- Remnant 2—the sequel to 2019’s Remnant: From the Ashes—is a third-person action role-playing game developed by Gunfire Games.
- The game continues its predecessor’s storyline but perhaps does an even better job of improving the environment. So much so that it is one of the most compelling parts of the game, making world exploration a favorite activity of many gamers.
- In this interview, we sat down with the Principal Environment Artist, Shaun Brahmsteadt II, who has been at Gunfire Games since its inception.
- We discussed the philosophy behind Remnant 2’s environment, its inspiration, future content, and much more.
Those who played Remnant: From the Ashes came to an instant realization upon Remnant 2’s release as to how far Gunfire Games has come into its own. The much-anticipated sequel to the first iteration in the Remnant franchise made landfall on July 25, 2023, for modern-day systems. Up until now, it’s crystal clear that Remnant 2 is a Soulslike done splendidly, praised for its pleasurable combat, gripping environment, and a deluge of other facets that the third-person shooter effectively gets right.
Now that we’re a couple of months into the game’s release, eXputer sat down with the Principal Environment Artist at Gunfire Games, Shaun Brahmsteadt II, to go over Remnant 2’s outing so far, including some insights into the title’s development and plans for the future. He has worked on numerous titles at Gunfire Games, so this was the perfect opportunity to ask about the game with its predecessors in mind.
Q: First of all, I would like to congratulate you and the team for the remarkable success achieved with Remnant 2. Although our team and many in our audience have varied preferences on their favorite part of the game, the environment and exploration are a common theme among those answers. Without allowing any personal bias regarding your work on the game, I am curious to know which element of Remnant 2 you found most compelling and why.
Shaun: Thank you very much. I can’t understate how much passion and experience went into this project. It’s so hard to narrow down my favorite parts of it. Speaking as an artist, the amount of details we were able to push in our worlds, props and characters really helped push the visual bar. Our artists are amazing! It’s only been quite recently [since] I had a chance to look back on Remnant: From the Ashes, and while I can definitely see that visual bar begin to push itself with our released DLC from that project, it’s on a whole other level in Remnant 2.
I’m still awestruck at some of the really cool stuff our artists were able to do (if not a bit jealous I wasn’t able to do them myself!). Speaking as a player, the exploration is definitely a highlight of the game for me. Everywhere I look, there’s somewhere new to go, somewhere else to explore. As a Principal and lead on the team for environments, I know A LOT of the game. Honestly, when it was released, I thought I knew every secret in the game.
Well, that assumption was quickly proven wrong when I stumbled upon a unique sword in N’Erud [that] I didn’t know even existed! And it was the coolest thing, shooting out a vertical energy beam thing when you did its special combo. I was so shocked. I knew Remnant 2 was special to me as a developer, but at that moment, finding that sword it really became special for me as a player as well.
Q: One thing many players noticed is the subdued color palette found in various locations within Remnant 2. Was that a deliberate choice? Because for some, it effectively enhances the eerie atmosphere in most of the areas, but even then, some consider it to be rather dull in terms of vibrancy. Can you shed some light on this part of the game’s design and the philosophy or idea behind it?
Shaun: Speaking on behalf of our Art Director, Colin Post, it was fairly deliberate, and I think [there are] three things that really influenced the color palettes. First, we were often inspired by games and media in general that were dark and eerie. We love the look of Bloodborne, Resident Evil, and even Witchfire. Those were major inspirations for us.
Second, these are not nice places you are going to. Every world, at its core story, has undergone some sort of apocalyptic event or is currently [going through it]. The story themes are all very dark and foreboding, and to complement that, the art reflects those themes.
Third, we have a lot of worlds in this game and a lot of different places in those worlds. It’s a lot to handle. So we hope by limiting color palettes, these individual areas can be more recognizable from each other. Players like to know where they are, and this color separation helps with that. Hopefully, players can tell the difference between the dark greens and reds of the jungles in Yaesha versus the bright golds and oranges in the halls of the Fae, for instance. Color was a major focus when producing art for this reason.
Q: Remnant 2 has many great things going on with even more content planned evidently, but throughout the development, was there a piece of content that couldn’t be incorporated into the final version?
Shaun: I will say the studio as a whole is a very passionate and imaginative group of developers, full of crazy ideas. There were a great many things we hoped would make it, but at the end of the day, like all projects, we had to draw the line somewhere. If we didn’t, no one would be playing Remnant 2 yet! There were a lot of cool things that didn’t make it, but above all, Gunfire Games are very practical. We will get some form of those ideas out there. I think everyone who liked the game will be really excited for what’s to come with Remnant 2.
Q: The game remains faithful to its roots, and although we have not officially reviewed the first title at eXputer, I have personally invested numerous hours in it and can vouch for its appeal. Remnant 2, in my opinion, seems to adhere more closely to the “soulslike” genre formula than its predecessor. In fact, we even dubbed it “The Best Soulslike of the Year.” I’m curious to know if the development team shares my perspective and, if so, what factors influenced the decision to align the game more with the soulslike genre. Was it driven by the genre’s growing popularity owing to titles from FromSoftware?
Shaun: First off, thank you very much! I’ll do my best to speak on this, as I’m an artist myself, and while I’d like to say I influenced the design a bit, the gameplay is amazing because of our awesome designers who put in so much work to make it as fun as it is. At Gunfire, we really try to make games we would want to play ourselves. And it’s hard to argue Bloodborne, Darksouls, and Elden Ring are not favorites of a vast majority of our team. I think from the beginning, our goal was to make the game challenging. We, as a studio, like to challenge ourselves; It’s a core philosophy of Gunfire.
There were a few review meetings I sat in, looking at a boss fight, and in general, if you could beat it the first time, it was too easy. Designers were often challenged to complete no-hit runs on bosses. Usually, the ones that got close but couldn’t completely do it were the most successful. I do think the rise in souls-like games and players’ general good reception of them makes it much less hard to argue against making souls-like games. But we did, of course, want to put our own spin on that, and I think we did.
Q: The future of Remnant 2 is looking bright despite its dark world, and much of that owes to the anticipation of experiencing the DLC content. Can you tell us whether the DLCs will focus on adding more story, or can we expect even more attention to the environmental details? And since you are most likely working on it, can we expect some easter eggs or throwbacks to other Gunfire titles?
Shaun: I can’t reveal too much at this time, but we have 3 DLCs planned, and I’m super excited for them! Can’t wait for everyone to dive into some new Remnant 2 content! I think all fans of Remnant 2 will be pretty excited for what we have planned!
Q: Some time ago, David Adams, the Game Director for Remnant 2, hosted an AMA session during which questions were raised concerning the implementation of Loadouts and the Transmog system. While his responses during that session did not provide a precise timeframe, it was confirmed that these highly requested features were indeed on the studio’s list for future updates. Fans are keen to learn whether there is now a more defined schedule in place for the introduction of these anticipated additions.
Shaun: I know the team is always looking at ways to improve the game, and we consider all feedback and requests that make it to us. I don’t have any more information available about these though at this time.
Q: After playing Remnant 2 for a while, it is evident that the boss rooms in the game are indeed remarkable. But there is one thing that seems to stand out. Specifically, there is a recurring issue wherein ordinary enemies have the ability to follow players into boss chambers. This diverges from the conventional gaming experience, where a distinct barrier, such as a fog door, typically separates common foes and main bosses. This surfaced consistently in all my attempts against The Red Prince, making me curious whether it was an intentional game design or a glitch yet to be addressed.
Shaun: This and a few other special cases [are] intended behavior. Because [when] you can talk to the Red Prince, the boss barrier is not up at that time. Unfortunately, that means enemies you aggro can enter the space before the boss barrier goes up. You can try and eliminate the enemies before speaking to the Red Prince though. Or you could add a bit of a challenge to the fight, whichever you prefer.
Q: Was there any consideration among the developers of Remnant 2 regarding the relevance of the stamina meter, especially in the context of how it affects player movement during aiming in a third-person shooter? While the game’s world exploration remains captivating, some players have expressed concerns that the stamina meter may have impacted some fights negatively.
Shaun: Again, putting on my pretend designer hat, I’ll say we thought of every mechanic in the game and thought about whether it was good for the game as a whole. I think it’s hard not to include a form of stamina meter, especially in a souls-like game. We wanted to make the game have a level of difficulty. We challenge the player to watch a variety of resources, but really, we wanted to force players to have to retreat or back off from a fight, recuperate, even for a moment. Give it that pause in the fight. Prevent players from infinitely swinging their swords or dodging endlessly. Just like how you have to reload a weapon when the clip is out, it gives players that moment of shock, perhaps fear that something might go wrong in that window of vulnerability. I’m pretty sure anyone would get pretty tired rolling around [with] a giant axe swinging at your head or swinging your own sword really quickly!
Q: After working on the series this much, pumping out new content and polishing different aspects, is there a sense of burnout among the developers, or has the recent success fuelled the fire to work towards even more incredible things? Can fans look forward to a Remnant 2 sequel in the not-so-distant future?
Shaun: I would say we’re very much fueled by the success and all the love from fans of the game. We’re still very much focused on supporting Remnant 2 for a while.
Remnant 2 seems to have not only taken inspiration from various notable games but has added its own flair to make the game as appealing as it is. Though the worlds of Remnant 2 may not be brimming with life, they are undoubtedly full of enjoyable content, and with this interview, I can confidently say that I am even more excited for what’s to come.
The following is where you can find the links to some of the talented Remnant 2 developers, should you wish to check out their work.
Concept – Anna Christenson, Mahea Rodrigues, Jeff Talbot, Aleksei Kovalenko, Daryl Mandryk, Chris Anderson.
Character – Ben Donley, Erik Kangas, Adam Marlow, Brian King, Keegan Sullivan, Brian Poche, Josh Gudmundsen, Crystel Land.
Environment – Andrew Stifter, Sungho Kim, Christopher Griffin, Ryan Callahan, Zack Bechard, Peter Richmond, Chris McGill, Shaun Brahmsteadt, Randall Villegas, Brandon Caunday, Jacqueline Dunagan.
VFX – Kyle Pind, Chase Neilson, Jeremy Creagan, Elliott Johnston.
Animation – Isaac Sansom, Matt Drury.
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