Title: Remnant II
Developer: Gunfire Games
Release Date: July 25, 2023
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Genre: Action Shooter
Although developer Gunfire Games has released a few notable titles, none surprised me more than Remnant. Essentially, they were creating a Souls-like action shooter RPG that ended up being a damn fun experience. The interesting thing about this developer is that they aren’t afraid to listen to fans while crafting unique gameplay experiences. Remnant II may retain much of what made its predecessor enjoyable, but everything has been revamped to make this feel like a completely new series. After playing, I became addicted to its deep equipment systems, challenge, and various ways to approach gameplay.
Remnant II tells the story of the player, known as the Traveler. While looking for a place to live after things went bad at their camp, a group of survivors save the Traveler and bring them back to camp. This is where you begin to understand the threat that faces humanity and the role you play in the fate of these survivors. This Ward serves as a hub between travels, and its calm nature is precisely what’s needed after some brutal moments of gameplay. Some of the characters may be familiar, but this game can be enjoyed without playing the original.
The story has moments of epic interactions, becoming a huge staying point for the game’s experience. While some missions come off as filler, most of the story quests lead to moments of character growth. All your actions as the Traveler shape the narrative and the relationships between the survivors. Often there are multiple ways to complete a string of quests that require some choices to be made. However, most of the choices made during simple dialogue don’t affect any core story moments, so you might find yourself stuck in a long conversation clicking through options just to get back to the action.
This leads us to what makes Remnant II continuously fun. When compared to its predecessor, the environments are significantly more detailed. The various stages and biomes are all gorgeous and fun to explore. The stages are now much more vertical and encourage you to search through each area and look at how alive everything feels. Given that you can return to stages multiple times due to the dynamically generated system, they never really got old to me. I appreciate the few gimmicks and pitfalls present to make each area unique. Replayability is a huge factor in this game, and while there’s a lot to do throughout the campaign, I never grew bored returning to a stage.
From the beginning of the game, there are multiple classes known as Archetypes to choose from. I’ll be honest, the Handler is probably the one everyone will choose because there’s a dog, but I went with the Hunter for most of my playthrough. Everything about how you approach gameplay comes down to which Archetype you choose, and through subsequent playthroughs, you’ll likely build an excellent pool of characters to fit any party.
While Remnant II can be played solo, many of my skills benefited a team. I played alone for a few hours, but you should probably know this game is most fun when playing with a party of up to three players. There’s just something fun about strategically going into battle and utilizing each Archetype skill to get through challenging encounters. The long-range actions of the Hunter allowed me to provide cover from my teammates while also revealing all enemies around us for easier kills.
Characters can be further fine-tuned using perks along with Traits, which increase a character’s base stats. In retrospect, there’s a lot that a player can do to fit their playstyle. Further, equipment and items can be crafted from materials found while exploring to upgrade your loadout further. The Dragon Heart relic can also receive significant upgrades to change up the ways you approach combat. The depth of these systems is commendable because somehow, even with all these options to be an overpowered badass in the field, the game still manages to be challenging.
Similar to Remnant: From the Ashes, Remnant II can be extremely difficult. The enemies in this game are relentless and tricky to predict. Due to the procedural nature of the levels, enemy placement can only be assumed. Sometimes, they may just sneak up on you, but after a few, or many deaths, I began to recognize the audio cues and attack patterns.
The one downside is that some enemies don’t have the most obvious telegraphs to tell you when to dodge. There’s a window at which you can avoid damage, but many of the enemies took multiple encounters for me to really understand their movement. That said, there’s a large variety of foes to encounter, some being able to shoot guns, launch magical attacks, or just come at you with all they have. These creatures only care about killing you, which shows during every fight.
On the other hand, the boss battles are interesting. These fights come off a bit more scripted in execution, as their telegraphs and patterns are on full display early in the battle. This doesn’t take away from the high challenge but requires you to adjust your approach to combat. These fights can be even more challenging depending on the difficulty you’re playing on and the Archetype you choose. The best way through is to get yourself a balanced party and rush in guns blazing.
Every facet of gameplay comes together for these fights to deliver memorable encounters. The high level of challenge becomes an addiction to push forward and put your skills to the test. I won’t lie and say there weren’t times I was frustrated, but there are so many ways to improve character loadouts and increase chances of survival that make each quest engaging. Sadly, the biggest downfall is that there isn’t crossplay, which limits some friend groups depending on their platforms.
Remnant II is a challenging, addictive, and exciting experience. It’s a sequel that has improved on all the shortcomings of its predecessor but also carved out many new systems that only add to the enjoyment. The incredible depth of the customization systems allows players to fine-tune all aspects of their experience while also being able to share this adventure with friends through co-op. Even after many hours, I can’t wait to play more.
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