Spelunky 2 is here! A sequel to – in my opinion – a perfect game, and yet, a follow up which expands and improves upon the original in ways I didn’t know I wanted.
Despite many surface level similarities, your experience with the first won’t automatically equate to you succeeding at the second – perfect for those wanting to relive the Spelunky learning curve all over again.
This Spelunky 2 tips page opens with some spoiler-free advice following our time with the PS4 version – hopefully useful for those just starting on PC this week, or are playing a Spelunky game for the first time. (If so, welcome!)
The second half of the page delves a little more into some of the changes and additions introduced in the sequel. We recommend discovering these first yourself before playing the sequel; even still, we’ve purposely kept the deeper secrets out of the way for you to find in your own time.
Spoiler-free Spelunky tips for newcomers and returning players
What follows is a list of Spelunky tips without delving into what’s new and changed in the sequel – perfect for someone completely new to Spelunky, or returning players who are a little rusty on survival essentials.
The first rule of Spelunky is ABC – ‘Always Be Carrying’. There are many traps and enemies which can be avoided by throwing an object. The first world teaches you this early on with the arrow trap, activated when something passes in front of it. Anything you can pick up can be thrown, be it a rock, a pot, a torch, or even a pet – whatever you have on you to save you getting damaged.
Another thing that’s essential – always look down. Holding down for a few seconds shifts the camera, allowing you to get a preview of what’s below to plan your next move.
Also – look up. Spiders and many other hazards can drop down when you pass under them, knocking you for six if you aren’t careful. (Taking these first few tips into account, you basically need look everywhere before proceeding, especially in a new world you’re unfamiliar with. Spelunky is filled with dangerous!)
There is fall damage, and knowing exactly when it kicks in one of the most important things to internalise over time. Until then, try and minimise your risk as much as possible; you can land on enemies to cushion your fall, grab a ledge on the way down from a long jump, or hold down when throwing a rope so it drops from your height.
For an early game enemy, bats are infuriating – flying at you relentlessly, but so slowly and at such an awkward angle it’s easily possible your whip attack can miss. One trick is to turn away then throw your whip, as the arc behind you reaches higher. (Thanks to former Eurogamer editor Tom Bramwell for the tip!)
If you’re standing on a ledge and lose your balance when carrying something, you’ll drop it. You’ll learn this the hard way when you need to ferry things long distances.
Spikes – one of many hazards which can kill you instantly, regardless of how much life you have – can be avoided by walking along them from the same level.
Bombs and ropes – the two items you always start each run with – are perhaps the most effective tools in your arsenal for exploring and surviving. If you see them in a shop, buy more, and use what you have sparingly.
Earning money is one of the most important side-objectives when playing – allowing you to take advantage of the many shops which pepper the game. The impulse is to go for the big wins – like trap-laden Idols – but you’ll find the most gains by hoovering up loose gems and gold chunks littered around the level as you explore.
Pots can also contain gems and gold, but they can also carry enemies, such as the scorpions and venomous snakes, making them more hassle than they’re worth. If you need to open one, always throw it – and throw it at a distance.
One Spelunky ritual is learning how to steal from shopkeepers. There are various methods out there, but the easiest is if there’s a freeze ray in stock, you can use it on the shopkeeper before they can shoot back. However, the same punishments for killing a shopkeeper still apply – that future shopkeepers will shoot on sight, and will guard the exits of future levels. In short, if you’re going to steal, make sure it’s worth it.
Unlocking shortcuts should be your first goal in Spelunky. They’re designed to help you learn later levels faster, and their unlock requirements also subtly train you in playing the game in different ways, which will benefit you in the long run. Though you’ll want to start from scratch eventually – whether it’s to amass a better collection of items, or uncover certain secrets – focusing on shortcuts to begin with is highly recommended.
Taking advantage of shortcuts is also welcome because, unlike most roguelikes, nothing carries over between runs in Spelunky. The only things which do are outside of the run itself, such as these shortcut doors – as well as journal entries and new characters which populate the camp. All other progress is based on your own experience.
Despite nothing carrying over, with each run you’ll learn more than you realise. Keep practicing, experimenting and learning from every death, and you’ll soon be powering through worlds before you know it. And yes, it’s also likely you’ll still die in World 1 if luck isn’t on your side. But that’s the fun of roguelikes, right?
Spelunky 2 tips – how to survive the new features and changes in the sequel
Though we’re still not diving into the game’s deepest secrets here – themes of later worlds, secret exits and the hidden items you need to access them – we will be touching on how to best navigate many of the new and revamped mechanics and hazards you will come across.
That said, there might be some general spoilers you might not want to know about until you’re more familiar with the game.
If you think World 1 is harder than it is in the first Spelunky, you’re probably right – there are mole rats which can emerge from the dirt at all angles, and lizards which can roll and juggle for you over and over. The best way to think of these new threats is that enemies are now more likely to appear at shorter notice than before, so stay on your guard!
If you can avoid fighting enemies, you should. This includes mini-bosses, such as 1-4’s Quillback, who can be avoided by taking the doors to the sides once they have rolled through a wall.
Arrows from traps are more powerful; they can now travel through enemies, and as with the first game, can still injure you when they bounce down from hitting a wall, so look out for that.
When you gain the confidence to zip through levels quicker, avoid the temptation to pass on exploring 1-1 in particular. In our experience this is more likely to have item crates – which appear less often than the first game – including a decent chance of a compass spawn, a useful item which points out the level exit to steer you in the right direction.
Some light structural spoilers ahead; once you finish world 1, you’ll learn there are choices you can make in the critical path. By and large, the new worlds are easier than the old ones, so even if you are familiar with the original biomes from the first Spelunky, don’t expect an easy ride.
One of the most interesting new addition are mounts. We’ll direct you to a dedicated page on mounts if you want to delve into more so we can be light on spoilers here, but they’re a useful tool for exploring faster, jumping higher, and as a second layer of defence against traps.
Turkeys, a mount which populate most worlds, can also be ‘cooked’ with fire or explosions to give you health. You can get a lit torch by whipping the campfires in the first world (you might need to explore the back layer to find it) or cook them by positioning turkeys near the many fire hazards in Volcana.
Alternatively, you can use a bomb – if so, we recommend positioning two or more turkeys together to get more bang for your buck.
One of the surprise new objects on each level is the curse pot. Smashing them rewards you with a diamond, giving you an easy source of money – but it also instantly spawns the ghost. If you plan on using this, carry the pot to the end of the level and then smash it – allowing you to leave quickly before the ghost arrives.
If you’re exploring and the ghost appears earlier than the three minute time limit is up, it’s probably because you smashed the curse pot by accident. This means you should avoid mindlessly throwing things off screen where you can!
The curse pot can also, as the name suggests, curse you when broken, reducing your health to one permanently. This works on enemies too, something which the community will no doubt be experimenting with as time goes on.
Another status effect is being poisoned, reducing your health by one gradually. Again, with a poison arrow, you can inflict on enemies too. Both these status effects can be cured – though we’ll leave you to figure out how!
You can delay the ghost by fighting the new leprechaun enemy and collecting the four-leaf clover which drops. You can also find a rainbow somewhere on the level, where there’s a pot of gold you can damage to give you some cash.
The metal shield in the right (or wrong) hands is a very powerful weapon, crushing anything in its way:
Jetpacks, a very powerful item from the first game which allow you to fly around levels, are now flammable – so good luck with that.
Similarly, most objects in shops – including bombs – are now explosive, making stealing a little more fraught, and any fire enemies stumbling in much more exciting to watch.
Shotguns – another item which rose to the top of the meta in the first game – also have a different recoil and blast radius. Couple that with accidentally smashing curse pots, be wary of using it wildly until you’ve put in some practice.
Using climbing gloves – as well as climbing up trees in the Jungle – now requires you to push towards the wall to ‘stick’.
If you are exploring the Jungle, having the spiked boots or spring boots will negate the new tiki trap spike blocks if you stand on them.
Hired hands are much more common in Spelunky 2 – for example, one will always appear at the end of World 1-4 – but they can hinder more than they can help. We recommend not grabbing them unless you have to (for example, say, one of the shortcut requirements) as Spelunky is best played when you can keep as many variables under your control as possible. But if you want to add a dose of chaos to your run, then go ahead!
Ropes will burn up quickly if they touch lava – which is a lesson you’ll learn in Volcana pretty quickly.
There are many more kinds of vendors in the game, and one of the most rewarding is the dice mini-game. In our experience, we were able to walk away with a profit more often than not, and get our hands on the item if you land on a certain number. This item will also refresh when you win, if you have the time to keep gambling.
There is much more out there that’s not touched upon here – and even more the community will no doubt uncover in the weeks, months, and possibly years ahead. Best of luck, and enjoy the many surprises that are in store!