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Vampire Survivors Gets A Lively Collab With One Of Arcade Gaming’s Most Beloved Series

Random power-ups and snarling villains.

Written by Ashley Bardhan

The joy of Vampire Survivors is in its high-speed unpredictability. The roguelike shoot 'em up is defined by random power-ups and sudden influxes of snarling villains, and a sense of capriciousness that is as thrilling as it is unserious. Now, with the Operation Guns DLC out on Switch May 9, this wild ride gets even more chaotic — and is all the more fun for it.

First of all, Operation Guns also applies to the Steam, Xbox, and mobile versions of Vampire Survivors, and once its PlayStation version eventually releases, it'll be there, too. But the game's Switch port, I think, is particularly attuned to its 8-bit monsters and endless replayability.

Regardless of how you play it, you shouldn't take Operation Guns too seriously — that would entirely miss the point. The DLC is a hyperactive ode to arcade games' compelling, but casual battles — particularly those found in Konami's fast-break Contra: Operation Galuga, which also recently received an enthusiastic Switch port. Vampire Survivors developer poncle collaborated with Konami to create Operation Guns, and took the Contra homage quite literally. Through one main NeoGaluga map and one bonus stage, it transforms the game's decaying Italian countryside into an oppressive jungle. You can also play Guns in Vampire Survivors' Adventures challenge mode, which includes six unlockable story chapters (they don't meaningfully impact your main game progression, aside from accruing you more coins to buy power-ups with).

If you couldn’t have otherwise imagined guns existing in Vampire Survivors' spectral world, you’re not alone. Popular main game weapons include holy Santa Water, which shatters into a sparkling, skeleton-melting puddle, and a prim King Bible, which smacks away enemies as it spins around the player. As they are in the Guns DLC, these weapons and their level-ups are arbitrarily offered to you as you collect the colorful experience crystals scattered throughout a stage.

That is to say, putting guns into this game and moving it into the jungle with jacked action figures is an unusual choice. Where did the bats and undead and mummies all go? It’s a pretty huge visual shock to see Vampire Survivors' Halloween store enemies replaced with Operation Galuga operatives, like snipers encased in red armor and teetering cyborg behemoths. The aesthetics are turned on its head, but the gameplay is all there — coming at you now at the speed of bullets.

The joy of Vampire Survivors is in its high-speed unpredictability.


Operation Guns is a seamless combination of Contra's high energy sci-fi world and its casual game principles. It dilutes the arcade experience into its most essential forms: immediate payoff. Operation Guns includes 22 weapons — projectiles and explosives — which all offer their own idiosyncrasies to strategize with or work around. The menacing Diver Mines, for example, send spinning purple whirlpools along walls, whereas legitimate guns like the Spread Shot simply spray bullets wherever you're facing.

You can utilize this wide weapon array playing as one of 11 possible Contra characters, including Galuga's musclehead best friends Bill Rizer and Lance Bean. Despite being a lo-fi game, Vampire Survivors impressively manages to translate Bill's gym habits by making his white tank top extra tiny and his arm muscles extra tan. These typical Contra aesthetics are by far the most meaningful change to Vampire Survivors, which otherwise keeps the game as aggressive and satisfying as ever.

This wild ride gets even more chaotic — and is all the more fun for it.


So Operation Guns is a not-so-subtle, but great refresh for Vampire Survivors. While the game has found a consistent online player base since launching in 2021, none of its prior DLCs have meaningfully altered its style. Operation Guns, however, removes Vampire Survivors from its context enough where you're forced to recall how eternally satisfying its basic premise is: roam around, obliterate enemy hordes, and accept that you'll ultimately be destroyed yourself. In its splashiness, Guns accentuates the way Vampire Survivors forces you to confront that, no matter how hard you try, you will never harness power big enough to evade obliteration — but you can try. Neither magic nor piece of metal could ever substitute your enduring will.

Vampire Survivors is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, iOS, Android, and more.

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