Remnant: From the Ashes is a bit of a mixed bag. There’s great combat and varied encounters that get dragged down by a traditional story and bland characters. That being said, Gunfire Games has created a really fun world to explore, especially with friends. A streamlined loot system keep the game moving at a steady pace, even when the story starts to stagnate.
Things kick off quickly, and leaves your hero washed up on a beach. You are the hero the settlers of Ward 13 have been looking for, and they want you to uncover what gives The Root their strength. I’m still unsure about what exactly The Root are, as Remnant: From the Ashes begs to be dug into not just from what it’s throwing in your face, but buried in lore. Hell, even by the end of the game there isn’t a lot of nuanced storytelling moments, but the action sure is in your face.
While I generally liked the story in Remnant, there really wasn’t a lot of character building. With the characters on display here though, it’s probably for the better. Every character, including your own, is fairly one-note. There aren’t any standouts, and instead they seem to just be there to move the story forward. If anything, some of the enemies fall on the more interesting side, but that’s about it.
There is clear inspiration from a handful of other titles. From Gears of War to Dark Souls. I’ve seen a number of people compare this to the latter, and while I think there are some similarities, it’s pretty far from it. Remnant: From the Ashes is pretty standard third-person looter shooter with strong mechanics.
Gunplay feels tight and responsive, and although there are only a handful of different weapon types, there are mods for guns that give extra abilities like a very useful healing AoE buff that helped keep me and my partner alive more times than I could count. You won’t see as much loot as something like Borderlands, but the streamlined loot and menu system really help keep Remnant’s pace up.
Having fewer pieces of loot to sort through means you can get back in the action quicker. For the most part, as I found new loot, it was often better than the one I had before it. So if I just wanted to change my loadout to do as much damage as quickly as possible, it was easy to do. Remnant often reminded me that ammo was scarce. To compensate, the CQC combat was really competent, if uninspired. It often just meant I was smashing one button to hack and slash my way through enemies, but it could have been worse.
Since I was playing with a friend, we were unsure at first about loot sharing. When a player opens a chest or picks up currency off the ground, both players earn the money. However, ammo pickups are player specific, so it was important to communicate so we knew who needed what type of ammo. He often focused on melee attacks, while I shot at everything that moved, so it worked out pretty well. Materials are also shared, which was nice since we weren’t starved for them.
Visually, Remnant: From the Ashes actually looks pretty great. It’s nothing mindblowing, but things ran at a really smooth framerate, and textures were nice and crisp. There were a handful of different major areas, and even the different locations within each area were pretty varied. Remnant: From the Ashes actually mixes up map design as well. I died at one point before playing with a friend, and when I jumped into his game the entire first level was laid out entirely different. It makes for a refreshing change of pace, but they still feel a bit same-y.
Remnant: From the Ashes is a difficult game. Definitely not the most difficult, or anywhere near some other action RPG’s I’ve played, but still tough. Enemies scale based on how many people are in your party, and you can be easily defeated by any enemy. Gunfire Games has created a well-balanced difficulty that will challenge players instead of infuriating them.
The changing maps are so significant that the developer estimates that players will only see about 45% of the content that Remnant: From the Ashes has to offer. You may not even see the rest of the content over two more subsequent playthroughs either. That gives Remnant some significant staying power. Considering how tight the mechanics are, it should give players a reason to return for a third and fourth playthrough.
While I definitely don’t think that Remnant: From the Ashes doesn’t do a lot that’s new, it doubles down on its inspirations, and nails them. With significant replayability, and great mechanics that carries it through mediocre characters and story, Remnant is a solid game in a generation where other multiplayer looters have failed.