Remnant: From the Ashes was the sleeper hit of 2019. From developer Gunfire Games, this Souls-like ARPG packed a mean punch and came out of the gate swinging. While not perfect, it offered deep, mysterious mythos, unique and intriguing locations and solid RPG mechanics that kept you coming back for more. Fast forward to 2023, and Gunfire Games is at it again, offering up a sequel in the form of Remnant 2.
Remnant 2 holds fast to the franchise’s roots, offering the same Souls-like ARPG experience fans of the franchise have come to know and love while enrichening the already intriguing lore and setting. While this will be a spoiler-free review of Remnant 2, there will be references to key moments from Remnants: From the Ashes to help give context to Remnant 2.
Picking up years after the wanderer managed to purge the Root from Earth, Remnant 2 begins with a new protagonist tasked with locating and destroying the source of the Root. While the Root is no longer directly destroying our world, it is still loose, spanning across worlds leaving death in its wake. Along the way, the player is introduced to the new inhabitants of Ward 13, some of which offer a helping hand along the way.
The story and narrative delivery in Remnant 2 raises the bar over its predecessor. While Ashes had some solid narrative beats along the way, Remnant 2 works hard to help build investment not only in the hero but in a few supporting characters. While it doesn’t have the sprawling narrative of a Final Fantasy title or Elders Scrolls, Remnant 2 still manages to deliver a solid offering that is paced well.
Narrative delivery likewise is well presented, leveraging in-game graphics to create the story cutscenes. This results in a much more immersive, less jarring experience. An experience that keeps you wanting to explore just a little further to unravel the next mystery. The voice work is well delivered across the board, with each character feeling alive and engaged in whatever is happening at the moment.
On the note of mystery, this is one of the areas that both Remnant: From the Ashes and Remnant 2 do exceptionally well. Throughout the entire playthrough, there is a tension of dread and discovery, with every new world offering new lore pieces to discover. Lore bits can be found littered throughout the world in the form of journals and NPCs, the latter of which you can ask an array of questions. All of this works together to paint a deep, vibrant world for the player to explore.
Speaking of worlds to explore, this is an area where Remnant 2 far exceeds its predecessor. While the worlds of From the Ashes served their purpose, they lacked a feeling of a living, active space. Its sequel, by contrast, has created some unique and vibrant worlds that feel alive as you explore them. Environmental sounds likewise help boost the sense of living spaces, and the sheer amount of detail in each space all come together to offer an excellent player experience.
“Speaking of worlds to explore, this is an area where Remnant 2 far exceeds its predecessor.”
Moreover, each world feels truly distinct and fully realized and tells its own story of what has become of it. The world itself contributes to the overarching narrative and invites players to explore and unravel the mysteries contained within. Each area within a world also feels distinct and creative.
On the note of exploration, Remnant 2 also offers an adventure mode, which was introduced as a patch in Remnant: From the Ashes. This mode allows players a more free-form, exploration-focused experience through the worlds of Remnant. It’s a nice alternative for levelling up your characters and great for those quick co-op expeditions.
Combat and movement in Remnant 2 feel very much like that of From the Ashes, albeit much more polished. In standard Remnant form, the player will carry a primary, secondary and melee weapon, all of which can be modified and customized to fit your preferred playstyle. Additionally, Gunfire has introduced a new modding mechanic called Weapon Mutators. These essentially replace armour set bonuses from Remnant: From the Ashes and allow players to slot these additional bonuses into all three of their weapons. These mutators can also be upgraded, allowing you to really bolster your character.
There will be plenty of need to bolster your character as that Soul’s level of combat difficulty is back from Remnant 2. Like its predecessor, Remnant 2 relies on understanding your enemy, their movements, their combat telegraphs and their weaknesses. All these are crucial to successfully navigating the world. Dodging incoming fire while returning fire of your own is the rhythm that makes combat successful here.
Thankfully the controls on the PC feel responsive and tight. Firing weapons and mashing your enemies with melee weapons always feel satisfying and rewarding. This is especially important for tougher fights, namely, boss encounters which also make a return from the first title.
Gunfire seems to have stepped it up a notch here as well. During my playthrough, every boss encounter and arena felt unique and creative. In fact, more than once, I needed to simply watch the boss attack so as to learn the rhythm of their attacks and pathing. For the most part, it felt balanced though there were a couple of boss encounters that felt much more difficult than most fights making the experience feel a little bit unbalanced at times. For the most part, however, combat felt great.
While weapons and mods were briefly mentioned, it’s important to understand that weapons, along with armour, rings and amulets, play a huge part in your character progression throughout Remnant 2. Each piece has a dramatic effect on how you engage in combat. Armour, for example, has a weight system associated with it that determines how your character will dodge an incoming attack. Rings and amulets offer bonuses and buffs to your character allowing you to further customize how your character engages with the world around them. Each is easy to understand and feels impactful when invested in.
Archetypes also make a return for this second outing, and once again, Gunfire Games is kicking it a notch. While Remnant: From the Ashes offered three classes in the form of the Hunter, Ex-Cultist and Scapper, Remnant 2 has bolstered that number to four with the Gunslinger, Handler, Challenger and Medic. These represent the classic DPS, Utility, Tank and Healers Archetypes, each offering a very distinct and unique way to play through the story.
“While Remnant: From the Ashes offered three classes in the form of the Hunter, Ex-Cultist and Scapper, Remnant 2 has bolstered that number to four with the Gunslinger, Handler, Challenger and Medic.”
My first playthrough focused primarily on the handler, a pet-focused utility class. The aforementioned pet comes in the form of your trusty K9 companion who can take on the role of tanking, DPS or support, all while buffing your party and reviving fallen comrades during combat. The AI pet is well-programmed and is quick to respond to commands given during combat.
Another layer of customization that Remnant 2 brings to the table comes in the form of Dual Archetype play. Upon reaching power level 10 on your primary archetype, you’ll have the option to slot a second archetype and benefit from their abilities and skills. Each class is independently levelled, meaning you’ll essentially have to level two classes to level 10. It also means that you’ll benefit from the perks of both as well. The system works exceptionally well managing to walk the line between complex without being complicated.
In fact, my only critique of the system is the lack of explanation given as to how you gain a second class. While there is a quick tool tip that explains that you can slot a second class, it never explicitly explains how to do it. In fact, it was only after stumbling around Ward 13 for 20 minutes talking to NPCs that I finally realized I had to purchase seemingly random material from specific NPCs.
After purchase, I then turn those materials into the mod specialist and have her craft it into an engram that could then be slotted. Additionally, Remnant 2 doesn’t do a great job of clearly telling you what material gives you which engram. At 1500 scrap an item, it can be a costly mistake to choose the wrong one.
Other than this small inconvenience, the system itself is a great addition to the game and offers a whole new level of play and creative character design. Another returning mechanic that also adds to the level of customization comes in the form of trait cards. These stat boosts are unlocked through exploration, completing boss encounters and other feats. Points can be added to each card allowing for additional stat modifications to your character. Much like Remnant: From the Ashes, the trait system is a welcome addition and once again adds depth to character development.
Remnant 2 is an excellent successor to Remnant: From the Ashes. It manages to take everything that made From the Ashes a sleeper hit and expand and polish those features. While it is hampered a bit by a lacking tutorial on Dual Archetypes and some balancing issues, Remnant 2, nonetheless, presents an engaging story, solid combat and great progression systems wrapped in a very well-built world. Priced at $49.99 USD, Remnant 2 is an excellent title worthy of your attention and time.