When starting a new Soulslike game, I’m always faced with a make-or-break decision immediately: my class selection. There’s nothing worse than getting 20 hours into something like Elden Ring and realizing that the class I’ve chosen just doesn’t match my playstyle at all. So I’m glad that I’ve already sorted that out with Remnant 2, the upcoming sequel to Remnant: From the Ashes.
I went hands-on with the shooter at this year’s Game Developers Conference, trying out three classes as I attempted to gun down an ultra-tough boss. While I initially struggled to make a dent in my playthrough with my first two characters, I’d eventually wipe the floor with my enemies when I tried out the sequel’s new Handler class. Though, maybe that’s a little inaccurate: My cute, deadly dog companion did most of the heavy lifting. That experience has me much more intrigued by the Soulslike shooter, as a major overhaul to the original’s class system is already clicking with me.
Like its predecessor, Remnant 2 is a third-person shooter that draws inspiration from the Soulslike genre. You’ve got your high-difficulty, bonfire-like checkpoints, evasion rolls, and enormous bosses on the other side of foggy doors. The difference, though, is that the focus is on gunplay rather than close-ranged melee combat. Remnant 2 continues all of that, but the big change this time is in how it’s handling character classes. While each archetype is still built around a specific set of weapons, they come loaded with more skills and perks that are gradually unlocked through a progression system.
I saw that first-hand when I began my demo as the more balanced Gunslinger class. Naturally, this had me focused mostly on accurate handgun shots as I popped flying enemies out of midair. I’d get an introduction to some of the game’s new systems when trying out my Gunslinger’s special ability, a multi-shot “fan the hammer” type move similar to Overwatch’s Cassidy. There’s a little nuance to that too. Pressing the left bumper would target it toward nearby enemies, but I could also do some button-holding to aim the shot myself before letting loose.
Gunslinger acted as a great introduction to the basics, highlighting how strong the shooting feels here. There’s a lot of power and weight to my shots, which feel like they absolutely obliterate enemies on kill. Though of course, that didn’t mean my demo was a cakewalk. I found myself surrounded by enemies quickly, taking massive damage as I tried to pick them off with pinpoint accuracy and avoid their attacks with slow evasive rolls.
After locking down the flow of combat, I successfully made it to the demo’s boss: an ugly floating head at the center of a circular stone arena. I’d have to dodge its tentacle strikes, move around acid pits, and leap off of platforms as it knocked them down one by one — all while avoiding the additional enemies it spawned and nailing the weak spot in its mouth. It looks and feels like something out of Doom Eternal.
After a few failures, I decided to change things up and move to a beefier close-ranged archetype (one that reminded me of Destiny’s Titans). I had a little more success this time, using his automatic shotgun to unload rapid-fire shots in its face. His passive perk helped me stay alive too, allowing me to revive from near death once with half-health. His close-up slam ability didn’t quite suit my needs though considering that I was dealing with flying enemies.
That’s when I found my new best friend.
The Handler is more of a support class that can be especially useful in cooperative play. His primary weapon kit revolves around a burst-shot pistol and rapid-fire machine gun, but it’s his furry companion that makes all the difference. The Handler is flanked by a dog and, of course, you can pet it.
My canine pal would entirely change my playstyle. For one, I could press the left bumper to sic it on enemies. That would allow me to better manage encounters, as it could take on some enemies for me. I could also command it to howl, drawing enemies to it and giving me a breather. While it can go down in battle, my pup never died during my demo so it seems like it has a fairly sizable health bar. As a final touch, my dog could revive me if I went down by bringing me one of my health-restoring Dragon Hearts. What can’t this little buddy do?
I’d get to put all those skills together when I returned to the boss that had kicked my butt a dozen times already. With a better way to manage smaller enemies, I could focus my fire on the big nasty at the center and get back up if it managed to swat me. It’s a more forgiving playstyle and one that suited me: I bested the beast on my first try with the Handler.
The revamped class system feels like the right direction for the sequel, making that initial choice feel more impactful. It isn’t just about what guns you get, but how all the perks synergize with your strategy. It feels more like a hero shooter, bringing a bit of Outriders to the Remnant formula. That makes me feel more confident that I could actually rise to its challenge once the full game releases. My dog and I will be an unstoppable tornado of carnage and we’re going to look adorable while doing it.
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