Resogun’s Heroes DLC only adds two game modes, but each adds something meaningful to the game’s addictive arcade action. Even better, both modes cater especially well to a different kind of player.
The first, Survival, throws down the gauntlet for veteran players seasoned by leaderboard success with Arcade mode’s levels and extra lives. You get neither in Survival: one life against a never-ending onslaught that starts fairly intense and gets positively overwhelming, very quickly. The kind of precision, awareness, and technique required to survive for more than ten minutes against these formations aren’t in my possession, but there are cool ideas on display that even novice players can appreciate. For example, there’s no need to pick up humans and carry them to evacuation platforms for extra points. Merely flying through them will do, but there are way more on-screen at a given time, and a lot more ways for them to die, thanks to the destruction of ground sections over time. Heavily armored enemies house screen-clearing explosions, and an overdrive attack could break them in seconds, but it could also clear dozens of enemies and give a scant few seconds of breathing room. Tactical choices abound and must be made faster than ever.
In other words, Survival mode is hardcore Resogun: lots of enemies, tricky formations, for skilled players who’ve long since mastered the five story levels. Neat touches, like Monuments representing player scores your best run is close to beating, keep the competitive spirit alive where balance falters. Absolutely any ship can be used in Survival mode, even custom creations borne from the recent addition of a ship editor. The leaderboards don’t pay attention to stat distribution (across Agility, Boost, and Overdrive) or weapon types, so direct comparison of two high scores is devalued somewhat. At the same time, there’s no easy way to tell what combination is most “winning” without experimenting for yourself, so replay value is kept intact. Being able to change the music in Survival, from its default tracks to level-specific tracks or a random combination, is also a nice touch.
Ultimately, Survival doesn’t seem like enough to rope back in folks who enjoyed some time with Resogun near PS4’s launch but have since moved on. For me, that hook is Demolition, the second of Heroes’ additions and one that toys with the formula enough to feel completely unfamiliar. For starters, Demolition strips you of all your weapons and your boost ability. All you’re left with is a controlled radial blast that can be charged to different power levels–but use it at all, and you’ll be defenseless until it recharges.
The blast also functions as a pushback for Wrecking Balls, which fly through the cylindrical stage with destructive aplomb. Demolition fills the stage with stationary targets to test your Wrecking Ball aim and enemies to dodge in the meantime, so while it behooves you to take time perfectly setting up each “shot,” the game will test just how quickly you can do so. Enemies will harass your attempts to carefully maneuver through tight pathways formed by stationary targets. Finesse is rewarded in that the very best Wrecking Ball pushes can rack up obscene points and swiftly clear a stage. But knowing when to forget about the balls and use your radial blast to clear a path is also imperative.
I love that Demolition effectively takes the pace and intensity of your standard Resogun match back to the drawing board. From there, it uses the same controls and mechanics to fuel an entirely different experience. Foresight and planning are more important than split-second arcade reflexes. An eye for detail and stage-wide awareness helps too–time slows to a crawl as you’re charging a radial blast, and shot alignment is a multi-faceted affair. I noticed that folks on my PSN friends list with astronomical Survival scores weren’t having as much success with Demolition, but I found its emphasis on strategy and positioning to be more accessible and a ton of fun. The power-up spirit is alive and well, too. Extra balls will drop onto the stage from time to time, and you can exploit creative moves–like shooting a ball into an Extra Ball power-up to spawn three–that really reward being in the right place at the right time. It takes a different skillset than twitch reflexes to consistently find yourself there.
The music and visuals are still pitch-perfect, and eight months later, Resogun is still one of PS4’s most aesthetically pleasing games. The question, then, is which of Resogun Heroes’ new modes appeals to you more. Both are fun, polished, and thoughtfully designed, and with the recent (free) addition of online and offline co-op, plus the aforementioned ship editor, there’s never been a better time to return. However, I had way more fun with Demolition than Survival, which, barring a few new power-ups and mechanics, is more of the same, just way more intense. Demolition, on the other hand, challenged me in new ways and reveals surprising depth for experimentation with Resogun’s core elements. By my money, that’s worth the price of admission; bonus points if you’re a Resogun fanatic who can’t wait to try both.