Risk of Rain Returns Drifter: Abilities, Unlock, Best Items

Learn all you need to know about the Drifter, how to unlock him, what his abilities are, and which items suit him best.

Debuting in Risk of Rain Returns, Drifter is a character with unique mechanics where he can manipulate Scrap. But with his eccentric playstyle comes an unlock condition that can be very bothersome to complete. That is why I have written this guide to help you unlock this character and discuss his skills. 

Key Takeaways
  • The Drifter is the only character in Risk of Rain Returns that uses scrap mechanics to fight.
  • Players must recycle 6 drones in a single run to unlock him.
  • A couple of Abilities include Blunt, a 3-hit Combo Primary Attack, and Cleanup, an attack that sends out Scrap to spawn projectiles.
  • Obtaining 6 Drones and encountering a drone recycler in a single run highly depends on chance. 
  • You can improve your chances by repeating stages or using the Drone Repair Kit. 
  • A few items that I think would go well with Drifter’s playstyle are:
    1. Soldier’s Syringe
    2. Paul’s Goat Hoof
    3. Heaven Cracker
    4. Hopoo Feather
    5. Shattered Mirror

Who Is Drifter

risk of rain returns drifter
The Drifter with an empty scrap bar. {Image by me]

Drifter is one of the newcomers to Risk of Rain Returns, along with The Artificer and The Pilot

His gameplay revolves around manipulating the Scrap he generates and spawning things for himself and his teammates. His abilities revolve around creating and salvaging scrap in different methods. When it comes to a character like The Drifter, the sky is the limit, allowing for a plethora of strategies and builds.

How To Unlock The Drifter

risk of rain returns drifter
The Drifter before being unlocked. {Screenshot by me]

Unlocking The Drifter in the game can be tedious, primarily due to the reliance on multiple layers of RNG. Depending on your luck, even after hours of play, you might still be unable to unlock him. As you can see in the image above, his character slot will indicate “Recycle 6 drones in one playthrough” before you unlock him.

To unlock The Drifter, you must rely on RNG to obtain 6 drones in a single run and pray for a Drone Recycler to spawn once you have all 6 drones. Perseverance is key if you want to attain this formidable survivor. To improve your chances, consider the following:

Repeating Levels

This is the most obvious; however, once you reach the second last stage, you can return and explore the previous levels again. You might use this opportunity to return to these stages to obtain more drones. The same is true if you already have the minimum 6 drones but have yet to see a drone recycler.

Going through the levels again greatly increases your odds of meeting the requirements, and I recommend this technique as the most straightforward. Nonetheless, this strategy is heavily reliant on chance. 

The Drone Repair Kit

risk of rain returns drifter
The Drone Repair Kit in logs. {Image by me] 

Without the Drone Repair Kit, completing this challenge can be somewhat of a hassle. With this item, you can spawn unique drones after a cooldown. But the good news is that these drones can be used by drone recyclers as well. Although you wouldn’t get an item in return, it will count towards the recycling of drones.  

Once you’ve obtained the Drone Repair Kit, simply locate a drone recycler and wait for the cooldown. Spawn 6 drones one after the other to finish the task and recycle them all. The Artifact of Command can help you make this process more easier. Once you have an equipable item, select the Drone Repair Kit, and all that remains is to locate a drone recycler.

Important: It’s worth noting that I attempted this with The Backup, another drone-related device. The Backup generates four temporary drones that last ten seconds. These temporary drones cannot be used for recycling.


risk of rain returns drifter
Salvage Ability. {Screenshot by me]

Like all other saviours, the Drifter has 4 abilities unlocked from the start, with the option for unlocking 3 additional abilities that I will go over.

Blunt Force

Blunt Force ability. [Screengrab by eXputer]

Here are the details regarding Blunt Force:

  • Primary attack for the Drifter.
  • 3-hit combo with a wide area of effect.
  • It deals 120% – 240% base damage.
  • In addition to dealing damage, every attack in the 3-hit combo has the chance to generate some Scrap.
  • The scraps are a blue bar beneath the Drifter, indicating how much scrap you have.
  • Remember that scraps are essential to the Drifter’s playstyle; you’ll see how his other skills interact with them.
  • It has a 0-second cooldown.
  • This is the only ability in the Drifter’s arsenal that doesn’t have an alternate ability. 


Here are the details regarding Cleanup:

  • Secondary attack for the Drifter.
  • Tosses out some spare scrap and spawns 4 projectiles.
  • The projectiles can bounce around and pierce foes, causing 55% damage each.
  • Moreover, there is a slight chance that a special projectile may be spawned. 
  • One-second cooldown.
  • The other version can be unlocked by completing the Providence Trial “Perilous Descent”.


Suffocate Ability. {Image by me] 

Here are the details regarding Suffocate:

  • Tertiary attack for the Drifter.
  • Deals 200% damage and stuns the enemy
  • The enemies are turned into scrap if their health is below 20%.
  • Cooldown of 7 seconds
  • An alternate version can be unlocked by getting 20 temporary items at once. 


Here are the details regarding Suffocate:

  • Ultimate ability for the Drifter.
  • Consumes a large amount of scraps and spawns 4 temporary items.
  • Cooldown of 30 seconds
  • The other version can be unlocked by completing the Providence Trial “Equivalent Exchange”.

Best Items For Drifter

Paul’s Goat Hoof in the logs. {Screenshot by me]

The following are a few of the items that I think synergize well with the Drifter and his abilities. 

  • Soldier’s Syringe 
  • Paul’s Goat Hoof
  • Hopoo Feather
  • Heaven Cracker
  • Shattered Mirror

My Thoughts On Drifter In Risk of Rain Returns

I can certainly declare that the Drifter is my favourite survivor in Risk of Rain Returns after completing numerous runs with him. Spawning items in the middle of combat gives you a huge edge over your enemies. Moreover, his supporting role is unlike any other; if you play with friends, your role becomes much more important. 

Check out this guide if you want to learn which characters are the best to undertake this challenge with. If you want to learn more about Bandit or Acrid, check out their respective guides. 

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Irfan Ansari is a Senior Editor and Guides Writer on eXputer. He has seven years of Video Game Journalism experience and has been gaming for more than 22 years. Over his editorial career, he has gained experience at multiple sites, including TheGamer and VeryAli Gaming. Irfan has also earned a degree in Writing and Editing from the University of Michigan. Learn some more about Irfan's gaming journey on his Steam, PSN, and Xbox profiles.

Experience: 7+ Years || Worked for TheGamer and VeryAli Gaming

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