The most rewarding challenges in Risk of Rain 2

By Jordan Oloman, Contributor

Underneath the endlessly moreish alien blasting, Risk of Rain 2’s magnificent metagame is secretly the star of the show. Harkening back to the good old days of secret characters and community collaboration, there is a catalog of formidable challenges standing between you and the game’s best items, abilities, equipment, survivors, cosmetics, and more. It’s safe to say that you don’t get it all on a platter in Risk of Rain 2, and this gives the roguelike a long tail. Once it has its hooks in you, it’s hard to stop thinking about “one more run” for the sake of a shiny new skill or the promise of stumbling onto something unexpected and special.

Unpicking the criteria for these feats involves discovering hidden areas, committing complicated codes to memory, and indulging in epic escort missions, but the reward at the end is almost always worth the effort. And, as an added bonus, tackling the most rewarding challenges in Risk of Rain 2 in co-op will bring you and your friends closer together—once you’re done foaming at each other in the wake of a whiffed run. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of our favorites to focus on what will lead you toward some game-changing unlockables.

Challenge: Guidance Offline

LOADERUnlocks: Loader 

Every game is made better by a grappling hook and no fall damage, and Risk of Rain 2 appears to be acutely aware of this. The Loader thrives when swinging around the battlefield and hanging and punching their way to the Teleporter, but you have to unlock them first, of course. To do this, you must make it to the fourth stage of a run and hope you end up in the Siren’s Call environment. 

Once here, you’re looking for six little nests with blue eggs in them that you’ll have to find and smash. Pick a mobile character for the job, and once the eggs are cracked, you’ll summon your omelet—the Alloy Worship Unit, a dangerous secret boss with a projectile-launching problem. Take it down, and the Loader is yours.

Challenge: [REDACTED]

Unlocks: Preon Accumulator

Before you ask—no, this isn’t a Control crossover. The [REDACTED] challenge in Risk of Rain 2 concerns an inconspicuous lock box that players can seek out in Rallypoint Delta, one of the possible environments during the third stage of a run. If you’ve visited the area a few times, you might have stumbled across this box but found a negative time signature emblazoned on it. That’s because the key to opening it is tied to an overarching 10-minute timer that starts ticking as soon as you exit your escape pod at the start of your run. 

What makes this challenge delightfully frantic is that you’ve only got a couple of minutes per stage to get to it, and it will appear in one of three random locations, so losing your bearings could cost you the attempt. Once you do crack it, though, you’ll gain access to the Preon Accumulator, a tremendously powerful piece of equipment that shoots out a ball of deadly energy that melts everything in the vicinity—and then explodes for 4,000% damage. Worth it!

Challenge: Loader—Swing By

Unlocks: Spiked Fist

I promise I’ll stop talking about the Loader after this, but this is a particularly unique timed challenge with a killer reward. The Spiked Fist is an alternate ability that makes the Loader’s grappling hook deal damage and pull light enemies toward you instead of pulling you toward them. This enables you to give them special treatment (a close-quarters haymaker, which never gets old).

To unlock it, you’re going to need to reach the Celestial Portal in 25 minutes or less, which involves beating eight stages. You need to reach the fifth stage, Sky Meadow, and instead of squaring up against the final boss, choose to realign the Primordial Teleporter by interacting with it so that you loop back around to the first stage. Then, you need to advance to stage three and choose to enter the Celestial Portal, which will appear near the normal teleporter. That’s roughly three minutes per stage once you divvy it up, by the way, so tactical item choices and speedy boss sweeps will be paramount to your success.

Challenge: Death Do Us Part

Death Do Us Part
Unlocks: Kjaro’s Band and Runald’s Band

Getting into Kjaro and Runald’s den in the stage two environment, Abandoned Aqueduct, is one of Risk of Rain 2’s greatest “behind the waterfall” moments. Across the map, you’ll have to find a series of subtle indentations in the desert, which indicate pressure plates that invigorate an ancient gate (that looks like a dodgy old fan, all told). The catch is that while fending off hordes of baddies, you’ll have to keep two of these plates held down to open the chamber. 

Simple enough in co-op, but as a solo player, you’re going to need to get crafty with your abilities or master the art of pot rolling, which involves shoving the explosive tar vessels dotted around the environment into position by sprinting at them. Figure it out, though, and you’ll add Kjaro’s Band and Runald’s Band to the permanent item pool. Both items are evergreen pickups that augment high-damage attacks with a fiery tornado or a slowing ice blast, respectively, and can make the difference in a lengthy run. 

Challenge: Power Plant

Unlocks: REX

Who doesn’t love a good escort mission? Anybody? I’ll see myself out. Risk of Rain 2’s twisted take on the trope isn’t exactly merciful, but it summons a profound feeling of satisfaction once you overcome it. Every run starts with you crash-landing on an alien planet in an escape pod, but if you inspect it, you’ll notice there’s a panel on the back you can crack to access the Fuel Array inside. You can (optionally) transport this Fuel Array to the stage four environment Abyssal Depths, where a broken robot jonesing for a Fuel Array hides amid some higher platforms.

Pick up the Fuel Array in stage one, and it will replace your equipment slot, which is already enough of a debuff, honestly. But that’s not all! Drop below 50% of your maximum health, and the Fuel Array explodes instantly, rendering your REX run void and likely killing you in the process save for some miraculous, build-related shenanigans. But you know what they say: It’s about the journey, not the destination. 

Challenge: Artifact of Command

Unlocks: Artifact of Command

Artifacts are modifiers that players can activate before they begin runs in Risk of Rain 2. In particular, the Artifact of Command flips the game on its head by enabling you to consistently choose your items from the available pool instead of dealing with the randomized hand you’re often dealt. It’s a lot of fun if you’re looking to play around with different builds or prod at the boundaries of the game’s systems.

Unlocking it, though? That’s another story. Each artifact demands you make it to the fifth stage, Sky Meadow, and, once there, seek out the Compound Generator, a large machine below the map. You’ll spot a 3x3 grid of switches here that can display a code made of shapes along with a laptop, which allows you to confirm your input. To find out an Artifact’s code, you’ll need to come across its associated stone tablet somewhere in the extremities of Risk of Rain 2’s randomized environments. I implore you to find them yourself, as they’re all very well hidden, but you can easily look up the code online if you want to skip the queue and play with the modifiers. Even if you do that, you’re not out of the woods yet, though…

Input a successful code in the Sky Meadow, and you’ll crack open an Artifact Portal, where you’ll face a trial to unlock the modifier once and for all. The trial involves facing off against enemies to pick up Artifact Keys that damage an otherwise impenetrable boss in the center—all the while under the influence of the Artifact’s effects. The trials are extremely unpredictable, even with a brilliant build.