'Risk of Rain 2' Makes You a Force of Nature

Risk of Rain 2 always starts the same way: You are flung, via drop pod, into an alien wilderness with nothing but your chosen character’s core abilities and stats. With the third-person camera superglued to your character, you climb over ancient ruins, blast monstrous enemies, and find treasure chests.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/7xgvbz/risk-of-rain-2-makes-you-a-force-of-nature

One of my favorite things about this game is when you’re feeling invincible by the end of one level only to die pretty much instantly on the next.

There is some room for character builds. As you play you learn what items work well with each character. Most items are pretty universal, but there’s stuff like the bustling fungus that’s extremely good for the Engineer (since it works with their turrets) but not that useful for most other characters (since it only triggers when your standing still.)
There’s also learning item synergy. I don’t think there’s any hard coded specific effects that happen when you have two specific items like in Binding of Isaac, but certain items are definitely meant to work together. Like the crit glasses and scythe that heals you each time you crit.

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Dante nails why Risk of Rain is a tremendous experience in the piece; the ensuing chaos from corralling the increasing hordes of enemies from the rising difficulty and the dozens of effects and abilities popping off of your hoard of items is a lot of fun! But as someone who really loved the first game there have been a few things about Risk of Rain 2 that have soured me on it.

The game seamlessly transplants the core gameplay loop into 3D and does a fantastic job of making the characters feel unique in their playstyles and controls that I never got out of the first game but The Huntress (the only character I actually want to play in both games) feels incredibly impotent in 2. Her 4th ability (Rain of Arrows) rarely works on flying enemies, which didn’t really exist in the same way in first game, that when you get a boss that flies (or either of the worms) you’re just sort of down a method to deal damage. The wisps didn’t fly in the first game either and their attacks are harder to dodge as The Huntress since the cooldown on her movement ability (Blink) means you’re gonna have to eat their attacks if you aren’t near anything to hide behind.

There’s that and the levels are incredibly empty and tedious to navigate when you’re playing by yourself. It’s less of an issue when you’ve got some speed upgrades but without them running around looking for chests and the teleporter is such a chore. Doesn’t help that it’s also needlessly difficult finding chests since they aren’t clearly marked from a distance (as they were in the first game) or that they just blend in with the environment on some levels. I had a similar complaint about the teleporter but that was patched pretty quickly after launch. I have to imagine they’ll do something similar with chests because the idea of pixel-hunting for items seems like the opposite of a fun time to me.

I’m still optimistic about the game since it’s in Early Access and things could change in the future but boy it was such a bummer coming into this game only to find it a mostly irksome experience.