Remnant 2 completely revamps your build choices, and soars as a result

PCGamesN played Remnant 2 at GDC in San Francisco, and the overhaul to character builds and the new archetype system make it a diverse co-op game and shooter.

Remnant 2 completely revamps your build choices, and soars as a result

Remnant 2 – the third-person Souls-like and co-op shooter from Gunfire Games – is set to release later this year, and while PCGamesN was at GDC 2023 in San Francisco, we had the chance of going hands-on with the Remnant: From The Ashes sequel, and the co-op game has overhauled its progression and build customisation so much that you’ll never have the same character twice.

Soon after revealing Remnant 2 at The Game Awards last year, Gunfire Games offered me the chance to play the game. To temper your expectations, I played as three of the game’s classes – or archetypes as they’re called – repeatedly in one level and against one boss. I didn’t play the game in co-op either, so exactly how all of Remnant 2’s systems stack up when played alongside others remains to be seen.

If you haven’t played the original Remnant: From the Ashes, it’s important to note that Gunfire Games has really leaned into some of the core design principles of the genre defined by Dark Souls. Spatial awareness is key, so understanding what each enemy can do, how they can move, and what they’ll be doing when not in your peripheral vision is vital. Combining this with solid shooting mechanics and a wide range of guns is a lot of fun, as once you find yourself dodge rolling around enemies and their attacks while popping off crits and using your abilities, everything about Remnant 2 starts to click.

Remnant 2 completely revamps your build choices, and soars as a result

It might take a while to get to that clicking point though, as the new passive abilities and archetype system are a lot to get your head around. I was forced into playing mid-game with a complete build (such is the nature of a preview) but with some proper onboarding, you’ll be there in no time.

The new archetype system is a really fun twist on the original Remnant formula too. I got to grips with the fast-firing Gunslinger and their quickfire ability (which is very similar to Cassidy’s ult in Overwatch 2), the heavy and their damage-absorbing abilities, and the Handler, who was automatically my favourite archetype simply because they come with a dog companion. Every game that gives you a dog is automatically on my radar so, I stuck with this archetype.

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The Handler was great for solo play, as the dog can revive friends, target specific enemies, and provide you and your team with buffs. It’s clear Remnant 2 is going to offer a metric ton of player build choice too, because any two archetypes (three of which I played) acan be combined into one build. So you can be a gunslinging handler or a heavy with a quickdraw, if you so choose.

I was also given revolvers, rifles, machine guns, shotguns, and more for each arsenal, and you’ll be able to mix and match any guns you want with your dual archetype build, creating truly unique opportunities for your characters. You don’t just blend weapons with archetype pairings either, as a plethora of weapon mods offer up alternative fire modes, from grenade launchers to under-barrel shotguns.

Remnant 2 completely revamps your build choices, and soars as a result

If it hasn’t been made clear already, between weapons, weapon mods, dual archetypes, passive perks, and abilities you’ve got a countless number of build combinations in Remnant 2. Hopefully the progression system’s pacing – which I didn’t really get a chance to feel out in my mid-game demo – matches the breadth of choice Remnant 2 wants to offer, because if it does there’s an excellent game in that mix that you’ll be coming back to again and again.

Playing a vertical slice of a game where progression and long-term customisation are half of the fun, it’s hard to fully understand just how these parts of the game will work. With that said, the sheer amount of customisation I was shown while playing was unreal, so you shouldn’t ever be stuck for unique builds and options.

While you wait for the slated summer 2023 launch of Remnant 2 on both Steam and the Epic Games Store, our list of the best Souls-like games and RPG games you can play right now is sure to keep you and your group of friends busy.