In Risk of Rain Returns, there’s a pretty large cast of 16 (yes, 16, not 15) characters you can unlock, all featuring different and occasionally very stringent requirements that are always easier said than done. These characters are usually obtained by getting in-game achievements, and I’ll be here to teach you how to get every single one.
I’ll review every character in the game and tell you how to grab the achievement attached to them. Though you can tell how to get a locked character by hovering over them, you’ll probably still struggle trying to get them without a decent strategy, and there’s one that doesn’t tell you how to obtain them, so strap in for quite the effort.
#1 – Commando and Huntress
- Achievement: None
- Requirements: None
These two are just unlocked by default, and while Huntress is probably better, they’re both beginner-friendly characters meant to be good at the fundamentals and teach you how to play the game. I will note that you’ll unlock all their skills by either getting achievements or, more likely, by doing Providence trials.
Unlocking all the moves for the characters is just as simple as going and doing the Providence trials from the main menu. Still, you will probably have to trudge through many characters’ challenges to get to the one you want. I mainly bring this up since you’ll probably want to watch those achievements while you grab other characters.
#2 – Enforcer
- Achievement: Before Titans
- Requirements: Kill the Magma Worm, Wandering Vagrant, and Colossus.
The Enforcer is a high-damage, low-movement character with a shield, shotgun, and the ability to quickly tank a ton of damage. The way to unlock him is, basically, just playing the game.
Technically, you can try to actively seek out these three bosses, but they all usually spawn on stage one, so you’ll almost definitely encounter them eventually if you keep playing.
That said, though, Magma Worms can be tricky to beat if you don’t have any piercing. I’d recommend either Commando’s default M2 or Huntress’ alt M2 (if you have it) to take it down pretty efficiently or get lucky and find equipment that can probably do much of the damage for you since most of them pierce constantly.
Wandering Vagrant is a bit more straightforward. It’ll just fly around, so having any movement to make it not run into you is a good idea; aside from that, shoot it and avoid the slow projectiles. Colossus is also rather shrimple, just being a giant stone titan you can dispatch by getting out of the way. Take them all down at least once, and Enforcer is yours.
#3 – Bandit
- Achievement: Warrior
- Requirements: Beat the 3rd stage
Bandit is a pretty complex character, mainly dealing with things at mid-range with a few short-range options, and who relies more on knowing when you’ll kill an enemy than any other character does. He’s unlocked by just beating the third stage, so more than any other character, you will get him by playing the game.
If you’re having trouble getting to the third stage, or you just want to fast-track getting Bandit as soon as possible, I’d say go counter-intuitive and spend a lot of time looting since having more items typically helps more than outrunning the difficulty. Otherwise, play on Drizzle and maybe turn your damage up.
#4 – Han-D
- Achievement: Handy
- Requirements: Find the Robot Janitor
Han-D is almost purely a melee character, but they excel in that archetype more than anyone else in the cast. He has some healing but no movement and very few projectiles, but what he does have is excellent damage and good defense. He’s a bit tricky to find with his vague description, but once you know where to go, it’s not too bad.
There’s a slightly busted but unopened shipping container in the Contact Light, but it’s only on one of the two variations, so you have a 50/50 shot for something that can be tricky to find.
Just try checking the leftmost room that’s one level up from the bottom, and if there are shipping containers on the ceiling, you can interact with the busted one and get Han-D.
#5 – Engineer
- Achievement: Mechanic
- Requirements: Purchase 40 drones total
Engineer is a setup character; you get two turrets that inherit your items, and you can place them wherever you want on a long cooldown, as well as other items requiring you to set up and keep your distance.
You unlock him by purchasing 40 drones across all playthroughs, which you’ll probably do by just playing the game, but you can fast-track this if you like Engineer.
You can find drones on every stage, but you can also find scrappers that take drones, which might seem a bit tempting, but I’d say never get them while going for this achievement.
If your drones die in combat, you have to re-buy them, and I believe buying them a second time counts, so basically, run into a teleporter boss with a fleet of drones and have a good time.
To get that fleet, you’ll want to grind a bunch of money first (or a Drone Repair Kit), and I’d recommend just looping one or two times while killing any enemies you see and grabbing as many money canisters as you can find. Prioritize drones over items and choose a character with decent movement so you can get this done pretty quickly.
#6 – Miner
- Achievement: Excavation
- Requirements: Clear a path for the survivor
Miner is a melee-focused survivor who needs to build his meter to do a bunch of very fast-paced attacks. He has some excellent movement ability, mostly horizontally, and does a ton of damage to compensate for the lack of range; he’s like the Risk of Rain Returns equivalent of Loader. He’s also not too hard to find, requiring defeating a miniboss.
This is a little bit of a hefty task, though, mainly due to the random element. You have to roll Magma Barracks as your stage four, first and foremost; then you have to head to the very bottom right of the map, tank a bunch of lava damage (most easily done with Huntress’ dash), then move to the right, where the boss will spawn.
Direseeker has a scary name, but in reality, he’s pretty much just a Blazing Elder Lemurian. Not a pushover by any means, but not as hard as a proper Teleporter boss. You can take him down by just not being in front of him, and having a bunch of DPS certainly won’t hurt since he loves standing still for quite a while. Beat him, and you get Miner.
#7 – Sniper
- Achievement: Washed Away
- Requirements: Beat the Game
Sniper is somewhat similar to Railgunner from Risk of Rain 2, but essentially just a long-range character that struggles fighting enemies if they get in but is good at keeping them out. They have quite a simple requirement, literally just beating the game at least once and on any difficulty you want.
Obviously, this is the most straightforward challenge you can get, but given this game aint easy, I’d recommend just going through on Drizzle with some damage modifiers if you like the idea of playing Sniper. If not, you’ll get this eventually by getting better at the game and getting a good enough run to finish.
#8 – Acrid
- Achievement: The Experiment
- Requirements: Free the chained creature
Acrid is a melee-focused survivor who also has an excellent selection of projectiles and traps that deal damage over time and apply powerful debuffs to enemies, and he’s pretty well-rounded for that. The achievement description is rather vague, but you’ll probably get it by accident eventually, even if you’re not trying.
Firstly, roll Sunken Tomb as your third stage (the only one with water), then search around above water level to find a small, gray box you can interact with. This will spawn Acrid, and you’ll have to beat him, but luckily, this miniboss isn’t too tricky; outrange him as much as possible, and you’ll have Acrid unlocked pretty quickly.
#9 – Mercenary
- Achievement: No Flukes
- Requirements: Beat the game 5 times
Mercenary is a swordsman with excellent movement and an absolute boatload of I-frames to work with, allowing you to excellently dodge and weave between enemies if you’ve mastered the art of the blade. To unlock him, scroll up to my advice on how to beat the game and unlock Sniper, then repeat that five times. You’re welcome!
Seriously though, I’d recommend going for Mercenary last, even if you like him in Risk of Rain 2 and think his playstyle would be fun. He’s still fun here; I just think it’s worth playing the game normally first, trying to beat the game five times naturally, and then by the time you’ve gotten most everything else, you can gun for this the easy way.
#10 – Loader
- Achievement: Itemized
- Requirements: Obtain 30 unique items in one playthrough
Loader is a melee-focused survivor with a grapple fist, able to cover long distances horizontally or vertically, with a move that straight up gives him invincibility. He’s like the Risk of Rain Returns equivalent of Loader. They have the unique requirement of making you get 30 unique items in one playthrough, which gets easier the more you play.
If you want this to be easier, you should grab a bunch more achievements and providence trials before you go for Loader since they can unlock new items for you to find, giving you a higher chance of finding more unique items rather than duplicates. Regardless, you can achieve this before getting a ton of unlocks; you just have to be smart and lucky.
You may have noticed scrappers around when you play, and they give you random items for putting in drones. I’d recommend grabbing a bunch of drones, scrapping them all, getting the items, and if you do this enough (you might have to loop), you can get Loader, Engineer, and Drifter on the same run. I actually managed to do this on Stage 5.
#11 – CHEF
- Achievement: Gourmet
- Requirements: Obtain Meat Nugget, Bustling Fungus, Sprouting Egg, Bitter Root, and Foreign Fruit in one run
CHEF is a funny guy, focusing primarily on projectiles and moves with high knockback; he can pull out a small helping of movement and buffs whenever needed, making him very versatile.
The easiest way to get every food item in the game and unlock CHEF is by grabbing the Artifact of Command, which I usually view as cheating, but otherwise, this is excessively random.
Go to the Hive Cluster, hope to God you get the right variation, and head up to the top right of the map, where you’ll find the artifact. When you start a run with this enabled, you’ll be able to choose all your items, and you can pretty quickly get CHEF by just choosing Meat Nugget, Bustling Fungus, Sprouting Egg, Bitter Root, and Foreign Fruit.
If you don’t want to use an artifact and think it’s pretty cheaty, you can instead choose to loop your run or chance it and scrap all your drones and try to get every keycard for the maximum number of items on the Contact Light. You’ll still probably be stuck in RNG limbo, but at least you’ll be decked out.
#12 – Pilot
- Achievement: Seasoned Warrior
- Requirements: Acquire 15 Monster Logs
Pilot has the best vertical mobility in the game and can also glide without any items, making him overall pretty mobile, on top of naturally having some decent piercing ability and being pretty good at juggling enemies into the air. He’s unlocked by getting 15 Monster Logs, and this is easily the most RNG-heavy character achievement in the game.
Monster Logs are a rare drop from any monster in the game and will give you lore in the logbook and a lovely illustration of them, but they do have extremely low drop rates, being a bit rarer the more common the enemy is. To get 15 of them took me around 18 hours of playing, but can take more or less time depending on how lucky you are.
I don’t have a definitive strategy for this one other than “play the game.” If you want Pilot, or he’s the last character you have left to unlock, you can try to grind out Monster Logs by playing on Drizzle with your damage turned way up, then hitting every Shrine of the Mountain you can find to spawn more enemies during the teleporter. Good luck.
#13 – Artificer
- Achievement: Anywhere, Everywhere
- Requirements: Visit 10 unique stages
Artificer has her same moveset from the second game and is primarily a glass cannon, able to deal a ton of damage with quite a bit of range, a bit of movement, and not much health to back her up. She requires visiting ten unique stages, which you’ll end up doing naturally, but you can fast-track it if you haven’t gotten there yet.
Basically, just hop on Drizzle with your damage turned up, as someone like Loader, Miner, or Huntress that can schmove, then basically just speedrun, going as fast as possible and looting only as much as you need to beat the teleporter, which for me is only one or two items. Do that, loop; then you’ll get her pretty quick.
#14 – Drifter
- Achievement: Recycled
- Requirements: Recycle 6 drones in one playthrough
Drifter is an incredibly unique character focusing on heavy melee attacks, charging up a meter, and using that meter for projectiles or summoning an array of varyingly valuable temporary items that will get you through just about any Teleporter boss. She’s not too hard to unlock, and like I said previously, it can be done at the same time as Loader and Engineer.
You’ll get drones constantly by finding them around each stage; they’re about as rare as chests. Scrapping them is a bit more tricky since you have to give up three at once usually, but if you wait till stage 5, you’ll likely find a scrapper that trades one drone for one item, and scrapping everything here is an easy way to get everything done at once.
The biggest issue with this strategy is that drones love running into danger and dying for literally no reason. The easiest way to fix this problem is by re-buying them whenever they die and just keeping an eye on them or finding a Drone Repair Kit to do it for free. Either way, you’ll be fine and be playing Drifter in no time when you’ve gathered a squadron.
#15 – Robomando
- Achievement: None
- Requirements: Find the secret survivor through a complex series of events
Easily the most convoluted survivor in the game that you probably don’t even know exists, Robomando is the secret sixteenth survivor and has abysmal damage for the tradeoff of getting all his items for free on a super short cooldown, so he’s great in multiplayer. This one has an entire “Sonic in Melee” ass quest to it, so let’s go into it.
First, you have to play in Drizzle for some reason. This isn’t me just trying to make your life easier; it’s required. Get to Stage 5, the Temple of the Elders, then head either all the way to the left or the right, get outside, and fall off the ledge. You should be able to find a small pot near the bottom of the stage containing a Strange Battery.
Now, head to the Contact Light and get into the Cabin area, right underneath where you’d typically fight Providence. Drop off the ledge, but hang hard left to get into a little cubby hole where you’ll find some Stone Titans absolutely grooving to a jukebox. Head through a hole in the wall to your left, do some light platforming, then put your battery in the box.
Now you can die or fight Providence, then start your next run on either Rainstorm or Monsoon. You’ll want to go somewhat quickly so you can end up at the teleporter on the third stage before 22 minutes have passed, but we’re taking a detour on Stage 2 to find a red and black chest containing your strange battery.
You’ll want to hit the confirm button on the teleporter to leave (so make sure you have time to clear it beforehand) right as the timer says 22:00, guaranteeing you get to the right stage before the sun explodes.
Search around the stage to find Robomando. He’ll probably be buried underground, but he has a big green arrow over his head, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding him. Once you get to him, activate him, and he’ll pull a Mithrix and steal all your items; then, if you let him kill you (which won’t be hard), you’ll unlock him.
This entire quest feels like an actual playground rumor coming to life, and I love that. He’s not even an excellent character, especially in single-player; he’s just a tiny little guy who can steal every item. Regardless, after this ordeal, you can have a perfectly rectangular character select screen, and aint that just lovely?
Questions and Answers
Question: How many Characters are in Risk of Rain Returns?
Answer: You might think there are 15, but there are 16 total characters, one being unlocked through an incredibly long and frustrating process.
Question: What do You Get for Unlocking Every Character in Risk of Rain Returns?
Answer: You get a bunch of achievements, as well as unlocking every Providence trial.
Question: What are the Best Characters in Risk of Rain Returns?
Answer: Every character is about equal in power and utility, but those with extraordinary abilities are Engineer, Pilot, Drifter, Miner, and HAN-D.
Getting every character in Risk of Rain Returns is sometimes a monumental task. Plenty feel like freebies, but overall, it’s definitely less clear-cut than it is in Risk of Rain 2, and I wasn’t ready for that going in. It took me forever to get all of these done, never mind the absolutely unclear method of getting Robomando.
I do recommend committing to the grind of some of these, though. Every character has its unique playstyle and appeal, and even if I’d be content spending another 10 hours playing as Huntress, I enjoy characters like Miner, Loader, HAN-D, and Pilot, regardless of the massive amount of work that went into unlocking them.