A satisfying number of ways to make your character build unique
Bosses are challenging, with a wide array of mechanics
Enemies aren't simple cannon fodder
Performance woes on PC
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Let's go back four years to 2019. It's August 20th, and Remnant: From the Ashes has launched on PC (and consoles as well). The co-workers I convinced to preorder the game and I all jumped in together for a fantastic coop experience. We spent hours taking on worlds filled with numerous enemies and bosses alike.
A game based on solid shooting mechanics blended with souls-like difficulty. Sprinkle a little coop, a fun mix of classes, weapon abilities, and procedural generation, and that's Remnant. It's just dumb fun with a recipe that gives players a reason to return and keep playing. So, did Remnant 2 recapture those feelings for me? So far, yes. But not without some issues you need to be aware of.
Ahead of our final score, here's our review-in-progress for Remnant II.
Remnant 2 Review: The good stuff
The first title persuaded me with its sharp, dialed-in combat. Guns blazed the path of foes with a wide variety of weapon mods to complement the experience. Remnant 2 does the same, returning to form with some of the finest coop gunplay I've experienced. Chaotic in every sense but always seemingly manageable so long as you're on your game. Make a mistake; that's on you, and trust me, you'll make plenty.
Even the most seasoned of gamers will find a worthy challenge in the game. With three different selectable difficulties and a fourth unlockable post-credits, you'll surely get an experience right for you. Many times, I found myself dying to the silliest of things. Like getting myself stuck in a corner surrounded by adversaries because I ignored the hallway layout or jumping off a ramp to my death because I stupidly assumed there was ground beneath me. One time, I died because I completely forgot I had run out of Dragon Hearts before attacking the boss, Dragon Hearts being one of Remnants' souls-like healing mechanics, relics. All the deaths I've tallied on my pilgrimage through Remnant have been of my own doing.
You can find different relics scattered throughout the game, the second of which I encountered, called a Runed Heart, boosted my healing regen alongside granting me points towards powering my weapon abilities. These relics can also be modified further via relic fragments. While straightforward, every relic can slot three different fragments. These fragments are broken down into three colors: red fragments enhance damage, blue modifies defensive abilities, and yellow alters utility stats.
As you can see already, there's plenty of player choice to be made. Gamers will find themselves scratching their heads over which weapons to buy, mods to unlock, relics to use, and abilities to equip. Not every item you find will be good for your build, or even decent for the situation you're in. You'll need to consider your loadout multiple times over the course of the game if you want to be at your most effective.
Guns, first and foremost, are at the center of Remnant. While boss weapons exist, the base ones are nothing to scoff at. Powerful LMGs, quick lever-action rifles, thumping revolvers, there's something here for everyone. Both base and boss weapons come with the ability to upgrade to levels 20 and 10, respectively. Each requires different resources you'll find as you progress through the game.
Weapon mods are also present, allowing players to identify uniquely with their armaments. My early favorite was the Fire Shot for my LMG, increasing damage by 15% for roughly 20 seconds and applying a burn effect to enemies for another 10 seconds. It allowed me to tap smaller targets and let the burn finish them off while focusing on more prominent foes commanding my attention. Although, if you're like me, once you find that first boss weapon, you'll be hooked.
Not only do craftable boss items look amazing, but they come equipped with unique weapon mods that are equally excellent. One melee boss weapon I obtained in the first world reminded me of the dark blade from The Mandalorian. Take a backstep followed by a charged melee attack, and you unleash a literal whirlwind of cuts hitting enemies in all directions. It feels like something straight out of an anime.
This experience is enhanced further by other effects. Gone are armor set bonuses, instead replaced by mutators. These mutators can be passive or triggerable via something like a reload or charged melee attack. Equipping these only furthers your damage output or survivability in unforgivable environments.
Classes allow players to stand out from their friends or help in solo adventures. Be it a tank, healer, support, or DPS, the typical archetypes can be found. The Medic, for instance, was my first pick. Being primarily a soloist and someone who plans to keep my friends alive, one of its skills brings an attractive healing ability that applies to all party members in range, including myself. I no longer need to rely entirely on relics, as I can merely cast my ability on the ground after or during a fight to top off my health meter.
While the Medic is suited for solo and coop, another class shines even more when played solo. The Handler is a jack of all trades, able to self-resurrect using their companion so long as they have relics remaining. That companion? A lovely dog that you can pet! They're no slouch in coop either, as they offer damage-boosting potential for the group and paired with terrific support.
Many classes are better served to take on the challenge alongside a coop buddy or three. For instance, the Hunter class is a pure range build whose motto is, "The best defense is a better offense." There are no spraying bullets with the Hunter, as each and every shot needs to count. They can boost critical chances for themselves and teammates and mark enemies through walls for better enemy management for your party. Even Gunfire has stated that the Hunter has the highest skill ceiling of the bunch; it's definitely my secondary pick.
Speaking of which, once the player obtains ten traits either through defeating bosses or encountering them via Tomes of Knowledge scattered throughout the environments, they unlock the ability to dual archetype. Once equipped, your primary and secondary archetypes level at half the speed as if you only had one archetype selected. Only the primary archetype offers a Prime perk, and the secondary will offer its other bonuses. While leveling will be slower, having two equipped is more advantageous so the player can receive those extra benefits. You'll get to choose
If an ability doesn't suit you, every archetype has multiple to unlock. When running dual archetypes, players will have access to both sets of skills, giving players a total of 16 skills to mix and match from all classes.
Boss culture and their subordinates
While I haven't touched many of the game's worlds yet, the bosses thus far have been highly satisfying to play against. After your first jump through the World Shard, the planet you find yourself on is filled with desolation mixed with technological refinements. Bosses share this point of technology, but that's it.
As of writing, it doesn't feel like any particular boss has reused mechanics from another. That could change as I continue, which I sure hope doesn't. Going into every encounter blind and figuring it out on the go is always the best way to have these encounters. Seeing a boss's ability or similar tactic used later would take away from the game's overall satisfying difficulty level.
Outside of bosses, the enemies are relatively numerous, with adversaries that roam the overworld being uniquely individual from those found inside dungeons, caves, buildings, etc. The makeup of foes inside those areas, though, is shared. When on the same planet, there is little uniqueness between enemies inside these zones or the level's design. The time spent in these areas doesn't reflect any need for increased variety. By the time you've mastered the enemy type, you're onto the next world.
Remnant 2 Review: The bad stuff
The weakest part thus far has been its story. While serviceable, there are other highlights for gamers looking to take on games such as Remnant. The player will find themselves returning to Ward 13 from the first game, meeting up with the old and unpredictable Founder Ford. His actions cause the world stone to become activated again. You know, the same stone that unleashed all this chaos, to begin with the first game. He's either an idiot or a simple addict; who knows?
Story aside, the most glaring issue, at least on PC, has been performance. While not the latest and greatest, the rig I'm playing on is nothing to scoff at. A 5900X paired with a 3080 should be plenty for 1440p.
However, even on high settings, the game is unplayable without using one of the three super-sampling techniques. The game will even find itself dropping under 60 frames a second on medium settings. DLSS, or your GPUs variation, is an absolute must. Hopefully, these issues are fixed by launch.
Our Managing Editor, Richard Devine, has also been playing the PC version pre-release and things are much, much worse using an Intel Arc graphics card. There were some bugs with Intel's upscaler, XeSS, in the review notes, but the bugs seem to be making the game largely unplayable.
Without XeSS on, frame rates even at 1080p or lower struggle to hit 30 FPS most of the time, and with the upscaler turned on there are serious graphical issues that are nauseating. The frame rate will also still be really low in places.
There are streaks along the top and sides, pulsing colors and effects, it's really not good. Not even switching to FSR changes things, nor installing Intel's "game ready drivers", which makes it clear there are just fundamental issues running on these GPUs. For a game choosing to offer full support for Intel graphics, it's very disappointing.
Remnant 2 is also Steam Deck Verified, and has, for the most part, been OK. 30 FPS or higher is achievable at times on low settings, but not in Ward 13 and not in certain parts of the wider world.
Dropping resolution below 720p helps with FSR set to performance, but it doesn't totally fix things. If not from the developer, we'd expect some future tweaks to Proton at least could help. But there's certainly promise for playing this game on the Steam Deck.
Remnant 2 Review: Should you play it?
With all that considered, my time with Remnant so far has been pretty good. The most compelling aspects of the series return under what promises to be a refreshed story and worlds set to analyze and overthrow.
However, it's disappointing once again to see another PC game come to market with noticeable, and in some cases, severe, performance issues. It hasn't been a particularly good year for big PC releases so far.
I'm still deciding where the final score ends up, but it's been a reasonably solid experience getting to dive back in. Hope to see you out there in coop; if not, come back to check our definitive verdict before buying Remnant 2.
Michael has been gaming since he was five when his mother first bought a Super Nintendo from Blockbuster. Having written for a now-defunct website in the past, he's joined Windows Central as a contributor to spreading his 30+ years of love for gaming with everyone he can. His favorites include Red Dead Redemption, all the way to the controversial Dark Souls 2.