Gunfire Games’ Soulslike title Remnant: From The Ashes was a big hit back in 2019 with its skilful blend of gunplay, aptly described in a 9/10 write up as “if Bloodborne, Diablo, and Destiny had a baby”. Four years in gestation, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to jet across to beautiful Amsterdam and visit Gearbox to play the entertaining and hugely promising sequel, with several hours of hands-on gameplay and an interview with Gunfire and Remnant 2 director David Adams.
Remnant 2 places you in the role of human survivors plunged into a series of terrifying worlds, battling a nightmarish gallery of deadly beasts, deity-like bosses, and uncovering an absolutely mind blowing amount of secrets, hidden pathways, puzzles, and collectibles.
My adventure began in an almost The Last of Us fashion, after creating my avatar from a number of options, entering an underground area of a post-apocalyptic wasteland teeming with horrific alien goo, the air thick with gaseous spores. Pretty quickly the enemies appear and the gunplay kicks in, a mixture of furious ranged and melee combat with some tricky enemy movement and attack patterns and sense of claustrophobia.
Once through the opening sequence, I was able to enter a safe zone which doubles up as the main hub for the game. With plenty of storyline-advancing characters, you are then drip-fed the various abilities, vendors, and skills trees that enable you to go properly equipped in the many biomes that you will have to fight your way through. There are multiple classes (or Archetypes) to choose from depending on how you fancy experiencing the game, or building an effective team if playing in multiplayer. Each of these has their own custom gear, three bespoke weapons and their own signature special move or Trait. Best of all, each of the Archetypes have their own completely unique skills and perks with progression unlocked by levelling up.
There are five types of perks on offer. Prime affects the core fundamentals of your Archetype style; Damage does what it says on the tin; Team affects your whole party; Utility gives tech boosts, whilst Relic alters the function of using an in-game Relic item.
The Archetypes are all really varied. Gunslinger is, quite obviously, a weapons expert with a bunch of perks that are based around the use of ordnance, such as temporary infinite ammo, being able to reload faster, and even sharing the love amongst your team with the Posse Up perk that gives you pals increased ammo pickup percentages.
Challenger is the resident tank class, with some crazy perks that enable such delights as being able to literally survive death, and generate enough brute force and power that they are comfortably the most potentially deadly of the Archetypes, with an equal ability to become surprisingly damage resistant.
Handler was always was the Archetype I enjoyed playing with the most. A support class that employs a canine pal to perform all manner of functions, whether that is distracting enemies, reviving you and your team mates, or using intimidation tactics to scare foes and increase damage. The dog follows you everywhere with all the growling, whimpering and dog-related sounds constantly ringing in your ears. It’s great fun.
The procedurally generated worlds are bonkers. You will traverse dizzying climbs through Imperial Gardens, carve a way through dense jungles, and enter creepy dusty catacombs. There are some superb stylistic choices with clear influences from works of fantasy and sci-fi, including Fey mythology, faeries and the likes of Nimue – better known as the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend. There are multiple nods to Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth, but also demonic bosses that were seemingly plucked straight from Hell. I was particularly blown away by the multi-phase Legion boss which needs to be seen to be believed. There are so many secrets and paths to seek and explore. Every single playthrough can present brand new scenarios, puzzles, gear, and nooks and crannies to explore.
I enjoyed playing through the game solo, but I have to say Remnant 2 really comes into its own in multiplayer. Working as a team feels fun the same way as I enjoyed the camaraderie of Left 4 Dead back in the day, with the different Archetypes enabling you to strike a balance between carnage and support. You can enter into another gamer’s run-through and ostensibly snaffle up items and meet storyline challenges and puzzles that you would be unable to encounter in your own run.
Everything is bigger and better in Remnant 2, with increased verticality, larger worlds, more biodiversity, and near endless replayability promised. The gunplay and movement is much improved from the original, and the flora and fauna (and robots) that you have to take down are more fantastical, bigger, badder and more challenging than ever. The feel of combat and the physics engine are tangible, with your avatar being regularly thrown around balletically by explosions and attacks, and there’s a lovely meaty feel to the shooting and melee attacks. It is also hugely challenging and the huge amount of gear and items to find, as well as the diverse skills you can unlock, mean that this is going to be a compulsive and addictive proposition. Just be careful with the Hardcore mode. I watched a few other bods playing on this setting and it looks underpant-soilingly nails.
It was real pleasure to play this arcane belter and it is immediately apparent just from one day with it that this is going to be a huge hit with fans of the original, and will ensnare plenty of new fans too – myself included.
Remnant 2 is coming to PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series S|X on July 25th. Impressions based on hands-on time in Amsterdam, flights and accommodation were paid for by Gearbox.