Remnant: From The Ashes – Subject 2923 Review
A solid final DLC for Gunfire's Soulslike.
Remnant: From the Ashes – Subject 2923 brings the standout “shooty-souls” from Gunfire Games to a close, and like any solid conclusion it has its ups and downs. Unlike the Swamps of Corsus DLC, which introduced comprehensive additions to the titular zone and a robust Survival Mode to the game, Subject 2923 brings with it some new zones and fresh biome – the frozen realm of Reisum.
Remnant: From the Ashes – Subject 2923 Video Review
Packed with a variety of secrets, difficult bosses to defeat, powerful loot that’ll keep even the most dedicated of fans on the hunt, and more than enough lore to drown the most stalwart of lorehounds, Subject 2923 is a meaty addition to Remnant: From the Ashes. The DLC has a few minor issues, but they’re not enough to keep Subject 2923 from serving as an excellent final act to Remnant: From the Ashes.
Subject 2923 takes players to where it all began.
Remnant: From the Ashes concluded with our player character vanquishing the nefarious Nightmare controlling the world-destroying Root, then sailing away into the distance. The ending left a few questions unanswered, such as “did we defeat the Root once and for all,” and “what the Sam hell was going on in the first place?” Subject 2923 aims to address those lingering mysteries, though to mixed effect. The main story is okay at best, but those who’ve invested in Remnant: From the Ashes deep lore will find themselves spoiled with a wealth of new information, especially in the new Ward Prime zone.
Remnant: From the Ashes – Subject 2923 is a separate campaign accessible from the World Stone in Ward 13. All players need to do after purchasing and installing the DLC is to touch the glowing red rock, select “Re-roll Campaign” then select the new Subject 2923 option alongside the original campaign. From there they’ll be jettisoned off to the Goldcrest Hills, a minor zone that rests outside the fabled Ward Prime.
The Goldcrest Hills is a mixed bag. On the one hand it’s intentionally short and is intended to help flesh out the world and lore of the game. The foggy moonlit fields and dilapidated barns and silos stand as a haunting reminder that the Root consumed every inch of Earth during their conquest. There are a few items and secrets to uncover, so it’s worth poking your nose about. On the other hand it largely recycles the Root enemies from the full Earth biome, and there aren’t any bosses to speak of.
Considering the Goldcrest Hills is more or less here for some good ole-fashioned scene setting this isn’t a huge concern, but I personally found myself wanting a Corsus-style version of this zone. I know I’m being greedy here, but I wouldn’t have been upset if The Goldcrest Hills had a little more meat on the bone. Of course, I’m bitching about the appetizer in the grand scheme of things: the Goldcrest Hills are short, because the other two zones are far, far more substantial.
Ward Prime doesn’t actually feature any enemies to fight, nor a single boss fight. If my complaints above about the Goldcrest Hills were any hint you’d be justified in assuming I didn’t care for this rundown former military research facility/bunker either. Thing is, Ward Prime is a clever combination of dimension-hopping stealth gameplay and lore depository. Fans itching to get back into the action may take issue with Ward Prime, but those invested in the general lore of Remnant: From the Ashes will lose their damned minds within its concrete and Root-infested walls.
Unlike the Goldcrest Hills, Ward Prime has a decent number of new items to acquire that require some forward thought. The entire zone is split into two dimensions – ours, and the Root’s. Players need to traverse between the two and destroy giant progress-blocking Root cores if they wish to ultimately access the portal to the new biome of Reisum and reach Subject 2923, but while in the Root side of Ward Prime they’ll need to avoid patrolling nightmares that can’t truly be killed, and can murder them in short order. The stealth isn’t robust by any standard, but a clever assortment of paths allows players an assortment of routes to evade these roaming death-plants.
All throughout Ward Prime are audio logs, written notes, and eventually computer databases chock-full of lore. Fans who’ve wanted to know more about the “Dreamer Project” and how the Root came to overwhelm Earth in the first place will find a host of answers with Ward Prime, as there’s easily an hour’s worth of lore to dig into. Those looking to get back into the fight can easily ignore it all and clear Ward Prime’s labyrinth in under thirty-minutes, but story purists will no doubt delight in picking apart all the little secrets left untouched at the end of Remnant: From the Ashes.
It’s a cold world after all.
Once players make it through the minor stealth gauntlet and reach the portal within Ward Prime they’ll find themselves within Reisum, which is without a doubt the true star of the show. The icy mountainside biome is a blend of classic Norse design and scavenged Earth materials. You have the wooden and pelt covered lodgings typical in most interpretations of frost-laced zones, but they’re all bolstered and held together with resources clearly made from human hands. This design keeps the more generic portions of the design from boring completely, because as lovely as Reisum is (at least in context of Remnant’s so-so graphics) it’s a pretty bog-standard “ice” zone.
What isn’t standard are the rat bastards that populate the place. I mean that quite literally, since your foes in Reisum are actual humanoid rats. They come in all shapes and sizes: average spindly assholes wielding crossbows and machine guns; monstrous rats the size of a van, with the punch to match; muscular knights with an impervious shield they love to hide behind; and blizzard-casting mages that’ll easily inflict you with the new Frostbite status effect. The enemy variety in Reisum is up there with the other major biomes, and while ranged weapon totting baddies are not a new thing, the combination of foes that’ll assault you at any given moment makes Reisum perhaps Remnant’s most challenging zone to survive.
Reisum doesn’t break new ground in terms of biome design in Remnant: From the Ashes, and it doesn’t need to. There are a handful of dungeons for the procedural-generation to slap onto the edges, and a World Boss to overcome before moving on to the second half of Reisum. There players will find the world design altered a bit to make it somewhat different from the first, but the same philosophy remains: couple of dungeons and a super boss. There’re a couple of new faces to meet, and plenty of secrets to chew into, so fans eager for more of Remnant’s unique proc-gen design will find plenty to love in Reisum, even if the general design flirts with the mundane.
Boss battles in Reisum are arguably the best part of the Subject 2923 DLC. Gunfire Games has clearly been listening to feedback concerning the annoying abundance of adds that often make boss fights a chore, because the fights in Subject 2923 either lack them entirely, or deploy them more intelligently. Personally, I feel the bosses in Reisum are some of the best in the entire game, such as the rider and his warg that I encountered as a World Boss. Not a single add was spawned, but I had my hands more than full dodging both the rider’s leaps and frost-infused strikes, and the warg’s burrowing assaults and frost breath. Oh, and the volleys of fire spears chucked by outsiders from outside the arena. It was an exhilarating encounter that struck the perfect balance between challenge and spectacle, and set the overall tone for Subject 2923’s boss battles.
The story itself that carries players through the new campaign can be best described as “meh.” Remnant: From the Ashes has always been a great lore game, but narratively it’s been a bit middling. The general plot isn’t terrible if a bit shopworn, but the pacing has always been a touch iffy. Subject 2923 doesn’t change that. The new characters are all shuffled on and off stage rapidly, and one character’s demeanor and motivations shift wildly within a three-minute timespan with the loosest of justifications. It’s serviceable, and does bring the story of Remnant to a close, but even at five hours to complete I’d have liked a little more time with these characters, if only to make certain story beats more impactful. The door is somewhat left open at the end for a possible sequel (one I’d love to see someday), but those here for strictly the narrative will find the rushed conclusion a touch lackluster.
Of course, Remnant: From the Ashes isn’t a plot-first type of game. Players have spent the last year digging up every conceivable secret Gunfire Games has buried within the various biomes, and Reisum is not lacking in this regard. There are new armors, weapons, accessories, and traits to unearth. Repeat runs are as necessary here as they are elsewhere in the game, and Reisum’s inclusion in Adventure Mode is a welcome addition. There’s plenty to see and find here, and puzzles that’ll require repeat attempts to crack (such as the armor-set I found that I sent tumbling into the void, because I couldn’t decipher the pressure switches on the statues outside its chamber). Subject 2923 may not deliver the best story out there, but it nails Remnant’s core loop with aplomb.
Owners of both Subject 2923 and Swamps of Corsus will also find Reisum included in Survival Mode, with some new rewards available to earn. Additionally, Hardcore Mode has a few new goodies to earn for those masochistic enough to brave a run. Gunfire Games also planted a few non-DLC dependent secrets within Remnant: From the Ashes with Subject 2923’s patch, so even those who don’t opt for the $9.99 DLC will have some new things to discover.
The cherry on top, far as I’m concerned, is the sweeping balance changes that are tied to the Subject 2923 patch, which are included for all. Gunfire Games may be my favorite developers when it comes to balance adjustments: rather than nerf any over-performing equipment or traits into the ground because it “didn’t meet their vision”, they’ve opted to instead first try and buff up the weaker aspects to match. They’ll even revamp entire armor-set bonuses and more if feedback isn’t hot for what currently exists, and this mantra is evident in Remnant: From the Ashes – Subject 2923. Gunfire has gone out of their way to bolster as many viable builds as possible during Remnant’s lifecycle, and the tweaks that come with this DLC are no different. Not everything will be perfect, but I’d love to see more developers adopt Gunfire’s approach to balancing and addressing fan feedback in the future.
A quick note on performance: by and large nothing has changed with Remnant: From the Ashes – Subject 2923. The new zones are comparable to the existing zones in terms of framerate and graphics, though I experienced frequent crashing no matter where I was at in Remnant. Almost every hour my game would freeze, and could only be closed via the Task Manager. This issue is remarkably annoying considering Remnant: From the Ashes uses a Dark Souls-esque “bonfire” system, so a freeze in the middle of a dungeon was no different than death. Hopefully Gunfire can address the issue soon, but expect the game as a whole to be unstable shortly after launch.
As a conclusion to Remnant: From the Ashes narrative, Subject 2923 is mediocre, but the DLC more than makes up for this fault by introducing a wealth of lore for purists, a solid new biome with a fantastic variety of secrets to discover, and exceptional new boss battles. Balancing has never been better, and players who own every DLC will find Remnant in the greatest shape its ever been in. Constant crashes and freezing bring the overall experience down, but once that issue is squashed Subject 2923 is easily a must-buy for fans of Remnant: From the Ashes.
At $9.99 it’s a good deal for existing players, though I’d advise interested new players who don’t own the base game to purchase the Remnant: From the Ashes – Complete Edition launching the same day. It comes bundled with both Swamps of Corsus and Subject 2923, and at $10 more than the base game it’s the best bang for the buck. That said, even without the Corsus DLC (and it’s awesome Survival Mode), Subject 2923 provides dozens of hours of entertainment, and acts as a fitting end to Remnant: From the Ashes. The story may not be the greatest, yet Subject 2923 manages to conclude Remnant with a bang, not a whimper.
- This article was updated on:August 20th, 2020
Remnant: From the Ashes - Subject 2923
- Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Published By: Perfect World Entertainment
- Developed By: Gunfire Games
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- US Release Date: August 20th, 2020
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "As a conclusion to Remnant: From the Ashes narrative, Subject 2923 is mediocre, but more than makes up for this fault by introducing a wealth of lore for purists, a solid new biome with a fantastic variety of secrets to discover, and exceptional new boss battles. The story may not be the greatest, yet Subject 2923 manages to conclude Remnant with a bang, not a whimper. "