It’s well-established by now that I enjoy multiplayer shooters (see previous posts about Borderlands, Apex Legends, etc.) but did you know that I’m also a fan of roguelikes? It’s true! There’s nothing like kicking back with Rogue Legacy or Dead Cells and doing a few quick runs. They’re great games for unwinding because there’s no plot to focus on and you’re expected to die fairly quickly, so you can turn your brain off and enjoy the game for a bit.
Thankfully, I’ve now found a game that combines these two beloved genres: Risk of Rain 2, a slick co-op shooter that is also a finely-crafted roguelike!
Now, I never played the original Risk of Rain, but I know that the sequel is quite different–mostly because it’s fully 3D, whereas the first was more of a side-scrolling affair. It’s also got four-player co-op that’s easy to set up and quick to hop into!
Players control the survivors of a spaceship crash, fighting their way across a mysterious, hostile planet littered with weapons and relics. My favorite aspect of the game is the survivors themselves, which function as different character classes. Each unique survivor has a primary attack, secondary attack, utility move, and special. Everyone starts with the basic Commando–he’s got the simplest moveset. He can shoot; shoot (but the bullet goes through things); do a dodge roll; and shoot in a short burst. Simple, right?
As you keep playing, though, you unlock more and more survivors; there’s the Huntress, for instance, who runs and teleports across the map while firing auto-targeting arrows, or the melee-focused Mercenary with no ranged attacks to speak of. There are nine characters currently available on console (and I believe a tenth on the PC version) and each one that I’ve unlocked so far has felt markedly different to play.
Another thing about the different characters: they’ve got alternate abilities that can be unlocked by completing certain challenges. For instance, if you gather twelve crowbar items in a single run as the Huntress, you’ll unlock a different utility skill for her to use. It’s a nice way to keep things fresh and mix up your builds!
That’s not the only place challenges pop up, either; the game is chock full of them! There are challenges to unlock skills, items, lore entries–and, of course, challenges just for bragging rights! There is a ton of stuff to do here, meaning you’ll always have a reason to try another run.
While the game is certainly fun in single player, it’s co-op where it really shines. The frequently punishing difficulty level (which only gets harder as time elapses; every five minutes, the power level and spawn rate of enemies increases) is much more manageable with a friend or two in tow. Plus, you can mix and match different characters to form a party fit to take on any foe.
As with many other rougelikes, a big part of the game centers on collecting items as you fight your way through the world, and there are some interesting ones in Risk of Rain. There are plenty of items that just give you passive stat boosts, but there’s weirder stuff, too. The other day I found a bundle of fireworks that caused a barrage of missiles to shoot out of every treasure chest I opened; shortly after, I picked up a teddy bear that granted me an extra life. The majority of these items are passively equipped (and can be stacked, though usually with diminishing returns), but some items function as equipment–gear that has to be activated to take effect. Equipment ranges a tasty fruit that recovers health to a sinister, floating cube that spawns black holes.
With a diverse range of gear and a fun cast of characters, Risk of Rain 2 is one of the most interesting and entertaining roguelikes I’ve played in years. It’s exactly the kind of game I could sink hours into by myself, but the best part is that I don’t have to–thanks to its inclusion of co-op, I can journey across this wild planet with friends. I highly recommend you do the same!