Image via Gunfire Games

Remnant 2 Review: Blasting Through the Apocalypse

Remnant 2 is a proper sequel, both fun and frustrating.

Like its predecessor, Remnant 2 is much more fun than it has any right to be. And like any great sequel, the latest in the series uses everything that works about the original, irons out a lot of what doesn’t, and adds a ton of additional, amazing content no one was expecting. Remnant 2 eschews much of the opening buildup, includes some Rogue-lite elements to progression, and tells a more coherent story. Most importantly, the gameplay has received some of the largest improvements, with new and better class options, more build variety, and some truly impressive boss fights. It’s not a flawless experience, but one well worth trying for a few hours. Or a few hundred.

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Remnant 2 Review: Blasting Through the Apocalypse

Image via Gunfire Games

The thesis statement for the Remnant series shouldn’t work. A janky third-person shooter with Souls-like elements, procedurally generated worlds, and RPG-style build crafting. In the first game, it almost didn’t work. There were more than a few hiccups across every aspect of the game. Remnant 2 addresses nearly all of them.

  • The shooting is cleaner and more responsive.
  • The build variety is much improved.
  • The game doesn’t take forever to get going.
  • The bosses, while still incredibly pushing, are more interesting and easier to learn (though not overcome).

I’ll start with the gunplay. In the first From the Ashes, the guns feel fine to use, but there’s a distinct lack of weight, and even the best of them are only interesting, even if they are powerful. Provided you get proper FPS values in Remnant 2, the weapons feel heavy, chunky almost, and you can sense the power behind every shot.

There’s also a wider variety of weapon effects, whether through equipable or unique mods. Said mods are all incredibly useful or borderline overpowered, depending on your playstyle. Combat, in general, is also more fun because the devs at Gunfire Games keep many quality-of-life aspects from the first game — the most valuable of which is the ability to reload while dodging.

In other Souls-likes where a gun is a secondary (if you have one at all), reloading is hardly ever a consideration. But in a game where the best way to engage many of the bosses is with a firearm, weapon uptime is paramount. If the reload-while-dodging mechanic weren’t there, I can’t imagine how frustrating things would be. Sadly, if you mistime your reload-dodge cancel, you’ll be stuck with the full reload, as I learned the hard way during a late-game boss fight. Damn thing had a pixel of health left, and I was stuck with an empty mag.

Related: Do the Requirements to Unlock the Archon Class Go Too Far?

Remnant 2 Bosses: Right or Wrong

Image via Gunfire Games

The boss fights are a highlight of any Souls-like. Each should not only test all the skills you’ve learned — or could learn in the case of Margit, the Fell Omen — but they should show you how to beat them through trial and error. I’m happy to report that Remnant 2‘s best bosses do precisely that. They have that great Souls-like quality where everything you see in your first encounter might as well be an impossible calculus problem, but through perseverance and keen observation, you can learn how to counter everything a boss throws at you.

There’s no better example of this for me than when I was taking on the final boss (no spoilers). I got to a point where the boss attacked, and it seemed like it had no counter. I was just dead — or the attack occurred without the ability for me to react. Then I opened my ears. It wasn’t the animation I needed to learn: it was the sound cue. As soon as I learned that, the fight was immediately five times easier.

All of the world bosses I found followed this philosophy. At first, they seemed impassable, but once mastered, it was a simple matter of execution, which got easier, too.

Sadly, other bosses are less enjoyable. Almost every fight in the game has additional enemies, as you’ll need to kill them for the ammo drops. However, some trash mobs aren’t fun to fight. Instead, they’re just annoying. There are some especially egregious examples where not only are the mobs annoying, but they’re a bit tankier and faster than they should be and will take your attention away from the boss for longer than I’d like. These are few and far enough between, but when you find them, they can singlehandedly ruin a night.

Creating Your Character: Archetypes and Classes

Image via Gunfire Games

You can alleviate some of the frustrations I’ve outlined with the right build or by gathering upgrade materials and improving your weapons and other gear. You can also stop going hard on progression and run an adventure or two to gather more Rings and Amulets, and explore old areas more for any secrets you might have missed. And there are many secrets.

Upgrading your class, called an Archetype in Remnant 2, is vital to overcoming the highest-difficulty content, as is collecting some of the hidden weapons and equipment scattered throughout the game’s worlds. Sure, you can use the best starting weapons like I did, but it’s almost necessary to use the more alien and esoteric items you find.

The Archetypes themselves start out fairly straightforward, but they’re incredibly powerful in that simplicity. Gunslinger can pump out a frankly ridiculous amount of damage while offering plenty of survivability with the right setup. The Medic can make themselves effectively unkillable against non-boss enemies, and the Handler gets a possible free revive whether they’re playing solo or with a squad. If you add in some of the better accessories and hidden Traits that grant effects like lifesteal, status effect buildup, and even intangibility, there’s no limit to the kind of wild character build you can dream up. On top of that, there’s multiclassing, where you can make unique combinations from various Archetypes.

Unfortunate, then, that the character creator is so lackluster. One of the best parts of any mainline Soulsbourne title is the ability to make the savior of a dying world look anywhere from a zombie to a lollipop and everything around and in between. Remnant 2 only gives you a small selection of “The apocalypse has not been kind to me” regular-ass humans. No cotton candy people here.

Poor Performance

Image via Gunfire Games

As you’ve probably read across the internet by now, Remnant 2 doesn’t run very well on any machine. You can have a 4090, 13900k, or a 7900X 3D, and all the other kinds of headroom available, but the game just laughs in your face and says, “Enjoy your 45 FPS, loser.” The game is even built with upscaling in mind from the get-go rather than as a means to improve performance. Even the PS5 and Xbox Series X are doing backflips to run it at a reasonable framerate. While I hope there’s a way to patch the FPS and turn it into something we expect on the highest-end platforms, I fear there are deep-rooted issues in the game’s code preventing it.

The other not-so-fun parts include how slow some actions are, especially using your Relic. Combine some sluggishness with many things in Remnant 2 being tied to your framerate, and it’s easy to see why players are both elated and frustrated by the experience.

There’s also a litany of bugs that need to be squashed. Some are relatively benign, like your character model disappearing (which happened to me a few times), while others turn highly mobile bosses into sources of infinite AoE spam.

The game also requires you to play through its various worlds multiple times to see even a majority of its content, which might be more than players can stomach. It’s not a problem for me, but if you go into Remnant 2 thinking you’ll get 30 hours of gameplay and experience most of the game you paid for, you’ll be sorely disappointed. There’s a lot to see here, but it could be a pro for some and a larger con for others, considering how nebulous finding that content can be. In short, you’ll need guides for Remnant 2.

Even more damning is locking story progression behind some devilish puzzles. They can be as devilish as the Water Harp or as demanding as the Clock Tower. These puzzles are incredibly enjoyable to solve, but they can be downright infuriating if you don’t have a head for abstract or lateral thinking.

And I suppose that’s Remnant 2‘s greatest sin. Some parts of the game just aren’t fun to play. Some enemies are annoying instead of fun. Some bosses rely too much on the adds that spawn. Some of the puzzles are much more than brain teasers, and you can’t progress without solving them. The game can be buggy and run poorly. The cavalcade of problems is almost enough to overshadow how good the best parts of the game can be.

Were there not so many issues, I would be singing Remnant 2‘s praises even more than I already am. There’s so much to like here, and so much of it is hamstrung at a technical level. I could even forgive some of the poor design decisions because even Elden Ring makes some straight-up baffling choices late-game. If anything, Remnant 2‘s last couple of worlds contain most of its best parts, with some of the most interesting mechanics and bosses in the game living and haunting in the final hours.

Remnant 2 Review — The Bottom Line

Image via Gunfire Games

Pros

  • Solid gameplay and top-tier character customization
  • Hundreds of hours of content to explore
  • Many satisfying-to-learn, tough-to-beat bosses

Cons

  • Downright criminal performance
  • Annoying bugs
  • Head-scratchingly poor design decisions.

I could go on for another 2,000 words about the various intricacies in Remnant 2 or how some other part of it gets in the way in more and more blindingly baffling ways. But I won’t, stopping instead to say that you should play Remnant 2 with the knowledge that this is a game with tight gunplay, fantastic RPG mechanics, and a world more than worth exploring. But it’s one that might glitch out or otherwise feel… off for seemingly no particular reason. Don’t let the enemies that actually glitch out give you the wrong idea, though. That’s intended.

[Note: Gunfire Games provided the PC code of Remnant 2 used for this review.]

8
Remnant 2 Review: Blasting Through the Apocalypse
Remnant 2 is a proper sequel, both fun and frustrating.

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Author
John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.