Remnant: From the Ashes answered the question “what would Dark Souls be like with guns?”. Despite some issues it was still rather enjoyable, and has since gained quite a cult following. After delivering a string of DLC for the title, its developer Gunfire Games has now delivered a sequel. Skipping last-gen platforms, Remnant II notably features improved visuals. There are other improvements too, of course, but on the whole, it’s more of the same, for better or worse.
While it’s undoubtedly ideal that you’ve played Remnant: From the Ashes, and perhaps even Chronos: Before the Ashes, before you dive into Remnant II, it’s not necessary. Sure, its story once again finds you in the safety of Ward 13, using a giant red World Stone to travel to and from a range of worlds generally full of hostile creatures. Though while there is a story, focusing on you locating two members of Ward 13 that have entered the stone, the action is the main focus.
After creating your character and completing the game’s prologue, Remnant II lets you choose your Archetype. This is a pretty important choice, as it determines your special skills, traits and starting equipment. As you’d expect, there are a trio of Archetypes that are essentially assault, tank and support, but then you also have some more interesting options such as the Handler, who has the help of a trusty canine, and the Gunslinger, whose name is self explanatory. Play your cards right, and you may even find more.
What’s really neat about the Archetype system in this sequel is the fact that you can eventually have two of them, creating your very own hybrid build. You could create a tanky Challenger crossed with a Medic, for example, able to dish out considerable damage at close range and then heal yourself, or any others you’re playing with. Or you might instead combine the Challenger with the Hunter, making you formidable at both close and long range. The choice is yours.
Alongside the Archetype system, there are other choices to be made in Remnant II that will allow you to make your character more of your own, too. Like before, you’re able to find, craft and purchase weapons before upgrading them with materials. You can also equip them with mods and mutators, enhancing their capabilities even further. Your Dragon Heart, which is used to heal, can also be equipped with bonus-providing relics, while Trait points can be spent to enhance things like maximum health, elemental resistance, and much, much more.
It all leads to a game that has considerable depth as you try to create a character that can overcome the harsh challenges ahead. And Remnant II really doesn’t go easy on you. Right from the outset you’re likely to find yourself being ferociously attacked from all angles, so you truly have to keep your wits about you and make effective use of your weapons and special abilities. Get overwhelmed, and you’ll soon find yourself out of Dragon Heart uses. In fact, you might not be even given enough breathing room to use them at all. When you die, you get taken back to your last checkpoint.
Like its predecessor, you can play Remnant II solo, but it’s not ideal. With three-player online co-op support, it feels designed to be enjoyed with others. Play alone, and you’ll find some skills and items essentially useless. With no-one to cover your back, it’s much easier to get blind-sided by enemies, too. And when they hit, they hit hard. In fact, the solo experience can feel uncompromising at times, especially with some boss fights still doing the infuriating thing of adding waves of small-fry into the mix at regular intervals.
Those who enjoy a challenge, or find others to play with, are likely to get a lot of playtime out of Remnant II, though. Once again there’s an element of randomness to it, and your choices actually matter, with multiple branching paths available. Multiple difficulty levels are available, too, encouraging you to jump back into the game’s various worlds time and time again in order to test your skills and grow even more powerful. This is a game that has a lot to offer.
Playing on PS5 for review, there’s a clear audio-visual step up from the last game, with Remnant II looking much more realistic. The high-quality textures, lighting and effects all combine to make a game that’s genuinely eye-catching at times, and there’s some fantastic world and monster design. Three graphics modes are offered: Quality, which pushes the visuals at the expense of frame rate, Performance, which turns down some features and lowers the resolution to push the frame rate as high as it can go, and our favourite, Balanced, that strikes a compromise while aiming for a steady 60 frames per second. It hits it for the most part, with only the odd drop being noticeable during the most hectic of scenarios.
There’s a lot to like about Remnant II – this is a very worthy sequel. It offers more of the same challenging, world-hopping, third-person shooter action, but this time with more choice, more polish, and a variety of gameplay improvements. Fans of Remnant: From the Ashes will lap this up, and newcomers are likely to get a lot of enjoyment from it too – as long as they’re brave and persistent.