Big Dog is a secret character that was added temporarily on April 1st, 2015 and is playable only on April Fools. While only added as a one time joke, he was re-added specifically on the Steam betas to be playable again. He can be played by defeating the Big Dog boss while local time is currently on April 1st, which is based on local time meaning that one can simply change the time on their computer to play as him. As long as the current game session is started on April 1st he will remain playable for as long as that session is played. If the game is launched on a different day he will no longer appear on the character select screen and disappear.

Because Big Dog was added as a joke he is not actually balanced around the game, playing as him is extremely tedious and time consuming and many mutations are useless on him. His multiple downsides make each level a slog and taking damage very easy, however he can also regain health at insanely quick speeds due to his missiles always dropping health and ammo. This makes it so Big Dog can secretly have a game breaking build if played right, though extreme patience must be exercised in order to do so. Big Dog is not enabled on daily challenges and is explicitly not allowed on weeklies either.

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Big Dog
Unlock Defeat Big Dog on April Fools - Betas only
B-Skin No B-Skin
Weapon Dog Spin Attack, Dog Missile
Active Spin Attack
Passive More HP
Less speed, larger hitbox, cannot pick up weapons


The Basics

This guide will be very different from other character guides due to how much Big Dog fundamentally plays differently, thus will be lengthy explaining how he interacts with various mutations. He moves through levels at a snails pace, can easily damage himself with his missiles and constantly will be taking damage from enemies. As an April Fools joke this character can be swept under the rug as just being a gimmick and easily discarded, however a game breaking build was found that was sort of game-breaking, though gameplay is still incredibly slow.

In terms of preloop Big Dog will be at his slowest, leveling up will take a while and traversing levels is a challenge in itself. Any time he comes across a hallway, Big Dog should walk away from it and shoot missiles towards it in order to blow it up to give him enough room to walk through. While his downsides seem to make his gameplay really unfun, he gets infinite HP and ammo from his missile attack. Shooting a cluster of explosives towards a wall by rapidly clicking the secondary button will give him a ton of pickups to farm, though apply some caution because of how easy Big Dog can hurt himself with explosions - until Boiling Veins and Second Stomach is got, even rebuilding HP can be a pain because of how easy it is to get damaged even by Big Dog's own attacks.

Missiles will always be a better damage source to enemies, though the Spin Attack should be constantly used too because of how easy it is to regain ammo. Keeping this in mind this is the true 'basics' of Big Dog, farming drops and digging through levels slowly. If just wanting the basics, the guide can end here - just look at the tables below on what mutations to take and ignore the explanations.

Core Mutations Additional Mutations

The general idea behind Big Dog meta is that he can use his missiles in order to self heal quickly while constantly outputting damage. Missiles have a 100% drop rate so will always be giving either health or ammo that will refill missiles. So in an optimal situation Big Dog can out-heal any damage given to him, including self-damage. In order to reach this point the 7 mutations above should be seen as 'vital' to make this build really work, and then pick 1-2 of the 3 mutations as 'additional' to make the build more complete.

The most important mutation here is Boiling Veins, though if basing it on the in-game description it is not immediately apparent on why. Big Dog starts at 300 HP, and Boiling Veins only makes characters invulnerable to explosives when at 4 HP or below - the mutation has another attribute though, explosives usually do 5 damage twice for a total of 10 damage, Boiling Veins will actually remove the second instance of damage, which will halve the amount of explosive damage taken. This is something that is easy to miss on normal characters but is critical to this build.

In order to make missile farming efficient, Second Stomach and Plutonium Hunger are the next in priority in order to make Big Dog heal twice as quickly while being able to get pickups a lot easier, especially when he starts to loop and enemy bullets will make it difficult to see pickups. These mutations make missile farming much more efficient, and Extra Feet sort of goes along with that to get to pickups quicker. Being the slowest character in the game Big Dog benefits much more from Extra Feet as it being a flat increase(+0.5 to speed) makes him go about 20% faster making his gameplay far more bearable..

Then the other part of the build comes in to dish out additional damage - because Big Dog may be self damaging with missiles a lot and also getting hit constantly, Sharp Teeth is going to be one of his main forms of damage. This is a lower tier mutation on other characters, but actually works very well on Big Dog. Gamma Guts goes along with this as Big Dog can do contact damage far quicker than enemies can do contact damage to him, which makes this actually viable to use against every boss besides Hyper Crystal. Pair both of these with Scarier Face for quicker kills.

From here there are 3 other mutations - Impact Wrists, Thronebutt and Bloodlust. These can be partially left up to preference, each has their own strengths.

Relatively Helpful Relatively Unhelpful

Outside of meta mutations Big Dog still has quite a few more choices, though how helpful they are varies heavily.

Virtually Useless Completely Useless

Meanwhile over a third of the mutations either barely function, or not at all, which are as follows:

Crowns & 9 Mutations

Tech Related

Big Dog has two optimal ways to go about getting a Perfect 9 set. The first option is to play NTT and play the grillskills mod(link later) in order to get a guaranteed set. Considering the time investment to just start a Big Dog run, this is the recommended option. One can pick their 8 mutations, then simply take Crown of Destiny in either preloop vault for their extra desired mutation from the pool listed above.

However, one can do a vanilla run too if they so choose and try to grind for a perfect set. A run should be started with Crown of Hatred either by unlocking it in a previous run(Captain or Thronesitting with it), save editing it in(link later) or by playing in NTT which has crowns unlocked by default. (If not, then do '/ccrown hatred' as a command).

Starting a run with CoHatred the first goal is to get to the 3-2 vault, leveling as much as you want. Here the proto chest will spawn, and if Big Dog stands on the edge of it he will rapidly take damage as the chest will repeatedly open/close and spawn rads. You'll want to get to upper level 9, though NOT hit ultra, and then continue on. From here you'll see up to your 8th mutation and can figure out if you have an optimal set or not - you'll be taking around 100 to 120 damage from CoHatred to get to the desired level, as a rough estimate.

Either keep CoHatred, or just go Bare Head - you'll continue onto the 5-2 vault while hitting Ultra inbetween the vaults. Ultra Spin is the better option for reasons listed below. At the 5-2 vault switch your crown out to Crown of Destiny, in which you'll get a random 9th mutation. While this is not the most optimal way of set grinding, Big Dog would struggle with normal destiny strategies so this is probably the most optimal way for him.

From here, reach the 1-2 L1 vault and pick between two of the crowns below.

Meta Crowns

Big Dog has two choices between which crowns are the best to run with after getting his desired mutation set.

Crown of Blood is the standard crown for meta in order to maximize score runs. While it directly benefits normal characters in meta with how those builds work, in Big Dog's case it's mainly there for the extra score in terms of getting records.

Crown of Death will omit the extra kills gained from CoBlood to instead focus on the extra damage output. Each missile that has a large explosion will now get three smaller explosions around it, which means that each missile goes from being able to deal 10 damage total to dealing 40 damage total. This includes Big Dog unless if he takes Boiling Veins which will bring it back down to just 5 damage for one instance again.

Relatively Useless Useless Negative

Most other crown options are either not helpful for Big Dog's build, or just does not work at all. They are as follows;

Advanced Looping

Big Dog will mainly lean into his missiles and damage mutations for DPS output. However, Ultra Spin is actually the better ultra to take here, as Ultra Missiles will often be exploding before they can get any meaningful amount of damage out(especially if taking Thronebutt). Doubling the amount of bullets in Ultra Spin isn't a significant boost, but is a consistent one that is worth taking.

Once Big Dog has a complete build the fun can begin - as in loop he can just steamroll most enemies and bosses in the game. If Big Dog spams missiles over his body, he'll constantly take 5 damage at a time because of Boiling Veins while he'll constantly heal for 4 HP a health drop because of Second Stomach. Because HP is weighted based on health lost, Big Dog will hover around anywhere from 125 HP - 225 HP(higher with Bloodlust) as the amount of ammo or health he gets will constantly vary. The lower on HP Big Dog is, the more health drops he'll be getting and the faster he can recover.

In most circumstances Big Dog can simply out-heal the damage he's taking in. Being in the middle of a field of enemies without a melee weapon is normally a death wish, Big Dog's gameplay centers around this. The idea is to make your way around the level using Gamma Guts on any enemy that you can reach, all the while spamming missiles(and less importantly spin attack) in order to damage any enemies on screen with Sharp Teeth.

A part of the reason this works so well is because enemies can only deal so much damage per. second, while there are a lot of high risk enemies in the game for normal mutants Big Dog can brush off most damage sources. Outside of Hyper Crystal, the highest damage any damage can manage at a time is 20, done by contact damage from Laser/Lightning Crystals or 20 damage from IDPD vans. And any damage that Big Dog takes is multiplied back towards any enemy on screen at 2.5x the rate, meaning that the more damage Big Dog takes the more damage he deals back out more than twofold.

Most bosses are a non-issue even in later loops because their damage output simply is not enough to pose a challenge to Big Dog. Some strategies can still be applied for them, though.

The only substantial threat to Big Dog here is Hyper Crystal. While in meta this boss is considered more near the middle of the pack in terms of threat level, in Big Dog meta it makes it extremely difficult to actually do meaningful damage to Hyper Crystal while having some threat at ending the run. Extreme patience should be brought to this fight.

The reason why HC is such a big threat is because it deals 200 contact damage, which makes it so Gamma Guts is not an option in order to damage the boss. This is one instance where Big Dog cannot out-heal a boss if trying to contact damage it to death, while Sharp Teeth would deal 450 damage in return the amount of health HC has makes it difficult to predict how close the boss is to being killed. Big Dog's attacks entirely center around damaging on-screen enemies, so Big Dog must constantly be in close proximity to Hyper Crystal all the while actively avoiding touching it despite being very big and slow, which makes the fight frustrating and at times a bit stressful the further you loop. Along with this, doing any meaningful damage with either missiles or even bullets is difficult because of the constant spawning of Laser Crystals, which is why it takes so long.

Optimally Big Dog should follow Hyper Crystal around, not close enough to risk touching it. Taking contact damage from Laser Crystals will result in dealing 45 damage at the cost of 20 HP, which can be done once in earlier loops/twice in later loops to kill every Laser Crystal on screen that HC spawned. Then Big Dog will have a brief chance to shoot his missiles(and bullets for that matter) to get a bit of damage in against Hyper Crystal, at which point it will quickly spawn more Laser Crystals again and this process would be rinse and repeated. This is a situation where taking high amounts of damage is common so one eye should be kept on health, Big Dog is going to be below 200 HP constantly because of this build, so it's better to chip away at HC health rather than sneak in very risky damage. Again, an endurance test.

While Big Dog was added as a joke he has the potential to get to the furthest loops in the game legitimately, all it requires is the know-how and a LOT of free time. Remember to take frequent breaks and to stay hydrated so Big Dog's slow gameplay only causes a mental toll on you rather than a physical one.