Yesterday, Enter the Gungeon finally received its long-awaited Advanced Gungeons & Draguns update, a free second major expansion that completely revitalises the 2016 game. It feels like Dodge Rolls’ roguelike shoot’em up came out forever ago, but playing it again this week it feels completely new again.
On paper, there’s 13 new weapons, 21 new items and seven new enemy types. Combined with what you can already randomly come across through each new playthrough, that means 500 different new synergies, which are special bonuses granted when certain pairs of items are possessed at the same time.
Since Enter the Gungeon is all about running through procedurally-generated levels and finding the best way to use whatever equipment you collect along the way to survive to the final boss, an update this big essentially gives the game a second life by providing an entirely new set of tools to strategise with.
For example: The old Void Core Assault Rifle, when paired with the new AC-15 automatic, will fire high damage rounds that move even faster, making you substantially more lethal.
Other combinations are more exotic. The new Mr Accretion Jr fires planets that will orbit the player, each of which damage enemies it hits, while doing things such as poisoning or freezing them.
The expansion also upgrades the old Flare Gun so that it can actually pierce enemies and explode when it hits the wall on the other side.
Of course, everything that drops is completely up to a roll of the dice, so unless a complimentary item or weapon shows up in the shopkeeper’s room for you to buy during a dungeon run, you’ll have to find a way to make do with whatever the Gungeon gods throw your way.
This was one of the things that held the original game back for me. As much as I loved the bespoke pixel animations and interesting enemy encounters, Enter the Gungeon could be quite brutal.
Dodge Roll fixed this when it ported the game to Switch by being less stingy with the health and money enemies drop, and now I’m happy to say every other version of the game can benefit from more generous rebalancing as well.
In general, that means more money and health will drop from dead enemies, and more weapons will be hidden on each level. The result is that it’s easier to get going with your arsenal early on, rather than only discovering one single new, potentially not-very-helpful gun by the time you’re already facing down the second boss.
Other quality-of-life fixes have also been added. There’s now an option to have your character move almost twice as fast after clearing a room of enemies. This makes backtracking a lot faster, and helps to improve the overall pace of the game — which is great, because despite the more generous drops it’s still plenty hard and you’ll continue to die often.
In addition, extra heart pickups can now be saved in a dispensary that appears at the end of each level after a boss, saving you from having to search the map for them after every boss fight.
The update also makes it so you can now hop over tables rather than getting automatically stuck behind them. It’s a nice alternative to flipping them over and taking cover, especially if, like me, you’re constantly worried the next shot is going to break right through it.
Also, hopping over shit just looks cool.
Coolest of all, though, is the beefy new cannon called The Exotic. It takes after Destiny’s Gjallarhorn rocket launcher, in the sense that every rocket fired launches several smaller homing rockets that do ridiculous amounts of damage.
Even better, The Exotic grants you a little ghost that follows you around and reveals what’s in treasure chests so you can decide whether you want to waste a key on opening them or not.
I haven’t yet gotten to use it — The Exotic costs a whopping 26 credits to unlock — but I now have a new reason to brave the Gungeon regularly again.