In all of gaming, there’s a certain beauty in grinding for loot. Watching your damage numbers get higher so you can kill bigger things to get even better gear never really gets old, whether it’s the recently released Diablo IV or the upcoming Remnant II from Gunfire Games and Gearbox. Though I missed the prequel, I was able to preview Remnant II at Summer Game Fest and get a good taste of what I’ve been missing.
If you’re not familiar, Remnant: From the Ashes is a third-person shooter that launched in 2019. In a little over a year, it sold more than 2.5 million units, so it’s no surprise to see a sequel. I played it alongside two developers from Gunfire, and they walked me through a mission to show off the gameplay loop. We explored a procedurally generated map, looking for the boss at the end.
To start off, we all picked from four archetypes. I chose a long-range sniper class called the Gunslinger, which could scope in and do high damage from afar. Each archetype also starts with a special ability, and the Gunslinger's was essentially wall hacks, granting everyone in the party the ability to see enemies through walls.
As we explored the stage and entered new arenas, enemies came at us from every direction, even behind sometimes. As far as gunplay goes, it felt pretty great to mow down waves of enemies. With headshots, I could take down most of the small fry in a hit or two.
For any enemy who got close, I swapped to my pistol or, as a last resort, used my melee weapon. I didn’t find the melee attack to be as effective, but to be fair, once the enemies are that close to you, it only makes sense that you’re at a disadvantage. One of the other developers was playing a tank-like archetype called the Challenger, and he seemed far better equipped for close-range encounters, if that’s your preferred playstyle.
Much like the prequel, this game isn’t the easiest thing to play. Lots of folks called Remnant: From the Ashes “Dark Souls but with guns,” and that sentiment feels just as true here in the sequel. Just a few hits are enough to take you down, and you’ll find genre tropes like rechargeable potions and checkpoints that respawn enemies.
The boss we fought in the preview is one of the harder ones, according devs. It had this neat (but scary) mechanic where you need to shoot a glowing red space to do damage. However, the longer you look at the spot, the more an insanity meter built up. While managing that, waves of smaller mobs spawned around the stage. Throw in an occasional arena-wide shockwave from the boss, and you’ve got a lot of plates spinning.
That boss fight was the highlight of the preview for me. It rode that line between frantic and manageable, and it’s great for team play. When one of us noticed the shockwave coming, we all started calling it out. Working as a squad, dealing with nearby mobs and the faraway boss, it felt like the perfect expression of teamwork in a video game.
I imagine once you get the hang of Remnant II and run with a tight crew, there’s some cool coordination that can come out of it, especially with how differently the archetypes play with each other. The devs noted that even though the archetypes start one way, how they play can change drastically based on your build and your weapons, so there’s a lot of possibility here for all sorts of playstyles.
Unfortunately, because of time constraints, we were rushing through the stage at a quick pace so we could get to the boss fight, so it was hard to absorb the finer details of the loot system. After beating the boss, we quickly walked through updating weapon mods, which change your active ability. As a cosmetic bonus, they also change the way your gun looks. The design I got looked eldritch as hell, and it was pretty cool. I can only imagine what the late-game guns could look like.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a tougher third-person shooter to enjoy with a few friends, Remnant II could be exactly what you’re looking for. The potential for loot grinding feels real here, and if I had more time, I would have easily jumped into another round, which is a great sign for this kind of game. If your trigger finger’s itching, you’ll have to wait until July 25 to play it on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and PC.
Remnant II was previewed on a PC at Summer Game Fest Play Days. Screenshots were provided by Gunfire Games.