When the original Remnant: From the Ashes launched, its mix of third-person shooter action and Souls-like difficulty struck a chord with many a Shacknews staffer. The action was intense to say the least and provided a nice 3-player squad-based experience akin to that of the Destiny series. Now, Gunfire Games is ready to take all the goodness from the original title and crank it up to the next level with the upcoming Remnant 2, which is looking chock-full of new features and quality of life improvements. I had a chance to go hands-on with an early PC build of the game during GDC 2023 and it has left me wanting more.
The first, and one of the more prevalent changes in Remnant 2, would have to be the new class system. Each character class has a primary and secondary gun along with a melee weapon, which is pretty much how things were in the first game. However, the new character archetypes seem to really be upping the ante by adding unique abilities and skills into the mix for each one.
The Challenger is your tank class and comes equipped with a shotgun and a massive sword for dealing a lot of up close and personal damage to enemies. They can also pull off a ground stomp move and knock any combatants close by on their butts. It’s definitely looking like a good character for frontline players.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we find the Gunslinger class, which can deal hefty damage from a long range and has a special ability that targets multiple enemies at once. This is definitely a class for folks who won’t want to get their hands dirty during a fight and would prefer to pick off enemies from a distance.
Then there’s the Handler, which comes with its very own dog companion. Handlers can send their puppers to attack enemies, help their teammates, and if they go down in combat their dogs can even revive them. It’s a very intriguing new support class to say the least. And as someone who has played through every Borderlands game as whichever character had an NPC companion, this class had my interest piqued immediately.
What’s even crazier is that players won’t be stuck using just one class throughout the game and will at some point be given the option to dual class. That means you can have a Gunslinger/Handler or Challenger/Handler character, along with any other class combinations that may get revealed before the game’s launch.
Character archetypes aren’t the only thing that Gunfire is looking to expand upon either. One thing that the devs seem to be focusing on is more verticality overall. That goes for combat and exploration as well. Many of the creatures I faced during my brief demo were flying squid-like creatures that could shoot lasers or grab me and try to eat me. Players are going to have to manage enemies flying through the air, charging at them head first on the ground, and using projectiles to try to take them down.
New abilities to traverse landscapes are also going to come in handy this time around. As I was traveling through a new version of the jungle world Yaesha I was able to climb up a platform to certain areas. And at one point I found myself leaping from the top of one broken cobblestone archway to another, slowly making my way through a little maze to a hidden treasure chest. It certainly seems that there is going to be plenty to explore in Remnant 2.
The combat aspects are feeling solid too. It’s been a moment since I’ve played the first Remnant, but things were still noticeably snappier with Remnant 2’s gameplay. The pacing of everything just felt quicker and tighter. At one point I found myself fighting a few of the previously mentioned flying squids along with a very cultist-looking fella in a robe who kept sending columns of flames darting my way. As intense of a battle as it was, the pacing of dodging, shooting, and doing my best not to end up dead, had a great flow to it that many fans of the original will be familiar with; only this is definitely feeling like an elevated experience.
My last little bit of fun during my Remnant 2 hands-on preview came in the form of a boss fight. Remember those flying squid monster things? I had to take on the baddest of them known as Mother Mind as the final stretch of my demo. This thing was massive and had a number of attacks at its disposal. I found myself dodging out of the way as it tried to stab and crush me with its tentacles, dodging piles of acidic goo it would spit on the ground, shooting down minions, and even running from platform to platform as it destroyed the sections I had been standing on.
Finding the timing to properly dodge those attacks and maximize my damage took me a few tries, but I was finally able to take that bad momma down. Even then, I just barely scraped by and one more hit and it would’ve been all over for me. But that high-intensity and great feeling of relief and satisfaction is exactly what made battles like that so great in the first Remnant, and if it’s any indicator of everything else we can expect from Remnant 2, this is going to be a no-brainer recommendation when it launches.
This preview is based on hands-on time with a work-in-progress PC build of Remnant 2 during GDC 2023. Remnant 2 is set to launch on Steam, Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and Epic Games Store some time in 2023, but does not currently have a release date.