Remnant 2 N'Erud Singularity
Screenshot by Destructoid

Review: Remnant 2

A step forward in almost every way

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The souls-like genre has become extremely prevalent in recent years. Despite the increased popularity, few games have been able to pull off the formula and stand toe-to-toe with Demon Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne. Remnant: From the Ashes had a rather modest launch back in 2019, but in the years following acquired somewhat of a cult following. I loved the original, but definitely felt it had room for improvement. Thankfully, Remnant 2 improves on what made Remnant so much fun, while also fixing some of the more glaring flaws.

Oh yeah, and also like the original, Remnant 2 is hard.

Remnant 2 meets The Matrix
Screenshot by Destructoid

Remnant 2 (PC [reviewed], PS5, Xbox Series X|S)
Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Release: July 25, 2023
MSRP: $49.99

After creating a character and going through a brief tutorial, Remnant 2 introduces you to a hub called Ward 13. You’ll be spending a lot of time here crafting mods, upgrading weapons, and stocking up on consumables. Here you will also encounter the first Red Crystal. These act as your checkpoints to heal, replenish ammo, and teleport between worlds. If you’ve played Dark Souls, this is essentially your bonfire. After exploring Ward 13 it’s time to visit your first world.

Remnant 2 Labyrinth
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Welcome to The Labyrinth

Almost everything in Remnant 2 is randomized. I made the mistake of choosing Hunter as the archetype for my first character. Don’t get me wrong, Hunter isn’t bad, but as a first-choice solo option, there are definitely better picks.

I’ll admit, I struggled a bit. I created a new character with the much more solo-friendly Challenger archetype and chose to skip the tutorial since I had already done it. To my surprise, the first and only world I could access from the Red Crystal was different than where I went with my Hunter.  Each world is host to several intricate zones laden with checkpoints and mini-bosses, a familiarity to this genre. At the end of each world is also a final boss that you must defeat in order to complete the world, get some coveted loot, and move on to the next.

After completing your first world you will unlock the labyrinth, an intricate maze of enemies and loot that may hold some answers as to what is going on in the world of Remnant 2. Ironically, despite the name, the Labyrinth is a non-randomized area that connects all of the worlds. As you defeat the final boss of each world you will go back to the Labyrinth and progress the main story and access other worlds.

Remnant 2 Palace Boss
Screenshot by Destructoid

Many ways to customize your build

Like the original, Remnant 2 doesn’t want you to just complete a world one time and be done with it. You’ll want to run them again to farm better loot, while also continuing to level your character. Leveling up unlocks skills and perks specific to your archetype. You’ll also receive trait points which can be used to further progress your character.

At the start, you only have a handful of traits to put your points into such as Vigor to increase your health, Endurance to increase your stamina, and Expertise to reduce your skill cooldown. But as you progress you will also unlock new traits that allow you to further specialize your build. A brand new character will look similar to those of the same archetype; with the same skill, starting weapons, and traits. However, once you’re hours in, two characters of the same build will look drastically different.

Alongside the traits, you also have equipment slots to help create the build you want. This includes four different armor types, a primary, secondary, and melee weapon, an amulet, and four rings. Obviously weapons are important, but your amulet and rings can really change up your playstyle based on what you find. You can also find and customize new relics which act as your healing potion with some added effects.

Of course, what you acquire to build around will be random. This can be both a pro and a con in my opinion. It’s an added difficulty to adapt to what the game gives you. But on the downside, it can really cause some tedium when you’re trying to build your character a certain way but simply aren’t getting the drops that resonate accordingly.

Remnant 2 NPC Children
Screenshot by Destructoid

Still better with a friend

If you played Remnant: From the Ashes you’ll probably agree that as fun as the game is solo, it’s infinitely better co-op. Remnant 2 makes the solo experience a lot more interesting—and possible, for that matter—but the multiplayer is still where the game shines. Any time you are at a Red Crystal you can join a multiplayer session. There’s even a quick match option to get you right into the action.

Even though the gunplay in Remnant 2 is fair for the most part, there are definitely encounters and even areas that feel tuned for a co-op setting. The game certainly doesn’t require you to play with others, but it definitely makes it easier and usually even more fun! I can’t tell you how many times I just got surrounded due to a horde of enemies beelining me before I could thin their numbers a bit.

Some archetypes even specialize in co-op gameplay. For example, the Hunter can be a powerhouse in terms of damage if given the ability to sit at a range and lineup shots. As you can imagine, this is much easier to do when playing with others. But if you’re all alone like I was with my first character, it’s almost a guarantee you’re going to find yourself overwhelmed and unable to take advantage of your strengths.

Remnant 2 Palace Jester
Screenshot by Destructoid

Incredible world(s) design and score

As much as I enjoyed the cinematography and scope of the world design in Remnant: From the Ashes, the team really knocked it out of the park with Remnant 2. There are multiple worlds you’ll find yourself progressing through, each with a unique setting and story that really immersed me.

My personal favorite is probably N’Erud. A technologically advanced species called the Drzyr mastered time and space and constructed N’Erud as part home and part spacefaring craft. However, before finding other sentient life they encountered the center of the universe. Here they found a supermassive black hole. Determined that the secrets to the universe lie on the other side, the Drzyr entered the black hole only to find their civilization destroyed immediately. Only Tal’Ratha the Astropath survived the event and helps guide you through the now derelict N’Erud as you try to salvage what’s left.

Throughout Remnant 2 you will also encounter a few familiar worlds including Yaesha, home of the Root invasion. While the Root definitely plays a role in Remnant 2, it isn’t the only sinister force at play. The storytelling in Remnant 2 shines brightest when focusing on the individual happenings in each world. The overarching main storyline, unfortunately, does not hold up as well. It moves along at a snail’s pace and due to the systematic structure of replaying worlds to progress, the main story quickly feels like it’s not going anywhere.

Also, I just want to point out how awesome the music is in Remnant 2. Each world has its own sort of underlying musical theme, and the intense battle music often got me pumped for battle. Even the main menu music is top-notch. I accidentally left the game open while working on this review and kept it that way just to enjoy the epic track.

Remnant 2 Abomination Fight
Screenshot by Destructoid

Overall, Remnant 2 is a sequel done right

As I said, Remnant 2 does have some flaws. The main story feels very lackluster, and the randomization can very easily lead to a not-so-fun experience. But these are essentially the same flaws that Remnant: From the Ashes had on a lesser scale. Gunfire Games took the highlights from the original game—the gunplay, the boss fights, the build variety—and amplified them.

I can honestly say I can’t wait to jump in with friends and work together to try and optimize each other’s builds as a coherent team.

If you were a fan of Remnant: From the Ashes, chances are you already planned to pick up Remnant 2. If you haven’t played the original but are a fan of souls-like games, or even rogue-likes like Risk of Rain 2 or Returnal, this will be right up your alley. At times it can be an extremely challenging experience, even on the easiest difficulty. But that’s also what makes it so rewarding when you finally kill that boss and obtain its loot. Even if, as is likely, it’s not something you plan on using.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

Impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.

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Steven Mills
Staff Writer - Steven has been writing in some capacity for over a decade now. He has a passion for story focused RPG's like the Final Fantasy franchise and ARPG's like Diablo and Path of Exile. But really, he's willing to try anything.