Remnant 2’s One True King boss fight makes up for Annihilation’s sins

We get up close and personal with the One True King of Remnant 2, the final boss of The Awakened King DLC with a painful story to tell.

The One True King sits astride his throne in the Remnant 2 Awakened King DLC.

My appointment with the One True King of Losomn has been a long time coming. I’ve encountered all manner of would-be royalty in Remnant 2’s main campaign, from red-robed princes to imposter kings – but pervasive whispers of the one king to rule them all break through the rabble, and it turns out that news of his death has been greatly exaggerated. PCGamesN caught up with mid-level combat designer Maurice Edwards for an exclusive interview to discuss what we can expect from our final showdown against the eponymous king himself.

Edwards cites Dark Souls 3’s Yhorm the Giant as one frame of reference for soulslike fans, but Remnant 2’s monarchial world boss has a powerful trick up his sleeve. “The One True King can teleport,” Edwards reveals ahead of the Remnant 2 Awakened King DLC release date. “He’s still that giant, slow character […] but it kind of turns it on its head, because he’s teleporting so much it makes for a tricky powerhouse you don’t expect.”

The One True King is a colossal final boss in The Awakened King DLC, but dwarfed by the cavernous palace sanctum that serves as his boss arena.

Of course, Remnant 2’s boss fights aren’t just about playing with soulslike game conventions and player expectations. As our Remnant 2 review attests, while each world typically includes flavor text, finding a quiet moment to read can be tough – especially when Remnant 2 co-op partners would rather charge on ahead. However, Remnant 2 bosses tell those stories in the space of a short cutscene, a line of dialogue, or even an attack animation.

Edwards explains that the core aspect of Remnant 2’s boss design is “making sure you make a boss that has that context – that speaks to what the area is about, what the storyline is about, what the character is about.” In the case of the One True King, that key element is his weapon: a colossal bludgeon with people strapped to it. “He’s keeping them alive,” Maurice reveals. “Whenever he slams the bludgeon into the ground, they feel the pain of every single blow that he inflicts against traitors like them.”

The enormous bludgeon wielded by The One True King in the Awakened King DLC, characterized by his own subjects strapped to it by huge chains.

Ensuring these stories and encounters are memorable depends on a functional design process, which is “almost like set-piece design,” Edwards explains. So, how does this apply to the One True King? “As a Fae, he has the ability to absorb Dran. We use it in the base game – but not too much, and especially not on a boss.” When he’s not smashing me to a bloody pulp with his bludgeon, the One True King periodically summons waves of Dran cannon fodder, and I only have a small amount of time to dispatch them before he recycles them for his own purpose: unleashing a powerful, arena-wide attack that can instantly spell my end.

Naturally, Remnant 2’s extensive rogues’ gallery serves as the fuel that sets the action-adventure game’s community ablaze with rumors of secret bosses and alternate encounters. Just like all world bosses in Remnant 2, players can expect to encounter an alternate version of The One True King. “We want to make sure that that element of replayability is always there,” Edwards assures, though the conditions to unlock this alternate version and its particulars are left to our discretion.

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In the spirit of Remnant 2’s approach to storytelling, we also uncover a surprise connection between the Red Prince and The One True King. “The Red Prince is actually his son,” Edwards reveals, teasing an interplay between the two boss fights in which the Red Prince acknowledges the death of his kin. “We do try to make sure that the world is consistent in that regard, and it’s not just like: go kill a boss, here’s your reward, and then you go onto the next area.”

While Remnant’s core design principles are clearly at work in The Awakened King DLC, I’m also curious whether there were any lessons that Gunfire Games has taken on board since Remnant 2’s launch. The Annihilation boss fight in particular is a contentious point within the community, appearing right at the culmination of the campaign. Edwards expresses his regret that many players become overstimulated during that fight and cites it as an area of improvement going into the DLC.

“One thing I tried to push for The One True King was visual clarity,” Edwards assures. “He’s not gonna put a million things on the screen.” Instead, the One True King’s boss fight is punctuated by red hues and clear AoE regions to enforce that bid for clarity. It also speaks to an oft-overlooked aspect of game design, in which clearly defined combat encounters are a mode of accessibility that doesn’t detract from a boss fight’s overall difficulty or context.

The One True King sends a burst of Fae magic towards the Traveler in the Awakened King DLC boss fight.

So, how long does it take to design a world boss of colossal proportions that addresses the pitfalls of previous bosses? “In general, I think a world boss timeline is about three months,” Edwards estimates – and while this timeline is skewed slightly given that the team already had a pre-existing mesh body to build upon for the One True King, there’s no question Remnant 2’s show-stopping set pieces are a massive undertaking.

Of course, the One True King is only the final flourish of the Awakened King DLC. Our quest to infiltrate his court takes us through mutant-infested Dran sewers and the lavish Fae palace. My conversation with Edwards leaves me itching to scour the Forlorn Coast for Remnant 2 weapons to craft boss-destroying builds, but it also makes me excited to revisit future DLC locations. For now, check out all the details on the Remnant 2 Ritualist archetype, which debuts alongside the One True King in the Awakened King DLC.