Stylish third-person shooting meets close-range martial arts in Gungrave G.O.R.E, available on PS4 & PS5, and Xbox TODAY! Grab it here.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. has arrived. After a 17-year hiatus since the last “proper” entry, the undead coffin-slinger is back for a sequel that retains all of the attitude of the PS2 iterations with a modern visual sheen. It’s a game definitely takes some getting used to in the way that it hands you a comparatively slow moving and worryingly-chill protagonist and then throws ungodly numbers of gang members, super-soldiers and mutant creatures at you at a blistering pace.
Whether you’re planning on picking the game up in the near future, or you’ve just smashed out the first couple of levels and you’re wondering what the hell is going on, we figured we’d drop some of the knowledge that we gained in the first handful of hours of the game that we wish we’d understood earlier. Mostly fairly obvious stuff, at least in hindsight, but in a game like Gungrave G.O.R.E. the obvious isn’t always obvious.
Don’t Sweat Getting Shot In The Face A Bunch
One of the earliest realisations you’ll come to in playing Gungrave G.O.R.E. is that the titular protagonist, Grave, is nearly invincible by regular people standards. He can take a scary amount of punishment from bullets, rockets, flamethrowers, swords, fists, basically anything that the enemies in the game are capable of throwing at him.
Unlike other, similar action games, it’s essentially encouraged to play as though you are invincible, spending less energy on trying to get out of the way of danger than simply eliminating it as fast as possible. Grave has two important bars to keep track of in order to keep him alive, his health and shields, and both of these are both generous and easy to refill just by killing things. Movement is definitely important, and using the spaces you find yourself in to effectively route baddies into easy-to-pick-off groups, but for the most part the aim of the game is simply to go in guns blazing and coffins swinging, come what may.
One of Grave’s most useful moves is a ranged grab that can either pull enemies in from a distance or zipline over to them to close the gap. This is useful for a number of reasons, not least for putting a finishing move on any enemies that are stunned (and glowing a rather pleasant shade of purple) and regaining some shield in a pinch.
Don’t just wait for those moments though – grabbing a regular, active enemy will turn them into a human shield that can give you some much-needed reprieve to let your shield start recovering. Alternatively, holding the grab button down will “chase” the targeted enemy, pulling you toward them, which is fantastic for closing distances or getting out of tight situations where you’re being overwhelmed. It works on bigger enemies too, so zipping over to a group of minigun or rocket launcher-wielding meanies and then letting off a deadly Demolition Shot can really take some pressure off in tense encounters.
Much like grabbing baddies and using finishers can help you manage your shields in a way that lets you continue to be shot at with little fear, regularly using your Demolition Shots is a great way to ensure you’re well-stocked on health as well as control crowds and oversized foes. Demolition Shots are pulled off simply by dealing damage to fill a bar that stocks you up with points to spend on activating them.
You’ll come into a variety of different Demolition Shots to purchase in The Lab as you also upgrade Grave to reserve more points at any given time, but I can whole-heartedly recommend you put more of your currency into increasing your Demolition Point capacity and ignore most of the actual moves bar the ones called Death Blow and Raging Inferno.
You’re given Death Blow from the beginning and it continues to be great for making space ahead of you and tripping up nasty enemies all the way to the end of the game. Meanwhile, Raging Inferno is a crowd-control essential that’ll chew up everyone in your vicinity and give out a pretty sizable boost to your end-of-level Art score for each one that perishes to it. If you desperately want to mix things up with more Demolition Shots, the Blood Rain ability is also a good room-clearer but it costs three points to use so it’s best left to late-game.
Pause And Deflect
Rockets. The absolute bane of my existence in the first few levels of Gungrave G.O.R.E. Enemies with launchers aren’t so bad on their own or in small fights, but they can really derail your efforts when you’re being swarmed by dozens of their regular-gun-wielding friends at the same time.
It might be tempting to try and dodge rocket fire until you’ve picked off the easy targets that are unloading clip after clip into your face first but let me tell you – stop moving, hold your ground and use Grave’s Death Tornado move to deflect as many rockets as are sent your way. Not only will you inevitably eliminate those pesky launcher boys, you’ll more than likely take out several of their chums in the crossfire. You will get shot up a bunch while you’re bouncing back projectiles like the world’s most emo Pong paddle but Grave can take it, trust me.
Overhaul Your Death Hauler
Another mistake I personally made early on in my playthrough was not paying enough attention to Grave’s melee abilities. It can be easy to fool yourself early on into thinking that it’s kinda naff and not overly useful – but that doesn’t have to be the case. Chuck some of that hard-earned dosh into buffing your Death Hauler’s damage output and invest in at least one or two of the “Funeral Strike” combo moves and it’ll quickly become an invaluable tool in your arsenal.
The game tells you early on that dealing with shielded enemies is best done using a charged shot, but that’s often far too tricky to pull of when you’re so easily interrupted. With a beefed-up Death Hauler you can smash those shields in a couple of hits and eventually use it to take out the pesky ninja-like guys that love to dodge your gunfire.
Maximize Your Spending Money
The single way to earn the currency needed in Gungrave G.O.R.E. is to earn grades at the end of each level, so the better you do the more you’ll earn. While a couple of the criteria are easy enough to understand and aim for – things like finishing levels in the quickest time possible, eliminate a vast majority of the enemies and come out with most of your health intact – the two you’ll likely need to actively focus on are your Beat Counter and Arts scores.
You’ve very little chance of scoring high grades early on, as Grave won’t be particularly powerful or skilled, so don’t stress too hard about seeing a lot of Bs and Cs for the first handful of stages. Once you’ve started to amass some new abilities and buffed some of your stats, you can go back to those levels and attempt to score bigger, especially once you’ve unlocked some of those Demolition Shots I described earlier like Raging Inferno, which can significantly boost your Art score if you use it at the right times.
Tying nicely into that last point, one of the ways you’ll ensure you’re going into The Lab with swollen pockets is nabbing a high grade for your best “Beat” count in each level. Think of Beats as your combo metre – keep shooting things in quick succession and the metre goes up, take too long between hits and it resets.
Notice I said things though, and not just enemies. There are a ton of destructible objects littering every environment in the game and shooting these will keep your combo going as well. If you truly want to ratchet that Beat counter up into four-digit territory on the regular, you’re going to need to ensure you’re filling all of your downtime with exploded crates, barrels, cars, neon signs and any other junk you see around the place.
A good strategy is to leave at least a couple of bits and bobs lying around during a battle so you’re not left with a completely empty room to cross at the end as you watch that Beat counter disappear, and then immediately start firing through that next doorway because you’re almost guaranteed to hit something as you go.
Try Not To Think Too Hard
This last point should be the most important. Gungrave G.O.R.E. is undeniably a PS2-era action game wrapped up in gorgeous, ray-traced modern visuals and that comes with all of the backwards-ass design philosophies of the early 2000s. You’ll get pushed into corners and murdered by waves of identical enemies crammed into small rooms, you’ll fall into insta-death pits placed right under a ledge, you’ll have zero fucking idea what’s going on in any of the cutscenes.
Embrace it all. Switch your brain off, smash that difficulty option down to easy if need be, and give your trigger finger an RSI as you unload a barrage of bullets of such volume it’d make the US Secretary of Defence say “that’s too many bullets”.
Bonus Tip: Stretch Your Fingers Regularly
You’ll understand what I mean pretty quickly.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
It’s also available as a day one release for both Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass for PC.