Remnant II is aiming to be more of the same, and that's alright

Co-op shooters with RPG elements feel like they're a dime a dozen these days, but when Remnant: From the Ashes released in 2019 it did so to widespread critical acclaim; now with Remnant II, Gunfire Games aims to build on what was already a solid foundation by delivering an expanded and upgraded experience. We had the chance to get hands-on with the upcoming release last week during Summer Game Fest, and we're interested to see more in the weeks and months head - especially when it comes to co-op multiplayer.

First things first; everything that players loved about Remnant: From the Ashes returns in Remnant II. That would be the gunplay, the character expression in the playstyle you chose to use against enemies, the procedurally generated worlds, and the impressive boss fights. However, the game has seen a number of welcome additions and changes that should hopefully not only appeal to existing fans, but perhaps even players that haven't yet had the chance to give the series a chance.

Namely, Archetypes now have significantly more depth to them - and as you progress through the game, unlocking skill points, you'll be able to wildly customize how your chosen Archetype plays - and even eventually equip a secondary Archetype, as well. In practice, this means the "RPG" aspect of Remnant's DNA is all the more present this time around. World design has seen some tweaks, too; while still fundamentally a procedurally generated game, the scope and scale of these environments have seen a step up - as well as the fidelity of the visuals. Not everything is procedural, of course - and we had a chance to tackle some tricky puzzles in hand-crafted areas that the team was very eager to point our attention to.

Between all of the above changes, and the improvements to how your playable character controls - that alone would be enough to make us excited for what the rest of Remnant II has in store for us. That being said, we do have a number of concerns after our hands-on with the game. Namely, the lack of crossplay at launch. Now, Remnant II is far from the only title to have skipped crossplay; but with recent games releases putting much more of an emphasis on the feature, especially upcoming titles that were also at SGF, it's hard not to feel at least a little awkward about its absence. The reason this sticks out to me, namely, is that while other press had the opportunity to play Remnant II in co-op, my session is singleplayer only - and while I had a good time, and I do believe that the game will be worth playing even solo, it's undeniable that Remnant II has been designed as a co-op experience first and foremost.

So - if you're planning on picking up Remnant II to play with your buddies, be sure that all of you will be picking it up on the same platform! As of right now, there is no crossplay, and if you've been assuming that it would, here's your warning that it's not the case. The other concern is the engine that the game runs on - Unreal Engine. While the game should run just fine on consoles, with so many recent Unreal Engine titles launching with debilitating issues on PC, we had to ask the developers what their plans were for shader compilation on PC. We were told that shaders would be precompiled or compiled during loading transitions, which should hopefully be well and good - but we heard a similar story before Respawn Entertainment launched Star War Jedi Survivor earlier in the year; and in practice, things clearly did not turn out as planned.

That's not to say that Remnant II will have issues with shader compilation stutter, of course; rather, it's still a wait and see, even if the devs are aware of their engines limitations and issues. Both of these issues are moot if you'll be picking up Remnant II on console, and especially if everyone in your friend group that is planning to play the game opts to do the same - particularly on the same console platform. Caution aside, everything we saw from Remnant II is pointing towards a very promising follow-up to one of 2019's strongest co-op RPGs.