An in-depth guide on the hardest hitting survivor.
Other Risk of Rain 2 Guides:
- How to Unlock All Characters.
- Beginner’s Guide (Tips and Tricks).
- Altar of Gold, Gilded Coast and the Aurelionite.
- How to Restore Your Unlocks.
- Shrine / Environment Guide.
- How to Find Teleporters.
- Newt Alter locations.
- All Items Tier List.
- Mercenary Guide.
- Engineer Guide.
Artificer at a base is a really simple character. Look at the enemy and blow it up. There is no other survivor that has as much damage as her. However that’s all she has. No survivability, no mobility, no nothing; just damage. Every survivor in this game holds your hand in some way shape or form. Merc with mobility, engi can multiply the effectiveness of items, huntress has auto aim, and so on. Artificer has none of that. She won’t hold your hand. That’s a hand she could be using to blow stuff up with. While she is a simple survivor, she tests the players mechanical limits: how well can you dodge, do you know every fight, how good is your aim, how good is your cool down management. Artificer is the only survivor that is as good as her player.
This is a topic that is so important to the survivor that I’m going to go over it before the abilities. Cooldown management is exactly what it sounds like. It is managing your cooldowns so that you always have the right tool available.
- Say you blow all your cooldowns to destroy a single golden and a few lemurians. Yeah you killed them but now you have nothing for what’s to come.
- A MUL-T just started a double mountain challenge and is met with a Blazing Stone Titan. The first thing he does is ram straight into it. He now does not have his mobility tool to dodge the death laser
Is when you choose to use your cooldowns considering the times on your other skills.
- Say you have a skill with a 4 second cooldown and a skill with a 6 second cooldown. If we use the 6 second first then stagger the use of the 4 second by 3-4 seconds, we know that we will be able to use the 6 second relatively soon. Staggering your cooldowns saves our tools so that we always have something available. This isn’t always required but it is a good practice.
- A mercenary is fighting a wandering vagrant. He knows that EMP will one shot him and that he is not in a position to run. So while using his ultimate every chance he can will clear the fight faster, he chooses to save it because that is risking the chances of death because the skill is not available when he needs it.
Why This Typically Is Not a Big Deal
First off this isn’t a PvP game. The AI isn’t going to see you use an ability and jump down your throat for doing so Secondly, RoR does an amazing job at downplaying poor management with items like Wax Quail and by making their items heavily favor basic attacks that have no cooldown. As long as you can M1 you have a powerful option available. However this second thing Artificer just does not have making this skill significantly more important to master.
1.3 second cooldown per bolt (5.2s for all of them)
Let me put this skill in perspective. Commando’s Phase Round does 220% as does MUL-T’s Blaster Canister, Huntress’ Laser Glaive does 250%, and engineer mine’s 300% with a super restrictive range. Fire bolt is a spammable, fast firing, secondary. NOT a primary attack. Once you stop thinking about it as a usual left click things start to click! Something to keep in mind is that it has a slow travel time. This means you have to lead your targets, rather predict where they are going to be, in order to hit. The best use of Fire Bolt is to finish off (or weaken) enemies who weren’t killed or you know won’t die to) your other skills.
At level 1 it does 2 ticks of 3 damage and that damage goes up by 1 per level.
Do you hold on to hot potatos? No. You don’t hold on to Fire Bolts either. You should ALWAYS have at least one bolt on cooldown. This goes back to cooldown management. There is no reason to be holding on to 4 bolts at any given time. This is because you will be recharging them crazy fast and holding on to them is actually losing damage. It is your only resource that rapidly replenishes so generous usage is recommended. The real issue is when you choose to use all of them at once. Then you have a pretty lengthy time to get them all back. So weaving Fire Bolts between spells is ideal.
If you want to use all 4 bolts in one sitting here are things to keep in mind:
- It means you lose your reliable damage for 2-3 seconds.
- It is effective against bosses and dramatically increases how fast you can clear them, however it leaves you vulnerable to the adds.
- It can be a good option for removing high priority targets, especially in multiplayer.
- It is safer if you have Charged Nano Bomb available.
Fire Bolt is your only real way to deal with air so it is important to save it to deal with them. You can one shot wisps and it takes all 4 (sometimes 5!) for greater wisps. If you are in multiplayer it may be best to just ignore air and leave it to your teammates (unless you are really confident with you accuracy)
5 second cooldown
Do you like nukes? Cuz I like nukes. And this… this is a nuke.
While charging you actually regenerate 1-3 Fire Bolts making it a great pick after you’ve bursted them all.
It takes 2 seconds to fully charge and you can hold on to it for a total of 4 seconds. It deals sizable damage to anything nearby it as it travels causing it to to do more than 1200% damage to a single target. This damage also increases as it is charged. When it makes impact with the world or an enemy it explodes. Enemies on the outside of the explosion take half damage. This is your best option to remove multiple targets, but it can also be crazy strong against big tanky one’s too.
Tapping Rather than Charging
If you are throwing Nano-Bomb into a bunch of soft enemies and know it will kill them, there is no reason to charge the attack. The sooner you release the bomb, the sooner you start it’s cooldown.
After you start charging you can hit sprint to sprint while charging, this is a great way to dodge and still rack up some damage.
12 second cooldown (an eternity)
Creates 12 pillars of ice that do 100% damage each. Enemies hit by it, or frozen by it, will die at 30% health. This ability has 3 main uses
The most obvious use is killing big guys early. If you see they are around 30% health drop this under their feet and that saves a lot of time and damage. As long as the enemy is frozen you can execute them making missing that critical pint a little more forgiving.
If you put this under a boss’ feet, you will often pop 5-8 pillars causing a significant amount of damage. The only downside is that makes it so you can’t use it for tankier adds. and this thing has a LONG cooldown.
Single Target Damage
This one is sounds weird doesn’t it? If you know an enemy is moving towards you or an ally you can give them a walkway of ice dealing 1200% damage to them if they pop every pillar. To use this you often have to turn to the side and get some weird angles, but it can be pretty devastating if you get good at it
5 second cooldown
Xgpmcnp let me use his guide for this one so here’s a snippet from his guide that does an amazing job at summarizing each survivor, “The game says it deals 1700% damage in front of you, but the truth is, it deals twice that damage! You may be wondering how, well lets break it down, shall we?
At level 1, the attack does 11 damage a tick. That’s 92% damage, done 10 times a second. The attack goes for 3 seconds, adding up to 330 damage. But wait, it also deals fire damage! In my testing, it usually adds up to around 87 damage. 330+87=417, which is about 3475% damage. This is all assuming you hit only one target, because it also pierces! So you can deal almost 3500% damage to multiple targets if all your possible ticks of damage land.”
Tips Xgpmcnp Didn’t Cover
- Flamethrower feels like it has more range than it does. It really is a mid-range ability compared to Fire Bolt and Nano-Bomb that have no limits
- Sprinting will cancel the skill
- You cannot use other skills while casting Flamethrower
- It has the same cooldown as Nano-Bomb giving it a lot of the same cooldown management applications. This deviates when you get a Backup magazine, but it’s still good to note.
- The damage above only happens if every tick hits a single target. So if you wave it around, it’ll spread it out better and clear waves better, but you lose damage.
- It’s duration being 3 seconds gives it great usage a few seconds after Nano-Bomb
So what do we do if we want to just throw out AlL tHe SpElLs. Well don’t you worry because we have a rotation that makes it so you can… in a loop.
Burn all 4 Fire Bolts->Fully Charge a Nano-Bomb->Flamethrower repeat… sort of. It’s not a true loop after the second iteration and depending how long you charge Nano-Bomb can shake it up a little. However, you will have charges of Fire Bolt available in this 1-2 second gap and you can always use Snapfreeze in that gap if you wanna be OCD about it. Doing this allows consistent dps, but doesn’t make optimal use of your skills. Pros and cons, I’ve seen people just stick to this rotation all game and do fine. It’s definitely an easier way to play.
I am separating this into tiers going from top to bottom and talking about how every item works with Mercenary. The higher tiers are what in multiplayer you absolutely need to get early and in single player what you should pick if you have a 3D printer or option of 3. As they get lower they are better to pass up and give your teammates and a lower priority for your personal selection. I also want to make a disclaimer on legendary items: EVERYONE WANTS THEM. Communicate if one drops and spread the wealth. Unless you are playing with douchey randoms who aren’t showing you the same respect, be a good person.
oMg MiNe (Core items)
- Tougher Times, Monster Tooth, Personal Shield Generator, Medkit, Leeching Seed, Harvester’s Scythe, Infusion, Dio’s Best Friend, Rejuvenation Pack: You are made of paper and have nothing protecting you. While everyone needs these items, they are particularly vital on you. You don’t need one of each, but a good foundation of them early will ensure a good game. If you are playing multiplayer this becomes a little less important, just stick around allies until you can deal with the increased spawn rate that multiplayer brings.
- Wax Quail: You know how I said this item downplays the importance of cooldown management? Yeah. Automatic core tier. This item will very often be the only thing standing between you and death.
- Prismatic Cube: What does Artificer do best? Blow things up in an area! What does this active do? Clump everything up in one area! This will allow you to commit all sorts of madness.
- Milky Chrysalis: Instant fix to your mobility problem. If you are fine giving up the raw power Prismatic Cube gives you, this is the next best pick. It’s arguably the best pick early too and can carry you to where Prismatic Cube can really be utilized.
- Energy Cell: More actives=win
- Bandolier: Bandolier to you is attack speed to everyone else. While everyone can make good use of this item it can make or break a run for Artificer. If your teammates see you don’t have one and don’t offer you it they are either horrible people or don’t know what you do.
- Chronobauble: Reduces your vulnerability when using Flamethrower. You only need one.
- Alien Head, Brainstalks, and Hardlight Afterburner: Let’s be real here. Every character has these three in this tier. It’s because they hard enable everything your character does and are DRAMATIC dps boosts.
These items are the most ideal for you. They aren’t core, but they are the most preferable picks.
- Backup Magazine: You would think, “More charges on my super burst oMg MiNe.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in practice. What ends up happening is that while you are casting it, the cooldown pauses on the other charges. This item only saves 1-3 seconds of waiting. This is still amazing and you should always have ONE of these. But it isn’t something you really stack. Give it up if a Mercenary is around and doesn’t have one, but you are on the top of the list of people who should be getting it first.
- Crowbar, Len’s Maker Glasses, Brilliant Behemoth, Armor Piercing Rounds: Due to how your damage works, items that directly modify your damage are really the most viable options.
- Gasoline, Will-o’-the-Wisp, Ceremonial Dagger, and Happiest Mask: I was so close to making these guys Core. If you can net a kill off of a kill you have saved the need to cast another spell. This saves you soo much work in the cooldown management department.
- Goat’s Hoof, Energy Drink, Hopoo Feather, Old War Stealth Kit: If wax Quail wasn’t a thing, these would be core for the same reason Wax Quail is. You need to make up for your lack of mobility.
- Stun Grenade: is good for the same reason Chronobauble is. The only reason it isn’t a tier higher is because the chance on it makes it unreliable. In the case of Artificer, think of them as a poor man’s Chrono.
- Ukulele: While on hit items are not ideal on Arti, ukulele is the exception. Boasting a 25% chance to hit, uke is devastating with frostbite and flamethrower causing you to annihilate crowds.
- Foreign Fruit, Gnarled Woodsprite: If you are struggling to learn how to perform well with Artificer, these two are your training wheels.
- Royal Capacitor: If your team is clearing trash mobs fine but is struggling to kill the boss this guy can fix your problems. You already have awesome burst, this will make it better. Super situational but good to keep in mind.
- N’Kuhana’s Opinion: You are going to get a decent amount of healing making this a sizable damage increase.
- H3AD-ST v2: Good burst item that requires vertical mobility to use effectively. Pairs well with Prismatic Cube. Decent for late but better off with a Huntress or Merc.
- Bundle of Fireworks: These do a surprising amount of damage and if you have been building on kill items it can start some nasty chains. However, it is relatively inconsistent and cannot be used in boss fights making it fall dramatically in usage.
- Red Whip: No one doesn’t want this but no one really needs them either. Good for cleaning up the end of a level or speed running. If you do the later these may shoot up on the list.
- 57 Leaf Clover, Wake of the Vultures: No one doesn’t want these but no one really needs them either.
- Frost Relic, Unstable Tesla Coil: On-kill items are great for you, But this one demands you get up close which is not so great. Tesla is in the same department though it’s not an on-kill item.
- Rose Buckler: With sprinting being your only mobility, this can mitigate a good chunk of damage. It’s not the most reliable thing in the world, but it’ll help.
- Bustling Fungus, Cautious Slug: You don’t have the disengage to really be using these effectively. But healing is healing so if you can get away from the fight they might just save your life.
Don’t Want It
These are items you don’t need to worry yourself with. Just pass them off to someone else who can use them more. And if they don’t want them just take it without a second thought. Keep in mind in singleplayer there are no bad items so if it was from a chest or shrine it’s not a terrible thing. A buff is a buff. But don’t consciously pick them until you are solid on everything else.
- Tri-Tip Dagger, Sticky Bomb, ATG Missile MK. 1, Runald’s Band, Kjaro,’s Band, Sentient Meat Hook: You do such a freakish amount of damage that on-hit effects actually don’t have a chance to be useful because your enemies die before the delay on most on-hit effects go off. On top of which only two of your attacks can really make use of on-hit effects and they aren’t particularly reliable.
- Disposable Missile Launcher, Ocular HUD, The Back-up, Preon Accumulator, and Radar Scanner, The Crowdfunder: These aren’t bad items per-se but the active items above just do SO MUCH for Artificer. I imagine someone out there is making good use of some of these on Arti but general rule of thumb, try to replace them.
Can’t Place, Won’t Place
- Soldier’s Syringe, Warbanner, Predatory Instincts, and Berserker’s Pauldron: Increasing attack speed when you have set cooldowns on your attack just sounds plain bad right? Right!? It’s not. What it does is increase your burst potential. With enough attack speed you can convert your Fire Bolt into an instant 800% damage. Which is nuts. Even your Charged Nano-Bomb take a few seconds to pump out its 1200%. It also allows for effective burst firing to hit multiple targets. Lastly it reduces the end lag on your Fire Boltso you can sprint sooner which may keep you alive. However despite all these positives there are the obvious drawbacks. Blowing all shots at once complicates the cooldown management and can potentially leave you dry. Have you ever tried hitting multiple targets with a burst fire weapon? It really isn’t easy whether its a game or irl. And lastly it really punishes bad accuracy. If you as a player feel like you can utilize the positives, go for it. But if you are in multiplayer it may just be better to always pass these items up.