Remnant II review for PC, PS5, Xbox Series X

Platform: PC
Also On: PS5, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Developer: Gunfire Games
Medium: Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

I thoroughly enjoyed Remnant: From the Ashes when it came out in 2019. It felt like a fresh new take on the ever-growing list of “Souls-Like” games that dominated the market then. The blend of gunplay and melee combat, coupled with exciting worlds to explore and an interesting story helped it stand above the competition in that genre.

Fast forward to 2023 and we get Remnant 2, an enjoyable (if not groundbreaking) sequel that was fun in the moment, but failed to hold my attention for very long. Part of the strength and weakness of Remnant II comes from the somewhat random, procedurally generated areas that you encounter. While the general design of the different worlds and “levels” remain the same, the layout is different for each person and for each playthrough. This keeps things feeling fresh across multiple playthroughs but takes some of the fun out of the co-op aspects and makes moving through areas in future playthroughs a bit more tedious.

The moment-to-moment combat is absolutely the highlight of Remnant 2. The third-person, over-the-shoulder gunplay is solid and allows each of the different weapon types to stand out and be effective in different combat scenarios. Melee combat is not great, lacking the weight that fans of true Souls games will be looking for. As you progress through the game and get better melee weapons with unique abilities, it becomes more viable, but I still found myself disengaging and relying on my ranged weapons more often than not. One of the best melee weapons in the game can be used as a ranged weapon, and that became the primary way I used it, which takes some of the “melee” aspect out of it.

Remnant 2 learned a great lesson from the first game and shortened the opening area/tutorial significantly. I would say it only took me about 30 minutes to get into the “real game” after booting up, which is way better than the 2ish hours I think it took for the first one. This jump straight into things is a double-edged sword, however. With so much of the story being centered around the events that take place in that opening 30 minutes, it doesn’t give you much time to connect with the other characters before they are ripped away and you have to begin your MacGuffin chase.

The story in Remnant 2 is paper thin and never draws you in past the initial premise. This lack of a gripping story doesn’t matter much when you’re engaged in combat or goofing off with your friends in co-op, but if you’re playing solo it can make for a more tedious experience. There is very little aside from the gameplay itself to grip you and draw you in, which makes it hard to recommend highly to folks that don’t have a dedicated group to play with.

Speaking of co-op, progress doesn’t transfer from one game to another, so clearing a level with your friends only counts for the host. If you are playing with a dedicated group and all want to “beat” the game, you will have to play through it 3 full times. Experience, as well as certain items and upgrades, do carry over, so it isn’t a complete loss, but I wish that the actual story progress carried over as well. Finishing a level/boss fight and then going to repeat it twice more for our group quickly became a hassle, and we eventually just chose one person to be the “host” and pushed through the game in his world only.

One of the best things about Remnant 2 is the price point, coming in at a reasonable $50, it sets itself apart from other games in the current landscape, releasing at $70 quite often now. That price difference is definitely indicative of the game itself, however, so keep that in mind. I feel like Remnant 2 might also be a bit of a victim of the year itself. 2023 has been absolutely MASSIVE as far as game releases go, and it isn’t slowing down. If Remnant 2 had been released in a bit of a dry year for games, I think it would have stood out more. As for this year, I think it has and will continue to be lost in the sea of fantastic other releases that overshadow Remnant 2.

I wanted to love this game, I really did. The team at Gunfire Games clearly poured a lot of love and lessons learned into this game, and they were kind enough to provide us with 3 codes for Remnant 2 so we could get effective co-op testing in. Unfortunately, a combination of some mechanics pulling the game down, as well as one of the biggest years for new releases EVER lead to Remnant 2 falling behind and getting a bit lost in the shuffle.

Note: Gearbox Publishing provided us with PC codes for review purposes.

Grade: B-