Risk of Rain 2 is a near-perfect 3D translation of the 2D side-scroller it's based on, and it's a fun and exciting third-person shooter besides. As we said earlier (opens in new tab), even in Early Access, it's well worth your time, especially if you can play it with friends. It also gets exponentially more fun as you earn new characters to play with. But earning all of them isn't a simple task, so I've put together a guide to all of Risk of Rain 2's character unlocks.
Here's an overview of how each character plays and what you need to do to unlock them.
How many characters are there in Risk of Rain 2, and how do I unlock them?
And what characters are going to be added in Early Access?
At launch, Risk of Rain 2 has six playable characters: Commando, MUL-T, Huntress, Engineer, Artificer, and Mercenary.
Four more character icons are listed as "under construction." Risk of Rain 2 is in Early Access, so those four characters will be added over the course of development.
Each character has a unique method of unlocking explained in the character guide below.
To unlock: Start the game!
Commando is the default character, so you'll play him at least a few times at the start before moving onto someone new. But even after dozens of hours, I still go back to Commando. His cooldowns are relatively short, and his well-rounded abilities do a good job teaching how Risk of Rain 2's combat flows.
Commando's basic attack is fast and easy to aim, and his piercing secondary ability is much more effective when you take time to line up a juicy group of enemies. He also has a basic but handy dodge to help you get out of danger, and a rapid-fire ability which can stun most enemies in a pinch. Commando is easy to pick up and fun to play, so don't assume he's weak just because he's the starter survivor.
To unlock: Beat the first level five times.
MUL-T is a flexible fighter with a unique ability: It can swap between two basic attacks at any time. One is a short-range, fast-firing nail gun which is good for crowds and bosses, and the other is a long-range sniper rifle which excels at picking off flying enemies. Swapping your basic attack will also swap your Equipment (your 'Use' item), making MUL-T the only survivor who can use two different Equipment items simultaneously.
MUL-T's other abilities include a speedy dash which you can use to get away from enemies or run right into them for heavy damage, as well as a cluster of grenades which deal modest damage but stun enemies considerably. MUL-T is all about swapping primary attacks effectively while using your dash and stun grenades to control big targets and crowds. This robot's a lot of fun to play, especially since you have two equipment items to experiment with.
To unlock: Clear the first three levels without dying.
Where the Commando excels at single-target damage, Huntress is the queen of AoE. Her auto primary attack is slow and relatively weak, but her abilities are incredibly good at melting groups. Her secondary ability, a ricocheting glaive, can bounce between up to six enemies, so you should only use it when you know it'll hit at least two enemies. If you throw it at a lone dude, it'll disappear after just one hit, which is a waste of precious damage.
Huntress can also lay down a rain of arrows at a target location, dealing damage over time to everything nearby. This ability is your go-to boss DPS, and holding the charge mid-air can also put you out of range of many ground enemies. Finally, Huntress has one of the best escape abilities in the game: a straight-up teleport. This ability sends you where you're aiming, meaning you can also use it like a jump. Huntress was my favorite character in the original game, and she's every bit as strong in Risk of Rain 2.
To unlock: Complete 30 levels.
The Engineer is all about placing and defending turrets. Don't get me wrong, he has other cool abilities—deployable proximity mines, a bubble shield which blocks all external attacks, and a basic attack that fires volleys of bouncy grenades—but turrets are his bread and butter. Once deployed, your turrets will automatically attack all nearby enemies for massive damage.
Here's the kicker: They benefit from all the items you pick up. In other words, if you get an item that boosts your attack speed, it'll also boost your turrets' attack speed. This synergy causes some items to scale wildly, with an Engineer fan-favorite being the Bustling Fungus, which basically turns your turrets into healing stations. The thing is, your turrets have a pretty long cooldown, meaning you can't throw them down willy-nilly. So the ideal Engineer fight looks like this: Find a big group of enemies, place your turrets right in the middle of them, throw down a shield and some mines, and watch those puppies go to work.
To unlock: Spend 10 Lunar Coins to free her from the Newt Shop. Enemies drop Lunar Coins randomly, so grab them when you see them. The blue portal to the Newt Shop will open randomly when you clear stages, but you can spend one Lunar Coin at a Newt Altar (before activating the Teleporter) to make it appear. You'll find the Artificer in a block of ice next to the big Newt himself.
The Artificer is a true-blue mage who wields fire, ice, and lightning. As you'd expect from a mage, her abilities are all about managing cooldowns and combining elements. For example, her basic attack is a fireball that works on a charge system. Once you run out of charges, you won't be able to attack. Your fireballs recharge quickly but this ability can still be disorienting at first, especially if you're used to someone like Commando who can spam his basic attack with impunity. Once you get used to it though, the Artificer's fireball is incredibly strong.
Her other abilities correspond to specific elements. First, she has a lightning orb which she can charge up before releasing to increase its range and power. This deals heavy damage and stun on impact, and it will also zap nearby enemies as it flies through the air, so try to aim it between multiple small enemies and toward one big dude. Then there's her ice wall, which freezes enemies in place and insta-kills them if they're below 20 percent health. This ability isn't strong on its own, but it's a potent finisher.
The Artificer doesn't have any sort of dodge or teleport, so you'll also need to use this ice wall to control crowds. Finally, you've got a good old-fashioned flamethrower. This deals heavy damage but has extremely short range, so it's best used on enemies stunned by your lightning orb. Watch your cooldowns and grab some mobility-boosting items and you'll be slinging spells with the best of 'em.
To unlock: Clear seven levels to reach the Obelisk. A Celestial Portal will open when you clear your seventh stage. Inside you'll find an Obelisk located at the end of a floating path, so make your way to it and choose to "Obliterate" yourself when prompted. This will immediately end your run and unlock the Mercenary. You can Obliterate yourself again to earn five Lunar Coins to help you unlock the Artificer, or you can take the Celestial Portal back to continue your run.
As the only current melee character in Risk of Rain 2, Mercenary plays very differently from the other survivors. You might think that a dude with a sword would feel clunky in a third-person shooter, but you'd be wrong. Mercenary has one of the most frenetic playstyles of the lot, and played correctly, he can devastate bosses and groups alike.
His basic attack is just a close-range sword swipe, but honestly, you'll barely use it. Mercenary's abilities have such low cooldowns that you can chain them together almost indefinitely. His secondary ability launches you into a horizontal sword spin on the ground and a vertical spin mid-air, while his final ability teleports you to the nearest enemy and launches an extended flurry of attacks. Did I mention you're totally invincible during this flurry?
These two abilities can be strung together using Mercenary's dash. It not only stuns and damages enemies you dash through, it can also be used three times in rapid succession as long as you keep hitting enemies. Oh, and Mercenary can double jump by default. Ya dig?