|Genre||Third Person Shooter, Souls-Like|
|Platforms||PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PC, Xbox Series X|S|
|Release Date||July 25, 2023|
The lovechild of Dark Souls and a third-person shooter, the original Remnant was a bit of an underdog. Fans had already divided into camps on whether they liked the formulaic genre, but the addition of solid third-person shooting mechanics and solid cooperative play earned it a place at the table. Now, four years after the release of the original, Remnant 2 is back in glorious Unreal Engine 5 glory to give fans more of what they love and earn some new love along the way.
Violence: There is blood and gore. The game contains gunfire, explosives, and melee weapons as well as special abilities and effects that can rip, tear, and cause a lot of blood.
Sexual Content: The game contains a female boss character with one exposed breast. I fought against the boss in question and never caught this. It was in consulting with the ESRB I realized it was present.
Drugs and Alcohol: There are elixirs and concoctions some could assume to be alcoholic in nature.
Language/Crude Humor: Expect all the same language as an R-rated movie.
Dark/Spiritual Content: Multiple realms are dying. You’ll be working to fight evil creatures within those multiple realms. You will fight evil, otherworldly denizens. There is a fae goddess that helps you along the way, too.
I’ve been a fan of Souls-like games since I earned my platinum in Bloodborne back in 2015. Since then, something about the cadence, the low lows and high highs, the world and boss design, and more have drawn me to the genre. With 2019’s Remnant: From the Ashes, I was able to enjoy the experience with a couple friends thanks to added cooperative play and the clever genre mix with third-person shooting. Now, Gunfire Games (Darksiders) is expanding on their universe with a new story and some clever new mechanics.
As tends to be the case with Souls games, the story and characters feel like the most inconsequential aspect of Remnant 2. Set after the events of the original game, you and a fellow survivor are out searching for a rumored camp of survivors when, lo and behold, you stumble on them. After they save your bacon, they welcome you to their home. When one of the folks that helped you goes missing, you take on the task of finding her and, eventually, stopping a malevolent force known as “The Root” from destroying all the worlds in the multiverse.
While most of your narrative interaction with other characters is just spoken dialog back in town, there are a few notable events and cutscenes that keep the action moving forward. There won’t really be many characters you’d latch on to like, say, Horizon: Forbidden West, but it gives you a enough solid food to keep driving the action to its close.
As previously stated, the game plays like a mix between Dark Souls and a classic third-person shooter. The shooting feels great, but it’s all the other options you have in combat and customization that really give Remnant 2 its personality. At the start of the game, you can choose from five character classes (called archetypes). Each has different strengths and weaknesses and as you play, you can level up and unlock new perks and special abilities. With Remnant 2, you can unlock the other archetypes and have a secondary class too. Perhaps even cooler than any of that, the team at Gunfire have hidden several secret archetypes in the game you can unlock to enjoy.
Outside the archetypes, your weaponry can be powered and customized with different special abilities. Want a shotgun that can burn enemies and a pistol that can cause an earthquake? No problem. Got a new item to let you spawn a tornado instead? Feel free to swap that out on your pistol. Oh, and the weapons can be upgraded to increase their damage over the course of the game. It won’t satisfy the loot-goblins like, say, Destiny 2 or Diablo IV, but it should be more than enough to keep you happy through the end of the campaign.
If you have the option, I personally recommend you either play with friends or open yourself up to others joining you online. Remnant 2 is a perfectly acceptable experience as a single-player game, but encounters feel like they shine when you have one or two folks to help you through it. This can be particularly true at boss encounters. Should you find yourself without others and hitting your head against a wall, you have something much of the Souls community has argued about for years: the option for an easier difficulty.
Given that the game takes place across a multiverse, it makes sense that we get a variety of locales and enemies. I feel like Remnant 2 provides a decent variety. From rotted forest to futuristic wasteland to victorian city and more, you’re rarely in a world long enough to get bored. Each zone brings its own thematic dungeons and bosses, too. It feels like the ludonarrative aspects were well considered when Remnant 2 was designed.
While it doesn’t feel like a wild leap in aesthetic over its predecessor, Remnant 2 is a great looking, atmospheric game. Each world has a unique look and feel, enemies designed specifically for the world they’re in, and great boss design. The game runs well too, thanks to its use of Unreal Engine 5. While the benefits to those on current gen consoles are clear (no texture pop-in, great gameplay experience, consistent framerate, and more), this will leave gamers with older systems wanting. Given the engine’s system requirements, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One fans will have no choice but to adopt new hardware if they want to enjoy UE5 games going forward.
Remnant 2 gives players a fantastic experience. With excellent gunplay, solid boss design, and some new quality-of-life improvements (like the ability to have a second job class), there’s plenty of reason for players to keep coming back. Combine that with the atmospheric creature and world design, a welcome variety of locales, and a surprisingly interesting story and you have a game that could keep fans engaged for multiple playthroughs. Whether you’re a long-time genre fan or just someone who enjoys third-person shooters or want a great way to break into the Souls-like genre, Remnant 2 is a great game you can enjoy alone or, even better, a couple of friends.
Review copy generously provided by Gearbox
The Bottom Line
The sequel to 2019's Souls-like shooter is a blast with polished gameplay, fun bosses, excellent co-op, and more variety than its predecessor.