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I have to admit that when I heard Risk of Rain was getting a sequel that took its 2D roguelike action concept and moved it fully into the third dimension, I wasn’t sure how it would even work.

However, Risk of Rain 2 is now available in an Early Access version on every platform, and I want to give a tip of the hat to Hopoo Games for the amazing job they’ve done in taking something that worked on a flat plane and successfully converting it to 3D. I sure wasn’t expecting it, but it works exactly like it should.

The original 2D game.
Essentially the same game with an extra dimension added.

For those who haven’t played the original, the sequel holds close to the same structure. The player takes control of a character who’s dropped down to the surface of a planet and must survive against increasingly numerous, increasingly difficult hordes of monsters while picking up randomized equipment scattered throughout the landscape. It’s a simple formula at its core, but it works.

Of course like any roguelike, a run depends on the equipment that’s available to be found, and in Risk of Rain 2 it not only needs to be found, it needs to be bought. Money didn’t seem like a major issue at this point, but I did have more than a few hairy moments trying to avoid death while trying to scrounge together just a few more coins.

The gear runs the gamut from simple stuff like increased walking speed to fancier items such as drones that launch missiles or a pair of insect wings that enable flight, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of how many things can be found and unlocked. Every time I play, it seems like I found something new.

While singleplayer mode is an option, it’s clear that (like the original) Risk of Rain 2 is intended to be played as a group, and the online mode works well and is populated with a healthy base. I had no trouble finding games and working with others is a positive experience as there’s no real way to troll anybody, and there’s no friendly fire, either. The only downside so far is that players compete for powerups, and I often found myself under-equipped as quicker (or richer) teammates got the available gear first. I would eventually kit up if I lived long enough, but it wasn’t a huge problem.

While the general shape of things in Risk of Rain 2 is looking good, that’s not to say it’s entirely ready for primetime.

In its current Early Access state it’s already enjoyable, but the developers have released a content roadmap which lists out many things that will be added to the game between now and the summer of next year — things like new characters, new levels, a final boss (there currently isn’t one) and more.

The current build is also somewhat buggy. There were a couple times when I played a level and simply could not find an exit to the next. A quick search online revealed that many players were encountering similar issues. I also had a few disconnections when playing — most of them no big deal, but after putting in a long, successful run on one particularly great run, the server crashed and I walked away with nothing. It was more than a little frustrating.

Apart from the technical issues, I will say that Risk of Rain 2 needs more polish and work on its visuals. While I appreciate how new gear is represented on the character models (love it!) a few of the levels sport terrible color choices and in general, visibility and readability are a problem. It’s tough to see items, and some levels just don’t look as clear or as distinct as they should.

It’s much, much too early to pass any sort of judgment on Risk of Rain 2, but I like where it’s headed and in another six or twelve months, I’m guessing it’ll be something that I will happily pour a silly number of hours into. In the meantime, I’m guessing that players who like to get in on a game early will be pleased with what’s on offer here.

Brad Gallaway
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