We live in the golden age of looter-shooters. Every franchise seems to have a game where you can grind to unlock gear, characters, hats – you name it, there’s a way to bash monsters to get it. The question is, what does Gunfire Reborn bring to the table? How does one stand out from the crowd when the likes of Anthem face-plant and even major studios like Bungie or Crystal Dynamics stumble?!?
Add cats, of course. And guns. Lots of guns. Some of which may or may not be handheld dragons.
OKAY, YES, GUNFIRE REBORN’S A LITTLE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT
In Gunfire Reborn, you start off as a wandering prince cat who chances upon an inn full of fellow heroes out to defeat evil. This is literally all you need to understand about the story. I’m not kidding. The most dialogue you’ll hear are barks when your character takes damage or throws a grenade.
It’s a delightfully presented world with crisp PS2-style retro graphics and wonderful sound design, but you’ll probably drown out the latter with a podcast or other favorite background music.
If you’re cool with that, then you’re in for an excellent time, because Gunfire Reborn is quite possibly one of the best rogue-lite FPS-RPG grinds on the market. Do you want the satisfaction of crushing your enemies? Wild weapon combinations that are absolutely bonkers? Well, you’ve got it all, and at a remarkably rapid pace.
That’s the truly stunning thing about Gunfire Reborn. Despite being a rogue-lite experience with punishing opponents, it’s easily one of the most accessible loot fests in years. Every run gets you feeling powerful in under twenty minutes, throwing increasingly expansive options. Every run grants you more weapons, skill points, and crucially, occult scrolls.
NOT THAT KIND OF ELDER SCROLL
While great guns with increasingly wild perks are awesome, Gunfire Reborn’s best tricks are tucked away in its scroll system. These scrolls can alter everything about your playstyle. It could be as simple as increasing your damage for however many coins you’re carrying, or something game-changing like your grenades turning enemies into ticking time bombs. Power creep is a constant war of attrition in Gunfire Reborn, with you endlessly one-upping your opponents until you’re vanquished.
Gunfire Reborn wisely caters your scroll and weapon options to your skill level, throwing in riskier options the more challenges you complete. Well over ten hours in you’ll still be discovering new character builds just for the starting cat prince.
He’s joined by several unlockable heroes – some are acquired purely by spending skill points to level up, like a dog that dual-wields like Borderlands 2’s Gunzerker. Others, like a DPS heavy rabbit, have to be purchased with skill points directly.
DIVING IN, CLAWS OUT
The good news is, your starting hero is honestly one of the strongest out there. The cat prince has abilities built around crowd control, a crucial skill set when first getting into Gunfire Reborn. All your core skills carry over between characters, so you can easily experiment with each. All the usual friction one expects from a looter shooter is completely absent here, and it’s delightfully refreshing.
Instead, the randomized challenge paired with on the fly character building ensures each run remains exciting. You can never quite know for certain what ambush, challenge, or boss is awaiting you.
There’s also optional Vault challenge rooms off the main autogenerated path that throw extra mini-bosses at you with the promise of better loot. Then you get curveballs like chests that trade your health or saddle you with a cursed scroll for a different boon. Brilliant risk-reward decisions are everywhere.
All of this is conveyed along by rock-solid action. The shooting in Gunfire Reborn is intense, with bullets, bombs, and flames flying everywhere. With easy-to-fire skills and grenades aplenty, you naturally throw everything at the enemy. You’ll receive more ammo and grenades regularly, giving you a childish sense of reckless abandon too few FPSes have these days. You truly can just go wild when you feel like it.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE GUN(FIRE) REBORN
As if this all weren’t enough, Gunfire Reborn features an excellently integrated co-op for playing with friends. Not only does having allies up the destructive ante, but Duoyi Games actually made cooperation intuitive. You can ping your allies with a single button press. Everyone’s loot is separate, with the option to share anything you don’t want. You can drop weapons and scrolls for allies to equip, letting you mix and match on the fly. Every one of the boss arenas is expansive enough to fit the maximum of four players perfectly.
Oh, and if you’re lucky and partner up with some higher-level players? You can get an absolutely massive leg up on your skill unlocks. Doing a complete run can net you over twenty levels worth of skill points, and allies can revive you for free. It’s not that you can’t enjoy Gunfire solo, but you’ll certainly have a longer trek through the various realms as you work your way up the ranks.
There’s very little I can criticize Gunfire Reborn for. Yeah, the melee weapons are a tad weak in feel, and certain scrolls are definitely less useful for the average campaign run. Yet, at its core, Gunfire Reborn might just be one of the best looter-shooters on the market, as well as a darn good rogue-lite. The depth of its replayability has only grown with time over its Early Access period.
As Duoyi Games’ first project, this is quite the compelling opening act. The sheer number of weapons at your disposal and foes to unleash them upon is staggering for such an otherwise humble independent game. Gunfire Reborn is one of the finest examples of a gameplay-first experience.
If you dive in looking to blow away crazy cartoon bandits and stone samurai, then you’ll have a blast! Grab three friends for good measure, and enjoy a looter-shooter that actually gets to the fun stuff at a reasonable pace.