Risk of Rain 2 review: A monsoon of chaos

Hopoo Game's latest release is the roguelike genre at its best. Our review.

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After more than a year in early access, Hopoo Games’ Risk of Rain 2 is finally hitting full release. Published by Gearbox, this roguelike puts players in a series of sci-fi environments, tasked with battling a wide variety of other-worldly creatures. I got to spend a considerable amount of time with the 1.0 version of Risk of Rain 2 in both single-player and multiplayer mode. 

Weather the storm

Jumping into Risk of Rain 2, players already have a plethora of options to unlock. The game has 10 survivors, a cast of playable characters with their own unique abilities and strong suits. Commando is the first and only playable character available when first starting out, with others unlocked through completing different objectives and milestones. The survivors play quite differently from one another, offering different abilities to use in battles. From there, you’ll select from the game’s three difficulties - drizzle (easy), rainstorm (normal), and monsoon (hard). Once this is all sorted out, it’s time to dive head-first into the action.

Risk of Rain 2 hits on all of the beats you would expect from a roguelike. The game is incredibly difficult, with unforgiving foes that will pursue and attack you relentlessly from the moment you step out of your pod. There’s a serious learning curve, as I spent my first hour with the game getting killed over and over again before I even made it to one of the roguelike’s legitimate bosses. 

A galaxy of possibilities 

As common with the genre, Risk of Rain 2’s environments are randomly generated when you load in. From a variety of different planets with their own themes and layouts, the constantly shifting settings in this roguelike keeps players on their toes. 

What immediately struck me with Risk of Rain 2 was the diverse cast of enemies to go up against. From gun-wielding lizard-like Lemurians to the monstrous Beetle Guards, there are so many different types of enemies to encounter. From the main menu, players can access the logbook, which lists every defeated monster, providing additional details, as well as an adjustable character diagram. Here, you can see a monster’s health and speed stats, as well as the amount you’ve killed, and how many have killed you. Roguelikes are meant to be replayed endlessly, so it’s really cool to have this all-encompassing trove of statistical feedback.

Bossing up

During sessions, players are given the objective of finding and activating teleporters, which will allow them to proceed to the next stage. However, activating a teleporter will trigger a boss fight. Boss fights in Risk of Rain 2 are the game’s most exciting and challenging moments. Seemingly countless enemies descend onto the player accompanied by a super-sized monster in an all-out battle that can only be described as a monsoon of chaos. 

The boss battles were easily my favorite part of Risk of Rain 2. From the Beetle Queen to the Stone Titan, the bosses in this roguelike are oppressively powerful, which forced me to be constantly on the move, getting in attacks where I could while trying to keep death at bay. In multiplayer, one boss wouldn’t be as big of an obstacle, so the game throws in a second boss to ratchet up the challenge. 

Torrential downpour

A staple of roguelike games is their high degree of replayability. There’s often a lot of constantly changing variables that make each run different from the last. In Risk of Rain 2, there are over 100 items that can be found or purchased by the player, each giving them unique abilities and boosts. For example, the lens-making glasses give each attack a 10% chance of critically striking, dealing double damage. Players can stack up several items at once, supplying them with a number of different bonuses and abilities. Similar to the monsters, discovered items can be viewed in the logbook.

There are a total of 10 playable survivors in Risk of Rain 2, each with their own abilities. The different survivors' abilities help them to get the upper hand in battle. For example, Loader’s Scrap Barrier ability lets him fall from great heights without taking any fall damage. Finding a survivor that best suits your playstyle is one of the keys to success in Risk of Rain 2.

While single-player is a great way to play Risk of Rain 2, the game’s multiplayer mode is just as incredible. Risk of Rain 2’s multiplayer allows you to play online in groups of four. Either start a private lobby to play with friends or queue into quickplay to play with random players. Going online adds more layers of strategy to Risk of Rain 2’s gameplay, as you’re able to cooperate with allies to best use your abilities throughout battles. You also have a chance to continue on after death, as you’ll be resurrected if your allies can reach a checkpoint following your demise. 

Clear skies

Risk of Rain 2 is a top-of-the-line roguelike. No matter how familiar you get with the controls, you’re never comfortable, as death is always one or two mistakes away. The vast number of enemies, items, and abilities make for an endlessly replayable experience. The extensive work done in the game’s more than a year in early access has paid off, as Risk of Rain 2 is one of the best roguelikes to hit the market in recent memory.


This review is absed on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Risk of Rain 2 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC for $19.99.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Review for
Risk of Rain 2
9
Pros
  • Endlessly replayable
  • Challenging combat
  • Wide variety of enemies and environments
  • Uniquely different playable survivors
  • Online play creates new strategy and challenge
Cons
  • Limited character and loadout options in beginning.
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