Remnant: From the Ashes’ final DLC, Subject 2923, brings a new realm, new bosses, new gear, and a proper ending to the story. Remnant has been entertaining ever since it launched, and now with more weapons, mods, and enemies, it’s reinforced its status as an intriguing take on the Soulslike formula.
Subject 2923 isn’t the first DLC for Remnant, but it’s definitely the best. While I do like the Survival Mode added in by Swamps of Corsus when it released on April 28th, not to mention all of the other small additions it made, it felt a little hollow.
Thankfully, Subject 2923 is much more substantial. It’s not very long—my first run through Ward Prime and Reiusm took me just under four hours to complete—but because Remnant uses procedural generation pulling from a small database of level segments, secrets, and bosses to build a campaign, you’ll need to play through it multiple times to actually see everything it has to offer.
2923 kicks off one year after the main game. You can jump into it with a fresh character if you’d like, but you’re going to struggle if you’ve not finished the main campaign first. You find yourself on the outskirts of Ward Prime, the place where all of the experiments that you’ve been tracking kicked off.
After fighting your way through a foggy farm filled with The Root, you get to meet some of the new enemies: gigantic rats who have sniper rifles, machine guns, and sometimes are ninjas? The main difference between these new enemies and the old ones is speed. The rats, called The Urikki, are legion, and they’re incredibly good at running for cover the moment you spot them. It makes the game feel less like shooting fish in a barrel and more like a cover shooter.
The most interesting part of the expansion is when you reach Ward Prime itself. Here you explore a decrepit Root-infested area while phantoms wander around like half-remembered nightmares. That’s unsettling all on its own, but then you have to shift into their realm by interacting with large glowing balls of light. This sends you into a world where the unkillable (I tried four times and they kept getting up) nightmares have a full physical form, but it’s also an essential part of the progression, because it’s the only way you can blast your way through the doors covered over by The Root and move onto other areas of Ward Prime.
It’s an excellent setpiece, and it has you playing through Remnant as if it’s a horror game, at least for a moment. I like the Remnant we got, an action game with mild horror elements, but this section was almost melancholic as I realised just how perfectly the setting fits a world of body-horror and cosmic terrors.
The rest of the DLC is set on Reisum, the arctic home of the aforementioned rat gang. It’s a nice enough place to explore thanks to a mix of weather effects and the rather brutal geography. There are also some very entertaining enemies and some spectacular and surprising boss fights.
Take Erfor, the Jackal, for example. A hulking great mass of a creature, and one that is all too happy to yeet gigantic chunks of ice at you, or to simply jump at you and crush you beneath its fists. The thing that made this fight memorable wasn’t so much the boss itself, but the fact that parts of the arena can fall away, leading me to drown rather unpleasantly on my first attempt.
Remnant even decides to show off its own version of Dark Souls’ Ornstein and Smough in the form of a difficult boss duo: Vargr, The Warg and Burdvaak, The Rider. While they start off as a unified giant cavalry monster, albeit with one health bar each, they take on different roles once some damage has been dealt to them. You then have Vargr tunnelling underground to try to get the jump on you while Burdvaak launches volleys of ice and fire attacks at you from his arm-mounted cannon. Not cool, guys.
One part of Subject 2923 made me laugh out loud. Having fought my way through hordes of rats, exploding plants, and a blizzard, I found myself in a cavern of sorts. After using my obscenely powerful crossbow to spear a flying enemy, I wandered forward before hearing a snarl behind me. I jolted around and was greeted by one of the most absurd enemies I’ve ever met: big old rat babies.
Honestly, I don’t know why the rat babies are clinging to the ceiling, nor do I know why they’re later turned into bomber units, who cutely show you their bum before killing themselves in an effort to damage you, but I’m glad they’re there in amongst this otherwise apocalyptic and rather heavy story. These cocktails of action and horror mixed with terrifying enemies and perplexingly cute ones speak to what Remnant does best.
Subject 2923 isn’t a perfect expansion. I had a couple of hard crashes. Plus, the final fight forces you to use a primary weapon you might not have levelled-up, which not only takes away your build autonomy but also ruins your general combat flow. However, these issues don’t overshadow the otherwise fun experience.
The fact that it’s also one of the better examples of how to do drop-in, drop-out co-op helps a lot. On top of that, the addition of the adventure mode and survival mode across free updates and DLC has helped Remnant manage the duality that exists at its core, and it’s a great game because of it.