When we reviewed Remnant II back in August, we really enjoyed and appreciated its superb gunplay and gorgeous environments, so Gunfire Games announced their first bit of DLC for it, we were always going to be interested. Of course, the original Remnant: Form the Ashes had plenty of DLC too but with this one coming out just three months after the original game, does it add anything new? Well, let’s find out as we return to Hub 13 and try to remember how to actually play the game again!
This reviewer played Remnant II the way it’s meant to be played: in co-op. And so I recruited my regular co-op buddy (shout out to Gareth) to get back into the fray. The last time we played this game, we’d beaten Annihilation (possibly the hardest, least fair, most annoying and visually confusing boss of all time) and then revisited all the previous areas looking for collectibles and secrets while grinding out the last of the game’s trophies. It had been quite the campaign for us with us being balls deep in class-building, having done everything we could to eek out more damage while we struggled to beat that final boss. So stepping back into the game was a little daunting. It had only been three months but all that knowledge, those instincts and the dodge timings were fuzzy memories. Indeed, even accessing this DLC required a bit of Google-ing.
But anyway, The Awakened King is presented as a ‘one-shot’ adventure, accessible through the main game’s ‘World Stone’ quick travel network and is set in Losomn, the Resident Evil 4-ish looking bit from the main game where angry villagers attack you all the time. Upon arrival in Losomn’s new ‘Forlorn Coast’ area (the large main area where all the sub-areas link from) you’ll meet a mad bloke looking at the water who explains that the “One True King” has awakened and, in a fit of paranoia and root-corruption, has terrorised this coastal town and filled it with bastard monsters.
You’ll find though that this is all pretty much business as usual in terms of gameplay. As with the main game, you’ll find portals to side dungeons and main story areas, you’ll shoot loads of enemies and bosses, you’ll pick up loot that marginally improves niche stats in a way that’ll appeal to hardcore fans who like to get deep with their classes but won’t excite anyone expecting this to be anywhere close to being a looter shooter and generally doing all the things you did in the main game.
Indeed, that’s pretty much our only problem with The Awakened King. It’s all just very familiar. Losomn doesn’t look any different. Sure, there’s a lighthouse now and some nice external views of the king’s palace but it’s still Losomn. Gorgeous, red and Resident Evil 4-y but it doesn’t leap out as anything new. Even the side dungeons are either set in areas where you literally recognise all the assets from the main game or in areas that don’t really add anything new to the experience. Like being in Croydon and then going to Sutton. Different but same.
The battles feel pretty familiar too. Our first sticking point was the Befouled Altars. These boss encounters initially wrecked us until we realised, hang on this is just the same as the Root Nexus. A giant witch attacked us in a narrow corridor and we realised that it was exactly the same thing as when a big golem looking thing attacked us in what might have been that same corridor in the main game. The final boss was suitably epic (although we beat him first go, which surprised us after our boy Annihilation robbed us of hours of our lives) but everything else felt like more of the same.
The only new enemies that stood out were these mucus-exploding green and purple things that attack en-masse, take loads of damage and spread destructive green blobs when they die. Combine their modus operandi with the narrow walkways of some of the new areas (which again, were pretty much the same as some old areas), and you’ll likely get very annoyed. Certainly, early players did as the DLC launched with these enemies being pretty overpowered to the point of needing a bit of nerfing via a patch.
And while we’re moaning, this DLC continues the main game’s tradition of making everything just a bit obscure. For example, there’s a trophy for talking to a bridge keeper. We’d already finished the DLC before we looked at the trophies and so went back to do this one. It turns out we remembered killing this guy before. He was immediately hostile. Why? Because we’d killed some flying bastards on the way to him because THEY ARE ENEMIES AND YOU’RE MEANT TO SHOOT ENEMIES. But no, apparently that was the wrong move. Hngh. Every locked door seems to have some sort of ‘go out of your way and probably have to Google it anyway’ task associated with it. Nothing is easy. There’s a purple item over there? Well, we’re not letting you step over this tiny fence. Find another way.
What the DLC does give you is more items and a whole new class to play as. Focusing on status effects and AOE damage, this is a powerful class that will take some figuring out to make it effective. Of course, any new build takes quite a lot of investment in terms of upgrading weapons and mutators and figuring out what works and what doesn’t, as well as levelling them up. Maxing out the character before you finish the DLC might not even be possible, but if you want a new class to explore this one is a little different at least.
And of course you get new guns, mods and mutators as well as rings and amulets to pick up. We were never particularly happy with Remnant II‘s loot game. Everything was always a bit too subtle and nuanced when compared other games with loot. And that’s still the case here with items that just don’t sound all that good on paper and usually require a visit to YouTube or Reddit to get some advice on how to get the best out of them. But that just exemplifies the fact that this DLC is for hardcore fans of what was already a pretty hardcore game.
However, what this DLC does do is give you more Remnant II. More of that sweet, sweet gunplay and co-op fun that made the original so much fun to play. It’s still enjoyable, it’s still gorgeous but yes, it’s still obtuse at times and it’s still basically just Losomn which we’d been through several times before. But five to ten hours of extra Remnant II feels like a net win to us. Although we’ll be a little disappointed if the next two planned DLCs play things this safe again.
+ Still gorgeous
+ A new class to play with
- Plays it all a bit too safe
- Still annoyingly obtuse