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July 2019

Remnant: From the Ashes

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Perfect World
Developer: Gunfire Games
Release Date: Aug. 20, 2019


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Remnant: From the Ashes'

by Redmond Carolipio on June 11, 2019 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Remnant: From the Ashes is a survival-action shooter featuring dynamic worlds, intense tactical combat and strategic 4 player co-op.

I didn't know that much about Remnant: From the Ashes before sitting in front of it at the Xbox Showcase during E3 2019, but my brief education in it was both harsh and satisfying. It's reflective of Gunfire Games' stated mission to craft a title that evokes the combat spirit of games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne — a "Soulsborne" style, as it were — and giving off the impression it is succeeding.

If you're new to what people mean when they say "Soulsborne," the most casual interpretation of it is that it means a game is going to be combat-heavy and hard as hell, beckoning you to adapt and improve your skills as a player — or die hundreds of times trying. The early look I got at Remnant showed a title that blends modern third-person shooter elements into an experience that demands you to earn your progress: Every save point a treasure, every boss conflict carrying the potential for true feelings of triumph.

The story of Remnant finds humanity backed into a corner once again, this time by forces hailing from some kind of outer dimension. Why humanity keeps running into only evil outer dimensions we'll never know, but in the world of Remnant, mankind fights back through the use of portals that connect to other realms and alternate realities. The human plan is to go to these other worlds and find answers while finding ways to stay alive. That's where you and two other people (if you choose) come in: to rebuild and possibly reclaim what these outer-dimensional creatures have taken.

My play session took place on what looked like Earth, or at least a forest/jungle-like representation of it. I picked one of three available character models, each of whom have different skill sets and weaponry. My female ex-cultist resembled an old-time gunslinger, complete with badass wide-brimmed hat. She also started off with a pistol and a coach gun, AKA a double-barreled shotgun. If you have experience with third-person shooters, you'll fit right in: left trigger to aim, right trigger to fire. You also have right-trigger-enabled melee and the ability to dodge/roll with the A button. This was the most essential defensive skill to learn, as I picked up visual cues and sounds that signaled forthcoming attacks from my enemies.

One wrinkle Remnant will have is the concept of gun mods, which are weapon-specific powers that can be built up to be triggered whenever you use the correct weapon, and then enacted with a press of the right bumper. I made use of a "crown of thorns" type of weapon mods, which allowed me to absorb a fraction of damage as well as dish out at least twice the power of a regular attack. I didn't do any of this in the demo, but there's a loot element to this game. Players will be able to collect materials and upgrades to craft and customize their mods, armor and weapon loadouts. Another gameplay wrinkle that I haven't seen in a while for an action game like this is friendly fire … on the side of your enemies. Your foes can now accidentally injure and possibly kill each other with their attacks, so a well-timed dodge in a group of enemies against someone foolish enough to use a radial attack can help even the odds.

I found myself using all of this accumulated knowledge to make a decent attempt against the denizens of the demo, including a difficult boss character who liked to hop around on stone pillars and unleash fireballs at me. I certainly had to call upon many of Bloodborne/Sekiro-honed reflexes here before succumbing to the boss a couple of times. Other Soulsborne-like nuggets I noticed were the fact that "resting" at a checkpoint resurrects all slain lesser enemies, and healing orbs can be obtained through death. Balance in all things, it appears.

Remnant: From the Ashes might fly under the cloud cover of all of E3 2019's other offerings with much greater fanfare, but what I saw from Remnant was encouraging. You'll get to see for yourself on Aug. 20.

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