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Risk of Rain 2's big Anniversary Update includes a very cool space cowboy

I don't need much of an excuse to play more Risk of Rain 2, a game I played a hell of a lot of in 2020. The Anniversary Update, released Thursday to celebrate the Early Access launch two years ago, is quite a good one, though. It adds a new playable character, the Bandit, who returns from the original 2D Risk of Rain many years ago. And there's a lot more: New skills for several of the existing characters, more items, and a reworked final stage.

The update is out now so I downloaded it to try out the Bandit, who's a hoot and a half. Bandit's primary attack is a fast-firing shotgun, but the real fun of their ability kit is a revolver that fires off a single quick-draw shot for 300 percent damage. If that shot earns you a kill, it refills your shotgun and resets the cooldowns of your other skills, a saber attack that inflicts bleeding damage and a smoke bomb that stuns enemies and turns you invisible for a few seconds. I settled into a rhythm with the Bandit almost immediately, hitting baddies with a shotgun blast or two and then following up with a revolver shot to seal the kill. 

I'm already eager to stack crit damage on the Bandit to see just how powerful that revolver shot can be, but I think their real strength is going to be in triggering the saber's bleed ability over and over again. I've only played one game with the Bandit, but I was surprised by how fun and powerful they were from the very beginning, without feeling like I needed any items to make up for a particular weakness. I may have a new favorite.

I'm excited to dig deeper into this update, which the Hopoo Games co-founders say is "a huge ‘thanks’ for fans who have been with us since the beginning, [and] an opportunity to revisit a lot of the things we couldn’t finish up for the official launch."

The biggest addition is a "redone from the ground up" final stage, which I think many Risk of Rain 2 players will be happy with. I liked the sort of sparse, melancholic build-up of the last level, but it wasn't universally loved. The full patch notes are extensive, including the new stuff and a lot of tweaks to existing items, so I've pulled out everything that excites me below. 

When he's not 50 hours into a JRPG or an opaque ASCII roguelike, Wes is probably playing the hottest games of three years ago. He oversees features, seeking out personal stories from PC gaming's niche communities. 50% pizza by volume.