Sometimes I wonder why I do strange things. Sometimes I wonder why I do things and end up liking those strange things. The Mercenary, a character from Risk of Rain 2, is one of those strange things.
You see, I play Risk of Rain mostly blind. While I’ve ‘watched’ a streamer and Youtuber play Risk of Rain 2 (he has a marathon run that lasts FOUR HOURS), I’ve never really watched it, it’s mostly just background noise while I do other things. After all, if I’m reading or writing or drawing, sometimes I want something that will play to itself for an hour or so rather than have me fiddling around with tracks, or playing We All Lift Together or Living Mice on loop. So while I’ve absorbed some knowledge from listening to streams, I’m not really sure what I’m doing in Risk of Rain 2. I’m learning as I go along.
One thing I’ve learned is that easy mode is far, far too easy – easy mode’s difficulty doesn’t match normal mode’s starting difficulty until about 30 minutes in. The other thing I’ve learned is that I really like playing the Mercenary, the melee-based samurai-like character.
Like the rest of the Risk of Rain cast, Mercenary is quite simple. You hit things with a sword (the third attack does more damage), you spin around and hit more things with your sword, you dash to enemies and hit their stunned bodies with your sword (you can dash two more times if you hit an enemy each time) and you leap up and jump at an enemy and hit them with your sword. You get some invulnerability frames while dashing and leaping up and hitting enemies, but it’s mostly just you and your sword. Because the Mercenary is a melee character, compared to almost everyone else who shoots things, you get more health regeneration and more damage. There are alternate skills, one of which is a ranged ability, but I don’t have those yet.
Sounds fine in theory. Until you remember that a large number of enemies float around in the sky. Wisps are a super common enemy that spawn constantly, and when they’re not spawning, you get Greater Wisps instead. And if there’s no Wisps about, there’s probably some exploding jellyfish to make your life a misery. Wandering Vagrants are also a common enemy (especially early on) and later on you’ll be fighting lots of them. Or fighting four on the first stage if you do a Trail of the Mountain.
But really, playing Mercenary isn’t as hard as you’d think. You have a good get-in-get-out dash ability and you have a lot of invulnerability to make use of, especially since dashes stun smaller enemies, and, early on, you can just dash through up to 3 Wisps to kill them quickly. There’s also an item which I swear is just for the Mercenary and the Loader (the other, much tankier melee character with a ranged ability) and that’s Focus Crystal, which deals more damage to enemies closer to you.
Meanwhile, the Commando just plinks at things with his pistol and the Huntress is about as sturdy as a piece of paper and dies to a stiff breeze. Mercenary’s main competition is from Loader and Engineer. I haven’t managed to unlock Loader yet (what even IS the unique boss of the other fourth level? Is it the massive robo ball that you can summon by shooting eggs? I only ever seem to get Magma Worms and Wandering Vagrants) but Engineer frankly has it pretty easy by having two turrets that do a lot of the work for him and also draw aggro away from you.
Actually, that’s another thing I learned. While the damage from the little gunner drones is small, it’s really nice having something that will draw the aggro away from you.
But yeah, I don’t know why, but Mercenary is a ton of fun to play, despite the fact that about 1/3 of the enemies present are Wisps. Maybe it’s because playing Mercenary is like playing a Slash Dash Excalibur. Or maybe it’s because you have to choose your targets or risk being murdered. Or maybe it’s the faster sprint speed and the dashing.
Or maybe I just really like hitting things with swords…