Contra: Rogue Corps goes about its running and gunning a little differently. People go either alone or with up to three companions into missions divided by rank to determine their difficulty, taking out different sorts of enemies. As you do, you accrue parts for characters or weapons to augment them and make them strong. But, one thing that seems to come through is that it feels like Contra: Rogue Corps is always pushing you to prepare characters for different situations or to provide a certain sort of firepower for a group.
Each of the Contra: Rogue Corps characters starts with a certain loadout, which can be changed once you reach the hub and begin acquiring new main and subweapons or change up their anatomy. You go through the tutorial as Max “Kaiser” Doyle, who has machine gun main and homing gun sub weapons and a special that applies a strength buff to him. Ms. Harakiri has a laser gun main, chainsaw sub, and a special that makes her feel quicker. Hungry Beast starts with a machine gun main, drill gun sub, and a special that calls upon a group of soldiers who stand in a line and fire constantly. Gentleman has the laser gun main, flame thrower sub, and a special that sends out a black hole that pulls a horde of enemies in briefly and continually damages them. All of these seem to want you to begin with certain roles as you start to build your crew up.
So, right away, it might seem like characters are going in two sorts of directions. Kaiser is poised, from the start, to be an all-round character. He has a homing weapon, which lets you eliminate the idea of aiming. Hungry Beast also feels like a good character for a newcomer, since his R1 special lets you place some soldiers to constantly fire at enemies in one direction, protecting you. Both don’t require much thought, since you can just jump right in and play with their initial loadouts. They don’t need much protecting and would be good for solo runs. They would also be good for any sort of enemy early on, thanks to that moveset. But, even when you would change things up, they’d be practical characters for someone who might play alone or with others.
When you immediately get them, Gentleman and Ms. Harakiri feel like they may require a bit more thought. Ms. Harakiri is designed to get up close to attack, with a chainsaw to deal with enemies immediately around her, the ability to move fast, and a laser gun to start. Since the chainsaw needs upgrades to keep it from immediately overheating and her moveset might feel like it encourages you to get right in people’s faces, you might want an ally around while you get accustomed to her. Gentleman feels like one to apply pressure, since both the laser and flame thrower both require you to hold and move a constant, damaging beam or burst of flames. While the alien is a good character who’d be handy in many situations, the initial loadout might make someone feel more comfortable if someone else is nearby to help while you get used to weapons that require you to keep a constant stream focused on an enemy to deal damage. Also, Gentleman’s pulling special feels great in a group, since you can use it to get every foe clustered together for the whole team to attack. Both also would definitely need a different sub weapon by the time you reach the final boss for the Mission Rank 1 area, as their default subs have too short of a range to be any help.
Once you’ve played for a bit, you start getting core parts to develop new weapons, upgrades to make your existing weapons better and more efficient, and body parts that can be transplanted into a character to provide them with special abilities and strengthen them. These parts can be of a certain rarity, increase stats, and have different numbers of skill slots available to them, which may or may not already have abilities in there. For example, you could change your character’s brains, eyes, organs, and skeleton to do things like increase mastery of a certain weapon or reduce rescue time. The basic doctor, Dr. Elder, will perform a transplant for free and won’t ever perform any changes to the parts. The other two, Android T-HY7 and Wonderfulman, could increase or change effects for money, but could also botch the surgery with negative or unintended results.
The more time you spend with Contra: Rogue Corps, the more opportunities you get to adjust the builds of characters you like. If you enjoy using Hungry Beast’s special, with the soldiers you can always count on, but feel like the main and sub weapons are lacking, change them. Earn credits and materials, as well as increase the weapon’s level by using it, so you can apply things like boosters. The Split Gauss Gun was the first core parts I ended up getting when I first started playing, and it was great for solo play. It would shoot out an energy ball that would bounce, but would also then split into three when it hit something like a wall. I applied it to Gentleman, because I really appreciated the black hole special that would halt and suck enemies away, and then had a weapon that didn’t require me to focus so totally on a specific group to “win.” But, it was also helpful in a group setting.
Contra: Rogue Corps seems like the sort of game that wants you to continually return to it. It wants you to work on the character or characters you like, building up their arsenal, their bodies, and their loadout options. But, while you do that, it wants you to take on certain roles when you do. Ideally, someone would spend enough time to figure out which character they’d use when playing alone and what kit would work best, but then maybe swap to a different character when heading on missions with a party, so you have some people who could have abilities that might be more supportive and others who can rush in. Until then, for the first half hour or so, you may find yourself having characters in certain roles as you ready them.
Contra: Rogue Corps will be available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 24, 2019.