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Remnant 2 is shaping up to be a tight and terrific co-op shooter

We got hands-on with Gunfire Games' procedurally-generated, third-person shooter soulslike Remnant 2 at GDC 2023, and things are looking promising.

Remnant 2 preview: A close up of a woman wearing a baseball cap, bathed in red light

Despite having a soft spot for co-op shooters, I never found the time to play Remnant From the Ashes, and while I’m fully aware the first game had its flaws, I do regret not giving it a go. Well, after recently messing around with a short but sweet demo of Remnant 2 at GDC in San Francisco, I’ll be sure not to leave myself with any regrets this time around.

While I was only able to play solo on a short, procedurally-generated section, which led to a single encounter with the already revealed boss, The Mother Mind, Remnant 2 still offered a great experience. I played through this section three times, using three different Remnant 2 classes. My mixed fortunes on these runs highlighted just how unique each class is, and how strategy and mastery of each character will be important – this is a welcome change from the occasionally skin-deep class systems found in other co-op shooters.

From the early look I’ve had at the menus (which are still being tinkered with and are subject to change, according to the Gunfire Games dev I was with) the class system just about toes the line between being meaningfully deep and unnecessarily bloated. As a Destiny 2 player, I don’t have space in my life for another shooter with quite that level of buildcrafting, but I don’t want an experience that throws in a half-baked class system for the sake of it either. Remnant 2 seems to have found an ideal spot between those two markers.

There are several classes to pick from (known as archetypes in the game), which hold various perks and upgradeable facets. Archetypes can also be combined, so that you can, for example, run the quick-firing, damage-dealing Gunslinger but with the added benefits of the support-orientated Handler. While it looks intimidating on a first glance, I think this system stops just short of being too complicated, so it’ll hit the sweet spot for tactical players.

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In a similar vein, Remnant 2’s souslike boss fights also look like they will sit in an enjoyable middleground for me. I was pleased to see in my battle with The Mother Mind that the floating plant monster was not a simple-minded bullet sponge, and nor was it some Malenia-level encounter overloaded with different attacks and mechanics. As someone who is a complete Remnant novice, a fairly dire soulslike player, but experienced with shooters, it felt like just the right level of challenge for me – make of that what you will.

However, while I enjoyed my clash with The Mother Mind, I am still a little bit concerned. As boss encounters take place in an undetermined order in each playthrough of the heavily-randomised Remnant 2, I am worried bosses may lack a certain level of gameplay diversity to ensure players don’t get stuck with a very difficult boss right out the gate. While the developer I was with explains that boss difficulty will scale through things like overall health, it will be an impressive feat if Gunfire can give every boss in the game a truly distinctive feel while keeping a steady difficulty curve. That’s something we’ll find out in the future though, so let’s snap back to the present.

Remnant 2 preview: A player points at a glowing red boss, instructing their dog companion to rush towards it

I found gunplay to be very smooth and enjoyable, with a nice range of weapon types. The movement felt pretty slick most of the time too, despite a couple of janky moments when dodging and jumping. From what I’ve seen about Remnant From the Ashes, Gunfire has made a big leap forward in these two departments.

The only real disappointment during my preview was that Gunfire wasn’t flexing the muscles of its procedurally generated worlds. I was confined to a small playspace, and while it was created with procedural generation, the same set area was used for each of my three playthroughs. As this is the real big USP for Remnant 2, and a considerable advancement from the tech used in From the Ashes, I was surprised not to see any showcasing of this during the preview. While the combat, bosses, and RPG systems behind the archetypes are all impressive and core aspects of the game, Remnant 2’s procedural wizardry was the thing I was most excited to see. Sadly, that’ll have to wait until next time.

Overall though, I’m feeling optimistic about Remnant 2, and I’m already thinking about when I’ll be able to get my hands on it next. The exact Remnant 2 release date is yet to be confirmed, but Gunfire has said it plans to drop the game this summer. Hopefully, just like what I’ve seen of it so far, Remnant 2’s procedural world-building will hit the same sweet spot and become one of the best co-op games on the market.

Expect more previews and coverage from GDC on The Loadout over the coming days.