Intro to Pickups and Chests

A staple of any run in Nuclear Throne will be pickups and chests, which serves to aid the players progress. Pickups can drop from enemies upon being killed, while chests are scattered about each level. Here is a table of contents on each that can appear:

Each level will always contain 1 ammo chest, 1 weapon chest and 1 radiation canister, though each have their own variants which can replace them. Generation on normal levels can sometime bug out and can cause chests to sometime not spawn.

Exceptions to this is 7-3 which does not normally include a rad can. (Check out other chest variations later). 0-1 will never include chests, and secret areas will vary.


There are 6 weapon types in the game. Each that uses ammo have a maximum amount, and cannot gain ammo past that. If ammo is below the minimum shot required for a weapon it cannot be used until ammo is found.

Ammo can be regained through three primary methods. Ammo Pickups which are gained through enemy deaths, Ammo Chests which have a few variants that can spawn in a level, and Weapon Drops/Chests that give the respective ammo type when walking over the weapon for the first time.

Ammo Pickups
Ammo Pickup

Ammo drop rate tech here later!

Upon walking over an ammo pickup it has a split 50% chance of giving ammo to either primary or secondary weapon. This is a flat 50% and does not change based on the ammo levels of each weapon.
However, if a weapon is full on ammunition or is an ammoless melee it will give an equal chance of giving the other 5 ammo types.
So if running two weapons and the primary weapon is short on ammo, but the secondary weapon is full on ammo or is ammoless melee, then it's a 60% chance to get the desired ammo type. (50% primary + 10% secondary picking from 5 ammo types)

The following list refers to how much 1 ammo pickup is worth;
  • 32 Bullets
  • 8 Shells
  • 7 Bolts
  • 6 Explosives
  • 10 Energy
  • Ammo drops will be sucked in by the player if walked within proximity of them. They will despawn if not picked up within a certain amount of time, blinking before despawning. This time scales with loop.

Cursed Ammo Pickup

If the player is carrying two cursed weapons then ammo drops will have a 50% chance to become a cursed ammo drop instead.

These give 1.5 times more ammo than a normal ammo pickup, but will despawn 3 times faster than a normal pickup.

Cursed ammo pickups will despawn if not picked up within a certain amount of time, blinking before despawning. This time scales with loop, and upon despawning these will cause a small explosion which can hurt both the player and enemies if close enough.

These pickups do not have a pickup range unlike normal ammo pickups, and must be directly walked over in order to collect. This means that these are unaffected by plutonium hunger or exit portal pickup attraction. (Eyes telekinesis does work on the other hand).

Ammo Chests
Ammo Chest

Ammo chests are the default ammo chest variation. It has a chance to be replaced with a Present or IDPD Chest, but is guaranteed to appear on 7-3 specifically.

Upon opening this chest will grant ammo equal to that of 2 ammo pickups to the players primary weapon. If the primary weapon is full, or is an ammoless melee, it will simply give 1 of the 5 ammo types.

If a portal opens in proximity of an ammo chest and causes it to open, it will instead spawn two ammo pickups which will instead follow normal ammo pickup rules.

Present Chest

Present chests have a X in Y chance of replacing normal normal ammo chests.

Upon opening this chest it will grant 1.5x more ammo of a normal ammo chest, or 3 normal ammo pickups worth. However, it will only grant a random ammo type that's not the players current primary or secondary held weapon.

In order to circumvent this, the player can simply swap out one or both of their weapons with different ammo types that they don't want from the Present Chest, and only then open it. There would still be a 33%/66% chance of receiving the desired ammo type, but can be worth the small detour.

If a portal opens in proximity of a present chest and causes it to open, it will then behave like a normal ammo chest and spawn two ammo pickups which will follow normal ammo pickup rules.

IDPD Chest

IDPD chests have a X in Y chance of replacing normal ammo chests on 4-1 and beyond, as well as any secret area as they are listed as 100-1 and onwards within the games code. This also applies in loop, meaning that Desert, Sewers and Scrapyards cannot spawn IDPD chests regardless of the current loop. (Confirm later)

Ammo/Present chests normally will give ammo directly to the player, however the IDPD Chest will directly drop 5 ammo pickups directly on top of the player. That difference means that it will randomly give ammo for the primary and secondary weapon, rather than just the primary, so it doesn't matter what weapon is held when walking over these chests.

Upon opening the chest it will summon an IDPD ambush, where 4 blue portals will appear spawning in IDPD units. IDPD chests can be opened after the exit portal has already spawned, meaning that it can spawn enemies that are not required to be killed in order to progress. The exception to this is if there is a vault portal currently opened, no IDPD will spawn upon opening the chest.


New weapons to use against enemies can be gained by either randomly dropping from specific enemy types, or by opening various weapon chest variations. New weapons are added to the drop pool with every portal exited, a full list of weapons and drop pool tech can be found here. Weapon drops do not respawn and can be gone back to at any point of the level.

Weapon Chest

Weapon chests are the default weapon chest variation and will always contain one weapon from the current drop pool upon opening.

Any weapon, whether dropped by an enemy or from a weapon chest, will give 2 ammo pickups worth of its own ammo type upon walking over it the first time.

If an exit portal opens in proximity of a weapon chest and causes it to open, the weapon will pop out and if close enough will be sucked into the portal. There are some rare situations that the weapon chest is opened in a spot where neither the weapon can get sucked into the portal, nor the player can reach it.

Big Weapon Chest

Any time that any weapon chest is skipped (besides proto) a counter adds a +25% chance for a big weapon chest to spawn in any following level. If 4 chests are skipped, this will give a 100% guarantee for a big weapons chest to spawn. Once a big weapon chest is opened this counter resets to 0% chance. Opening normal chests do not reset this counter, meaning that any weapon chest missed will cause a large weapon chest to eventually spawn during a run.

Big weapon chests act the same as normal weapon chests do, the difference being that 3 weapons will spawn instead of 1.

Cursed Weapon Chest

Has a 1 in 7 chance of spawning in place of a normal weapon chest while running any crown, or a 2 in 3 chance while running crown of curses.

Cursed chests pull from a drop pool that is two difficulties above the players current. This means that there is a chance to find better weapons sooner, until the drop pool is filled out in early loop. Additionally weapons from 1-1 cannot appear in the cursed drop pool increasing the odds for better weapons.

Weapons that are cursed cannot be swapped for non-cursed weapons, only other cursed weapons. Having two cursed weapons will cause cursed ammo pickups (see above) to spawn.

An in-depth guide to all the cursed mechanics can be found here.

Proto Chest

Proto Chests are special type of weapon chests that exclusively appear in Crown Vaults. In order to get one to spawn the player must be running a crown, whether taking one from a previous vault or starting a run with one.

Opening the proto chest the first time will yield the rusty revolver which is exclusively found here. This weapon can be swapped out with any weapon the player is carrying, and the weapon left behind will now be stored inbetween runs.

The next time the proto chest is opened the stored weapon will be awaiting the player, which can then be swapped out with any new weapon being held. The stored weapon will be transferred between runs regardless of gamemode; with the exception of dailies which will always show a rusty revolver by default for a level playing field.

While exit portals will automatically open any chests within proximity, proto chests are the exception and are unaffected. However if the player walks over the chest, the weapon within it will get sucked into the portal. The next time the proto chest is visited, it will once again contain a rusty revolver as there was no weapon left inside.


While health can be lost easily, it can also be regained easily through enemy drops, and infrequently health chests.

Health Pickup

Enemies will only drop ammo pickups, however there is a chance that ammo pickups can be converted to health pickups based on the players current health. So the less HP the player has, the more likely that ammo will become health drops instead; this also means that being low on ammo can boost chances of finding health quicker.

(Put exact health conversion tech here later)

These pickups will give the player 2 HP, though their health cannot exceed their max HP.

Health pickups will be sucked in by the player if walked within proximity of them. They will despawn if not picked up within a certain amount of time, blinking before despawning. This time scales with loop.

Health Chest

If the player enters a level below half health, rad canisters have a 50% chance to become health chests. Upon opening a health chest, it will automatically give 2 health pickups to the player for a total of 4 HP.

Odds of a health chest do not increase the lower the player's health is at, it's simply a flat 50% if under half health.

This means for optimally safe health chest spawning:
If max HP is 8, then starting a level at 3 HP is the most optimal for health chest spawns.
If max HP is 12, then starting a level at 5 HP is the most optimal for health chest spawns.

If a portal opens in proximity of a health chest and causes it to open, then the 2 health pickups will then pop out and be attracted to the player.


Radiation serves as the games form of experience points, and each enemy always give a specific amount when killed (opposed to pickups which are chance based). Each rad is worth 1 point, and leveling up gives a choice of mutation which are skills to improve the players offense or defense. A full list of mutations and rads needed to level up can be found on the mutation page.
Rad Drops

Each rad is equal to 1 experience point and is dropped by most enemies, with a few exceptions such as the IDPD.

Rads dropped from enemies can be collected by walking within proximity of them, where they will be automatically sucked up by the player. If not picked up within a certain amount of time, the rads will start to blink away then despawn.

The range for rads to be sucked up by the player is far greater than that of ammo/health pickups, but adversely will also start to despawn much sooner. This time scales with loop.

Radiation Chunk

Works the same as normal radiation but is worth 10 rads instead of just 1. Primarily gained from larger enemies and bosses.
Rad Canisters
Rad Canister

Rad canisters have 4 HP and must be destroyed to open. Upon opening 25 rads will burst out which must then be collected by the player.

There's a few methods that rad cans can be destroyed, that being;

  • Simply walking over the rad can will instantly break it.
  • Any damage source from the player can break it.
  • Exit portals opening will break nearby rad cans.
  • Any sort of enemy projectile can break rad cans.
  • Specific enemies that deal melee can break rad cans, but not universal.
    • Most common is any palace enemy, which makes rad cans common to miss on 7-1 and 7-2.
Big Rad Canister

If a rad canister is not destroyed during a level, during the next level a big rad canister will spawn in its place instead. These behave just the same as a normal rad canister but will instead have 20 HP and will burst out into 45 rads. This comes through as 2 radiation chunks + 25 normal rads.

If a big radiation canister is skipped then it will result in Hostile Horror spawning(link later). This enemy appears only once per run, so any rad cans skipped thereafter will just result in further big rad cans spawning.

While health chests have a chance to replace rad canisters, skipping one does not count as a missed rad can and will simply result in missed health if missed. If a rad canister is skipped and a health chest spawns the next level, the big rad can will simply be delayed until it can next spawn.

Two rads cans are equal to 50 rads while a big rad can is 45 rads, so skipping a rad can results in a net loss of 5 rads and usually isn't worth it. Spawning Hostile Horror can result in a net gain of up to 40 rads against 3 rad canisters normally opened, but is a high risk strategy that isn't worth the yield in most situations.

Infested Rad Canister

Infested rad canisters are types of rad cans that spawn only in the desert, specifically only on the muddy grey tiles on the floor. They have 8 HP in order to open.

Upon opening they will burst into 20 Radiation Maggots(link later) that each drop 2 radiation each for a total of 40 rads gained. Rad Maggots will take contact damage from the player even without gamma guts, so walking over the infested rad can will cause all 20 Rad Maggots to die instantly while only causing the player to take 1 damage from it.

(Check conditions for level end later)

Character Specifics

A few characters will have access to special pickups/chests during their run, and will not appear on any other character. Here they are as follows;

Portal Canisters - Rogue
Portal Strike Canister

A special prop that will always replace normal radiation canisters while playing Rogue specifically. When opened it will provide one portal strike pickup automatically, which will recharge Rogue's portal strike ammunition.

There is no benefit to skipping portal strike canisters. Hostile Horror cannot spawn on Rogue's runs specifically.

Unlike normal rad canisters, Rogue's portal strike canister behaves like normal chests where the only way to open it is by walking over it or being opened by an exit portal.

Portal Strike Pickup

Gives one ammunition to portal strikes when collected.

Only appears when an exit portal opens near a portal strike canister, causing this to spawn from it.

Ultra Chests - Steroids
Steroids Ammo Chest

Appears when taking Get Loaded as Steroids, ammo chests will always be replaced with this special variant. It contains 2 ammo pickups worth for every ammo type regardless of weapons being held.

Present Chests will appear visually but will give each ammo type regardless. IDPD Chests behave as normal.

If an exit portal opens one of these chests it will behave like a normal chest instead, only granting two normal ammo pickups.

Steroids Weapon Chest

Appears when taking Ambidextrous as Steroids, weapon chests will be replaced with this special variant. It will contain two of the same weapon, and thus will also give ammo for both of those weapons.

Big chests look the same but will give 3 random weapons and include a 4th weapon that will match one of the weapons in the chest.

Steroids Cursed Weapon Chest

Appears when taking Ambidextrous as Steroids, having the same properties as above but will have the same two cursed weapons within it instead.

Character Specific - Secret Areas
Pizza Chest

Health chests always appear normally in Pizza Sewers, however when Fish runs his ultra Confiscate, these pizza chests have a chance of spawning into the level or dropping from enemies but only within this area.

These have the same properties that normal health chests do, healing for 4 HP.

Giant Weapon Chest

YV's Crib is an area only accessible by reaching ultra as YV, so is specific to him. Two of these giant chests spawn and each contain 24 weapons for a total of 48.

The weapon drop pool pulls from 6 difficulties higher than what would normally be seen. This means that if ultra is reached on 7-1 or later, these chests will contain every possible weapon in the drop pool.

Giant Ammo Chest

Similarly can only spawn in YV's Crib, but will appear specifically if running Crown of Love as it forces only ammo chests to spawn.

Two of these will spawn each containing 24 ammo pickups. This is largely to punish the player for running crown of love and can be viewed as a joke chest, as giant weapon chests will most certainly fill ammo on top of giving plentiful weapon options.

If the player somehow manages to be carrying two cursed weapons, cursed ammo pickups will in fact spawn from the chest as well.

Secret Area Alternates

Some pickups/chests will spawn in secret areas to give them a unique flair. Most of these are just alternate sprites to what is normally seen.

Clam Chest

Clam chests are a weapon chest variation that appears specifically in the oasis, but functions identically.

Other weapon chest variants will spawn in as normally with their typical sprites.

Pizza Box

Pizza box is a prop that appears exclusively in the Pizza Sewers. When being broken it has a 20% chance to drop a pizza slice pickup.

Pizza Slice

Pizza slice is a health pickup variation that appears specifically in the pizza sewers, any health drop will appear as a pizza slice instead. It functions identically, giving 2 HP when picked up.

Gold Chest

Gold chest is a special chest that only appears on YV's mansion. It will replace the normal weapon chest and is guaranteed to appear, no weapon chest variant will take its place.

Will only give a random golden weapon upon opening, from a pool of 6 in preloop. That being golden machinegun, shotgun, crossbow, grenade launcher, laser pistol and wrench.

In loop any of the 12 normal golden weapons have a chance to appear within the gold chest.

Cursed Big Weapon Chest

A special variant of the big weapons chest that only spawns within the Cursed Crystal Caves. It functions the same as a big chest does but will give 3 cursed weapons instead.

As like cursed chests, 1-1 weapons cannot appear in the cursed big weapon chests drop pool, however it can also pull from 3 difficulties higher instead of 2. That means that in preloop it can include weapons usually only found in labs/early palace depending on the players current difficulty.