Remnant 2: The Awakened King DLC Review – Hit the Snooze Button
Remnant 2 successfully delivered more of the same multiverse-hopping, Dark Souls-inspired third-person shooter action that its predecessor, Remnant: From the Ashes, pioneered. Now, its first piece of major DLC sees players returning to the gothic world of Losomn, boasting new enemies, new weapons, and a new class type. While serviceable, I found that its somewhat lackluster offerings left me wishing for something more Soulslike than Souls-lite.
The Awakened King’s story revolves around The One True King, a semi-divine figure encountered in Losomn during the base game’s campaign. Left comatose by a failed assassination attempt, the King’s displacement caused his realm and that of the elf-like Dran to collide, unleashing chaos and madness. Since then, the King has returned with vengeance in his heart. Hardly merciful to begin with, his near-death experience has left him maddened with paranoia and rage, and now his purges carve a blood-soaked swathe across the lands.
The DLC’s main new area is the Forlorn Coast, a large harbor on the edge of the Dran’s sprawling, Yharnam-like city. With the King’s return, his palace has come crashing down on a nearby cliff, and you’ll spend most of your time fighting through the harbor’s many winding alleys to reach it. Given that Losomn was a thinly veiled Bloodborne ripoff to begin with, it’s not surprising that the DLC continues the trend by riffing heavily on that game’s The Old Hunters expansion, specifically the fishing village.
The most noteworthy thing about the Forlorn Coast is that it’s a fixed map, unlike the randomized environments from the base game. This approach has some benefits, like better environmental storytelling, a few secret areas, and a nice ‘ah, cool’ moment when you get to see the entire docks from the heights of the King’s castle. Still, I was less than impressed than I could have been. The harbor really is a labyrinth, and not in a particularly good way. At one frustrating point, I got lost for a decent 20 minutes just trying to work out what the critical path was supposed to be. I also got insta-killed by falling in the water more than a fair few times, which is always an annoying mechanic. Most of all, though, it just reminded me how much better From Software’s original Soulsbornes are when it comes to map design. By trying to emphasize narrative immersion, interconnected level layouts, and clever enemy placement, the DLC only brings unfavorable comparisons to From Software’s legendary mastery of these things.
Besides the new area, The Awakened King offers a smattering of new bosses and enemies. These are a bit of a mixed bag. There are only about three or four new common enemy types, two of which are recycled from the DLC’s three bosses. The most prevalent fodder – ghoul things that spout toxic bubbles – are a massive pain in the arse, especially in groups. Meanwhile, the bosses don’t really bring anything new to the table in terms of strategy, which is a shame given the amount of potential some of the more creative ones showed off in the main campaign.
On the player side of things, The Awakened King boasts a few new weapons and a new archetype too. I didn’t manage to get all of them in my playthrough, although I did get my hands on the aptly named Monarch, a full-auto long rifle with a secondary ability that turns your rounds into homing bullets. Despite a relatively slow projectile velocity, I suspect it’ll prove one of Remnant 2’s more popular guns. It’s got the potential to dump continuous damage into enemies with its homing function, which means it would work especially well with mods that emphasize stackable status ailments.
Speaking of which, this is what Remnant 2’s new Ritualist archetype is all about. Rather than doing direct damage, the Ritualist excels at buffing status negative status effects on enemies. I can’t really say anything about this archetype, as I only unlocked it very late into my playthrough, and it didn’t really appeal to me that much anyway. Build customization was never what attracted me to the Remnant series, so I’ve tended to stick to the more straightforward high-damage archetypes like the Hunter and the Gunslinger. The Ritualist seems designed to cater to those who like tinkering with their stats and gear. It’s probably those types that’ll probably get the best value for money from The Awakened King, since the DLC also comes with a buttload of relics, amulets, rings, mods, and mutators.
All in all, the DLC took about five hours to complete a single playthrough. I can’t really say I was enamored at the end of it. Whether this was down to me or the DLC is hard to say. In my original review, I stated that I’d sunk about 30 hours into Remnant 2 and expected to sink at least that again. Actually, it turns out that I was being too generous. Shortly after, I’d hit a brick wall trying to defeat Losomn’s cheesy, one-hit-kill Nightbringer boss and gone exploring the N’Erud biome instead. But somewhere between N’Erud’s samey deserts and the game’s endless loot-farming I got worn down and gave up. So perhaps Remnant 2 wasn’t as engaging as Remnant: From the Ashes had been, when the idea of a Soulsian third-person shooter was entirely novel. Or maybe my tastes have just changed, and I wasn’t particularly receptive to The Awakened King to begin with.
Then again, there are valid complaints here. By comparison, From The Ashes’ two DLC packs introduced whole new biomes, with tons of bosses and new enemies, and – most importantly for me – some decent story chops to boot. The Awakened King doesn’t have anything nearly as impressive, with only a handful of new foes to fight and not much of a story arc to speak of. The narrative just kind of peters off after you defeat the final boss, and your character’s motivations for engaging with the whole thing aren’t even all that clear to begin with. ‘Just exploring’ is literally the reason you give an NPC when asked. But most of all, not to repeat myself, the DLC’s doubling down on the Bloodborne visuals and its half-hearted attempt to make an interconnected, story-rich environment conversely just emphasize how far it falls from the real thing.
I can’t call The Awakened King a must-buy piece of DLC. If you’re one of those players who really enjoys tinkering with new builds, the Ritualist archetype and the plethora of new secondary items will give you plenty of tools to play with. But if you’re looking for a less stat-driven, more narratively immersive experience, there’s not much to fish for in this pond.
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