Remnant 2 The Awakened King DLC Review
I don’t envy marketing departments. They have to come up with easily understood descriptions that somehow capture the essence of a game. Case in point: the original Remnant: From the Ashes, described as “Dark Souls with Guns.” Uh, ok, sure. It’s a little like saying pizza and donuts are the same. They’re both round and equally delicious, but that’s where the similarity ends. Remnant, and its sequel, do share some Soulslike elements. They’re challenging, rely on widely-spaced checkpoints, stamina management, and character progression. But Remnant 2 also has procedurally generated levels, is not especially solo friendly, and is as much a roguelike as a Soulslike. The game’s first DLC is The Awakened King. It preserves nearly all the base game’s mechanics, all its pros and cons, but makes a subtle change.
The King Wakes Up
Remnant 2 released in late July. Forget the labels. It’s an excellent third-person action game set in a post-apocalyptic future. The world has been overcome by an alien — or perhaps, evil and interdimensional — blight called The Root. The Root has corrupted the landscape and many living things, turning them monstrous and hostile. Your task: root out the enemy. Get to the root of the problem. Stop with the puns. Remnant 2 carries forward the premise of the first game.
The player chooses from a handful of starter classes, called archetypes. Each archetype has special abilities and skills, and they fall into easily recognizable RPG classes like heavy, healer, and hunter. Along the way, characters pick up a secondary archetype, which creates some interesting synergies. While Remnant 2 plays some cool variations, the mechanics of character creation, gear, and progression are familiar. Fresh, but familiar, too.
A well-crafted narrative and cast of NPCs coherently explain the world and give the action context. Still, players are there for the exploration and combat. Largely dominated by a deep arsenal of guns, melee takes second place. That’s good, because up close, character movement, dodges, and rolls are a little slow and clunky. Not terrible, just lacking the fluid grace of a FromSoftware title.
The original Remnant was one of the first Soulslikes, with levels largely the result of procedural generation. There were some hiccups, dead ends, and mismatched tiles, but the idea paid off. Remnant 2 carries through with the dynamically created worlds, enemy placement, and loot locations. The experience is much more refined. There’s rarely the feeling that the environments are arbitrary or random.
Interestingly, the world of The Awakened King is somewhat less reliant on procedural generation. Instead, it features more handcrafted levels and NPC placement in order to tell a focused story. Not everything is predictable, though. Enemy placement and loot drops are still procedurally generated.
The world of The Awakened King is a newly added area in the main game’s Losomn biome. The player starts at the decrepit seaside docks and winds through sewers and tunnels before emerging at the towering, gothic castle of the One True King. As in the main game, Losomn has strong Bloodborne vibes, both in its art direction and NPCs. The castle’s design resonates with the later levels of Dark Souls 3. Everything looks great. The lighting is effective and art design is detailed and impressive. Some of the monsters will be familiar, but there are new elite enemies and bosses that players haven’t dealt with before.
Fight the Good Fight
The folks at Gunfire Games suggest that playtime for The Awakened King is 3-5 hours. I think this is a little misleading. First, the DLC will require multiple playthroughs to grab everything, meet all the NPCs, and explore all the nooks and crannies of the story. The second reason that it’s hard to quantify play length is that solo players might take considerably more time to work through the content. For better or for worse, Remnant 2 continues to be a real and sometimes frustrating challenge for solo players. Aside from the Hunter class — which comes with a healing and helping dog companion — the density of enemies can easily overwhelm a single player. In one of my runs, I encountered 2-3 elite enemies within a couple minutes of spawning in. Adding the new, magic-using Ritualist archetype is not only fun, it helps balance the scales.
While higher level characters will have a slightly easier time, Remnant 2 still adjusts difficulty up from character level. This means that players will always be on the edge of not being strong or equipped enough. Those looking for the power fantasy of being over-leveled gods should temper their expectations. Playing in a balanced group continues to be much more viable and fun than going it alone.
The Awakened King is accessible to both new and returning players. New (or old) players can jump in right after the tutorial using the Adventure Mode. The Awakened King content is also folded into the Losomn main game quest.
The Awakened King adds a substantial amount of excellent content, combat, and loot to the moody, gothic-inspired Losomn world of Remnant 2. Everything that was great about Remnant 2 remains in place. The new, handcrafted environments and deliberately-paced narrative blend pretty seamlessly into the base game. Remnant 2 remains a not-impossible challenge for solo players, but a near-perfect one for a small squad of action-loving friends.
***PC code provided by the publisher for review***
- Impressive art and graphics
- Effective audio and music
- Challenging new bosses
- Fun new Ritualist archetype
- Difficulty spikes
- Map is still not very useful
- Not well balanced for solo play
- Story and writing are unremarkable