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Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns DLC review - pew pew perfection

We got the chance to check out the Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns DLC in advance, and if you love projectile weapons, you’ll love this.

Screenshot for Vampire Survivors Operation Guns DLC review with Bill on screen shooting enemies

Our Verdict

Vampire Survivors can still do no wrong, and the Operation Guns DLC is an awesome addition that adds hours of playtime to an already engrossing game.

Following a successful crossover with Among Us, the Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns DLC is now available, with classic characters from Contra arriving in Poncle’s smash-hit title. While I might not be the biggest Contra fan in the world, I love a bit of Vampire Survivors, so I jumped at the chance to check out the new content before the release date.

In terms of what you’re getting for the entrance fee, Operation Guns adds 11 characters, 22 new weapons and weapon evolutions, and two additional stages. That isn’t to mention all the banging tracks from the Contra catalog. The first stage you unlock is Neo Galuga, a sprawling location including a jungle area, a city in ruins, and a wasteland full of alien pods, all across the same map. As fans of the series should know, Galuga is a big deal in Contra, as it’s the area where the alien Red Falcon army first launched its attack in the game’s lore.

I’ll be straight with you, I love Neo Galuga. It seems like every time a new Vampire Survivors map comes out, there’s an improvement in the design formula. For a start, it’s bloody massive. Unless you’re working with a particularly speedy character, it takes more than a couple of minutes to get across the width of Galuga, and that’s without stopping to pick up any precious experience gems or weapons. There’s also a fantastic boss battle that opens up at the 28-minute mark, but I don’t want to ruin that for you here. Just keep an eye on your map as the in-game timer approaches the end.

While I’m not as keen on the second additional stage, it’s a solid example of Poncle pushing the boat out and continuing to evolve the core ideas in Vampire Survivors. Hectic Highway puts you on a motorbike careening down a highway, with the option to race forward, hit the breaks, or move up and down the lanes as you take out enemies on a neverending road. It’s a fun gimmick, though you do lose something of the core VS experience by not being able to control which direction you’re heading in. Still, it’s a bonus stage, and if you can’t offer something a little different with a bonus stage, where can you?

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Both of these new maps are full of familiar enemies and power-ups from Konami’s classic run-and-gun title, including a couple of mini-bosses that offer something of a challenge if you haven’t leveled up quickly enough or have a mismatched build. The new Contra missile is a wonderful pick-up, doing an instant 999 damage to all enemies on-screen and littering your display with brilliant pixelated explosions that add to that timeless Contra feel.

Onto characters, and here’s where Contra fans should be most excited. Bill Rizer is here, Probotector is here, Brad Fang is here, they’re all here! Better still, they all have unique weapons that relate back to their series appearances, like Bill’s iconic Long Gun and Brad Fang’s flame-shooting Firearm. As you might imagine in a DLC based on a run-and-gun shooter, most of these new weapons are projectiles, but there are a couple in there that mix it up, and the Metal Claw is a personal favorite.

Screenshot for Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns DLC with two Contra characters on a bridge

Finally, there’s the new Operation Guns option in the adventures menu, and it might be the best one so far. Again, I don’t want to get into too much detail here as it’s too much fun to spoil, but this outing is one of Poncle’s furthest-reaching adventures, making the most of the massive Neo Galuga map. It also has plenty of that tongue-in-cheek storytelling that we’ve come to expect from the developer, poking a little fun at action narratives while paying homage at the same time.

All-in-all, the Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns DLC is an absolute treat for fans of Poncle’s game and Contra. If you’re into both, well, this is all your Christmases come at once. I’m not massively sold on the Hectic Highway stage, but I can’t help but admire Poncle’s willingness to experiment with a formula that has made this indie hit one of the most popular games of the 2020s so far. I already can’t wait for the next DLC, and if that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Vampire Survivors Operation Guns DLC review with a chaotic gameplay screen in the new DLC stage

The Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns DLC is now available on Steam, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox. For more of our thoughts on the latest games, check out our Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door preview, Solo Leveling: Arise review, or Reigns: Beyond review.