Risk of Rain Returns: Complete Beginners Guide + Tips & Tricks

Learn how not to die every five seconds in Risk of Rain Returns.

Risk of Rain Returns is really hard. We know. We’ve tried it too. It can be especially hard if you’re new to roguelikes, or you’re not familiar with Risk of Rain as a franchise. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this guide.

We’ve included everything we think a new player should know, as well as some of our own tips and tricks to staying alive longer, beating bosses, and unlocking things faster. We’ll start with an overview of the game’s settings before you start. 

Complete Beginners Guide + Tips & Tricks

Setting Up A Run & What To Do 

You’ve launched the game and you’re now in the main menu. Maybe you played the tutorial, maybe you didn’t. It’s actually quite useful to do so if you’re new, as it covers what to do each stage pretty well. But just in case you didn’t, we’ll go over it one more time.

In Risk of Rain Returns, you play a randomized set of stages with different types of enemies in different environments.

Each stage has a Teleporter, which you need to find and activate by pressing your interact key on it. Once you do, a Boss will spawn, and you need to kill it.

Also, after activating the Teleporter, a timer will start counting up to 90 seconds. You need to wait for the timer to end so that you can get to the next stage. 

Sounds easy enough? Good. Now that you have a basic idea of what to do, we’ll start by explaining what you see in the Character Selection Screen. 

Setting up a run

Character Selection Screen

The screen looks something like this. “Survivors” are what Risk of Rain calls the playable characters. There are 16 of them, and we’ll go over each one in one of the later sections.

For now, you should just know that this is where you select what to play, and the Skills tab is where you select that character’s abilities.

The Difficulty tab is self-explanatory. Drizzle is the easiest difficulty, Rainstorm is the middleground and Monsoon is the hardest. We advise new players to play on Drizzle, but you can play on higher difficulties too if you’re feeling brave. Be advised though, Monsoon is really hard

Another thing you’ll see here is the Artifacts tab. Those are modifiers that you can unlock and then enable. They change things in-game, like making items not random, giving you less HP, having all enemies spawn on all stages, etc. More on those later. 

Check out the Rules tab as well. 

Character Selection Screen

Rules Tab

Here you can modify how close you want your experience to be to the original Risk of Rain. By default, this is set to Modern, and that’s how we recommend it as well.

The original game’s mechanics might be nostalgic, but they were inconvenient at times – for example, one of the old rules was that you needed to kill all enemies before going to the next stage, which was a bit annoying when enemies were spawned halfway across the map. 

The Intensity tab allows you to make the game a bit easier or harder. Here you can modify Damage Dealt and Damage Taken, if the existing Difficulty settings aren’t specific enough for you.

We didn’t mention multiplayer yet, but you can play multiplayer with up to 4 people. Everyone selects their own character, enemies scale based on how many players are in the game and if a player dies, they spawn as a drone.

If the other players beat the current stage, the dead player will respawn normally at the start of the next stage. 

That should be everything you need to know about setting up a run. Now let’s get to characters! 

Shows the Rules area of the start screen

Characters Overview

Pretty much all of the Survivors in Risk of Rain Returns have unique abilities and playstyles, and you’ll have to figure out which one suits you best.

At the start of the game, you’ll only have two unlocked: Commando and Huntress, and these are the most new-player-friendly ones anyway.

Here is a list of all the Survivors in the game and how they play:

  1. Commando: A ranged jack-of-all-trades survivor. The face of Risk of Rain. Commando is a well rounded character and is good for beginners because there’s not a lot of nuance to his kit. You shoot things from a distance and roll away when they get too close. That’s it! 
  2. Huntress: Similar to Commando, but faster and with more mobility. She can blink/teleport away short distances, and her basic attacks work while running as well, so you can just run away from things and shoot back at them. Her downside is that she’s a very squishy character and dies easily on later stages. 
  3. Enforcer: Low-mobility character that can block enemies from moving closer with his shield. Generally good as a tank. 
  4. Bandit: High-damage character that has a lot of utility to stun or run away. His ultimate ability is very powerful, allowing for attack chains if you get a kill with it. Good damage character. 
  5. HAN-D: A utility character that can use drones for healing or attacking. Risk of Rain Returns HAN-D
  6. Engineer: Support character that usually just sits in place surrounded by harpoons and relies on his turrets to protect him. Good damage, but also an incredibly weak character. 
  7. Miner: A strong melee character that deals huge damage in quick succession. The more he fights, the more damage he deals as he enters his Scorching state. 
  8. Sniper: A Survivor that can one-hit-kill Bosses but is very immobile and is easily killed by enemies. 
  9. Acrid: Spread poison to your enemies and deal damage over time with Acrid, a monster that can become a character. 
  10. Mercenary: Fast-paced melee combat with lots of mobility, both vertical and horizontal. 
  11. Loader: Similar to Miner and Enforcer, but with a lot more mobility. Loader is a good balance between melee mobility and tanking. 
  12. CHEF: Like Huntress, but if she was a lot more AoE. Chef is proficient at dealing with a high number of enemies at the same time. Strong ranged character. Risk of Rain Returns Chef
  13. Pilot: Sort of like a Sniper or Engineer that constantly stays airborne. Pilot deals damage from a distance and needs to constantly be on the move or in the air to not get hit. 
  14. Artificer: The closest thing to a mage in Risk of Rain Returns. Artificer excels in high damage and crowd control abilities. She has limited movement, but has an ability that can block enemies’ paths. 
  15. Drifter: A supportive character that can generate temporary items for herself and allies using scraps. 
  16. ???: A secret character which we won’t spoil for you!

If you haven’t unlocked a Survivor yet, check out our guide on How to unlock all of them.

We also mentioned that you can change the abilities, or Skills, of Survivors. Take a look at this image below, where we show the different Skills for Artificer, a personal favorite of mine. Skills need to be unlocked, usually by doing Providence Trials.

If you hover over the locked skill, it’ll tell you what you need to do to unlock it. And if you’re still unsure, we have guides available that tell you what to do. 

Shows character selection with alternate abilities for Artificer

Artifacts Overview

We mentioned that Artifacts modify some of the game’s settings to make it easier or just more fun. They need to be unlocked, and we have guides showing you how to unlock each one. Here’s a list of all the artifacts in Risk of Rain Returns and what they do:

  • Artifact of Honor: Enemies always spawn as elites.
  • Artifact of Kin: Only one enemy type spawns per stage. 
  • Artifact of Distortion: Lock a random skill every minute, but skills have decreased cooldowns. 
  • Artifact of Spite: Enemies explode on death. 
  • Artifact of Glass: Deal 500% damage, but have 10% health.
  • Artifact of Enigma: Spawn with a random Equipment that changes every time it’s activated.
  • Artifact of Sacrifice: Chests no longer spawn; monsters now drop items on death. 
  • Artifact of Command: Items are no longer random. 
  • Artifact of Spirit: Characters run faster at lower health.
  • Artifact of Origin: Imps invade the map every 10 minutes.
  • Artifact of Prestige: At least one Shrine of the Mountain spawns every stage. Shrine of the Mountain effects are permanent. 
  • Artifact of Dissonance: Monsters can appear outside their usual environments.
  • Artifact of Tempus: Items are worth multiple stacks. All items are temporary.
  • Artifact of Cognation: Enemies create a temporary clone after death. 
Artifacts Risk of Rain Returns

Items Overview

Items are the main way to get more powerful in Risk of Rain Returns. There are different items for different things, such as healing, boosting damage, boosting mobility, items that you activate, etc. 

The list of items is pretty long, so we won’t cover all of them, but we can explain the categories:

  • Common (White): These are the ones that you’ll run into the most at the beginning of the game. They’re usually found in the smallest chests.
  • Uncommon (Green): You’ll get these from the bigger chests. This is the main kind of item you want. 
  • Rare (Red): You’ll get around 2-3 of these until you get to the main stage and that’s if you’re lucky. These items are very strong and even having one will impact your game a lot. 
  • Equipment (Orange): You can find these in barrels. They need to be activated, and they have a cooldown upon use. 
  • Boss (Yellow): These are dropped by bosses and are generally the most powerful kinds of items alongside Rare items. 
Shows the different items in the game

Chests, Drones, Turrets & Shops

We talked about items, but we haven’t yet mentioned how to get them. You get items by buying chests or buying the item directly from shops.

Chests give you a random item, but it isn’t always purely random. The gray chests can give you any item, the red chests give you a damage item, the green chests give you a healing item and the purple chests give you some kind of utility item, like an added jump.

The shops are not random and will instead show you what item you’re going to get. You’ll be able to choose between three.

Risk of Rain Returns also features drones, small helpers that you can buy which will damage enemies, heal you or provide some other form of utility.

There are also shrines:

  • Shrine of the Mountain: doubles the amount of bosses spawned by the teleporter.
  • Shrine of Chance: Gamble money for a chance to get an item. 
  • Shrine of Combat: Spawns 10 imps that the player needs to kill in a small timeframe to get a reward. 
  • Shrine of Blood: Gamble HP for a chance to get an item.

How To Kill Bosses

Bosses are the final challenge a player needs to conquer before completing a stage. Usually, Bosses spawn after the Teleporter is activated, but they can also spawn in other conditions, like the Final Level, or as part of the environment.

Here’s a quick overview of how to kill each Teleporter boss

  • Colossus: Can be done easily with a melee or ranged Survivor. Avoid the stomp attack when you see the Colossus lift its leg and don’t get hit by the hand slam. 
  • Wandering Vagrant: Try to constantly be on the move with this one. It doesn’t really have any attacks except the small circles that seek you, so dodge those and just keep hitting it. 
  • Magma Worm: If you dodge the initial impacts from it leaving the ground or entering it, this one is easy. Just keep damaging it and run away when it is about to hit the ground. 
  • Ancient Wisp: When you see the purple lights about to detonate, get between them to dodge. Also, be aware that killing the Ancient Wisp will spawn smaller wisps, which can be even trickier sometimes. 
  • Lynx Totem: Try to focus on killing the big totem fast and don’t worry too much on the little tribe enemies, as long as they’re not actively damaging you. 
  • Imp Overlord: Move around a lot. Do not let the imp hit you, as the hit is pretty significant. Keep an eye out for when the teleport attack happens. 
  • Ifrit: Don’t get run over and dodge the fire attacks. 
  • Toxic Beast: Similar to Ifrit, but a lot easier. Try to keep your distance, even if you are playing a melee character. 
  • Cremator: Very hard to kill as a melee character, unless you’re Acrid. Be really careful how and where you move, because falling in the lava means death. Try to find a position where you can safely attack and run away fast. 
  • Scavenger: Similar to the Imp Overlord, move around a lot and you should be fine. 

As for the bosses that aren’t spawned by the Teleporter event, they are just slightly stronger versions of enemies, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble with any of them. 

Shows the Colossus boss

Final Stage Guide

You’ve (hopefully) found this guide helpful so far and have made it to the Final Stage – Risk of Rain! Welcome to the UES Contact Light, a crashed ship that hides the game’s final boss – Providence.

This stage is similar to the other stages, but not the same. Instead of Teleporters, you need to activate doors with a 30 second timer to progress further in the stage. Once you get past a few of these, you will get to the “Bridge”, where you can find Providence, the final boss.

While trying to get there, you might pick up a Keycard. On the right side of the stage, there is a ladder going up and down. This leads you to four areas, which can each be unlocked with a keycard: 

  • Storage: Contains a lot of chests and containers. 
  • Armory: Contains chests, but also contains the Gauss Cannon, which upon interacting, you can teleport to the boss room and use during the fight. 
  • Cabin: Contains chests, but also contains the Nano-Chest, which upon interacting, you can teleport to the boss room and use during the fight to get a random item. 
  • Medical Bay: Contains chests, healing interactables and a bed that you can teleport to the boss fight to get heals. 

Once you get past this area, you need to do the 30 second doors we mentioned to get to the Bridge. And once you get there, you click the control panel on the middle platform and start the boss fight.

The fight is really intense, and has a lot of surprises which we won’t spoil, but here are some tips:

  • Keep moving constantly, do not get hit by any attacks as there are attack chains.
  • Watch out for the shadows created by Providence.
  • If you teleported any of the utilities from Armory, Cabin or Medical Bay, don’t forget to use it!
  • In the second stage, the worms don’t attack you on contact, just with their special attacks. 
Shows a screenshot of the final boss fight

What Are Providence Trials? 

If you get bored of the normal gamemode, or you want to unlock some new abilities, that’s what Providence Trials are for. 

They are predefined levels with specific goals, like killing a certain amount of enemies, or getting somewhere within a timeframe, etc. Usually, they force you to use the ability that you’re trying to unlock so that you can get familiar with it. 

Shows a screenshot of the Providence Trials

ALSO READ: Risk of Rain Returns: How to Get Gold in Perilous Descent


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