Remnant: From The Ashes entered the looter-shooter space in 2019, defining its core loop with procedurally-segmented levels and Dark Souls-inspired mechanics like a stamina-based dodge roll and limited-use health consumables. Remnant’s fresh take on the shooter genre attracted praise, including Game Informer’s review which states, “Strong systems and a satisfying gameplay loop give Remnant: From The Ashes a powerful foundation, even if the experience is mired by repetitive and uninteresting bosses and environments.“
While it remains to be known whether the sequel’s procedural levels will still be interesting after several hours of play (the environments I explored at Summer Game Fest didn’t necessarily blow me away) developer Gunfire Games includes several notable improvements in Remnant II. The most prominent addition is an expanded archetype system featuring at least four classes: The Gunslinger, which offers the most-familiar gameplay for returning players; The Handler, a supporting character who controls a pet dog; The Hunter, who specializes in sniper-focused strategies and critical hits; and The Challenger, the brutish archetype I chose to play for its heavy sword, shotgun, and “Warstomp” ability, which staggers enemies in a cone-shaped area of effect. While we don’t know the full details, Gearbox Publishing tells us “multiple archetypes can be unlocked during play, leveled up, and equipped together for a variety of playstyles.”
Rifles, pistols, and shotguns offer various screen shake intensity and damage output levels, making most of Remnant II’s weapons empowering. Each piece of equipment changes the look of your character – a requirement for any great loot-based game – and fits the series’ dark-fantasy look well, with worn pieces of metal, patinated leather, and glowing elements adorning the characters. I discovered many stylish items throughout my play session, and I already imagine how I want to customize my Challenger in the full release.
The first game’s tree-like enemies, collectively known as The Root, return in Remnant II. This time, the invasive species introduces new variants, with serpentine plants and hooded archers that vanish after firing arrows at you. Basic enemies like the Root Nemesis and Root Flyer return, adding more volume to the hordes you face while exploring. Notably, Gunfire Games seems to be reworking its approach to boss designs, relying less on enemy waves and focusing more on distinct setpieces, which is very exciting.
Other quality-of-life improvements, like a new 3D map with tilt and pan controls, have made their way into this release. This addition contextualizes environments well and features a legend to quickly grasp what any map icon means. Additionally, a new inspection option allows you to rotate and get a closer look at the surface details of any item.
I’m eager to play Remnant II, especially after experiencing co-op play in my recent hands-on session, but I’m unsure how the sequel will compete in such a saturated market. After all, loot-based games – even single-player ones – are more prominent now than when the series materialized in 2019. Still, I’m hopeful Gunfire Games’ unique visual style, procedural level design, and exciting combat expertise will deliver a worthwhile action experience when Remnant II releases in the coming weeks.