I'm what you might call a Souls-like freak. Exposed to the genre by Dark Souls 2 back in 2014, I've since gone on to consume the entire Dark Souls trilogy, Demon Souls, Bloodborne, Lords of the Fallen, Surge, Elden Ring, and.. well, you get the idea. This style of game is my bread and butter.
Remnant 2 is Gunfire Games' take on Dark Souls meets bullets. Add a pleasing mix of procedural generation, a slice of puzzle mechanics, and a decently voiced story to get what I'm calling one of my favorite games of 2023. Seriously, Remnant 2 is that incredible. If you're a fan of the genre, you need to give it a shot (pun intended).
The first title persuaded me with its sharp, dialed-in combat. Guns blazed the path of foes with a wide variety of weapon mods to complement the experience. Remnant 2 does the same, returning to form with some of the finest coop gunplay I've experienced. It's chaotic in every sense but always seemingly manageable so long as you're on your game. Make a mistake; that's on you, and trust me, you'll make plenty.
Even the most seasoned of gamers will find a worthy challenge in the game. With three different selectable difficulties and a fourth unlockable post-credits, you'll surely get an experience right for you. Many times, I found myself dying to the silliest of things. Like getting myself stuck in a corner surrounded by adversaries because I ignored the hallway layout or jumping off a ramp to my death because I stupidly assumed there was ground beneath me. One time, I died because I completely forgot I had run out of Dragon Hearts before attacking the boss, Dragon Hearts being one of Remnants' souls-like healing mechanics, relics. All the deaths I've tallied on my pilgrimage through Remnant have been of my own doing.
This review was carried out on PC using a code provided by the publisher. At no point have they seen or had any input on the review. Additional testing has been carried out by our Managing Editor, Richard Devine, on both the Steam Deck and an Intel Arc-based PC.
Remnant 2: The Pros
Guns, guns, and more guns.
Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Genre: Third-person shooter, action role-playing
Playtime: 80+ hours
Release date: July 25, 2023
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Windows PC
Reviewed on: PC
With any game of this type, the combat is an absolute must to get right, and Remnant 2 ticks off every checkbox. Delivering one of the most pleasing experiences I've had with a weapon that will suit every style of play, I found myself continuously testing different layouts for my character. Every class, gun, weapon mod, and mutator produced wildly different experiences.
Let's start with what I believe to be the game's core: primary weapons. Every player will be gifted with a firearm that best suits their character's archetype. If you don't like the gun picked for you, head over to the firing range, where you can acquire any of the game's starting weapons once you have enough scrap to purchase them.
I was given a robust LMG that held 150 rounds. My only worry during encounters became my inability to reload promptly and my gun's spiteful capacity to overheat. During my run, I learned of my ability to upgrade these weapons in Ward 13, the game's central hub area. Every upgrade provided a needed damage increase per round fired that felt suitably scaled throughout my playthrough. Not once did I think I absolutely needed to upgrade in order to proceed, but I felt the power increase every time I did.
Early, I came across my first weapon mod, Fire Bullets. When charged, I unleashed a hellish barrage of projectiles from my muzzle that melted foes left and right. When used on enemies with more health, it left a sustaining burn effect on them that slowly chipped away at their health pool. I felt unstoppable. It wasn't until I found a boss weapon that I realized how much I had been missing out on.
All bosses in the game drop materials that can be used to craft weapon mods or guns after being defeated. Early on in the game, you'll come across another hub-like area that needs to be cleared of enemies. During my run, I encountered a boss who dropped one such material that, when turned in, gave me the Cube Gun. This weapon shot five rounds, which all returned on impact with the enemy. It vends as much damage as my LMG but allows me to forget about nonsense like reloading. I absolutely loved it, and it drove me to uncover as many superior firearms as possible.
Helping players along the way, I found various relics, consumables, armor sets, and jewelry pieces. These allowed me to build a character that best suited my playstyle. A blistering fast glass cannon was my main go-to for most of the game.
I augmented myself with a myriad set of rings and an amulet to match. Anything that maximized my overall killing power was worn religiously. I even tinkered around with an amulet and ring combination that boosted my damage by 30% if my health was at 50% or lower while decreasing my health to 50% at all times. I became a near-literal glass cannon build, and I love that!
Remnant 2 allows true player freedom, like today's most renowned Soulslike titles. Variety is king, and exploring the build combinations grants even more replayability. Here's to giving players a wide range of in-game items that genuinely change the experience.
Bosses and Enemies
A weapon is only as entertaining as the enemy you're using it against. A target standing still with no presentable threat isn't the ideal setup for fun. What makes a game with guns enjoyable is an enemy that engages the player in a fashion that stresses the player's capabilities to the point that triumph creates an unconscious desire to continue. Remnant 2 constructs this environment for players of multiple skill levels while keeping gameplay fresh at every level.
New mechanics emerge from world to world as well as from dungeon to dungeon. Where pockets of gun-wielding foes might exist in one lair, another may contain a swarm of contact-exploding nutjobs. Every area commands respect as you make your way through it; nothing is given, but everything is taken if a participant isn't careful.
Basic enemies, when faced, are quickly overtaken on a singular basis. When grouped, their numbers and abilities prove sufficiently capable of dismantling even the best players. Swarms of exploding tumbleweeds bombard the player in colorful layers of fire, half-zombified villagers look to pillage with pitchforks and muzzle-loaded weapons, and more. Remnant 2 relies heavily on enemy swarms throughout its challenging experience, but these are always wonderfully masked behind new scenery and an ever-changing enemy pool.
Elite enemies give even more pause, as without thought, there are a few that will help players quickly find the death screen. In Yaesha, for example, lies a heavy root-based foe who tosses a red-glowing piece of itself at the player as an explosive. It could be more straightforward, but this red gem is the heart of the beast. Attacking it means the creature will meet its end far more quickly than if shot at directly. A lesson I learned the hard way.
Bosses vary from the brutal bullet sponges players are generally aware of to literal labyrinth layouts of peril and puzzle mechanics. I often found myself right at home against bosses, the muscle memory from years of practice in the genre keeping me alive. Have you ever wanted to fight against the slow-falling intimidation of an electrified gem descending an elevator? Remnant 2 gives you that chance, but only potentially, as your playthrough may differ entirely from mine.
The puzzle mechanics surrounding many boss fights make Remnant 2 all the more special to me. Players will find themselves combating gigantic foes while also engaged in a battle of wits. This constant tug-of-war to balance the riddle-like fights with bosses keeps you guessing at the opening of every conflict. I found myself pressing through worlds again after completing them in a hunt for the other boss fights that my world didn't roll the first time.
Archetypes (a fancy word for classes)
The class system in Remnant 2 is my favorite feature of the game. Putting player freedom above all else once again. Being allowed to interchange main components of your build on the fly without having to go back and re-spec is a quality-of-life thing I didn't even realize I wanted.
To start, I rolled the Medic class. I figured, even as a veteran of the genre, it was a safe bet to take it and give myself more room for error. Plus, after leveling it a bit, I was able to better keep my own teammates alive.
After reaching ten trait points, I unlocked the ability to dual archetype, which opened up the game in ways I couldn't have imagined from the start. While Medic remained my primary archetype for a while, and I toyed around with Hunter as my second. That is until I found the class I would use until I was near the end, Summoner.
I had found my first secret class, one I didn't even know existed. I came across it in Yaesha in a Blood Moon Altar. There, I donated a world item that granted me the ideal solo class. Medic plus Summoner gave me healing alongside extra targets to draw aggro while also dealing damage for me.
Later on, I completely abandoned these two classes for others that were also secret, Archon and Invader. Now, I was controlling magical abilities alongside what I imagined Harry Houdini would be if granted a Remnant 2 class. The point is that archetypes, or classes, whatever you want to call them, are one of the main things that kept me coming back. I'm delighted they ditched the original system and made it into what it is.
I didn't know I'd be writing about this portion when I first picked this game up, but it really deserves mentioning. The puzzles in Remnant 2 are well-done and deserve a stamp of respect put on them. They're not only amusing, but I found myself seeking them out as I went through the world.
In my playthrough of Yaesha, I had heard of some puzzles but only saw a few on my first playthrough. I rerolled the map in adventure mode to find and complete these puzzles myself. I even noticed I had missed some things, like hidden doors, on my original playthrough that I only caught on my second run.
Not only was I rewarded more loot, but it gave me a sense of pride to figure these out, even after being stuck for hours. Hint: if you're struggling with some puzzles in the game and want to spend less time than I did, we're here to help. Check out our Remnant 2 guides!
Remnant 2: The Cons
The story in Remnant 2 is serviceable and serves as a reason to take on the Root once more, the game's main antagonist. The portions leading to the reopening of the World Shard in Ward 13 are silly and make little sense. What follows after isn't going to get players biting their nails, but then again, does the game need that?
At its core, Remnant 2 is an action game that provides near-endless replayability to those who love the formula. This isn't a story-driven game where players will find themselves shocked at every turn. We simply need a vehicle for which to drive the story forward. Give us a reason to save the universe, so to speak. Remnant 2 delivers on that, and I even found myself tearing up towards the end. Something I didn't think I'd do.
Graphics and performance
Remnant 2 is one of the first more significant titles to use Unreal Engine 5. While it may not look like Unrecord or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, it's still a superb-looking game making good use of the latest Epic technology. Putting the nanite technology to work. Scattered cloth with accurate visual movement, particle effects across the board, and highly detailed items littered about.
What struck me most was the graphical difference between Remnant: From the Ashes and Remnant 2., as the first game falls flat when compared to the superior fidelity of the sequel. Wall textures, lighting, character models, and more all look like you'd hope they would for an Unreal Engine 5 title.
The original performance of the game could have been better come launch time; as of writing, many of the hiccups I previously experienced have been somewhat polished. Like when I posted my review in progress, the rig I'm playing on is a 5900X paired with a 3080. I played anywhere from Medium to Ultra settings at 1440p and extensively used DLSS in various forms.
Before launch, the game was unplayable even on high settings without using one of the three super-sampling techniques. It would even drop under 60 frames a second on medium settings. DLSS, or your GPU variation, was an absolute must. The developers have since confirmed the game was designed to use an upscaler, which may alarm some, but if you're getting poor performance this is the first thing to make sure you have enabled.
Remnant 2 guides
- How to summon and defeat the Ravager
- How to complete The Lament to earn the Red Widow armor and Lodestone Crown
- How to complete Endaira's End, including the Wind Chime Tower
- How to complete Imperial Gardens and earn the Crossbow weapon
- Invader Guide: How to unlock, archetype skills list, and class tips
Today, the game is far more playable. As of writing, those areas I saw drop below 30 no longer do. I've gotten a decent 20 to 40-frame improvement, depending on the area. Running through N'Erud, the area most notorious for these issues, was a much better experience. I even cranked my settings to ultra and turned off DLSS entirely; there wasn't a moment I dropped below 60 on my rig in N'Erud.
This isn't the same for everyone, though. Mileage definitely varies depending on your setup. As our own, Richard Devine had multiple problems with his Intel Arc A770 during pre-release and continues to prefer the Steam Deck version.
Remnant 2 is also Steam Deck Verified and has, for the most part, been OK. 30 FPS or higher is achievable at times on low settings, but not in Ward 13 and not in certain parts of the wider world.
Dropping resolution below 720p helps with FSR set to performance, but it doesn't totally fix things. If not from the developer, we'd expect some future tweaks to Proton could help. But there's undoubtedly promise for playing this game on the Steam Deck. Even at this time though, it's still a bit too rough around the edges to call it a must have if you're going to play primarily on the Steam Deck.
Remnant 2: Should you play?
The short answer is absolutely. The long answer is still the same word but elongated. Remnant 2 delivers on the genre in wildly similar ways to others while finding a niche to carve out for itself. All while coming in for $50/£44.99 in a world filled with titles that cost $20 more.
If you're a genre fan, this game is an absolute must. It quenches the thirst for discovery and challenge while reinvigorating what makes video games entertaining. I never found myself becoming bored, nor will you. While there can be occasional performance hiccups on PC, and the story is something that an AI might have written, it's still one of the better games for 2023.