Remnant 2 has a fair few bosses. There’s a corrupted alien wolf that’s got altogether too many eyes and really wants you to kill off a magical deer. There’s also what I can only describe as a night terror turned into ethereal flesh, which crawls out of walls trying to kill you while opening a portal from its chest to spit spiders at you. There’s even a giant alien baby thing that blurs the lines between realities and tries to kill you using a mixture of black holes and laser beams to protect its home from careening into an event horizon.
Note: Spoilers for Remnant 2 ahead.
Remnant 2 is a substantial leap up from the first game in just about every conceivable way, but the boss design is one of its greatest strengths. And among those bosses, the one that stands atop them all in power and in design is Annihilation: the final boss of the main game.
Annihilation is an enormous Root Dragon. The Root is a virus of sorts that approximates other living things in the worlds it invades and has, at this point, effectively corrupted so much of space and time that you have to destroy everything just to stop it. Annihilation is the final form of The Root in Remnant 2, and aside from being a huge draconic being, it also has a sword so large that even Sephiroth would think The Root is overdoing things.
As you dodge massive sword swings, strange homing projectiles, and eruptions of corrupting energy, you have to shoot at this intimidating figure and do everything you can to not only stay alive, but also take down a seemingly impossible foe. You’re the hero, though, and this is a video game, so if you’ve committed to your build enough, or you’re just skilled enough, you’ll whittle Annihilation down and reduce its health to nothing.
This is the final boss of a brutal action-RPG, so naturally, there’s another phase, and that’s where things become really interesting. Annihilation reaches up and takes hold of its horns, and then rips its own head open like a toddler with a packet of chips, revealing that within this horrifying beast is what appears to be a Dreamer.
You fight a Dreamer at the end of the original Remnant. These are human beings who, with what looks like a VR headset on, serve as portals into other worlds for The Root and are basically the cause of the whole apocalypse in the first place. It’s fitting that there’d be one within Annihilation in control of things or as an unwilling host to the horrors they’re inflicting on the rest of existence. You don’t get time to ponder which of those is the case, though, because you’ve just made it into phase two.
At this point, the arena warps into what appears to be a line-modeled video game. The boss now lies ahead of you as though you’re in an arcade cabinet, and the newly revealed Dreamer tries to hit you with the same enormous sword, but has also gained the ability to summon trees from the floor to try and slap you with.
So, you have to dodge the sword, new projectiles, and trees to win this section of the fight. This is an intensely cool transition but is only the beginning of the mind-warping second phase. Once you’ve done enough damage, the screen glitches, and the fight switches back to the first phase.
You’ll once again have to contend with Annihilation creating homing projectiles while trying to swat you into non-existence with its enormous sword, and the fight will then, once again, glitch back to the second phase. From here on, you have no way of knowing when the fight is going to change, and whenever it does, the boss resumes whatever attack it was about to hit you with in the other phase.
The result is pure chaos. While it’d be nice to keep track of what attack each phase was trying to beat you to death with, things move so quickly that it’s all most people can do just to dodge what’s in front of them. It’s an intense and deeply stressful fight that is going to kill you several times.
You’re not even likely to see the second phase on your first few attempts due to the damage this boss can put out, and that’s just on the lowest difficulty playing solo. If you’re playing on one of the harder difficulties or with friends, then the boss has more HP and can deal more damage.
You have to not only learn the different timings the boss has, but also slowly start to assimilate the strange timings that flitting between phases can offer. Given enough time, you’ll manage it, and it’s hard to view this boss as anything other than one of the coolest moments in gaming in 2023.
It might even be one of the best final bosses in gaming of the last few years. On top of the callback to the first game, the fight alludes to so much of what might be going on with the game and what the story of Remnant could become, like how it’s very heavily hinted that you’re in a simulation within the game. Above all else, it’s just a very visually and mechanically satisfying fight.
The crushing difficulty, visual flair, and sheer wow factor combine into Annihilation, an enormous tree-dragon with a little dude in a VR headset inside of it that rips its own head open before messing with reality itself. That’s a very hard combination to dislike.