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Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns Review

Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns Review

Vampire Survivors' fourth DLC (and second collaboration overall) is a partnership between them and none other than Konami. However, instead of going for the more obvious Castlevania, given that inspired the entire title, poncle decided on the clearly more suitable franchise for their vampire-less vampire title: Contra. After all, we can't break the tradition of having no vampires.

Enter Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns, the fruits of the labour of poncle and Konami's collaboration, where you'll be able to take control of a plethora of characters across the Contra franchise wielding both weapons from their universe and everything you've gathered in the base game (and DLC) of Vampire Survivors. You'll have 12 characters to play, 11 weapons to unlock (with another 11 evolutions to find), two new maps, and an entire Adventure mode.

The first and most obvious thing we should mention is the gameplay itself. Operation Guns features essentially the same gameplay that many have come to know and love of Vampire Survivors, where you'll be able to enter a new world and unlock the Contra characters. It includes the progression-based gameplay you've likely experienced up until now, as you'll head out to get Bill out of his coffin from Neo Galuga, unlock his weapon, and then work your way to find the evolution in order to acquire the other characters.

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In that regard, Operation Guns nails the Vampire Survivors gameplay I spent dozens of hours enjoying. You'll start in Neo Galuga, find Bill's coffin, and then make combinations of passive items as you try to find the combination that'll evolve them; with 22 total weapons to play, it can add countless hours of gameplay, as I spent about 18 hours in total, though I did start from a fresh file.

In addition to the 22 weapons, there's a new passive item: the Weapon Power-up. This crate counts as a passive item that upgrades one of your weapons by one level for free, and they're scattered across Neo Galuga — the ones in the overworld don't count towards your total passive item total. These are necessary to unlock the evolutions of the Operation Guns weapons, and it adds a unique sense of strategy when you take it to the base areas, as instead of being on-ground pickups, you'll need to get them from levelling up. The catch? You can only have one at a time, so you won't be able to have an all-Operation-Guns build unless you plan ahead really well.

This new layer of strategy was welcome, as I immensely enjoyed finding which weapons I could evolve from the base game whilst incorporating Weapon Power-ups in the mix — every time you evolve a DLC weapon, you can acquire a new one through luck. At most, I managed to find four in one playthrough, which felt a lot like piecing a puzzle together, and it's a break from the base experience where making your build full of your favourite weapons is relatively simple.

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There are some great weapons to unlock, though contrariwise, there are some pretty terrible ones I couldn't wait to banish into oblivion consistently. From my personal experience, about nine of the 22 weapons were enjoyable and felt most suited for the hectic gameplay that Vampire Survivors encompasses — some, like the Short Gun and its evolution, Prototype B, were terrible additions I didn't particularly like. A fair few of the weapons require you to be facing your enemies in order to shoot in their direction (a la Knife from the base game), which added a layer of complexity I both loved and hated; it made running away from enemies more challenging, yet encouraged kiting and made it a bit more complicated.

It may be a bit of an abysmal turnover, with fewer than half of the new weapons being fun to use, but in contrast, some of the evolutions felt strong and fit perfectly in place with the theme of the game. I found more to love from the weapons I did like than things to hate from the ones I disliked (aside from the Short Gun. I hate the Short Gun).

The Adventure Mode incorporated, for those who haven't bought a DLC yet, is essentially a version of Vampire Survivors that has different Neo Galuga variations of the map, all the while limiting your choice of items to a few that felt "made sense". No magic means you'll have to rely on everything from axes, whips, and guns to create new builds that'll let you survive past the time limits. It's entertaining and a great way to prolong the gameplay, though I find Adventure Mode overwhelming when trying to learn the weapon evolutions, so maybe leave it for the end game.

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The second map, Hectic Highway, isn't all that impressive. It changes the gameplay of Vampire Survivors to be a side-scrolling motorcycle version of itself, which, though it is a change of pace, I didn't feel it was for the better. Thankfully, it's more of a plus than a mandatory thing, and I'm sure many will find love in this map. Unfortunately, it wasn't something for me, especially as if you miss getting pickups (like chests), they become impossible to acquire, making weapon evolution an arduous task of standing directly behind the boss you're trying to kill to land in the trajectory of the chest.

The short and sweet of it? Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns is more Vampire Survivors, and that's never a bad thing. poncle's approach to this entire process is not to try to fix what isn't broken, and it works surprisingly well for all of the DLC thus far. Despite how some of the weapons don't feel welcome in Vampire Survivor's meta, it's hard to argue with a £1.99 price tag that brought an extra 18 hours of gameplay and a bit of nostalgia to the world. With this in mind, it's hard not to recommend it — more weapons and more builds mean more gameplay, and if you're itching for Vampire Survivors, it's hard to say no to Operation Guns.


8.50/10 8½

Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

22 new weapons, chockful of new evolutions, and a splash of nostalgia make Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns a no-brainer at its £1.99 price point.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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Thejakman - 11:16am, 9th May 2024

Why does this remind me of the TF2 Engineer quote "Use a gun. And if that don't work.... use more gun"