Remnant II Hands-on Impressions
Here are our thoughts on the game!
It's only been a couple of years since the great success and release of the original Remnant: From the Ashes. Now, it's time to jump back into everyone's favourite co-op third-person soulslike shooter with the sequel, Remnant II! Jump into a familiar world to fight back against a threat you've faced before as you travel between dimensions defeating various enemies alone or with friends.
Explore a Strange New World (à la Aladdin)
After spending several hours in character creation (it really isn’t even that in-depth, I’m just an indecisive git) and then restarting the run because I decided to go for my original choice after hundred-guessing myself, I set out in a world with a brand-new character and explored a dilapidated world overtaken by nature. Here, I met my new, Wood-Rot-infested BFF and set out on an adventure to find the ever-ominously-named Ward 13, which promised to heal her of her… less-than-pleasant Wood-Rot look.
It is here you meet a new cast of lovable, magical, and immortal (?!?!) characters. After being miraculously revived by a heart-looking thing that’ll make those with particularly sensitive Trypophobia wail, you meet a group of characters, explore your home base, and then soon thereafter set out to the gameplay. Although the story stops being as invested, it doesn’t need to be overly present, considering this game is mostly about dying and respawning. It is about that, right?
Die, and die again, and again… and again. What was I saying? Oh, right, gameplay.
It’s time to start your dying adventures after the introductions and niceties. Where you start depends entirely on what the game wants to choose for you — really. The randomly generated elements ensure that you are unfolding a narrative wholly unique to you by giving you a random starting area and random sub-areas within that one as well (this is to say you can’t really explore the entirety of a world until later on). This new entry into the Remnant franchise (it’s exhilarating to be able to say that now!) has some of the best overworld exploration and combat thanks to that fact.
Every new world has a slew of enemies that you’ll be able to fight against. The enemy variety is insane, giving you the opportunity to learn new, creative ways to die to everyone and putting 1000 Ways to Die to shame. Even once you return to a checkpoint forcefully or willingly (most commonly, the former for me), areas that were once safe to traverse and to stop and smell the flowers in become relentless warzones, meaning you aren’t really safe. Ever.
Let Your Friends Take the Blame
Although I'm sure Remnant II is a lovely single-player, I wouldn't be able to say because I was consistently dying, so instead, I recruited the best of the best to ensure they could help me fight against the waves of foes that always killed me. Armed with a group of up to two other players, you can experience the game in the way that it was intended — with a team of allies to take the blame for you!
Jokes aside, the gameplay was tenfold as enjoyable whenever I had someone to back me up whenever the going got tough (or rather, the going got tougher? This is basically to say it was always tough). Every player can share the powerful loot, ensuring that there isn't any out-of-game brawling or in-chat screaming to get the weapon you so yearned for, as you and your friends will experience pretty much the same narrative save for some changes to character builds.
Remnant II truly shines at its greatest in the overworld as you embark on what felt like cinematic shooting — in the rare occasions I performed well, I felt like a downright badarse missing barely any of my shots. That's not to say that the bosses are bad; Remnant II built on pretty much every area Remnant: From the Ashes already shined on, and that also meant I would often find myself in the corner, unintelligibly screaming whilst I was attacked by tentacles or adds and my friends took the burden. Fear is good in a soulslike title, almost a rite of passage, some might say... right?
Flipping a Coin is a Valid Way to Make a Build, Right?
Pick from a selection of archetypes at the beginning to start your journey as you delve into uncharted territory on a vital quest (that I don't really want to spoil), but how you get pummeled by everyone is a different story. From a tank to ensure you are surviving a couple of seconds longer to a healer that ensures you can at least patch yourself up from battle, there is a wide range of archetypes to start from, with many... many secret ones to unlock.
The best part is that you'll be able to slot two archetypes and create your own build from these. Even better, you'll be able to customise your weapons and armour, and add Mutations (which are passives) to your arsenal, and add Modifications (which are basically more abilities), and unlock boss-unique items, and unlock puzzle-unique items... the possibilities are endless — surely — because I can't count or math that high. And do all of this, all the while…
Exploring a Randomly Generated World
Remnant II really shines in its RNG elements that work closely to a roguelike/soulslike amalgamation that is criminally underexplored. Not only is every world randomly generated (and somehow still drop-dead gorgeous) but you also get the opportunity to embark on an adventure unique to you and yours! New starting areas, different worlds (some of which you can't explore on your first run, it's insane how much there is), unique enemies per world, bosses, builds…
And when you want to retry again, you can reroll your campaign or start a new "Adventure", which lets you explore a mini-campaign centred around the world you chose. This is a great way to take breaks between gnawing at your controller out of rage whenever you got just a bit too stuck at a boss and just want to go out and shoot some baddies, get some progression, and even unlock some items.
Truthfully speaking, there are few areas in which I could complain about Remnant II. The story is interesting, the character building is fantastic, the roguelike, soulslike, third-person shooter, and co-op elements are unique... you won't play a game like Remnant II for a while... at least, not until Remnant III (please, Gunfire Games and Gearbox Publishing? Can we already start discussing Remnant III?).