Full disclosure, I haven’t actually played the original Risk of Rain, so while I cannot compare this directly to the original, I know a good game when I play one. Risk of Rain 2, recently brought to Steam Early Access with the help of Gearbox Publishing, is absolutely delightful to play. Despite being in Early Access, there is a lot of game here and hopefully quite a bit of room for growth. Given the “jack-of-all-trades” character to begin, simply enter the world and start seeing how long you can live. Early on, especially if you’re playing by yourself, this might not be a super long time. Enemies spawn frequently and you’ll have to quickly gain an understanding of how each one attacks. Some simply walk up and try to poke you to death while others shoot fireballs or even death lasers, the most dangerous of all lasers.
Once you start to get a feel for things it all becomes about shooting, looting, and teleporting. Shoot your way through the level to earn money, use the money to open chests found in the world, and find and activate the all-important teleporter to move to the next level. Risk of Rain 2 has a simple, but very enjoyable loop. Your first run becomes a landmark for you to surpass in subsequent runs and you’ll continue to try and outdo yourself and push just a little bit further a little bit faster. Unlocking new characters keeps the loop feeling fresh as you try to match and surpass your best on other characters.
The run-based nature of Risk of Rain 2 means no two playthroughs should ever be the same. You’ll be getting different items, different amounts of them, and even adding new ones to the loot pool just by playing. In my best run I found explosive ammo and combined it with an admittedly broken unlimited crit mechanic (one it sounds like the devs may be addressing) to end of level bosses. It was a rare powertrip, but I was brought back down to earth a few levels later. While I haven’t been able to surpass that run quite yet, I have managed to play around with a few of the different characters and can safely say that there will be something that everyone likes.
I have been partial to the Artificer, a spell caster who trades a movement ability for a giant ice wall and throws spells around like it is nothing. It hits like a truck, but can quickly be overwhelmed if everything is on cooldown. Then you have the Huntress which favors range and mobility, always seeking to keep enemies at a distance and rain death from above. These classes get even better when you start combining them in co-op play, utilizing everyone’s unique skills and equipping for maximum effect. Risk of Rain 2 is best played in co-op with up to four players, but even having one additional player can speed things along quite a bit and will make the experience infinitely more enjoyable.
There is some placeholder text strewn about and thus far I have only looped through five possible environments, and it appears there are at least three characters which cannot be unlocked right now, but this just means there is an opportunity for even more in the future. This is Early Access after all. I am excited to see more of what Risk of Rain 2 will have to offer in the coming months, and I hope that the support they receive from Gearbox Publishing will help take this game beyond even what the developers originally imagined. In the meantime, this is still a game worth taking the time to check out. It’s plenty of fun and for only $20, you’d be hard pressed to find another new game as good at the price point, with the added knowledge it will only get better.