similar to our own is only the starting point. There are sci-fi facilities and robots, fantasy-styled hidden forest villages, and plenty more. Not just the environments but the weapons and the characters are all informed by the feel of their home world. Your constantly evolving equipment is a testament to the many styles the art team put together in the same game.
It confuses me why the performance is so touch and go, though. I tried running on the lowest settings, and my AMD Advisor was still telling me to notch things down. I’m not getting killed by sudden performance drops, but my framerate isn’t great either. Also, the Max Performance upscaler looks ugly as soon as anything starts moving. C’mon Gunfire Games, we just want to enjoy the worlds you’ve crafted.
Moving on, the monster design is still amazing. I spent most of From the Ashes in shock and surprise; every new corner offered wildly different creatures gunning for me, and its sequel is no different. They differ from your usual fare in appearance, mechanics, and countermeasures. Headshots mean nothing to the zombies I mentioned, but those capacitors will explode to reveal weak spots. This keeps the gameplay fresh and exciting as every area needs small tweaks of strategy.
The level design has gotten much better. For all the pretty sights to see, most worlds in From the Ashes were clearly game stages first. Now the jungles of Yaesha feel like jungles and not hallways with extra greenery. The new maps take better advantage of vertical space too, adding more varied arenas for your fights. Your assorted enemies can always find their way to you, and seeing them work to surround you is intimidating.
This is helped by some excellent music and sound design. The sound cues from the last game return to pass along important info mid-fight, like approaching elites. The weapons sound powerful, whether in your hands or your enemies. There’s some grandiose music saved for setpieces that helps build excitement. Remnant 2’s confidence in itself is very refreshing in that sense.
Some of the environments promise cool stuff that is just hidden enough to feel rewarding. Some of it is solving puzzles, but other times it’s just a matter of checking every corner. You can even alter the course of entire questlines by digging deeper. The game both suggests and encourages it, granting different rewards to expand your arsenal.
Upgrades On More Than Equipment
Being able to join other players without invites is a big step forward; the first title is a good game but best enjoyed with others. Players can choose not just the players they join, but the worlds, letting them see more places more quickly.
The sheer variety of content on the loot side means you’re guaranteed to see someone using gear you don’t have yet. It helps get you excited to press onward, to see what else the game has in store. It also helps to have another person to work with for things like puzzle bosses that take more than dodging and shooting.
Armor set bonuses have been removed, but now we have 4 slots for rings, and our healing item has equipment slots too. This comes at the cost of each meaning slightly less, but I’d say it’s worth it for the added flexibility. There’s now Mutators you can plug into your weapons; they add small secondary effects and upgrade like the guns themselves.
I really like the new Archetype system. In the first game, the class options just determined your starting gear. Now, each Archetype offers several bonuses and special abilities that are unlocked over time. Players can run 2 Archetypes at a time, again adding depth to their builds.
My starter, the Medic, restores relic charges for helping allies and has 3 different options for healing. I’m running one that lets me shield the entire team while regenerating their health. The devs even put in a hidden Archetype, specifically to be found and shared by dataminers; this industry needs more of that creativity.
The Fun Of Infinite Combinations
I’ve heard some people describe the Remnant games as soulslike, but I don’t think that quite covers it. The difficulty is manageable (at least on Survivor) and resources aren’t lost on death. The emphasis on re-rolling worlds and steadily unlocking new gear reminds me more of a roguelite, but that isn’t a perfect fit either. Remnant 2 is more an action-adventure game that isn’t afraid to take notes from other genres.
The game really comes into its own once you get enough odd items they start meshing together. Remember that machine gun I mentioned? I received that at the start of the game. It has long reloads, an overheat gauge, and basketball-sized spread. In another game, you’d drop this for the first… anything you could find.
Then I started finding gear. An amulet that tightens spread and speeds up reloads for standing still. A ring that grants bonus damage for how hot your gun is. A gun Mutator that causes enemies to bleed then deals bonus damage against them. Remnant 2 is about finding your own path to being ridiculously powerful.
Each grants an alternate fire to whatever it’s plugged into, charged by dealing damage. As with the first game, there’s so much variety in these! They’re well balanced, and they have much more to offer than raw damage.
I started with a short-range concussive round that staggers and pierces enemies, basically an underslung shotgun. On paper that sounds plain and uninspired but Remnant 2 makes everything awesome. Each shot would knock enemies (and me) around like bowling pins, often punching through armor too. With the variety of enemies and locations, even the mods I didn’t personally enjoy had their day in the limelight.
After the first cleared World, you can re-roll any place you’ve visited, recreating it for a fresh visit. Beyond letting you solve the quests in a new way, this lets you see new areas and enemies. There’s a pool of possible features to each world, such that you’ll never see it all if you don’t use this feature. It gets more mileage out of the worlds they make, and pads out the gameplay in a way that doesn’t make it stale. You’re happy to re-roll the worlds because you wanna see what else you can find in them.
Remnant 2 is a dimension-hopping thrill ride. The characters, the locations, and the loot are all fun to discover and interact with. The game offers new features and ideas without compromising the fun of the original premise. With expansion and improvements in nearly every category, this title sets the standard for video game sequels.
Remnant 2 Review
Remnant 2 is a dimension-hopping thrill ride. The game has been refined and expanded in all the right ways, creating a great new experience. It’s a game I recommend to anyone who can run it, and hopefully, Gunfire sorts that last part soon.
Remnant 2 is available on Steam.
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Reviewed on PC.