Remnant 2 review – a war across worlds

Remnant 2 review – a war across worlds
Alex Raisbeck Updated on by

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Remnant: From the Ashes was something of a surprise hit upon its release in 2019, although in retrospect, it shouldn’t have been. Combining the methodical, challenging approach required of a Soulslike with fast-paced gunplay was always going to be a recipe for success. With Remnant 2, Gunfire Games have tinkered with the formula, improving on what the original did best, and to great effect.

Remnant 2 review: The player standing in Ward 13.

The game starts off with you and your companion searching for Ward 13, the base from the original game. Once you’re there, you’re introduced to the Ward’s inhabitants, as well as the World Stone, a giant glowing crystal which lets those that touch it enter different worlds. Two returning characters, Andrew ‘Founder’ Ford and Clementine disappear into the Stone before you heroically jump in after them.

This very much felt like just a pretence for the player to enter the World Stone themselves. And with the first two biomes having next to nothing to do with rescuing Ford and Clementine, there was no feeling that I was progressing towards anything in particular, rather just shooting a bunch of villagers for the sake of it. Luckily, this did take a turn in my story, and once the pieces began to fall into place, I began to feel far more invested.

Remnant 2 review: The player aiming their pistol at an enemy.

I say it took a turn in my story for a reason. Remnant 2 is unique in that it doesn’t have a set story, but multiple. Each playthrough will have a randomised story, where you visit different biomes with different quests, monsters, and bosses. You and a friend can play through the game simultaneously and not have a single thing in common. This adds a tremendous level of replayability, and if each storyline is as high quality as mine turned out to be, repeat playthroughs of this game will be a treat.

Many of the quests you find in each biome are not particularly long or complex but are interesting enough to really pull you in. You’ll visit many areas that have fallen prey to otherworldly powers, or places so alien that you can’t begin to understand them. Each character is splendidly voice-acted, and offers tidbits of lore, telling the story of each location. This truly gives every biome a life of its own and lends you a greater understanding of the inhabitants that you were so ruthlessly massacring five minutes ago.

Remnant 2 review: An expanse of floating stones with a flight of stairs leading to a large blue orb.

But even without these story elements, each of Remnant 2’s biomes would feel alive simply due to their stunning designs. The decrepit streets of Losomn choke you with unease, while the colossal, alien walls of the Labyrinth float alone in a vast, boundless expanse. Each area is a spectacle in its own right, and as someone who is typically indifferent to how games look, I was immediately taken by Remnant 2’s remarkable visuals.

Each area also has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, boasting loot, mini-bosses, and secrets to uncover. Where in the original Remnant, you would farm materials for upgrades by smashing up anything and everything in a 10-foot radius, most of your loot now comes from chests, which are dotted around each level. This gives you an excellent reason to explore that area you might otherwise have ignored, as it might give you that extra bit of iron to upgrade your weapons.

Remnant 2 review: A large tower with an orb of light on top, with ringed structures above.

The game’s combat is largely similar to that of the original, but distinctly improved. While it is gun-based, much of the combat feels like that of a Souls game. Enemies have distinct attack patterns, which you can exploit with a timely dodge, the only difference being that you have a gun rather than a sword, though, naturally you can choose to simply pick off enemies from afar, like your typical shooter. As you progress through levels, you take on small groups of weaker enemies, with the odd elite every now and then posing a larger challenge. Eventually, you’ll come across some mini-bosses, as well as a world boss at the end of each biome. 

You must pick one of four classes (five once you unlock the Gunslinger) at the start of your game, each of which comes with its own set of skills and abilities called Archetypes. The Challenger is a close-range tank, while the Medic has healing abilities. These classes are very clearly geared towards cooperative play, with aggressive, DPS-focused classes and more auxiliary, support classes. The support classes are certainly viable in single-player, but do feel somewhat kneecapped by the lack of teammates.

Remnant 2 review: The Challenger class in the class selection screen.

Remnant 2’s combat is at its best when you play confidently. Pushing forward into enemies, and relying on your skill to take them down with quick headshots is satisfying. This is especially true when it comes to elite enemies and bosses. Dodging an attack only to turn around and blast them with your shotgun for maximum damage feels great. The combat is challenging, but the game invites you to meet that challenge head-on, making the payoff for succeeding all the sweeter.

The game is patently designed to be a multiplayer experience and can be taken on in groups of up to three. Alas, the path of a reviewer is a lonely one, so I was forced to take the game on by my lonesome. And while the game is certainly fun alone, there are times when you do feel the burden of not playing with others. With nobody else to attack, you are vulnerable to being overwhelmed by enemies. This, in turn, has the effect of making some weapons feel almost totally unviable in solo play. 

Remnant 2 review: The AS-12 "Bulldog" gun from Remnant 2.

I’m a sucker for a bow and arrow, so I was excited to find one after defeating a particular boss. But when trying it out, it was clear that it simply did not suit a solo playthrough. With every enemy making a beeline towards you, it’s a must to have weapons with a large clip and a fast fire rate. You can use weapons such as bows and sniper rifles if you plan on taking a more stealthy approach, but eventually, you’ll be forced into close-quarters combat, and you’ll wish you had your assault rifle then. This isn’t me saying that the game should not be played solo, far from it, but the freedom and options gained by playing with friends make it undoubtedly the way to go.

While the act itself of pulling off a nice dodge or hitting a lot of damage feels good, I very rarely felt the power of my weaponry. At the start of the game, my character wielded a greatsword forged out of gears and scrap metal, but with a lack of any real feedback, it often felt more like swinging a plastic toy through empty air. It’s obviously not hugely important to the game itself, but when I’m smacking things around with my homemade Buster Sword, I want that crunchy, visceral feedback that speaks to how powerful my character really is. I’m not saying it needs to be Doom-esque, but a bit more oomph would be nice.

Remnant 2 review: The player firing a gun at The Red Prince boss, surrounded by flames.

A key part of combat is weapon mods, and the learning curve that comes with them. These are special abilities that you equip to your weapon, with effects such as shooting flaming ammo, dropping poisonous spikes, creating a healing zone and more. It’s fun to try out a new mod, and tailoring them to your playstyle makes the combat feel even more rewarding. Similarly, you can attach Mutations to your weapons, providing certain perks like faster reload speed or increased damage under 50% health.

The pinnacle of the game’s combat is its boss fights. While you will come across some fairly standard, but nonetheless demanding bosses, requiring little more than a ‘dodge-shoot-dodge-shoot’ approach, there are some truly excellent encounters that not only challenge your raw combat ability, but how you use your weapons, while some aren’t even ‘bosses’ in the conventional sense at all. 

Remnant 2 review: The player aims at a large stone cube that is rolling towards them.

One such ‘boss’ featured a maze where giant cubes rolled around you, forcing you to shoot weak spots on the edges of the cubes, while avoiding being crushed beneath one. This required me to learn the paths each cube followed to avoid being run over, and even hiding in large holes in the sides of some of the cubes as they rolled over me, keeping me completely safe underneath them. This was more a puzzle than a boss fight and wholly unlike anything I’ve ever encountered in a game before. And this is just one of the many unique encounters Remnant 2 offers up.

If you read the tag ‘Soulslike’ and were put off by how difficult the game might be, don’t be. As a whole, the combat is challenging, but not overly so, and can be tailored to your own preferences. The lowest difficulty, Survivor, has some fairly easy mobs and is perfect for anyone who’s not in the mood for anything too difficult, while players more confident in their skills will probably be more at home starting off on the next mode up, Veteran. But with two more levels above this, it can really be as easy or as hard as you want it to be.

Remnant 2 review: A flaming enemy runs across a bridge towards the player.

While most enemies feel well-balanced, and a sufficient challenge to take on, there is the odd enemy that feels distinctly unfair. Flaming enemies that charge you, lighting you on fire feel like a cheap way to overwhelm you, while you’ll find the odd elite capable of stunlocking you if you slip up. At multiple points I would successfully dodge an attack from an elite, only to get hit by a second attack before my dodge animation had even finished. These moments occur sporadically, but often enough to frustrate, breaking up the flow of an otherwise gratifying combat system.

Remnant 2 knows exactly what it is – a solid, no-nonsense shooter with thrilling combat that is challenging and satisfying in equal measure. Features new and old serve the sole purpose of enhancing the combat, with dozens of ways to tailor your playstyle. A lack of a cohesive narrative may put some off, but the unique, procedurally generated story system and multiple beautifully crafted biomes promise high-quality storylines on repeat playthroughs. The occasional frustrating mechanic threatens to detract from the experience, especially when played solo. But alone or with friends, Remnant 2 is unapologetically fun and frenetic if you’re willing to meet the challenge it lays down.


Remnant 2 successfully evolves on its predecessor, isolating and expanding upon the best aspects to create a cohesive and challenging shooter experience, supplemented by stunningly designed environments and a unique story system. A cooperative game at heart, its single-player campaign takes a hit, but never enough to substantially detract from the game’s successes.
8 Fluid and challenging combat Some excellent and one-of-a-kind boss fights Unique story system encourages repeat playthroughs Cooperative focus can cause frustration for solo players Occasional enemies with un-fun or unfair mechanics