Last week, Risk of Rain 2 suddenly appeared in Early Access to the surprise of basically everyone. It’s also staggeringly good, to the surprise of me. It’s perhaps a little lacking in content and balance right now, but it manages to feel like Risk of Rain despite making a transition from side-on 2D to full 3D. That’s truly no small feat: 2D to 3D jumps are some of the hardest to make. Considering I love the original enough that I have Risk of Rain socks (no, really) I’m rather impressed.
Like its predecessor, Risk of Rain 2 starts you off with a very limited number of characters and items available, and completing various tasks and achievements unlocks more for future playthroughs. There are some incredibly useful items that you’ll want to unlock as soon as possible, but let’s be honest: you want the characters. You want to play as someone other than the Commando so that you can experiment with the wildly different abilities and playstyles on offer. Well, I’m here to help.
Truthfully, I can’t give much general advice that isn’t just general advice for Risk of Rain 2 – and that’s beyond the scope of this piece. I will say that four of the unlocks can (and, indeed, kinda have to be) done piecemeal over multiple playthroughs, so don’t get discouraged by bad runs. Also, none of these are locked by difficulty, so if you’re having trouble you can play on the easiest setting and give yourself a bit of a leg up.
Finally, most of these can also be unlocked in multiplayer. From what I can gather the Artificer can only be unlocked by one player in a multiplayer session, so be wary of that.
Right. Let’s get on with the specifics.
Goal: “Complete the first teleporter event 5 times”
MUL-T is one of the easiest characters to unlock, and is quite likely one of the first you’ll get. Basically, make it to the second level in five games. You’ll manage this pretty quickly simply by playing, so no real guide needed.
Not a bad choice as an early character, either, as this little robo-friend is arguably one of the strongest in the game. MUL-T has a decent (and damaging) area-of-effect stun, a dash that inflicts damage on impact, and both a rapid-fire nail-gun and a long-range precision attack. Also, two pieces of equipment. MUL-T can make use of basically any items and deal with any situation, though swapping between weapons and equipment can take a bit of getting used to.
Goal: “Reach and complete the 3rd teleporter event without dying.”
Huntress is a bit trickier to unlock, but again, a bit of experience and you’ll manage it. In short: reach and complete the third stage (in the Early Access build, this is always the icy base level) without dying. It’s possible you’ll manage this before getting MUL-T, even.
This may be a bug, but right now you have to go through the teleporter to trigger the achievement and unlock Huntress. If you have the option of going through a portal (if you’ve triggered the Bazaar portal, for instance) do not do that or the Huntress won’t unlock.
The Huntress is focused on mobility. Her default attack is a homing arrow that can be fired while sprinting, which gives a good indication of how she should be played. Blink lets her teleport a really lengthy distance forward, Laser Glaive bounces between foes and racks up damage, and Rain of Arrows lets her create a damage and slowing field while re-positioning.
She’s tricky – especially as she currently has the most limited health pool in the game – but good fun. Her major problem lies in focusing on a particular target, because the tracking of her main attack and the random bounces of her glaive mean that you can’t easily burst one thing down.
Goal: “Complete 30 stages.”
Yeah, another one that you’ll simply get by playing the game a lot. Beating 30 stages is something that’ll just happen over the course of your play.
I’m slightly surprised by how much I actually enjoy the Engineer. At first, he felt like a character that wouldn’t be much good for a solo player, but my opinion on that changed rapidly. He’s more reliant on finding a good position and getting ready for fights, but relatively fast cooldowns mean you can set up, fight, and then move again without too much downtime.
His primary attack is a set of grenades which can be charged to fire eight at once, inflicting huge amounts of damage. The problem is this is his only direct attack, and it’s utter crap against the myriad flying enemies in Risk of Rain 2. His mines are also extremely damaging, but suffer the same problem.
This is where his other abilities come in. Bubble Shield blocks all incoming damage in a zone for 15 seconds but still allows you to shoot out, and he can also plonk down up to two turrets which can happily take down flying foes for you.
Hilariously, those turrets inherit all of the Engineer’s items, meaning that they’re your primary source of damage. Get some items with on-hit effects and they can destroy hordes of foes entirely by themselves, and you can always plonk down the Bubble Shield and lay down your mines for defense if things get crowded.
Goal: “Free the survivor suspended in time.”
Ah. At last, a character that actually needs a guide. “Free the survivor suspended in time” isn’t the most descriptive goal, but that’s why I’m here to help.
First things first, you need to amass either 10 or 11 Lunar Coins. Enemies have a pretty low chance to drop these. They appear as giant blue spinning circles and have to be manually picked up with the Use key, though, so they’re easy to spot. And thankfully, the amount you have persists between runs. As long as you don’t spend them, you can accumulate the needed Coins bit by bit.
Once you’ve got 11, keep an eye out for a Newt Shrine – a sort of blue rock that requires a Lunar Coin to activate, and randomly appears on levels. Activate it, and you’ll be told a blue orb has appeared. (Don’t confuse Newt Shrines with the lunar buds, which look like giant flower buds and give you an item when you activate them with a coin.)
With the blue orb spawned, activate the teleporter and defeat the boss as normal. Because you’ve activated the Newt Shrine, a blue portal will appear; you can go either through this or continue through the teleporter as normal. Go through the blue portal and you’ll wind up in the Bazaar Between Time.
Toddle along into the Bazaar itself, and resist the urge to buy any items in there. Instead, wander up to the giant lizard guy. The crystal next to him will cost 10 Lunar Coins, but will “Free the Survivor.” Do this, and you’ve unlocked the Artificer.
The reason I say you need either 10 or 11 Lunar Coins is that the blue portal has a chance to spawn randomly on stages anyway, so if you get lucky, you won’t need to activate the Newt Shrine. There’s another achievement (and unlock) tied to activating eight separate shrines so it’s worth doing anyway, but you probably want to focus on getting the Artificer – an extremely damaging mage type – first.
Goal: “Obliterate yourself at the Obelisk.”
The final character in the current version of the game is both the trickiest to play as, and the trickiest to unlock. The Mercenary is currently the only melee-focused character in the game, meaning flying foes are even more of a problem for him than for the Engineer. On the other hand, he can double jump, has a laser sword, and has some very cool (if mechanically demanding) abilities.
As you approached the end of the original Risk of Rain, it gave you the option of either warping back to the very start of the game (while retaining your levels, items, and the current difficulty) or heading to the final level. Risk of Rain 2 currently doesn’t have a final level or final boss, and just loops indefinitely. This is good, because looping is what you need to do to unlock the Mercenary.
After clearing four levels, you’ll find yourself back in the first level, only everything is much more terrible because you’ve been playing for awhile and difficulty ramps up over time. Unfortunately for you, you need to make it all the way back to the third level, again. And then clear it. That means doing seven levels in a row, which may require a bit of luck depending on your drops. Either way, after a little bit of time spent in the second loop ice station, you should see a message saying that a Celestial Orb has appeared.
As a disclaimer, that’s how it worked for me but the unlock requirements are currently uncertain. I’ve heard others say they played to level nine(!) or that the message only appeared after a certain amount of time or a certain event. Some theorise you need to kill one of the random boss spawns, or the timer has to hit a certain point. For me, it happened around the 45 minute mark while playing on Easy, and completing one loop of the game appears to be a definite requirement. Either way: once you get the Celestial Orb message, activate the teleporter and fight the stage boss.
Once the boss is dead and the teleporter is charged, a blinding celestial portal will appear. As with the blue portal earlier, you want to go through this and not go through the teleporter. This’ll take you to… a rather tricky jumping puzzle set on islands in a void.
You need to head downwards, basically, and make it to the big obelisk on the lowest island. I’m not sure if falling into the void will kill you, kick you out, or return you to land with a bit less health, but after finally making it here I didn’t want to test it and find out. Descend as carefully as you can until you reach the Obelisk. Use the Obelisk twice (the second prompt asks if you’re sure you want to do this) and your run will immediately end, but the Mercenary will unlock.
Congratulations! You’ve obliterated yourself at the Obelisk, and you’ve now unlocked every character currently available in Risk of Rain 2. Now you can focus on unlocking all of the items and taking on the game’s myriad challenges… until we get more characters.
Tim has been playing PC games for longer than he’s willing to admit. He’s written for a number of publications, but has been with PC Invasion – in all its various incarnations – for over a decade. When not writing about games, Tim can occasionally be found speedrunning terrible ones, making people angry in Dota 2, or playing something obscure and random. He’s also weirdly proud of his status as (probably) the Isle of Man’s only professional games journalist.