Gunfire Reborn is ridiculously good. You run around dungeons and gardens just straight blapping dudes with an arsenal of amazingly fun to use weapons. Yeah, there’s standard sh!t, like assault rifles, snipers, sub-machines, bows, etc., and these all feel great to use. Then, the game throws some curveballs as there are also ice spears, which you throw at people, gloves, which beam terracotta warriors down, and even f@$%ing lizards. All this culminates into a game that has some of the best gun-based gameplay of any first-person shooter I’ve ever played.
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Different Abilities and Roguelike Mechanics
It’s not just different guns that make the combat awesome; there are also a few different characters that all have their own abilities. There’s Cat with grenades, there’s Sniper Bear with lightning powers, there’s Bird, who flies around jump-kicking fools and smacking people with its wings, plus others. All of these characters play really differently, and they change the way you approach the game, way more so than most first-person shooters usually do or even roguelikes. Often in other games, no matter what character you’re playing as or what setup you have, you usually play it the same way.
This variance is especially true because each character has their own skill trees, which enhance different areas of the game. Moreso though as you go through each run, the abilities available to you will vary, and this will affect the experience. This is also true for the weapons that drop, meaning you will always have a different combo of weapons and abilities. You know, because it’s a roguelike.
How the Various Heroes Affect the Gameplay
So, how do these affect the actual gameplay? Well, when I play as Dog, who can duel wield, I like to roll with launchers because Dog has abilities that synergize with that weapon type, like extra explosive damage. I had a run where I used this Bone Dragon weapon, which trapped people, then a straight noob tube, and this combo worked excellently, just melting dudes with this 1, 2 punch. Compare this to when I play as Cat, where I prefer to use elemental assault rifles or pistols because they have skills that increase and amplify elemental damage.
It goes further than this though because each character isn’t just different from the other, they each have a few unique ways they can be played. Each character has three tech trees, which all roughly break down into improving guns in some specific way, then giving bonuses to their primary ability and their secondary ability. Often, it’s best to stick to one tree predominantly, with a little bit of dabbling in the other two. This makes one area of your character particularly strong as the more you put into one tech tree, the better that area becomes and the better it synergizes with itself.
For example, when playing as Bird, you can pick a lot of cleave skills, which will make your wing bash really strong. Or you can put a bunch of skills into leap, which would make your main jump-kick attack amazing. Both of these attacks get upgrades, which help you offensively and defensively. So, having a really good jump-kick that does tons of damage and gives you a bunch of health and defensive upgrades is better than splitting the difference. In one run you might make a jump-kick build, and in another run, you might go for a wing bash build.
All of this is great for two reasons: Firstly, because it heavily encourages you to vary your style and strategies, which leads you to experimenting more and ultimately avoiding finding the game stale because you aren’t just doing the same thing over and over. Secondly, because if you do really like one playstyle, then there is likely a character and a build for you; and the game lets you play that way again and again. The fact that Gunfire Reborn fosters both diversity of experience and allows for players to cultivate an idiosyncratic style is incredible game design.
Scrolls: aka- General Improvements
The different characters and abilities are one way the game makes each run unique, but there are also scrolls, which are general improvements. I’m actually impressed how fun and fresh most of these are. While there still are the classic do 35% more damage type stuff, many of them have slight twists to them, such as ‘first shot after each 10s will deal Crit DMG’.
I do have one issue with scrolls though. It’s that they don’t really address your character or your run, they seem to always be random, and this can be a little lame. For instance, if you get the scroll that makes your shield recharge faster, but you are playing as Bird, who has armour and not a shield, then this scroll is actually useless.
In one run, I picked up a scroll that gave me double armour and only one health, but then I kept getting health regen scrolls, including one that increases your health by one every time you kill an enemy within seven meters, which I thought would be awesome, but it did literally nothing. And it’s just like, why are these scrolls dropping if they don’t help my character at all? This is a small complaint and, honestly, my only real issue with the game.
Talents and Reward-Based Game Design
Like many modern roguelikes, your character doesn’t just improve inside each run. No, of course, there is a talent tree, which affects all of the characters. There’s also a much smaller talent specific to each character. This is great because it gives you constant reward for each run, but it can mean the higher difficulties feel off limits until you grind away and unlock more skills, which can be a little tedious.
This talent tree, along with a really in-depth challenge system, is how the game drip feeds you new weapons, scrolls and characters. And this is pretty strong game design principles at work. There are always rewards you’re working toward, there’s constant positive feedback, there’s new stuff to play around with, and this keeps you engaged and wanting to play. And this is all fairly standard, but it’s done really well and achieves what it’s trying to do.
Rewarding Both Singularity and Diversity
This principle is seen in the runs as well with regards to guns. You can upgrade guns at a craftsman, which will increase the damage of the gun, and often you can get the strongest gun if you just pick a gun in the early game and then upgrade it every opportunity you can. And after you unlock a few talents that help you with money, this is pretty much doable. This is what the vast majority of my runs were: Get a gun early in the game and stick with it the whole time.
However, the game will constantly drop new guns, and the further you go, the more and more bonuses these guns will have on them. You can also get talents to get even more bonuses and make them stronger. So, you are encouraged to actually switch guns pretty consistently throughout the run, and once you realise this, you are likely going to have better runs; once again encouraging you to try new things and constantly change it up while also allowing you to stick with one thing without punishment.
The Multiplayer Experience
Lastly, I want to mention that the game is multiplayer, and the whole experience flows really well. Whenever you get scrolls, guns, or goblets to upgrade skills, everyone gets their own. So, there’s no taking from each other. Quite the opposite because you can share your scrolls and guns with other players, and the game makes it super simple. All you need to do is press V, and the item will instantly pop up on the other’s’ screen.
One issue I do have is how fast you die after you get knocked down. Often, my teammates would go down, and I’d run over to revive them, and in less than a second, they’d be gone. This is brutal and too fast, and it means you sometimes straight up can’t do anything. This is kind of boring because if you die, you have to wait for your team to get to a store to revive you.
This can take really long because enemy health scales significantly with the number of players in the dungeon. 300% health for two players, 500% for three and 700% for four. So, if it’s one person making their way through a three or four-person dungeon, then it will take ages; all the while you’re just sitting there watching a janky third-person camera for five or so minutes. Even when they get to a store, reviving a dead player is super expensive.
I think this exists to make the game more difficult, which it does, but it also makes the game much more boring, slow and kind of lame, especially if you die in a boss fight as you don’t receive any of the loot, encouraging individualism and not teamplay.
That’s Gunfire Reborn; a really great game that has super fun and satisfying mechanics and is fairly cheap for what it is. I would definitely suggest it, and I hope you have a great time playing it.
Developer: Duoyi (Hong Kong) Interactive Entertainment Limited
Publishers: Duoyi (Hong Kong) Interactive Entertainment Limited, 505 Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: 22nd May 2020