Risk of Rain 2 got its launch update yesterday, adding even more content to the looping roguelike. One major addition does more than just give players bigger, badder enemies to shoot—it gives the run-based power fantasy a finale, and a very fitting one at that.
The sequel to 2013's original Risk of Rain took the action from 2D to 3D, and has been in Early Access development since 2019. It's been ported from PC to consoles, and with the launch update, boasts a bevy of survivors, bosses, and baubles to ascend the ever-escalating difficulty meter.
If you're unfamiliar with the series, Risk of Rain 2 tasks up to four players with surviving in alien environments, activating and charging teleporters to move between levels. Monsters continuously spawn, and the longer a run goes, the more difficult it becomes, marked by a gradually increasing meter in the top right of the screen.
The only way to stay alive is to keep getting stronger by spending cash on different chests, hoping to accumulate enough upgrades and boons to survive. It's a power fantasy, but also a game about trying to keep ahead of a brutal curve, and few things exemplify that better than the finale.
Quick note: there will be spoilers ahead for the final narrative encounter in Risk of Rain 2. If you want to stay unaware, don't read on. I will, however, implore anyone and everyone to listen to the music that plays in the final location. Composer Chris Christodoulou has done some incredible work on the game's soundtrack, and the finale has possibly my favorite track in the game.
Full spoilers for the final boss and ending of Risk of Rain 2 to follow.
To even get to the final boss, players have to get to the Sky Meadow. Once there, a special teleporter will be present—rather than keeping the loop going, this one teleports the crew to the moon of Petrichor V, the less-than-friendly rock you've been fighting across.
On the moon, you're greeted with the ominous title "Commencement," and a long, long walk to an arena. It's still beset by enemies, but the sense is already apparent that this will be a big battle. Once you arrive, you take the jump-pad up and meet him: Mithrix.
Aside from getting his own cut-away introduction, Mithrix has one other major difference from Risk of Rain 2's bosses. Most of the level-ending baddies, up to this point, have been absolute titans. They loom over the map, gigantic stone warriors and coiling leviathans of magma. Mithrix is just one warrior, slightly taller than your average one, but still not much larger than the basic enemies you've fought up until now.
What he lacks in stature though, he gains in speed. Within moments he's charging into your team, crushing you with his hammer, and teleporting away again. Despite the difference in weaponry, I was reminded of Artorias from Dark Souls. As phases roll on (yes, this fight has phases, another big addition for Risk of Rain 2), he begins to crush the ground, sending up shockwaves across the arena. But the big twist is his final phase.
In the chat window, Mithrix declares, "WEAK, WITHOUT YOUR BAUBLES AND TRINKETS." And then he steals them. Literally, Mithrix steals all of your hard-earned equipment, built up over the course of an entire run, which can last upwards of 60 to 90 minutes in some cases, and makes them his.
It is absolutely terrifying the first time this happens. You get to literally watch every single piece of your arsenal slip away, from stacks of basic items to crown jewels, and then have it turned against you. The only way to get them back is to damage the boss; you're left with just the basic skills you started with, desperately plinking away at a god of your own making.
For a game about building up incredible power over lengths of time, this is a huge gut punch. I've already seen a few players say they're not wild about having all their power-ups taken away as a boss fight mechanic. Building up that strength is, after all, a key part of Risk of Rain 2's loop.
If it were a normal, repeating boss, I might agree. But as a culmination of everything this game is, it works so well. Reaching the finale and being tested one last time, to see whether it was the upgrades that made you powerful or whether you truly were strong all along, feels like the right note to end Risk of Rain 2's run on.
Make no mistake: it is crushingly tough, especially for some classes. I died in my only attempt to clear it, and had to watch my friends beat it without me. I wasn't able to overcome my own bounty of upgrades. Learning and improving, to get to the point where I can beat Mithrix with or without my power-ups? That feels like the right way to send this game off.