Remnant 2 is set years after the first game. The Root, corrupted creatures with thorny growths, have continued to infest worlds. Throughout my journey, I met a curious cast of characters, ranging from familiar faces and gruff survivalists, down to the ethereal and strange. Given the soulslike nature, there isn’t a lot of hand-holding either. The narrative and clues are as cryptic as they get, allowing you to immerse yourself in Gunfire Games’ finely crafted environments when you play through, as I did.
This time around, there are five total zones to explore in Remnant 2. There’s Losomn, which gave me Bloodborne vibes owing to gothic horror themes. Likewise, there’s forested Yaesha, which veterans of the first game might remember. You’ll even get to visit N’erud, an ash-covered wasteland filled with hostile robots and Destiny-esque “shanks” or drones.
As you venture forth, you’ll encounter puzzles, which I absolutely love here in Remnant 2. Some can be fairly easy to solve, though others will likely stump you for hours. There were even cases when I searched every nook and cranny in a zone just to reach a distant portal to a secret.
Each location evokes a unique atmosphere, one that’s dark and foreboding, as you can never tell what lurks around the corner. When playing, I selected the PS5’s performance mode setting, which is capped at 60 fps. I did not encounter any egregious issues, such as crashes or freezes. However, I did notice slightly frayed and frazzled edges on objects and the environment and it wasn’t as clean as it could be. Since motion blur makes me feel nauseated if I play for several hours straight I would have preferred a setting to turn this off when exploring.
It’s worth noting that Remnant 2’s destinations rely on the series’ dynamic replayability and campaign progression. With these in mind, your playthrough experience might be different from mine and your friends (if you are playing solo). For instance, while I progressed through Losomn, I heard of an asylum that was the haunt of a vile spirit called the Nightweaver. I collected wooden dolls, grabbed a unique weapon, entered a castle, and finally faced the Nightweaver herself in the asylum grounds.
My campaign progression was drastically different compared to another reviewer’s journey. Rather than enter the asylum, he met a juggler that gave him a quill, one that could open murals in the walls and allow you to pass through to new locations and areas. He then found two masks, which allowed him to enter a castle where a boss named Faelin lurked.
This was just the first zone. Down the line, you’ll meet other characters that have their own tasks for you, which will eventually lead you down your own path.
In spite of dynamic progression and replayability, I prefer being able to experience everything that the campaign has to offer in one run. Sadly, this isn’t possible in Remnant 2. But, this does offer a substantial amount of replayability, and with a vast set of weapons, classes, and ways to play the game, it didn’t bother me too much and I actually enjoyed the fact it gave me a reason to explore the luscious worlds more and take on the engaging fights over and over.
Adventure Mode does exist, which are self-contained and shorter runs, though this was not to my liking, because of its shorter length and the fact it cuts out a lot of the content.
Additionally, world bosses or major bosses can have alternate ways to kill them. For example, in the N’erud zone, my main objective was to find three items to reach a ship’s core. I could either disable it or override the controls. Both methods led to the same gigantic alien boss, the Sha’hala, though its attacks differed depending on your choice to get to it. That also meant the rewards were different. During my first run, I was able to craft a sword that had a whirlwind slice. However, on my second run using a backup save, I received a gun that could fire a mini-supernova and crescent beams.
I was ecstatic about this, and the fact care was put into creating variety when taking on the same bosses over and over and in how you approach levels and fights.
However, in this case, I realized that the death of the boss when following this alternate kill method also made the entire zone inaccessible for storyline purposes. This definitely surprised me, as I didn’t expect such a drastic result, with no method to make the entire region accessible again. Thankfully, since I was using a backup save, I reverted to a previous file that followed a different path. However, I do think this would put off completionists who would have wanted to explore the rest of the zone.
Since I mentioned battling Remnant 2’s unique bosses with creative mechanics, let’s talk more about combat. Remnant 2 has punishing battles, where a couple of hits can leave you reeling, much like the first game. Compared to other soulslike games, you’ll still need to time your dodge perfectly to avoid damage.
However, you won’t need to worry about parrying, blocking, or dying. Dying doesn’t cause you to lose your XP, leading to a “corpse run” where you have to retrieve it. The game tends to be more forgiving in this regard since the only thing you lose is time (and any consumables that you’ve used).
In some ways, not being as punishing as other soulslike titles means that it’s more approachable for newcomers to the genre. You’re free to experiment with your builds and loadouts until you come up with a guaranteed way to defeat your foe.
My only complaint here is that there was no way to change the controller button input since there’s only one default option. As someone who plays a lot of action games, I’m used to having the trigger buttons for aiming/shooting, and the square button for attacking. It took me a while to adjust since the R2 button was used for both melee strikes and shooting (while you’re aiming).
Complementing your offense and defense are archetypes, which are the name of the Remnant 2 classes. You get to choose one main archetype at the start of the campaign. These include the precision-shot-focused Hunter, the tanky Challenger, and the Handler, which happens to have a dog companion that can distract enemies and heal you. Moreover, you can unlock a second archetype that can be “equipped” to gain its skills and perks, allowing you to multiclass. And, beyond that, you’ll be able to discover additional hidden archetypes, too.
In my case, I focused on the Medic class, primarily because I mostly played solo and I needed the healing. Armed with my trusty machine gun and pistol, I mowed down countless foes, before switching to a melee weapon to bash them in the head. And, if ever I was too concerned with survival, all I had to do was pop my AoE healing ability. A bit later, I dual-classed with a Medic and Handler setup: I had the former’s rapid healing and the latter’s HP regeneration and passive revive, so what’s not to like?
In addition to the above, Remnant 2 forgoes its predecessor’s armor upgrades. Now, armor simply has defensive values for damage reduction, and you’ll only need to focus on weapon upgrades. Similarly, you’ll socket Mods that can fire certain types of ammo or energy projectiles, and Mutators that are more akin to passive bonuses for your armaments.
To top it all off, there are traits that can be improved, further giving you the option to tailor-fit a build to suit your playstyle.
Evidently, my solo playthrough was made more manageable since I chose support-focused classes like the Medic and Handler. Moreover, I used gear pieces, mods, mutators, and traits that improved my survivability further. Though my character still took the brunt of the damage, there were ways for me to get back on my feet. I had an amulet that increased fire and burning damage, which was great since my machine gun’s mod blasted foes with flaming bullets.
I chose traits that bolstered my HP, stamina, damage reduction, and XP gains.
Conversely, I can’t say the same for other archetypes and setups. I’ve leveled the Gunslinger and Summoner classes for a bit and found them underwhelming. Coincidentally, I’ve also tested a Handler and Hunter combination, which was more bearable, though not as optimal as the aforementioned Handler and Medic setup.
In short, my enjoyment and progression as a solo player were entirely dependent on the classes I chose. Other archetypes tend to be beneficial when you’re playing co-op with other players since they’ll provide utility buffs and healing instead. Remnant 2 can be a lot of fun if you choose the right classes and upgrades for your team or the ones geared towards solo play. But, picking the wrong ones can make it far less enjoyable.
The pacing of combat also left a lot to be desired. In some ways, it felt as though Remnant 2 was designed with only multiplayer in mind, turning into a hassle for solo players, which was also an issue in the first game. There were sections packed full of enemies, eventually causing a warhorn to blare, which made an elite enemy pop up. Since this happens in every level, it can turn into a rather tedious affair. But, if you are playing with friends or you are a skilled enough player, the same tough and exhilarating combat from the first game is just as enjoyable here.
Remnant 2 holds a special place among the best PS5 co-op shooters due to its replayability factor, as well as its memorable multiplayer. After roughly 50 hours of playing Remnant 2 feels both fresh and familiar, offering improvements for fans while being engaging for newcomers. At the same time, it retains concepts and mechanics that veterans would recognize right from the start.
Remnant 2 (PS5)
Featuring multiple classes, strange worlds, frantic combat, and astounding replayability, Remnant 2 more than improves on the foundation laid by its predecessor, making for an enjoyable and action-filled romp.