Remnant: From the Ashes took everyone by surprise last year. From the team at Gunfire Games, Remnant managed to do what many have failed: bring the Soulsborne formula into a new genre. And now, some eight months after its release, the game is receiving its first DLC. The Swamps of Corsus DLC looks to expand its namesake, introduce new armor, weapons, mods, and traits, while also adding a new roguelike mode. As far as DLCs go, Swamps of Corsus is an excellent experience and every other Souls-like game needs to pay attention to Survival Mode.
This piece of content gets its name from an in-game region called Corsus. The swampy and corrosive area has received a new style of dungeon, as well as some new bosses for players to face. Players will also have the opportunity to finally see the results of their actions, depending on their choice with the Guardian Heart. For those that may have forgotten, the Guardian Heart was a plot point in the campaign where players had to choose who received the heart, the Iskal Queen or the Undying King.
For those players that may be in the later stages of a campaign run, the new Corsus region can thankfully be accessed via the Adventure mode. This provides the chance to farm for more upgrades, tackle the new bosses, and complete another little vendor quest.
Overall, the expanded area is a welcomed addition, especially for those that were left wondering about the ramifications of siding with the Undying King. And I’ll tell you now, those ramifications are brutally challenging.
But the real selling point for the Swamps of Corsus DLC is the brand new mode. Called Survival Mode, this is entirely separate from the main campaign and offers players a roguelike experience. Players are given a blank character and are set loose in smaller, more intense versions of the areas seen in the campaign.
With nothing but a pistol, players must search for books that contain random traits, weapons to get a fighting chance, and even bits of armor. At the end of each area or dungeon is a random boss fight, so knowledge of the game is fairly essential.
One problem I noted in my review of Remnant was the slowdown between the action. There was a lot of running through empty areas just to reach the next dungeon. I’m pleased to report that Survival Mode solves this problem. Instead of the large and branching areas of the main game, this new mode has smaller, straight-shot areas packed full of enemies.
It’s this hyper-focus on combat that makes Survival Mode an intense, adrenaline-filled romp.
This intensity is further heightened by the timer. You see, every five minutes, the enemies in the world grow stronger. Take too long searching for gear and you’ll likely make the next boss fight a bit more difficult. On the flip side, speed through the level and you might enter the boss fight underprepared.
The timer may seem innocuous, but it has such a profound effect. There’s this delicate balance between exploration and momentum that enriches the entire experience.
Even though Survival Mode provides no advantages for the campaign or adventure modes, it does at least offer rewards. Defeating powerful enemies has a chance to drop Glowing Fragments. Take these back to a new vendor and you can swap them for armor skins – pre-existing armor styles that fit over the top of your gear. This lets you look like you’re wearing the Void set while you’re still gaining the benefits of the Drifter’s Set.
One inescapable problem of roguelikes is that the challenge lies in the random nature of rewards. Sometimes you can be just plain unlucky. No decent weapons in the shop, few rewards in the dungeons, and a boss you’ve not seen before. But it’s this random nature that lovers of the genre have come to embrace.
Beyond just the challenge of the random gear and the timer, there are also four difficulty levels, starting at Normal. Even those with some experience may find the Normal difficulty challenging. In saying this, I definitely expect to see some highly skilled players attempting – and dominating – the Apocalypse setting.
Survival Mode has left me wishing that all Soulsborne and Soulslike titles included some kind of roguelike experience. There’s something enjoyable about fighting a boss you’re intimately familiar with, all while using a completely foreign build. Other Soulslike developers need to sit up and pay attention because this is superb.
The Swamps of Corsus DLC isn’t something I knew I needed. But now that I’ve got it, it just makes perfect sense. It adds more flavor to the delicious feast that is Remnant. The expanded Corsus region, with its new bosses and new gear, is great, but the Survival Mode is what every Soulsborne game needs.
These impressions were based on a PC Steam release. The game was provided by the publisher. Remnant: From the Ashes’ Swamps of Corsus DLC is available on PC on April 28, 2020 with a console release coming soon.