Unique weapon leveling system: In true arcade level simplicity (yet creating some awesome depth), Vanquish let’s you upgrade your guns by either collecting seemingly random “level up” drops when enemies are killed, or by collecting the same weapon in your possession when you are maxed out on ammo. This system is perfect as it keeps the fast paced gameplay moving forward without a need for a menu or something else that could pull you out of the experience just to add some power or accuracy to a gun while in the middle of a massive battlefield. The system helps keep Vanquish feeling spontaneous yet with a sense of control about it and can really get you out of a jam.
Case in point, you usually get rocket launchers and immediately want to use them to obliterate some giant spike shooting motherfucker who is just wrecking your shit. But if you hold out and save up your rockets, you might be able to do even more damage in the long run. My rocket launcher got upgraded on the last boss with better lock on accuracy, and literally helped me land that last blow I needed to beat the game.
The leveling system is one that encourages players on a number of levels. Dying in the heat of battle will cause you to lose a just acquired upgrade so there’s that, a very simple reward for playing skillfully, or just well enough to make it through to the next checkpoint. Also because weapons are steadily upgraded through collecting new ones when ammo is at max, players are encouraged to use ammo wisely, even in such a hectic environment. Extra weapon drops aren’t scarce so you aren’t penalized for wanting to upgrade say, a shotgun, but upgrading a weapon such as the rocket launcher takes some careful planning.
Enemy variety: There are plenty of types of grunts as well as some truly scary mini boss-esque brutes that may dig through the ground, shoot lasers from their eyes, shoot their fists at you or pull out a flame thrower that instantly overheats your suit. Ships swoop in bearing more enemies but are enemies in their own right and can even be blasted out of the sky. The enemy variety never leaves me feeling bored of shooting the same guys over and over despite the fact that they are all robots. My tactics have to change constantly to deal with the ever changing groups and parings of enemies assaulting me from all directions.