A detailed look of the Mercenary class, tips and tricks to maximize your abilities, and gearing suggestions for general play.
Risk of Rain 2 Guides:
The Mercenary is a melee based attack character that specializes in AoE damage. It’s basic attack, and all three abilities feature some form of AoE or multi-target damage.
- High sustained AoE damage.
- Extremely mobile, especially with movement items.
- Great base kit; can put a wide variety of items to good use.
- Uses solely melee attacks and dashes.
- Low single target damage.
- Struggles to contribute to most bosses.
- Scales comparatively poorly to other classes in late game.
A passive ability that allows you to do a double jump in the air, useful in a variety of situations despite how basic it sounds. The second jump will reset your momentum if you aren’t already on an upward trajectory, allowing you to completely negate fall damage as long as you time your second jump close to the ground. You can use this to your advantage both in exploring, allowing you to move vertically much faster than any other class, or defensively, hopping after an enemy launches you. The second jump resets any time your feet touch the ground. Also keep in mind that you can sprint in the air as long as you’re moving forward; sprint can even be activated mid-jump to increase your forward momentum. Abilities that affect jumping affect both jumps, so items like the Clove Foot are significantly more useful equipped to the Mercenary.
Your basic attack, performing a three move combo as you hold down the attack button. Does decent damage, but since your other moves are on such short cooldowns you don’t need to make use of this as much as other classes do theirs. SInce it’s comparatively very slow to other basic attacks, items that have a “To Hit” chance synergize poorly. You’ll want to use this if your currently in a good position and don’t want to risk moving into danger with your other abilities
A basic two-hit area attack that propels you forward slightly. It does decent damage with relatively little movement, so you should pretty much be using this on cooldown even on a single target. The description on the character page is somewhat misleading; it described Whirlwind as having the utility of being a “third jump,” but the aerial version of this gives you little to no increased upwards movement and only a very slight forward push. If your in a spot with tight positioning, it’s worth it to hop straight up in the air when you use this ability as the ground version propels you forward moderately more.
A forward dashing attack that hits any enemies in the way. This can also be used as a movement tool, and is especially helpful in hitting flying enemies. As long as you hit at least one enemy, the ability icon will turn red and you can use the ability again within a couple seconds. Note that if you don’t use this “extra use” within a couple seconds, the ability will go on cooldown, so make sure you use all three dashes in quick succession. This attack also stuns the enemies it hits, barring very large and boss enemies, making it a great ability to use when your group is focusing down an enemy or a group of enemies. Once you get a feel for the timings of the second and third strikes, you can keep an enemy stunned for several seconds while your team bursts it down. The only downside to this move is the far distance you travel when performing it; while you can quickly zip back to where you were before, in some situations (such as trying to maintain airtime to hit flying enemies), it can be more detrimental than useful. Always keep in mind your positioning when you use this move, and remember that you can look straight up when using it to keep your current position if you need to.
The Mercenaries most powerful ability, this attack hits a single enemy and those around them for a high amount of repeated hits. It also has the amazing bonus effect of making you invincible to all attacks for the duration of the ability. Using this ability correctly can give you a massive increase to survivability and damage. This ability has several uses, so proper usage will vary. It can, in a similar fashion to Blinding Assault, be used for a quick burst of forward movement. It is also great for reaching aerial enemies; if the ability hits them, at the end of the channel you re-appear in melee range, allowing you to combo with Whirlwind or Blinding Assault easily. It’s great for crowd clearing, owing to its large AoE damage, and in combination with your other abilities there’s perhaps no greater mob cleaner, barring specific builds of other classes. As you might guess, timing it right in a Boss Battle can allow you to completely mitigate large amounts of damage the boss does, making you very survivable against bosses despite your lack of range. The only drawback of this ability is the very wonky way it decides what enemy is the “main target” of the attack. You can glance up and activate this ability intending to hit a flying enemy above you, but end up hitting the random mook standing next to you. Given that this is your only ability on a semi-long cooldown, working out how to ensure you hit the target you intend to is extremely helpful in making the full use out of it.
As you might assume, the best way to play the Mercenary is to be right in the thick of the fight. With a two second invulnerability ability, choragraphed attacks that make up most of the heaviest hitting enemy attacks in the game can be bypassed. As the only class with multiple methods of quickly escaping combat, don’t be afraid to linger around in groups of enemies for longer than you normally would. If you’re fully utilizing all of the Mercenaries abilities, chances are you’re going to dodge most attacks without thinking.
On earlier levels, you can play in a somewhat balanced fashion, but as the difficulty ramps up you’re going to want to shift your focus to clearing out mobs. Later boss waves will send hundreds of enemies at you; most wipes I’ve seen far into the game usually come from people focusing on the boss and not clearing out trash. As a Mercenary, you’re set up for doing this, so hang around your team and let them focus on damaging and dodging the boss.
When you first enter a level, keep in mind that oftentimes you’ll be the person in the best position to scout around. With your superior mobility, you can quickly dash around marking everything valuable on the map while your team starts farming mobs, making spending their cash significantly easier.
When considering what classes to play alongside the Mercenary, single target and burst damage should be your top priority. Commando and Artificer are both great characters that cover the weaknesses of Mercenary. Huntress and MUL-T can also work well. The only class I would advice against playing a Mercenary with is Engineer; while the Engineer is not specifically an AoE focused character, both he and Mercenary tend to suffer from being “Support” roles in the late game, and thus don’t have much synergy together. The Engineer is also much more item dependent than the Mercenary, which means that shoring up your own weaknesses can take a backseat to helping the Engineer reach his full potential.