Welcome to Save State, where I get my friends into addictive games without remorse. Over the last couple weeks, I managed to convince a friend of mine to get into Risk of Rain 2, which I’ve had in my backlog for some time, my tremendous backlog, such a monstrous backlog full of titles you’ve never even heard of before. Well, you’ve likely heard of Risk of Rain 2 since it’s somewhat popular and is at a relatively cheap price on Steam (and other platforms), regularly going on sale for half price, if not less. Risk of Rain 2 is an action roguelite with full multiplayer where you and your friends control survivors through an increasingly hostile environment to try and escape from a moon orbiting a dangerous planet.
Risk of Rain 2 gives you a cutscene when you first start the game, but after that pretty much lets you pick your character and be off to the races. The standard game mode has three difficulty settings, and you and three friends can pick your favorite survivor to venture through the environments of Petrichor V, seeking a teleporter so you can reach the next area to further your escape. The teleporters are randomly placed throughout the environment, and the longer you take to find the teleporter, the more challenging it becomes as every few minutes the difficulty ratches up, making the monsters you encounter more difficult to kill and more likely to end your escape attempt.
Each survivor you play as will approach Risk of Rain 2 in a completely different way. At the start, you only have two characters unlocked: The Commando and the Huntress (and Railgunner, should you have purchased the DLC). The Commando shoots quickly and has reasonable mobility, while the Huntress at default shoots more slowly but her projectiles home in on targets which, coupled with her high mobility, can make her a very forgiving character to play as for beginners. As you complete a variety of challenges, you’ll unlock new characters which each have their own specific niche and different playstyle, from the Mercenary who fights up close and personal with a sword to the Engineer who can set down a couple turrets to support him in battle.
Each character has a primary and secondary attack, utility skill, and special move that they can perform, much of the time with a cooldown. The characters also have alternate moves you can unlock by completing challenges, such as the Huntress’s Flurry primary that lets her shoot 3 slightly weaker homing arrows at once that synergizes extremely well with items that boost your critical hit chance. Unlocking the Railgunner’s Cryocharge special, for example, gives her the power to one shot a variety of bosses, and even if they don’t get killed in one hit, she freezes them in place which makes your follow up shot even easier.
As you slaughter the local bellicose wildlife, you’ll earn money that you can use to unlock chests strewn about the areas. The chests have random items in them which can help you on your way off the inhospitable planet, though some items are more useful to different survivors, and learning which items to take with each character or build you’re trying out is paramount to surviving. At times, Risk of Rain 2 can be somewhat problematic to new players, as you don’t know what an item does until after you’ve already picked it up, and it’s not like it would hurt for there to be a small description of each item for the player to see (or even a name floating above) before nabbing them.
Discovering new items does give entries in your logbook which you can view outside of a run, but if you only remember the effect of an item, you can’t access your logbook during a run which means a significant amount of a new player’s time involves playing while relying on their memory for what an item does on a run-to-run basis. That lunar item you just found could be the one that revolutionized your last run by dramatically reducing the cooldown of your equipment… but it could also be an item that replaces one of your primary attacks with a completely different move that synergizes worse with your build and subsequently results in failing your run. Being able to see item names would have made the first 5-15 hours of Risk of Rain 2 much less annoying.
That said, it’s still a ton of fun to find all of the different items and see how they synergize with your favorite characters even if a run may sometimes get screwed up by grabbing an item that you didn’t realize was going to corrupt something integral to your build. There’s a fun balance between rushing and trying to find the teleporter as quickly as possible while also trying to snatch up as many items as your survivor can hold, because heightened difficulty will come for you whether you’re ready for it or not. Each teleporter you activate will summon a boss you’ll need to put down, and after going through a variety of stages you’ll have the opportunity to loop back to the beginning or press on to fight one of the final bosses.
There’s so many items and skills to unlock, secrets to uncover, alternate paths to take, and bosses to fight that you could play Risk of Rain 2 for several dozens of hours and still not see all of its content, which is a pretty great rate of return on the game’s low buy-in cost. The wide variety in the 14 characters’ playstyles helps reel you back in for the addictive loot and shoot gameplay, so if you have enough of zipping around as a Huntress, you can try to get up close and personal with the Mercenary or Loader and learn how they operate for a nice change of pace.
As the difficulty ramps up, you can feel absolutely godlike and then get killed within seconds from something you aren’t even sure where it came from, but such is Risk of Rain 2. I tend to prefer rushing as quickly as possible to get done whatever challenge I’m aiming for at whatever point in time, as missing an item or two is, in the long term, easier for me to manage than every enemy having the power to one shot me from the surface of the sun, but there are definitely some builds you can set up to get around that, too.
To add on top of the wild replayability Risk of Rain 2 has to offer, you can build up your stash of lunar coins that you can spend at a secret bazaar to get some lunar items, input some special transporter codes to unlock artifacts that function as modifiers for future runs. Artifacts are actually quite powerful, several of them boosting the challenge considerably while a few others can make Risk of Rain 2 play like a completely different game by allowing you to choose which items you get during a run!
All things being said, Risk of Rain 2 is a cheap and entertaining action roguelite that you and your friends can enjoy that I managed to get a friend of mine completely hooked on in a short amount of time. Risk of Rain 2 definitely has “one more run” syndrome attached to it, and once you start getting good, the feeling of accomplishment is pretty great.
With that, I think it’s time to bring this entry of Save State to a close. Remember to keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. Until next time!