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Risk Of Rain 2 Review

Risk Of Rain 2 Review

Risk of Rain 2 still has another year or so of development ahead of it. Regardless, it’s a very enticing and engaging game as it stands, and is a great example of how early access style games can work. Having never played the first Risk of Rain however, I’m afraid I have nothing to base my opinions off. The consensus online though, seems to be that the move from 2D to 3D was a great choice!

“With around a full year of development still left ahead of the team, the game as it stands is more complete than most titles of a comparable nature.”

Whether or not the change from 2D to 3D was a good move or not, I’ll leave for fans of the original to decide. What I can say however, is that this sequel is a very well-made game, even now in its relative infancy. With around a full year of development still left ahead of the team, the game as it stands is more complete than most titles of a comparable nature. Its ability to retain player investment and interest, is held in its very simple and addictive gameplay loop.

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Basically the aim of the game is to progress through a random selection of levels over and over again, with enemies increasing in number and difficulty as time goes on. You run around the level with the gold you’ve earned from kills, to open up many kinds of chests and containers to pickup new items with various effects and benefits. Some allow double-jumping, others allow a speed boost forward after jumping. Electric attacks that bounce around enemies, slowing down enemies on hit, healing on crits, doubling crit damage, increasing running speed, the list is near endless. I’d take a guess at there being around 50 items, if not more. It wouldn’t surprise me either to learn that was nearer to 100. There’s great variation on offer. Once you’ve collected enough items and you’re ready, you activate a teleporter somewhere in the map to fight a boss, before heading to the next level.

“Basically the aim of the game is to progress through a random selection of levels over and over again, with enemies increasing in number and difficulty as time goes on.”

The items are random, and benefit you in certain playthroughs more than others. You’ve also got the decisions of things like whether to activate turrets in that level only to help with fights, or whether to take a chance on one of the totems/statues that in some cases may or may not reward you. Portals to secret areas such as the shop or the dreaded golden portal which has you facing off a very strong boss surrounded by an army for protection. Each playthrough is unique and exciting, despite following the same pattern each time.

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You choose one of 6 characters (more planned in future), whom you unlock by playing the game with the starting soldier-type class. Double wielding handguns, a penetrative laser shot, a nice stun ability, and dodge roll, it’s a perfect starting class to get to grips with things. Once you get to know the structure of moving from one location to another, and how the level/waves system works, you’ll find yourself unlocking other characters to experiment with soon afterwards. Currently there’s the soldier class I mentioned, a bow wielding hunter, a robot, a turret engineer, a warlock/wizard, and a samurai/ninja type character. Each following the same tenants of having a dodge/movement type ability, a utility ability such as stun grenades or slowing arrow storms, a projectile/item with unique effects such as penetration or bouncing between enemies, and of course their regular attacks which all have basic properties. Some basic attacks are rapid with short range, others lock on but are slow, some are balanced, and some severely restricted but provide massive damage. There’s a character you’ll grow to love though, guaranteed.

“Alongside item, character, and ability variety, there’s also a lot of enemy variety.”

Alongside item, character, and ability variety, there’s also a lot of enemy variety. Enemies will start off easy enough, with your basic light/heavy melee characters, light/heavy fliers, and permutations of those solid foundations with various tweaks and surprises. A few enemies are a little too punishing I feel, or lack some fine balancing, but the game lacks any kind of balance once you get the ball rolling with items anyway. Essentially beyond a certain point, you become unstoppable. In those rare 1/10 games you’ll eventually have, you’ll have items that double your crit chance, damage, and heal on crit. To support those will be items such as healing on sprint, healing on hit, and a chance to block all damage completely. Once you reach that point, spamming your attacks and abilities should sustain you through anything. The game reaches a “Hahahahaha” level of enemy spawning, which is the last and final difficulty for the game. If you’re surviving here, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll go on for as long as you want, provided there’s no missteps or lapse in concentration.

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Those rare matches can go on for upwards of 1 hour, and I’ve found myself spending 90 minutes easily when that snowball effect kicks in for you. For most matches however (the other 9/10), then you’ll effectively hold out for around 15-30 minutes each time, depending on how your teammates share items with you, and you all coordinate to give each class their best matched items. For example, a mushroom that allows healing when standing still, is best given to the turret engineer. Why? Because his turrets inherit his item effects, which means they heal as a result of being stationary on the ground. This lets them sustain much longer, and heal anyone who runs up to them which is very useful in boss battles. The samurai is probably best suited to heal on hit items and crit-based items, since they’ll be in the thick of the fight up close with enemies, and will need those attack-based healing items, alongside some damage blocking ones.

“For most matches however (the other 9/10), then you’ll effectively hold out for around 15-30 minutes each time, [...]”

Provided you get a good team who understands these peculiarities, and they don’t race around the map stealing and hording every chest before you (a major problem when they have high agility characters and you don’t), then you all stand a chance of having a good time. Therein lies my only complaint however (not so much a fault of the game, but more so of the player-base), is that sometimes it feels less like a cooperative experience, and more like a free-for-all to grab all the items. Play with friends and you’ll be fine. Play with randoms online? Be prepared that some people may not care that they have 20 items and you only have 3, and will continue to hoard more. Maybe this could be a change the developers could make, so that chests/shrines are not shared, but rather you have unique instances local only to you? It’s not my place to say what should be, but I do feel it would benefit from a slight change in approach to items. Maybe have vending machines that never expire after 1 use but cost 3x as much? In most cases however, people understand sharing, and so you should be fine.

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“Play with friends and you’ll be fine. Play with randoms online? Be prepared that some people may not care that they have 20 items and you only have 3, and will continue to hoard more.”

Simply put, that is the essence of the game. Shoot enemies, grab gold, buy loot, and repeat ad infinitum. It’s not a game you so much as win, but is more to do with performing better than your previous best. It’s great because the game serves as two distinctly different experiences, depending how you engage with it. Push yourself, and you’ll be looking at a 1+ hour test of skill and endurance. Play casually, and you’ll enjoy a nice 15-20 minute match before succumbing to sheer numbers. It’s open to what you want from it. The networking is stable enough that your experience is mostly unaffected by various factors, however there are the occasional matches where opening chests and using abilities delay by about 0.5 seconds or longer. Rare however, at least for me.

“There’s a lot more planned such as modification rules (not sure what they’ll be) that should make for some interesting challenges.”

There’s a lot more planned such as modification rules (not sure what they’ll be) that should make for some interesting challenges. Possibly things such as ‘no jumping’ or ‘basic attacks only’ to jazz things up. More characters are planned (4 I seem to recall?) and I’m sure there’s other things which I haven’t noticed mentioned as incoming or have been roadmapped. There will be an end-game boss in the final version, so it feels like there will be some kind of final conclusion tor each in the final game rather than continuing on indefinitely. Roguelikes benefit from this kind of experience such as Faster Than Light. Even after surviving until the end, having the correct items and a bit of luck on your side is the key to finishing the game completely, not simply reaching the final boss in and of itself (that’s the minimum requirement, but not the main test).

I bought this on a whim after seeing a friend play it almost everyday, and curiosity got the better of me. Very glad I did, and it’s a game I’ve been playing almost everyday myself for 30 minutes or so alongside Defense Grid 2. Very pick-up-and-play, and highly recommended even if you aren’t into this kind of thing.

“Very pick-up-and-play, and highly recommended even if you aren’t into this kind of thing.”

“A very fun early-access game, that could easily stand as it is. A rare thing indeed. Great fun with friends, and perfect for both short bursts of play, and for longer endurance sessions.”
— David Treharne
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