Remnant II PC Review
This has been a strange review to write being the massive Remnant: From the Ashes evangelist I am. Since its release it has been a constant recommendation from me to, yes, both shooter and souls-like fans, but also anyone I could convince to try something new – I absolutely love it. Now here we are four years later and my excitement for Remnant II is at its peak as I see posts and tweets about just how much it improves over the original. You mean it’s somehow even better than one of my favourite games of the last few years? How?! My mind races with possibilities of the different worlds I’ll be travelling to, the crazy new boss fights there’ll be, new modes and, of course, the array of sweet new guns to try out. Then I started to play and for the entire thirteen or so hour campaign I was constantly trying to convince myself that the new amazing stuff was just up around the next corner. Perhaps the next world, or the next after that. Maybe the good stuff comes into play during new-game-plus, or the higher difficulties. It never came.
Whilst the new suite of classes come with actual progression and awesome fun abilities this time around instead of just being starter kits, outside of that there’s really not much new at all. Now don’t get me wrong – that doesn’t mean the game is bad. It’s great, actually, but I think it’s a lacklustre continuation from the first in pretty much every way possible. Firstly, the selection of locations. We’re back in Yaesha, a world that was not only already in the ‘original’ title but also Chronos: Before the Ashes, the actual original VR game that was re-released a few years back without the need for goggles. Root Earth and The Labyrinth are more duplicate locations, and the new N’erud, even though it is different, feels a lot like Rhom, being a wasteland desert dotted with strange alien technology and robotic Necron-esque enemies. And the worst part is that the only truly fresh land you’ll engage with, Losomn, is by far the best one! With its Bloodborne-inspired dark winding streets full of frenzied natives juxtaposed against angelic basilicas, it’s a wonder to explore. What a terrible shame the others pale so in comparison.
The boss fights are certainly still a high point, flitting from battling some sort of alien god that uses a miniature black hole to pull you in to ghost-busting a poltergeist that pops in and out of the walls when she’s not spitting out ectoplasm spiders from her chest. Of course they’re not all winners but the majority are fun and mostly distinctive challenges that really push you to learn their patterns and take advantage of weaknesses to come out victorious, exactly what we love to see from the franchise and personally my favourite part of the experience, especially on the harder settings in co-op. Special mention for the ultimate fight though, which I won’t spoil but is absolutely one of the coolest final bosses since I can remember. Oh MAN, with the glitching and the swap and the timing – God damn it’s so sick. Then, on the other hand, the hordes of normal enemies and elites feel a little too familiar, once again making me feel like I’m losing my mind reading all of these articles praising Remnant II’s improvements that I seem to be completely blind to.
Well, at least the gunplay is still a blast. Though the impactful nature of the firearms and the enemy reactions do somehow seem lessened this time around, perhaps just because of my familiarity with the system. Naturally a large amount of the armaments and secondary ability mods are pulled directly from the first instalment. That’s OK though, it just means more variety on top of what we already had, but they do fall into the same trap this second time around. See, levelling up your weapons and mods is really the main way to improve your damage output which is a must to steadily progress. The problem is that the resources required to upgrade your gear is, obviously, limited to what you scavenge as you play. But even without needing to enhance armour this time around, you’ll quickly find yourself starved of parts if you want to be working on several items at once. This means that after only a few hours in, changing hardware can be rather punishing because of the huge downgrade in power and speed. It’s sad to see experimentation and the hype of receiving some crazing-looking blaster dampened by this, until you’re already multiple runs deep and have amassed tons of materials.
And this is what I was referring to right at the beginning. This has been a challenging one to write because of this internal struggle I’ve had with Remnant II. I’ve had a fantastic time playing it, sure. Even going so far as to charge through every difficulty and unlock all of the hidden classes, albeit with a lot of online help (look up the Archon class to see why), but it still feels sort of hollow when compared to the first, something I can’t help but constantly do. I mean, even the story is essentially the same as we find ourselves killing off the Root once again. I’m positive the DLCs, much like the set from From the Ashes, will open passage to more interesting and unique planes as well as introduce more modes to keep us hooked, (although I also don’t understand why they wouldn’t have included the rogue-lite hardcore mode from the get-go this time around), but I’m pretty disappointed as a fan of the series. I wanted expansion of the lore but instead we got a re-hashing set a hundred years or so in the future but somehow still including all of the same characters because ‘magic’? I expected a little more creativity than that from a universe whose lore I love to get lost in and from a team I respect so highly. In a nutshell, Remnant II is a great game but an underwhelming sequel.