When Remnant: From the Ashes released players were surprised to see how well it blended various genres, it’s not just a shooter with RPG mechanics; there are also roguelike elements and enough similarities to Souls games for it to be how people describe it. With Remnant 2 being an opportunity to further improve the formula, there is a lot of hype and anticipation, but does it improve upon it, or is it a step backward for the franchise?
Remnant 2 offers a rather unusual approach to narrative. Instead of having a linear series of events, each stage has a story that builds towards the central conflict. It’s a unique approach that works well with the instance-based concept Remnant 2 is designed around.
Take the starting area. There seem to be two storylines to explore. For our run, it was helping the Empress deal with a conflict. Regardless of whether you get this path or the other one, there is plenty to explore. Even in our run, there are at least three different events that add insight to the current narrative. How much of a difference they make varies, making exploring each option worthwhile. Not to mention changing the experience by offering unique gear to aid you on your quest.
As for the stories themselves, they’re okay. Most follow relatively simple arcs, relying on optional dialogue or collectibles to fill in the rest. If nothing else, the variety of stories and settings will appeal to most players, assuming you can survive.
One of the Lovely Uncommon Events
While people refer to the series as Soulslike, it reminds me more of roguelikes. In addition to the aforementioned narratives to explore, it takes a lot of runs and luck to see everything Remnant 2 has to offer. There are rare events, optional events, and plenty more to see.
Even after six runs in the first area, I was still finding new things to explore. Often, a new puzzle, dungeon, or optional event requires creative thinking to overcome. This is especially fun when that secret is a new optional boss. These secrets are a lot of fun, and their rewards are almost always worth obtaining.
So Many Options
Anything from a trait, alternate archetype (class), mods (magic), and even weapons are hidden behind these tasks. As a result, builds are deeply tied to time investment. Often the best gear is hidden behind rare, complex, or obtuse puzzles. However, even lackluster options can be made truly powerful with the right accompanying equipment.
All of this makes building crafting very interesting. There are no doubt ways to survive anything with melee, turn the Handler archetype companion into a killing machine, to eliminate guns in favor of a mod build. Whatever path you choose, you’ll need all your skills if you want to survive.
While I wouldn’t consider Remnant 2 a particularly hard game, there are absolutely sections that are a cut above. It isn’t uncommon to get multiple annoying enemies, die to a single devastating attack, or get a boss that requires excellent timing to overcome. It also never quite gets to the point where you feel unkillable. Even well above the World Power level, it only took a single moment to fall. And for those looking for a great challenge, multiple higher levels truly test your ability to survive.
For all the good, there are some shortcomings as well. One widespread occurrence was cheap deaths. Since enemies will generally be alerted if you’re in their general area, fights will often involve everything you see and a few you don’t. These can often be overcome; it’s when certain unique enemies join the fight.
Several enemies have annoying mechanics to deal with. These include teleporting, great range, being extremely fast, or giving adverse status effects like Root Rot (reduced stamina and your actions will randomly be interrupted to cough). Most times it isn’t even the enemies themselves, but the sheer number of problems you must overcome simultaneously. A particular enemy might bind you for a second as three enemies are attacking at once, and that’s it.
Certain sections handle this poorer than others. During the Root Nexus fight, it wasn’t uncommon for enemies to spawn around your general location. The most notable is the particular enemy that spawns directly on you and pushes players to deal with it, along with the looming threat of three or four enemies en route.
Another joint event, at least for my duo, was mods working against us. Our favorite mod, Firestorm, has an unmentioned (?) enemy tracking ability. An enemy would rush one of us, and even if we dodged the attack, it simply wasn’t possible to make it out of the cyclone without taking substantial damage/dying. We often felt like it was more detrimental to use, which is unfortunate, given it’s one of the best mods we encountered.
Along with being cheap, instance-based progression comes with its own inherent negatives. Let’s say you want the trait Barkskin, which reduces all incoming damage by up to 10 percent. This is locked behind an uncommon event where you meet a lovely woman named Meidra. Not only do you need to find her, something that occurred for me roughly 33 percent of the time, but answers determine which trait she gives.
Where this gets most annoying is helping others. Take my friend’s issue finding an item. I joined his game and eventually found a similar location that contained the item for me, but it was not their solution. It’s hard to say how many variations exist, though it will make the guides for anyone stuck extremely difficult. Ideally, these resources will exist in the future. Otherwise, many people will get stuck with no easy solution to their problem.
I also can’t say I’m a fan of the controls. Probably the worst offender is tying Dragon Heart (healing item) and alternate mode to one button. Not only will you sometimes use one instead of the other, but with no mechanic that prevents healing at max health, it can make specific inputs rather cumbersome. There is also no hip fire attack. Instead, scoping enables the shooting, and unscoped attacks use melee.
Certain ranged weapons also have a double tap for increased magnification, which can be disorienting if you’re going for a quick shot and it doesn’t register correctly. Even mods can be a bit dodgy, as it wasn’t uncommon to activate it, not have it activate, and then have things fall apart because I’m trying to be fast.
I wouldn’t fault Remnant 2 for this if gameplay was slower, but it’s the type of experience where a single mistake can result in your death a second later. You’ll often want to move extremely fast, include a number of quick swaps, or use items that the current system doesn’t handle, as well as other options.
Regular Vs. Zoom Scope
Thankfully, online co-op is one of Remnant 2‘s strong points. Joining was extremely easy, loot was shared, it performed well, and we could freely explore the current map if we so chose. A lot of perks were also beneficial if used together with friends. As a Hunter, I could mark every potential threat. My buddy ran Gunslinger, who could effortlessly shoot annoying boss mechanics, and our occasional third made full use of their companion.
Now, there are a few hiccups. The person who talks to an NPC first dictates what options are explored. As a result, someone could easily change your narrative or eliminate options by skipping through it. Each player can also enter a boss arena independently. This isn’t too bad, except bosses generally have a cutscene the first time you face them on the run. Being late by even a few seconds can result in missing out on an excellent introduction or dialogue. Map progress is also a user base. While I like that it tells me what I haven’t seen, it can make communicating with others needlessly tricky.
Remnant 2 Review Verdict
Remnant 2: While Remnant 2 is a bit rough around the edges, the core experience is quite enjoyable. Every run feels different and even if you think you've seen it all, there will be slight variations that might contain a new secret to solve. This, coupled with surprisingly robust build options gives players plenty to explore. Especially if you're the type of person that wants to discover everything on your own, or overcome incredible threats. – Grant