In my experience, sequels can only go two ways; either they lose what made the original special and turn out to be a forgotten mess, or they take everything they’ve learned from the first and come back swinging with an even better experience to realize their vision fully. Remnant 2 is probably Gunfire Games’ best title to date, and this is coming from someone that wasn’t fully impressed with the first entry but understood its potential. In my Remnant 2 review, I’ll talk about why I think this is one of the best games of the year and a fantastic co-op title.
Gameplay and Archetypes
I’m not going to waste any time and get right to the most important part of Remnant 2, which is its gameplay. I think Gunfire Games have managed to combine multiple genres into something that is actually polished, feels great to play, and is full of confidence in its mechanics. It’s a combination of shooting and melee that packs a punch and continues to surprise you with a lot of interesting mechanics.
Remnant 2 has four base Archetypes (five if you pre-ordered it), that can serve different roles in a party. Each comes with its own skills, perks, and traits that you gradually unlock as you level up. Unlike Souls titles where dying means losing resources, Remnant 2 uses a more experience-based upgrading system that compensates for its uncompromising difficulty. Each character is fun to play and comes with unique abilities that assist you and your co-op partners in combat which encourages diverse role selections during a playthrough.
For my initial playthrough, I played as a Medic, which is an all-rounder archetype. It doesn’t feel like just another “support” character who has to constantly heal everyone. They can dish out a lot of damage thanks to their LMG-type weapon and can heal themselves and others with their base skill. As I played more, I unlocked more passive perks that fed into my archetype and I constantly felt like I was improving.
Yes, this is a “looter-shooter”, and no, Remnant 2 still hasn’t fully sold me on this style of progression. I don’t like navigating menus and switching out relics fragments for measly bonuses, but it didn’t really matter to me as much because at its core, Remnant 2 rewards skill-based gameplay. You still need to dodge attacks similar to Souls titles, know when to run out of a battle, wait for openings, and not get greedy with attacks.
The biggest addition is the Dual Archetype system which allows you to use a secondary archetype. This adds even more variety to your play style, no matter what your primary archetype is. You could be a Medic, but use the additional abilities of a Hunter. This means that you can heal AND scout, which is really useful for the team. It’s a fantastic addition that adds a lot to replayability and builds diversity.
Your guns can be equipped with mods and mutators that are affected by your Relic and Amulet. This can lead to some really cool synergies and increases the potential for build diversity.
For example, since I was playing as the Medic, I equipped the “Healing Shot” mod for my service pistol. This allowed me to heal my co-op partner instead of wasting my Skill which has a cooldown. This also meant they didn’t have to waste their Relic, which has limited uses.
Enemy Variety and Biomes
This is the highlight for me, and Remnant 2 has a ridiculous amount of enemy variety. There are multiple biomes, all with their unique enemies that feel true to their location. It never feels like something is out of place. It’s seriously impressive how much work is put into each new enemy you’ll face, from its design to its mechanics. What’s even more impressive is how the enemies differ when you’re on the surface, or underground.
Take N’Erud, a giant desolate alien landscape that feels like something HR Giger would have designed. In this area alone, I fought against mechanical drones that shot lasers at me, robots that sometimes wielded energy swords, and thin humanoid lifeforms that lunged at me every chance they got.
However, as soon as I went into one of the underground dungeons, everything changed. Now it felt like I was aboard the Ishimura from Dead Space with small parasites crawling around the floor that would attach themselves to me until I rolled over or asked my co-op buddy to shoot them off. Giant enemies floated around spitting toxic waste at me, and other neat-looking monsters that caught me off guard with their movement and design.
This is just one biome, and things change drastically when you drop into another.
The bosses in Remnant 2 are an absolute blast to fight. A lot of the ones you fight at the end of a biome are very large-scale battles that take more than just shooting to get down. They’re visually striking, and their attacks make use of the environment in a lot of fun ways. Even the smaller bosses at the end of dungeons can often manipulate the environment so you have to be careful where you’re standing.
Even though you’ll die a few times trying to figure out the particular boss, there’s always a checkpoint next to their fog wall. This is an incredibly helpful addition and encourages you to keep trying rather than give up because you don’t have to cover ground and fight a bunch of enemies to get to them.
I really enjoyed how some of the boss fights are basically large-scale puzzles. It was fun to figure them out, especially in co-op. I haven’t seen this much creativity in any other souls-like in terms of bosses.
One critique I do have is that like the first Remnant, some bosses summon a lot of mob. I think a generally stronger boss would’ve been a better decision because mobs just cheapen the fight in my opinion. Some of these work because they deliver ammo, but it can still feel annoying.
Even though levels are procedurally generated in Remnant 2, there’s no hint of that while you’re playing the game. There are no weird invisible walls, unreachable platforms, and visual bugs in sight. The game also has a 3D map that highlights unexplored areas.
No dungeon feels overly long, and even though you might get lost a few times, you can always trace your steps back, and open the map to figure things out. There are checkpoints scattered throughout the area, which is helpful, and pushes you to explore without worrying too much. There are environmental puzzles that often lead to secrets and can be pretty useful. The game rewards you if you take your time with things, and I managed to get some great loot thanks to it.
The Co-Op Experience
I played the game on the base difficulty and with one co-op partner. We had an absolute blast throughout the game, and it’s clear the game does favor that type of style. Both players get the same loot no matter who picks it so you’re not going to be fighting over the new weapon or the shiny ring you got. It takes away that annoying part and keeps things fair and equal.
Having someone to revive you is a huge plus in almost every situation. While the Handler class is designed around solo play, I still think co-op is the way to go here. Yes, you are more than capable of going at this alone, but at times when there are enemies coming at you from every direction, it can feel quite overwhelming, especially going at it with something like a Gunslinger.
I didn’t have any latency problems, but I believe there were some hitbox issues that occurred for my friend. Having someone who is good at puzzles is always a plus. I’m usually lost with these, and I provided cover while they figured it out.
Strong art direction has always been one of the key aspects of Gunfire Game titles, and it’s no different here. Remnant 2 is a looker, and it’s not just the technical fidelity I’m talking about. Each biome is full of small details that bring the place to life.
N’Erud’s vastness coupled with a blight storm fills you with cosmic dread and loneliness. Taking an elevator underground reveals a mechanical world that feels hostile and uninviting.
Yaesha’s thick forests have been overrun with the Root but there’s still a lot of beauty to take in. There are non-hostile creatures roaming around in almost all biomes. These give a nice touch reaffirming there is still life in these largely hostile environments.
The soundtrack is quite catchy, and the main menu theme is pretty memorable. I liked some of the boss tracks, but given how this is a co-op experience at heart, I didn’t really pay attention to it all that much. The guns sound great, and the overall voice acting is decent enough. I was particularly impressed by the non-human NPCs you’ll encounter in the different biomes.
Performance on PC
The performance on my current build was less than perfect. On my RTX 3060 paired with a Ryzen 5 3600X, I played at 1080p with the “High” preset and DLSS set to Balanced. I would hover in the higher 50s in some biomes, and jump to 90+ in others. A few areas were really bad, and the FPS would drop to the 30s. It’s inconsistent in the current state, but nothing too bad to take me out of the experience.
The game simply wasn’t smooth enough for me at 1440p. While this is a mid-budget build, I was hoping that turning down things to Low would improve that but alas, I had to stick with 1080p to get a smooth experience. Surprisingly, even at Low, you won’t see a major difference visually. This could either mean that the actual settings are bugged, or there simply isn’t that big of a visual difference in the presets.
The developers have confirmed that the launch version will address the upscaling bugs, and hopefully improve performance as well.
Remnant 2 is an unforgiving experience that improves on the original in almost every single way. It reminds me of the jump from Assassin’s Creed 1 to 2 in quality and refinement, and despite my aversion to recent looter shooters, I had a blast playing through the entire thing in co-op. It has strong art direction, fantastic combat that requires strategy, endless replayability thanks to its dual archetypes and procedurally generated campaigns with some of the best bosses I’ve seen in a while.
If you’re looking for a co-op game that respects your time and doesn’t force you to grind for precious materials, Remnant 2 should be high on your list.
What did you think of our Remnant 2 Review? Share what you think about it in the comments below.
This review is based on the PC version of Remnant 2. The key was provided bthere Gearbox Publishing.