Remnant 2 review: Rootin' tootin' boogaloo

Remnant 2 refines the experience the first game offered, makes it rain loot, and invites you back for fresh punishment.


Remnant 2 is the sequel you want from a game like Remnant: From the Ashes. It keeps everything that worked well in the first game, irons out some wrinkles, and tweaks core systems to make for a more engaging experience. While there are a few rough spots, they add to the overall texture of the game and are never enough to detract from the otherwise smooth, frenetic, and intense action the series has become known for.

Rooting around

Three heroes walk toward a glowing tree

Source: Gunfire Games

The story of Remnant 2 begins basically where the last one left off. Enough time has passed that the inhabitants of Ward 13 have picked up shop and moved out of the dusky bunker and now reside in an industrial area beside a dock. After stumbling through the streets, you find yourself rescued by the friendly locals and are thrust along a journey to once again clean up the pesky Root that has left its tendrils wrapped around countless worlds.

The narrative is the justification for why you’re visiting worlds and defeating monsters but the reason you’re playing is the gameplay. The story, while intriguing, is just sort of there. I found myself never fully sure of my motivations beyond trying to save someone, search for keys, or to stop a dangerous threat.

Part of why the narrative suffers is how it swings between brief cutscenes offering only the slightest bit of information and massive exposition dumps from characters. You’ll engage in a bombastic boss fight full of enemies and action only to come to a shuddering halt as a character lectures you about their world’s history. It’s certainly a rich universe that Gunfire Games has created, with weapons, armor, and items offering descriptions to pore over, but it doesn’t quite nail the delivery.

Pruning and cultivating

Three heroes creep through a flooded ruin

Source: Gunfire Games

While the story and its delivery can be hit or miss, Remnant 2’s gameplay is its shining jewel. Like the first game, Remnant 2 pits itself as a co-op third-person shooter with a Dark Souls-like twist of difficulty. For those who played Remnant: From the Ashes, the sequel is going to feel immediately familiar and yet far more refined thanks to how Gunfire Games has rejigged the core systems.

To start with, the build crafting system is far richer and offers much more depth than the first game. The Dragon Heart healing item can be swapped out for other relics like one that increases health regeneration or another that offers lifesteal. On top of this, you can slot three fragments into the relic that slightly improve your build like increasing reload speed, movement speed, recoil reduction, ammo drops, and much more.

As for weapon mods, these return and feel as powerful as ever. Some might be familiar from the first game, like the Flame Shot mod, while others are brand new and offer unique and powerful effects. I was drawn to a mod that released a swarm of bugs that poisoned enemies, which combined with my lifesteal relic, meant I was healing passively while swapping to my other gun to fire a laser beam that would cause an explosion after dealing uninterrupted damage.

Three players run toward a doorway in the forest realm of Yaesha

Source: Gunfire Games

To make the build system even spicier, weapons can have an additional mutator on them, adding another type of effect. I slapped the Bandit Mutator on my Coach Shotgun which gave it a chance to not consume ammo. After a few upgrades, this chance was lifted to 20 percent, which meant there were times I would luck out and unleash half a dozen shells before reloading.

Some positive armor system changes also allowed me to engage in the fashion element. Armor no longer has set bonuses, which would lock players into a certain style if they wanted to get a specific benefit. Additionally, armor can’t be upgraded. What this means was I focused my resources elsewhere and could swap pieces in and out to get more elemental resistances and I didn’t have to worry whether or not the armor was upgraded.

The Handler commands his dog to attack a foe

Source: Gunfire Games

But the biggest differences with the builds in Remnant 2 are the Archetypes. In the first game, you could start as one class and slowly morph into whatever you want, equipping any item. In Remnant 2, the Archetypes act as classes, offering unique abilities specific to that class. Players will be able to have two of these Archetypes equipped at once, receiving the benefits from both, and can even purchase them all and swap them in and out at any time.

For example, I mained the Handler class, which meant I had a dog companion. I could send the dog to attack, call it back, and get it to howl to give a benefit to nearby allies. More importantly, if I went down, the dog could revive me or I could send it to revive a teammate. In the secondary Archetype slot I equipped the Challenger, who is basically a walking tank. Because the Challenger was my auxiliary Archetype, I missed out on its Prime ability, which is to heal a certain percentage of health upon receiving lethal damage. I could swap Challenger to be my main and have this ability active, but then my dog couldn’t revive me or my allies.

Suffice it to say, build complexity has accelerated in Remnant 2. For myself, it was rewarding to spend time tinkering with how I wanted my Archetypes set up, experimenting with weapons at the shooting range, and debating over which rings (you can equip four), mutators, and relic fragments I wanted equipped to eke out just a bit more damage or survivability. For those that clear the basic difficulties, the real experience begins once you set your sights on Nightmare and Apocalypse Adventures, where honing your build will be of utmost importance.

Every rose has its thorns

A Challenger does its stomp attack at a flying creature

Source: Gunfire Games

Remnant: From the Ashes prided itself on its challenge, fusing together tight gunplay with tough mobs and brutal boss fights full of flourish and tricks. I’m pleased to report that the challenge remains in Remnant 2, even when playing on the lowest Survival setting.

As you progress through the game, and ultimately finish it, your build will be crafted and perfected, at which point you can bump up the difficulty and play it again. But it’s not just a copy-paste of the first playthrough. You might experience new bosses, new characters, and events you didn’t see in your first run. It’s just another element of replay value, giving dedicated players another thing to chase once the credits roll.

However, there were a few times where I felt the difficulty was unfair. Some of the enemies can do a grapple move that is a one-hit kill, removing you from the fight permanently. It was frustrating to only just start a boss fight and have this happen and then spend the next while watching, with no option for my allies to revive me. It felt cheap, as though there was no way I could recover off a slight mistake, and left my team disadvantaged right out of the gate.

Two players attack a boss, one uses a rifle while the other attacks with a chainsaw sword

Source: Gunfire Games

While Remnant 2’s difficulty does have a steady and consistent feel, there are places where it fluctuates wildly. The final major boss fight was one of these moments. After handling ourselves quite well throughout the whole campaign, we ran head first into the last boss. The spike in difficulty was severe, requiring us to go back and farm areas, play on the others’ campaigns, and come back after some upgrades. This was the first time throughout the whole campaign that we had to step away and farm to gain more power and it ultimately felt out of pace with how the rest of the challenges were delivered.

I had a similar issue with the first game and its various final boss fights across the base experience and DLCs. In saying that, while I do have gripes with Remnant 2, many of the issues I had with Remnant: From the Ashes have been addressed. Stamina consumption only occurs during combat, which makes running between areas far more forgiving. Unlike the first game, Remnant 2’s worlds are more tightly knitted together, with less downtime between gunfights. Additionally, players can now speak to merchants at the same time – no more waiting in line to speak with McCabe to see what new mod or weapon she can begrudgingly forge for you.

Another returning element from Remnant: From the Ashes that I adored is the puzzles. I no doubt missed plenty, but those that I did find were worth solving. One puzzle had me igniting braziers so their color all matched, but shooting a brazier reversed the colors on either side of it. Another required reading a book on the ground to recognize a symbol, finding that symbol and discovering a set of associated sigils, and then inputting them into a dial to open a door. These all felt rewarding, as I would walk away with a powerful new ring, a set of armor, or a weapon for my troubles. It left my squad wanting to scour the world to see what puzzles we might have missed.

Sweet smell of success

A large faerie stands at the end of a pool with stars twinkling behind her

Source: Gunfire Games

Remnant 2’s action, loot, and bosses are cranked up to 11. It’s a marked improvement over the first game, with the fat trimmed and all the good parts ready for devouring right from the start. There’s a lot to love here, with more surprises and reasons to play even after multiple playthroughs. Though I do have a few gripes, they fade into the background as there’s just so much to enjoy here in the minute-to-minute gameplay.

This review was based on a pre-release PC review code provided by the publisher. Remnant 2 releases on July 25, 2023 for PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5.

Guides Editor

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler brings a bit of the southern hemisphere flair to his work. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and entering the video game industry, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can message him on X: @SamuelChandler 

Review for
Remnant 2
  • Archetype system works well as a foundation for build crafting
  • Weapons, mods, and movement flow together into chaotic action
  • Bosses and firefights are intense and challenging across various difficulties
  • Randomized bosses, loot, and story beats encourage multiple replays
  • Plenty of lore to dig into
  • Enemy one-hit kills can feel unfair
  • Difficulty spikes wildly toward the end
  • Story swings between not enough info and exposition dumps
From The Chatty
  • reply
    July 20, 2023 7:00 AM

    Sam Chandler posted a new article, Remnant 2 review: Rootin' tootin' boogaloo

    • reply
      July 20, 2023 7:05 AM

      What's multiplayer like? Borderlands- esque?

    • reply
      July 20, 2023 7:06 AM

      This one of them…looter shooters?

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        July 20, 2023 8:06 AM

        It's somewhere between Dark Souls with guns and roguelite looter shooter. There's no game as a service shit.

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          July 20, 2023 8:07 AM

          Yeah I don’t want a repetitive MMO experience so I’m a bit unsure about this one

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            July 20, 2023 8:39 AM

            Replaying areas is a thing since they're randomly generated and the events/zones/loot/bosses that occur in them are random as well, but unless you're farming for a specific thing there's not much reason to do things over and over and over. The game expects you to replay areas a little to power up your character for the end but there's enough variety for that. Plus you share rewards and stuff when doing coop.

            I think it's got a good balance between being a satisfying finite experience and having reasons to keep playing. You can beat the first game in 30-40 hours if my 34 hours on record is an indication.

            The game's not perfect and has a few low points but I enjoyed it way more than expected.

          • reply
            July 20, 2023 8:52 AM

            Nothing about it is mmo like

            • reply
              July 23, 2023 6:13 PM

              I make $100h while I’m traveling the world. Last week I worked by my laptop in Rome, Monti Carlo and finally Paris…This week I’m back in the USA. All I do are easy tasks from this one cool site. check it out,

    • reply
      July 20, 2023 7:43 AM

      I wish I could get excited about this. It seems like it should be cool, but I hit the first boss (Shroud) in the first game and just could not make progress. I couldn't make a dent in the boss before dying, and the options for farming up XP and gear were super limited, so I gave up on the game.

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        July 20, 2023 8:11 AM

        I didn't like that the difficulty seemed to be based around timing dodge rolls and constantly having to reload (slowly)

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        July 20, 2023 12:08 PM

        I dropped the first at the same point, tried a couple times and then just logged out and never went back to try it again

        • reply
          July 20, 2023 12:25 PM

          I tried to figure out if I was missing something, and people here suggested maybe I needed to go farm, but couldn't figure out how I'd do that other than just running the same hallway over and over, which would be stupid.

          With the talk of Remnant 2, I've since looked up how to beat Shroud: Keep moving to avoid the AoE explosions, kill the adds, shoot him after he teleports (preferably in the head). Which, since I was already doing that, is not helpful except to tell me that the encounter design and/or balance is fucked.

      • reply
        July 20, 2023 12:09 PM

        I hit Gorefist and same deal. Unsoloable. Why does HE need 4 adds?

        • reply
          July 20, 2023 12:20 PM

          Also I think he and the adds all ran faster than I did.

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        July 20, 2023 12:37 PM

        That sucks, it's a pretty classic souls-like in that you basically get gud or get op or both

      • reply
        July 20, 2023 1:38 PM

        I fired up the game last night for the first time, and while I didn’t love it and am not sure if I’ll continue, I didn’t find that first boss that difficult. I think I got him on my third try. This was solo as the melee focused character.

        I was intrigued because everyone classifies this as a soulslike, but the combat felt off to me. I see the connections to souls style games but the combat seemed too arcadey to me. I didn’t feel like I had enough precise control over what was happening with my character or the environment.

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          July 20, 2023 2:20 PM

          It's definitely more of a shooter than a melee game. Like you can do melee, but it was an afterthought/not at all the focus and it shows in the gameplay I think (also have to make pretty specific builds/items to make it work for later game shit).

    • reply
      July 20, 2023 12:25 PM

      Did they make the good boi less growly and aggro?

      That's my only complaint about Remnant 1, I wanted to play with the dogo by my side but it's growl was a bit too loud and constant, so it would keep me on alert when there were literally no enemies nearby.
      And when there were enemies close it would constantly chase them and pull extra baddies, I could handle them because good boi was tanky but a bit annoying there was no AI controls for the companion.

    • reply
      July 20, 2023 12:48 PM

      Awesome, my body is ready and I am already all pre-orderd on the PC and ready :) . Also as a side note : it is pretty awesome that Remnant 2 is using UE5 + Nanite and will most likely get Lumen post launch, man I wish it was the weekend already :(

      Feels good man \m/ :) \m/

      • reply
        July 20, 2023 12:49 PM

        Oh snap! Is this one of the first with the tech.

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          July 20, 2023 1:20 PM

          Pretty much, Fortnite is the only other released UE5 game that uses Nanite so Remnant 2 is the very first commercial none in house game to use UE5 + Nanite which is pretty massive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      July 20, 2023 1:30 PM

      Humble members get 20% off

    • reply
      July 20, 2023 6:09 PM

      Definitely ready to play!

    • reply
      July 23, 2023 6:13 PM

      hay how are you buddy

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