Remnant II Review
Remnant II Review
Not having played the first game, I was looking forward to Remnant II due to two reasons – strong word of mouth from friends who played the original back in 2019 and my having played a 30-minute preview of it last month at Summer Game Fest. It indeed lived up to its “Dark Souls with guns” reputation, which immediately sold me on the prospect of the game.
Playing it fully this time around, I think it says a lot about a game when it makes you want to check out its predecessor altogether because Remnant II is both fantastic and exhilarating for solo players, but even more so with a group of friends. It can get frustrating, but the feeling of progressing through the game far outweighs the frustration by a mile.
Remnant II is a third-person shooter that offers procedural generation as the centerpiece of its design. From maps to objectives to even its campaign, almost everything is randomly rolled upon starting a game, which could be a sore or bright spot depending on the player. I found this feature quite interesting though, ensuring that playthroughs aren’t the same, with or without a team to go with, each run often resulting in a fresh approach and upping the replay value tenfold.
The gameplay loop is rather simple – jump into a world, work your way through corridors and dungeons, and conquer the boss at the end to gain access to rewards. Repeating areas in Remnant II doesn’t get tiring, mostly due to the fact that the worlds you explore are vast and very creative like N’Erud and Yaesha, with a personal favorite being Losomn – a world with an area that reminded me so much of Bloodborne’s gothic views and sidestreets. Even without the randomness, all of these worlds look and feel expertly crafted and distinct.
Paths often lead to a new area to explore, and it all really feeds into the randomness of it all. The number of ways to go and things to do might get overwhelming at times, so sticking to the main path could be the best thing to do if you just want to progress at the cost of some rewards stashed in some inconspicuous corner. It also has to be said that some of these worlds have great self-contained stories that are quite interesting, making exploring a fruitful endeavor.
The Souls influence is strong here – respawning enemies, consumable but limited healing items, and so on. Being a shooter makes it so players can choose to approach enemies differently, without having to deal with the deadly dance that Souls games are often known for. It doesn’t make the game any easier, as dying is still a natural occurrence that happens too often than one would like.
As interesting as stories are in Soulslike titles, Remnant II doesn’t have the same pull. Players are thrust into a post-apocalyptic setting that’s set decades after the first game where they will do battle against “The Root,” an evil plant species that threatens the safety of the world. It’s weird to put a finger on it, but it almost feels like the narrative was an afterthought and is not something to write home about.
That said, Remnant II makes up for it with punchy and precise combat that can be partly frustrating yet increasingly satisfying as you make your way through random worlds. Gunplay feels tight and responsive, but melee combat can get a bit of getting used to. The general feeling of action is something that Remnant II gets right almost across the board and is a large contributor to why it is so fun to play.
Players can choose to roll one of the five Archetypes, or classes, in Remnant II – Challenger (High HP), Hunter (Ranged specialist), Handler (Has a Dog companion), Medic (Healer and Support), and Gunslinger (High damage) – each with their own unique skills and traits. Some will be better than others when going solo, but these classes shine bright when going with a team that has a composition diverse enough to handle any form of threat. Since I’m more of a solo player myself, I opted to take the Handler class, giving me the dog that can tank some enemies before I blast them to oblivion.
Over the course of your journey, more Archetypes can be unlocked through quests, offering another avenue of replayability for players, as if the current offerings weren’t enough. After reaching level 10, you can even gain a second archetype, diversifying your playstyle even more, and opening up whole new possibilities and combinations. It’s all deceptively simple since you’ll only gain access to 2 weapons and a melee, but don’t let this hide the fact that Remnant II is as deeply customizable as you can get once mods and the rest of your equipment options start kicking in.
Remnant II likes to give players a false sense of security because, unlike Souls games where even the fodder enemies can wreck you, they’re almost literally fodder here. It’s easy for players to advance and gain the confidence to work their way through the map, only to get stopped in their tracks by a more powerful creature with an armored weak spot or some variation.
One complaint I do have is that some enemies tend to spawn out of nowhere, oftentimes surprising you from behind. There are instances where, while playing solo, I got jumped by a couple of critters that I was positive I did not see while on my way to the next area. The map doesn’t really show enemies and is quite a challenge when dealing with areas with multiple layers, so these complaints can stack up a bit.
Boss fights are a highlight of the game, and playing solo doesn’t do it enough justice because some of these mechanics are exponentially better experienced with a group that’s trying to figure out what’s going on. One particular boss, Sha’Hala, employs multiple orbital-cannon-like lasers that are tricky enough to dodge on their own, while more sweeping lasers appear that will cut you down if you don’t time your dodges right. These fights can get very hectic and could turn off some players, but the fun factor is definitely way up there if you can overlook its difficulty aspect.
Remnant II can take anywhere from 15-20 hours (mileage may vary) if you’re just taking on the critical path, but with games of this type, replayability is its strong suit that can boost playtime to maybe hundreds of hours. Players can attribute this to its procedurally generated system, but dumping a lot of hours into the game is mostly due to the simple fact that it is fun and entertaining, and Remnant II does that triumphantly well.
What we liked:
- Procedurally generated worlds ensure almost no two playthroughs are the same
- An exponentially better experience with a group
- Fantastic boss fights with interesting mechanics
- Build variety is way up there
What we didn’t like:
- Visuals could be better considering a next-gen-only release
- Some enemies and boss fights can get frustrating
Verdict: Buy it!
Remnant II does a lot of things right and does it well. There’s so much to enjoy about the game, and a lot more waiting in its depths once players give it a chance and look over its challenging reputation of being “Dark Souls with guns.”
While solo play can be enjoyable, multiplayer is where the game really shines, allowing players to complement each other with the various archetypes in the game that offer distinct playstyles. Bosses are a big highlight of the game that requires thought and patience due to their challenging but interesting mechanics.
While only a current-gen release, Remnant II’s price point is also a big plus for gamers on a budget looking for an extensive title that easily consumes a healthy number of hours before all is said and done.
*Remnant II was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 with a review code provided by the publisher.
*Remnant II is now available for PS5, Xbox Series, and PC.