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Remnant II Review

Remnant II Review

Recently, I've gotten to try the third entry to the Remnant franchise with my wife, a title developed by Gunfire Games and published by Gearbox Publishing. Although we've had the original title in our libraries for a few months, gathering dust thanks to busy schedules and forgetfulness, we decided to jump straight into this one and tackle the first one later. So keep in mind, this is from the perspective of a complete newcomer!

Remnant II is a first-person shooter that prides itself in its soulslike challenge, with the added bonus of bringing up to two friends along with you throughout the entire campaign and even in Adventure Mode. The game starts off by introducing us to the post-apocalyptic setting as our character and their friend, Cass, get attacked by a swarm of enemies, only to be saved at the very last minute by two strangers who invite them over to their camp. As it turns out, Ward 13 is exactly the place they were looking for, a journey they had set out on because Cass has been afflicted with what seems to be a lethal illness that they can cure.

Since I didn't know much about the franchise, when I overheard two NPCs arguing and casually mentioning how one of them is 130 years old and the other apparently a reckless immortal leader, I was a bit taken aback! Unfortunately, although I find the story quite fascinating, I felt like it was a bit rushed, as I didn't get to grasp much about it before I was shoved into my first world. I don't know if it's the lack of context from the first entry, the fact that I'm pretty thick sometimes, or if it just isn't very clear, but I would have liked a tad more time to acclimate to the characters, world, and story.

Remnant II Screenshot 1 Cropped

That being said, after a quick tour around Ward 13, I met some interesting characters and then followed one of the leaders to the crystal I previously mentioned. Shortly after, it snatches the 130-year-old woman, and our protagonist jumps in straight after in hopes of saving her. This is when we learn that the story focuses on our character as they make their way through numerous worlds trying to figure out what's happening and where she's been taken to. 

Before we move on to the story and gameplay, I do want to mention how much I appreciate the way the developer approached the playable character. Whilst we get to choose their physique and voice, that is all the agency we get, as they have their own story and personality. I have become less enthralled by the idea of a fully customisable character because they’re obviously more bland, and I’d rather have a protagonist who carries me through a good story instead of a side character. Though, I do wish we could have had more options for physical appearance… but then again, you’re usually always wearing armour.

Once you’re ready to jump into the first world to save the woman, the game lets you know that at this point, you can join co-op with others, so my wife and I did just that. This is where one of my favourite aspects of Remnant II kicks in: the world you jump into isn't the same for everyone, as every player gets a different one, and the map is randomly generated each time. I was quite nervous about the randomisation because I thought it might lead to a lot of dead ends and emptiness, and although it's not particularly bursting with things to do, the combat is fantastic, and there are tons of random secrets and chests to uncover that will keep you busy, so it’s not really noticeable. It does mean that you have to be patient if you get a bad world or a bad boss before you’re fully used to the game, so if you pick the game up, try to not judge it too hard at first.

Remnant II Screenshot 2 Cropped

I would hate to spoil the environments and stories, so I'll be a bit vague here. Just within the first two worlds that my wife and I got to experience, I was absolutely smitten by the variation! Not only were the settings completely different, but each one had a fantastic variety of enemies and bosses to defeat. Although my favourite part is exploring the worlds, where you can fight a slew of enemies, find secrets, and unravel the stories, I ended up loving the bosses, too. My first few encounters with them weren't great, as either they had bothersome mechanics to increase the difficulty (such as trapping us in a small area with a boss who does a lot of area of effect attacks), or the boss' combos were a bit bland. 

That being said, the more we played, the more I began appreciating them, as the team over at Gunfire Games did a fantastic job at coming up with creative ways to change up the idea of boss battles. Whether we had to synchronise perfectly as we ran down steps avoiding enemies on a countdown or we had to fight off waves of enemies to save someone, they felt engaging, different, and rewarding. Soon enough, I looked forward to getting to the bosses as much as I did just wandering around killing enemies and collecting loot.

This was especially true as I found that the different worlds had a fantastic variety: while in the first one I was able to make my way through just shooting enemies and staying at a safe distance, the second one forced me to change up my approach to fight melee. This was a breath of fresh air because every world's differences went further than just aesthetics, as the stories, bosses, and enemies were very different, too! 

Remnant II Screenshot 3 Cropped

Once you defeat a boss, you can go back to Ward 13 and get a special weapon built around them. This was another one of my favourite features, as Remnant II has some of the most creative weapons I've seen in games, especially shooters, which usually rely heavily on just the same arsenal over and over. Very rarely have I been able to use a crossbow or a bow without feeling like it's a waste; whether quick or slow, modern or ancient, I had a ton of weapon options to choose from. For the first time in a while, the problem was narrowing it down to my favourites.

This customisability in the way you build your character extends past just the guns and bows, as you'll collect tons of rings (which you can equip a whopping four of!), armour, Shards, Relics, and Amulets. They all provide their own benefits and offer options whether you want to go defensive or offensive. And I haven't even mentioned the weapon mods and abilities, which all add tons of customisation, too! 

Very rarely do I enjoy being able to choose my own build in games, as there's usually only a handful of options that are actually viable. So, in order to test how it was in Remnant II, I didn't ask my wife for any tips and instead chose whatever I thought sounded the most fun to see how truly customisable the experience is, and I didn't struggle to defend myself at any point (except from sheer lack of skill).

Remnant II Screenshot 4 Cropped

Although I don't want to go into the many, many build options mentioned above to keep this review short and legible, I do want to touch on the Archetypes and Traits. When you get to Ward 13, you eventually get to choose your first Archetype from an option of four. There's a nice variation, from healer and tank to damage dealers and even one with a dog for solo play. Each one has three different abilities that you unlock as you level up, and you can swiftly change between them by just going into the character menu. Once you progress enough, you'll be able to unlock a second Archetype, and from it, you'll also be able to choose a second ability from three more, which allows for further customisation. Thankfully, even if the first Archetype you chose isn’t up your alley, you can change that one, too, as you level up and get to unlock them all! 

Not only does this work great when playing co-op to cover all the needs with a whopping sixteen Archetypes total (not including hidden ones), but it also adds a lot of replayability to the game, especially because you can level up and collect all of them in a singular character if you want. Additionally, for those who really like spending time finding every secret, Remnant II has several that are locked behind secrets for you to find... but you can always Google the answers if you're in a hurry to find them all.

The last build customisation option I'd like to dive into are the Traits. These you can collect throughout your playthrough by exploring the world or choosing to do certain things. As an example, one of the first I got was through a conversation with an NPC who questioned what I would do in hypothetical scenarios. Although you can't level up the ones given to you through Archetypes, you can use points on the ones you've collected otherwise; the benefits these Traits give range from giving you more defence to increasing the time your skills are active.

Remnant II Screenshot 5 Cropped

Finally, I'd like to touch on the aspect that I had most doubts about: co-op. Although it's not flawless because story-wise it’s a bit clunky, as only one person gets to talk to the NPCs at a time and — unless it's a pivotal character — the rest of the party doesn’t get to see the dialogue options or choice, the gameplay itself is fantastic! As you explore the worlds and beat bosses, everything any of the members collects is given to the entire group. This was a great relief to me, as I could run around regardless of my scattered brain and gather whatever I found without feeling guilty I would take anything from my wife. Similarly, I didn't have to worry that her sharp-shooting skills would cost me any important materials because we both shared loot. 

During fights, the ability to pick each other up after getting felled was handy because, with enough intelligent manoeuvring, we'd be able to help each other up during battle and continue the epic fight without a problem. Because my first Archetype was the healer and my wife’s the tank, it made particularly gnarly bosses feel similar to a dungeon in World of Warcraft, where I’d try to keep her alive while doing damage, and she’d take on most of the heat.

I have very few issues with Remnant II. The combat is challenging but not punishing or frustrating, the variation in enemies and worlds is fantastic, and there are no words to describe how enamoured I was with the audio design. But I do wish the protagonist's narrative — both story-wise and interactions with the NPCs — had gotten a bit more love, and that co-op hadn't felt so one-sided outside of gameplay. There are basically no reasons I can think of for any fan of FPS games, soulslike genre, or who have friends to play with that shouldn't pick up Remnant II; I leave the game smitten to my core. 

8.50/10 8½

Remnant II (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

I cannot have enough of Remnant II’s fantastic co-op gameplay, especially thanks to its intense replayability. However, I do wish there had been more emphasis on the story to have something to root for along the way!

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Violet Plata

Violet Plata

Staff Writer

Liable to jump at her own shadow.

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