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Can You Play Remnant II If You Haven't Played Remnant: From the Ashes?

Can You Play Remnant II If You Haven't Played Remnant: From the Ashes?

Recently, I've had the pleasure of being able to enjoy (and subsequently die relentlessly throughout) Remnant 2. Armed with my gun, my trustworthy archetype, and my ever-loyal wife, I jumped into the game, sure that I was going to die enough that my confidence would finally take a hit and be more confused than a fish in a desert.

As a person that has never played Remnant: From the Ashes and has had the intention to for years, I decided I was going to skip the meal and go straight for the dessert by playing Remnant II first. This is an article from the perspective of someone whose only knowledge of Remnant: From the Ashes is "It's like that meme, 'it's the soulslike of shooters', but it’s actually a soulslike".

The Gameplay

As a gameplay-heavy title, I was genuinely worried that I was going to be lost in what I had to do because of its soulslike and sequel natures — both of these have a terrible habit of not teaching the player anything. And, truth be told, I was dumb enough not to understand how rolling and the Weight mechanic worked throughout my first (and second, and third...) playthrough of DARK SOULS III. Yes, I was that noob.

As I embarked on Remnant II, I found that it follows a similar playstyle typical of soulslikes. The rules of the genre still apply and ensure that the game is relatively accessible from that angle: dodge out of harm's way, try not to get greedy for hits because that's a surefire way to die, fail step one and step two and then complain the game is too hard... your usual soulslike experience.

That said, I'm not sure if it's my own stupidity or lack of context from Remnant: From the Ashes, but there were some things that felt a bit obscure. Although the Archetypes follow your typical classes, including the Healer, DPS, Tank, and Dog (every game should have that last one, to be honest), I was a bit confused about how the system worked.

There are so many levels to take note of that it's a bit absurd (in a good way!). You need to pay attention to your gear, your Archetype level, your Character level, your Traits... and it might be due to my ultrawide monitor, those HUD elements go to the corner of my eye where my ever-panicked self doesn't look amidst hectic gunfights, but the lack of tooltips and pointers meant I wasn't really aware of what I had to spend.

The second Archetype system is also obscure and unexplained, where I knew I should eventually be able to get a second class, but how was confusing. From the lack of explanations to the Engram to when I was supposed to be looking for this opportunity, Remnant II didn't readily offer this information to me.

That said, however, although Remnant II is a bit inaccessible (especially to soulslike rookies), I wouldn't say it's impossible to get into — common sense can take you a long way if you're willing to sift through menus. Once you start picking up on these mechanics, the game isn't really that much of an enigma; it just throws a lot at you, and being a soulslike title, I was likely too overwhelmed (or scared) to pay attention properly.

The Story

This is where I was sure I was going to falter. Despite knowing that Remnant: From the Ashes is a gameplay-heavy title, I thought that the narrative elements were far more central. Whether that's true or not remains a mystery to me, but Remnant II is still a relatively self-contained narrative.

This isn't to say that the game outright introduces you to elements of its world, but what is available is easy enough to grasp and comprehend if you piece the puzzle pieces together. Although I didn't feel lost at any point, there were certainly moments I felt that my lack of context took away from the punch of the narrative, as I know a lot of characters appear from the previous entry that would otherwise be of importance.

Despite that, however, you should be able to experience it just fine. You take control of a character that is new to the area, so everyone's willing to give you information and introduce themselves properly without expecting you to know too much about the world. Despite not really knowing the origins of what brought about the destruction of the world or the various callbacks, I was still able to get invested in the story without too much hassle — I just wished several times I knew more about the world.

Should you play the other game first?

In my opinion, as a person that jumped into Remnant II first, I'd say yes. The world doesn't take a lot of deciphering, and the narrative might be self-contained, but there are various reasons why I think you should start with Remnant: From the Ashes first.

Starting off, I think a lot of the narrative and nostalgia gets lost in parts that I should otherwise be familiar with and even remember. Characters that I know appeared in the original callback to events that I'm not really privy to, and although it makes sense narratively for the protagonist not to know, it would be nice to remember these events first-hand rather than experience them told by another person.

Though likely my most significant reason to suggest Remnant: From the Ashes is that community-wide, the consensus is that Remnant II is just better; it built on everything that the original was already praised for. And although I've adored my time throughout the journey (aside from some of the bosses that have made me want to scry (scream and cry), I am afraid that experiencing the sequel might just ruin the original by making it seem outdated.

Can you play Remnant II without knowing anything about Remnant: From the Ashes?

By strict definition? Yes. The game gives you all of the information that you need to be able to enjoy the narrative and gameplay experience independent of its original. The gameplay is self-explanatory (to soulslike veterans, at least), the story makes sense even without context, and there isn't anything that I've ever felt befuddled about throughout my adventure.

But would I recommend it? Not really. There is a lot that I feel I'm missing from first-hand experience, and although the gameplay works, I can't help but wonder which mechanics I'd be far more familiar with if I'd played the first. Everything works in technicality, but the lack of knowledge and expertise from the first title makes me feel like I'm yearning to know more — and truthfully, that isn't a satisfying stance to have.

Although I wouldn't say you should go out of your way to buy Remnant: From the Ashes before you experience the second one, I think that if you haven't bought Remnant II and are willing to try either, I'd suggest the first. Its core remains the same, but by playing it in this order, you'll get more narrative information, and if you love the first one, you'll be able to get a second one that is widely accepted as superior in every way possible. That feels more forward to me than starting with the sequel.

Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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