At E3 2014 last week, I had the chance to go hands-on with an imminent expansion to Resogun, Housemarque’s exceptional PS4 launch title. I’ll admit to not having touched Resogun in awhile--I was never great at it, anyway. But for those still chasing leaderboard spots and perfecting their runs, the upcoming Resogun Heroes expansion should inject new life into this addictive arcade shooter.
It starts with Survival mode, an endless twist on Resogun gameplay. A day-and-night cycle adds new visual excitement, but fair warning: you’ll only have one life to live, no matter how many points you rack up. This mode should give Resogun experts a nice playing field to practice advanced techniques, never having to worry about disruptions in enemy waves and moving to new fields. Newer players might still want to put their time into the game’s classic Arcade mode, though. I found that enemy formations and numbers were significantly more difficult in Survival’s early stages than in Arcade mode--appropriate for the hardcore players Survival might appeal to, but not necessarily inviting to those who haven’t mastered some or all of Resogun’s tricks.
To make matters more interesting, though, Survival changes the way rescuing humans works. In Arcade mode, you have to pick up humans and safely deliver them to evacuation points. Survival simplifies this somewhat: you can score points with humans by merely flying over them, but you can influence the number that appear with certain combos and kills.
The second addition with Heroes is Demolition mode, which couldn’t be further from Resogun’s core gameplay of killing enemy ships as fast as possible. There’s a lot of new ideas in Demolition, making my brief demo hard to digest, but basically, your only weapon is a charged, radial explosion. You want to hit as many simultaneous targets with these explosions as possible. The targets are stationary (at least, they were in my time with the early minutes), so there’s some element of strategy and precision as you carefully maneuver into the optimal destructive position. Meanwhile, a wrecking ball of sorts bounces around the cylindrical arena, destroying these targets but also posing a threat to you. This creates the need for a balancing act between dodging the wrecking balll and using it to your advantage, the latter being assisted by all manner of power-ups.
What’s cool about Heroes is that there’s new content for two kinds of players: the hardcore leaderboard chasers who need an arena to match their skills, and the more casual types simply looking for a new way to experience Resogun’s tight controls and visual splendor. Meanwhile, a free patch launching later this month will add a ship editor and local co-op, the latter of which is a pleasant surprise on a console in desperate need of such experiences.
The ship editor was impressive to see in action, especially with thoughtful build tools for symmetrical design, but the notion of balancing was a sticking point for me. What modes custom ships are available in, and how their scores are factored into global leaderboards, will be an interesting litmus test for Housemarque’s competitive sensibilities.
“Heroes” won’t necessarily revolutionize the Resogun experience, but it’s nice to have such a thoughtful burst of content, at a great price, coming months after launch. Resogun Heroes launches June 24 for $4.99; the free patch will release on June 23.