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For every sequel that manages to pull an Assassin's Creed II, there are many more that almost make it. Whether it's a result of not quite realising a project's full potential or introducing issues the original never had, these games are just as enjoyable as they are disappointing. Remnant II, a follow-up to the unexpectedly good Remnant: From the Ashes, is one of those titles. It builds upon the PS4 original with more mechanics and deeper systems, but a wider scope makes navigation and knowing what to do next more difficult than it needs to be. While Gunfire Games has an improved sequel on its hands, it's tough not to wonder what could have been.

What turns out to be both the game's biggest strength and weakness is its commitment to providing a randomised, procedurally generated FromSoftware experience with guns. Much like the first game, almost every aspect of Remnant II is determined at random. It's possible for any two players to encounter entirely different worlds and complete dissimilar objectives within them, all the while facing differing boss fights and enemies. Starting a new game essentially hands you your own campaign seed, which can be re-rolled for different variations if you're not feeling the route to completion you’ve been handed.

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Procedural generation is a term that turns a lot of people off, but the way Gunfire Games handles it is admirable — to a point. You could argue Remnant II ships with multiple different campaigns at launch; replay value is certainly a strong suit of the experience. By going so far as to randomise the narrative, its characters, and all the locations the developer has built, there's potential to replay the campaign over and over again repeatedly — especially when you factor in different character classes and the builds you can craft around them.

What this randomised structure has a negative impact on, though, is the story and the user interface that ties the whole experience together. With a few returning faces from the first game, the hub area of Ward 13 and its vendors is the same for everyone, no matter how wild your campaign seed has become. From there, you'll use the World Stone to visit otherworldly places down on their luck, overrun with monsters and missions only you — or yourself and up to two friends in online co-op — can complete.

Rarely are these story beats particularly interesting, though. It doesn't take long for the narrative to fall by the wayside as you button through dull dialogue to return to the action. As such, the procedural generation of the plot doesn’t really work — no matter how many times you roll the campaign dice for an entertaining series of events — since there doesn't seem to be anything engrossing there in the first place.

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However, the most frustrating element is the hands-off approach the game takes when guiding you through its randomised worlds and mechanics. The UI in general feels sorely lacking, with a map that can prove confusing and hub area notifications that seem to come and go just as reliably as the environments beyond the World Stone.

The map uses a fog-of-war-style system where only the places you've been are filled in, and then marks the general direction of your main objectives with icons above gates on the edges of each area. The annoyance comes from these objective labels being a bit finicky, not always alerting you to the fact you've gone the wrong way or are exploring an optional area. The game doesn't have the same grace as a Dark Souls where the mainline path is so naturally formed that you don't even need a map to get about, leading to time wasted when you thought you were going in the right direction.

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This unintuitive approach extends to the hub area of Ward 13, where random NPCs and important vendors are treated the same — it's impossible to distinguish who's who without engaging in lengthy conversations with them. The UI could have been more helpful here also: occasionally the game will alert you to a weapon upgrade you can craft. Other times it won't. This makes returning to home base more of a chore than it needs to be; it's like you accidentally stumble into new mechanics and features rather than the game smartly introducing them when needs be.

Although, there's something to be said for the fact these flaws are almost completely forgotten about during the heat of moment-to-moment gameplay. A third-person shooter with satisfying gunplay, it has an almost addictive quality to it urging you to engage with groups of foes that don't even present a threat. The enemy lock-on feature on PS5 feels good, and the quick rate at which combatants go down makes switching between them in battle rewarding.

Structurally, you'll work towards completing objectives — which normally have a boss fight at the end — by taking down enemies, collecting items, and solving puzzles within various large-scale worlds. And while Remnant II does invite comparisons to the likes of Bloodborne, it doesn't borrow every mechanic that makes FromSoftware games what they are.

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Unless they're attacking all at once, standard enemies shouldn't give you too much trouble. And if they do, you don't lose anything upon death. All your items and currencies stay with you, simply teleporting you back to the last checkpoint you interacted with — doing so respawns all the enemies you've killed.

Where the tough does get going is during boss encounters, of which some task you with more than just holding down the R2 button to bombard them with bullets. There are some pretty inventive fights to figure out within Remnant II, from bosses hiding inside other enemies to labyrinthine arenas and menaces that'll destroy the ground around you. One of the title's highlights, they're encounters to look forward to rather than fear — the sight of a glowing fog door up ahead will excite you.

Thanks to the procedural nature of the game, you're never quite sure what will be on the other side, and this provides even more fuel to experiment with the different classes on offer. Dubbed Archetypes in-game, you can pick from five to start with: Challenger, Handler, Hunter, Gunslinger, and Medic. Later on, you're able to unlock a secondary class, providing you with all the abilities and benefits of two different play styles. These choices signal just the start of your build, though, as new weapons and armour — combined with a Trait system — allow you to customise your character in a variety of ways.

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Your choices really come into their own when you team up with friends for some online co-op action, where you can start to create some damage-dealing combos through different skills and synergize as a group. On PS5 at least, getting a team together is a little clunky at launch with a broken invite system and a confusing matchmaking option. However, we expect these problems will be ironed out quickly.

In addition, the PS5 version lacks any DualSense controller support. While the shooting remains satisfying throughout, it never goes a step beyond the standard rumble and trigger features — the adaptive triggers aren't taken advantage of whatsoever.

It's a slightly disappointing omission, especially given the game is only available on current-gen consoles, but the good news is the default Performance Mode basically locks to a smooth 60 frames-per-second. There are options either side that improve the visuals or unlock the frame rate entirely, but the middle-of-the-road choice seems best for a plain sailing experience.

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The only kicker is Remnant II doesn't exactly sport the best visuals. Despite running on some form of Unreal Engine 5, the PS5 title looks dated compared to its peers with a lot of muddy texture work and poor-quality character models. While some environments are grand in scope and pretty to look at from a distance, the closer you get the more last-gen they become.


Remnant II is better than its predecessor in basically every way imaginable, but an even bigger focus on procedural generation brings with it some baggage. Navigation is more difficult than it needs to be, while the UI leaves a lot to be desired. In the heat of the action, though, Remnant II is a great, satisfying shooter that allows for lots of different team compositions through deep character customisation. Get a few friends involved for some online co-op fun and you could have yourself an all-new obsession.