This is the main game mode where you progress through the story. Start out by playing through the tutorial, after which you'll find yourself in the Zone 1, Cargo Hold.
Progression is somewhat open in that you can choose any of a zone's five levels (level five of each zone is the boss). The game allows you to move on to the next zone after defeating the zone boss and the first four levels in each zone are optional for advancement, so you could essentially play just the 5th level in each zone (although 5-4 has a mini boss and is required) in order to complete the campaign. I suggest playing through all of the levels in order, though.
I will point out some strategies and explain the bosses, but it will ultimately be up to the player to make their way through the game and learn the levels, enemy spawns/behavior, and boss attacks and patterns.
As you advance through the game, you will make progress towards a cumulative achievement for killing 15,000 enemies:
Start with level 1-1 Descent using whatever android you'd like. I used Holly for all basic levels and Cactus or Starch for bosses, but feel free to try out all the androids and use whatever one you are most comfortable with. At this point, your goal is familiarizing yourself with the androids, levels, enemies, and bosses. Simply surviving to complete each stage is sufficient.
You can unlock a few miscellaneous achievements in this first level. Start by building your chain to 100, which requires killing enemies in succession before your chain timer depletes:
You should also try to complete the first level without taking damage. It may take several attempts, but once you do so successfully, you will unlock an achievement:
Finish any level without taking damage
Next, use Holly on level 1-3 Filament. Position her in the upper left corner, swap weapons, and fire a cannonball towards the hole down and to the right from your position. If aimed properly, the cannonball will fall into the second larger hole, unlocking an achievement:
After completing a few levels, you can get a couple more miscellaneous achievements out of the way. You're a long way from having enough credits to buy all of the unlockables, but you should have enough to buy and activate a 1000 credit EX option from the Collections menu, unlocking two achievements:
You'll encounter the Zone 1 boss, Embryo, in level 1-5.
Bosses in this game have multiple phases. Their lifebar along the bottom of the screen is segmented for each phase, so dealing enough damage to deplete a segment advances the boss to their next phase. Remember that powerups remain in place until used, so feel free to allow Accelerate to go unused until it rotates to Firepower or Shutdown, which are generally much more helpful.
Embryo has six phases:
- Slow chase. Stay close and centered between his bullet volleys. Use your secondary weapon to take this phase down quickly.
- Static with bullet pattern. Avoid his predictable bullet volleys and get in damage with your secondary when it's safe.
- Rocket Salvos. Keep moving to stay out of the areas marked with red crosshairs, using secondary when possible.
- Faster chase. Once again, stay close to avoid his attacks and try to bun him out with your secondary.
- Moving bullet pattern. Avoid his bullets and get in secondary damage when you can.
- Moving bullet pattern with rocket salvos. It gets frantic here. Circle him to avoid bullets and rockets and use your secondary when you can.
Defeating Embryo will unlock an achievement (and Starch as a playable character):
Before moving on, revisit Embryo for a miscellaneous achievement. You must defeat one of Embryo's phases before he jumps away, which is easy with Cactus.
Take down his first phase with primary fire so your secondary is completely cool. Upon defeating the first phase, immediately swap weapons before grabbing the powerup, which MUST be a blue shutdown. If it's not, restart the encounter. As soon as you activate shutdown, unload on Embryo with your flamethrower and you should be able to defeat the phase before he jumps away, unlocking an achievement:
Defeat one of Embryo's phases before he can relocate
You can now access Zone 2, Hydroponics Bay.
Make your way through the levels and you will encounter Vespula in 2-5.
Vespula has six phases:
- Passive wasp swarm. Shoot the wasps that surround Vespula until this phase is defeated (requires killing 150 wasps).
- Solo part 1. Avoid Vespula's red flower and blue projectile attacks and try to burn her out with secondary fire.
- Pulsing wasp swarm. Wasps will circle the area counter clockwise and continually expand and contract. Circle in the same direction and shoot wasps until the phase is defeated (requires killing 180 wasps).
- Solo part 2. Avoid Vespula's thorn and blue bullet projectiles and put damage on her when you can.
- Aggressive wasp swarm. The wasps will again circle the area counter clockwise and lunge in out in groups. Circle around and shoot wasps until the phase is defeated (requires killing 180 wasps).
- Final phase: This part is hectic. Vespula shoots various projectiles and is circled by wasps. Rotate around her at mid-range and use secondary fire when possible to try to burn her out quickly.
Defeating Vespula will unlock an achievement (and Aubergine as a playable character):
You can now access Zone 3, Security Station.
Change to Aubergine to nab a miscellaneous achievement. You need to use her secondary weapon to create a singularity that pulls enemies in, then kill an enemy within the singularity with her primary weapon. Doing so will unlock an achievement:
Centre of Mass
Destroy an enemy with Helo while it's caught by a Singularity
Level 3-1 Checkpoint is a good place to get another miscellaneous achievement. You must destroy a mine that explodes to destroy a second mine which explodes to destroy a third mine. Destroying a mine that explodes to destroy multiple mines at once will not suffice. You encounter numerous mines about halfway through this level, at which point you need a little luck in getting the chain reaction to happen. Once it does, you'll unlock an achievement:
Cause 3 mines to explode in succession without being shot
The boss of this zone is Justice in level 3-5. During his first phase, several nodes appear that shoot out lasers. Destroy all of these nodes to unlock an achievement:
Destroy every laser fence In Justice's first phase
Justice only has three phases:
- Defensive. Destroy the laser nodes as soon as you can and put damage on Justice from the side while also quickly destroying any capture orbs he releases.
- Mobile. Avoid Justice's Helo units, avoid his charges, and destroy his projectiles while you try to burn him out.
- Aggressive Hostility. Things get frantic now. More laser nodes will appear and Justice will occasionally throw his head (!) at you which rolls around and explodes like a proximity mine. He will also shoot large laser beams. Try to burn him out fast with secondary.
Defeating Justice will unlock an achievement (and Shiitake as a playable character):
You can now access Zone 4, Exterior Access.
Before moving on, choose Shiitake and go back to 2-5 Vespula. Shoot your primary weapon into the mass of wasps to kill seven in a single shot, after which an achievement will unlock:
Proceed through Zone 4 until you reach level 4-5 Venom.
This boss has eight phases.
- Rotating wall turret. For the first six phases it's simply a matter of avoiding bullets and damaging the target(s).
- Four stationary turrets.
- Drill phase 1.
- Two rotating wall turrets.
- Eight stationary turrets.
- Drill phase 1.
- Venom appears. Venom will pop his head up and shoot webs that will slow your movement. Spiders will also appear.
- Venom chase. Venom will climb onto the platform and chase you along with spider enemies. Burn him out quickly.
Defeating Venom will unlock an achievement (and Peanut as a playable character):
You can now access Zone 5, Nerve Centre.
Before moving on, choose Peanut and go back to level 3-1 Checkpoint. You want to use Peanut's secondary weapon to charge into a large enemy, pushing it through smaller enemies. I've suggested this particular level as the linear layout made aligning enemies easy. If you manage to kill three small enemies with a large enemy shoved with Peanut's secondary weapon, you will unlock an achievement:
Destroy 3 enemies by driving another enemy through them with the Giga Drill
Peanut is the 8th playable character, so after you complete a single level with each of the eight androids (level 1-1 Descent is the shortest), you will unlock an achievement:
Once you reach level 5-4 Collider, you can unlock another miscellaneous achievement. You must complete this level having collected all battery drops. This can be tricky because the level ends with a battle against Licorice who can collect both batteries and powerups. If you're struggling to do this solo, consider buying the "AI Partners" EX Option and playing with three AI teammates who will also collect battery drops. It may take a few tries, but once you complete the level having picked up all battery drops (either yourself or AI teammates), an achievement will unlock:
The next level, 5-5 Medulla, is the final in the campaign.
This boss also has eight phases:
- Dome with pulsing orbs. Avoid the orbs (swap weapons to jump over them when they pulse) and put damage on the Dome.
- Embryo's final phase. Rotate clockwise to avoid his attacks while you put damage on him.
- Dome with rotating orbs. Similar to phase 1. Swap weapons to jump through orbs when they contract.
- Vespulla's final phase. Stay at mid range and avoid her attacks. Hope for a shutdown and try to burn her out quickly.
- Dome with purple and blue bullets. Circle either way while you put damage on the dome and avoid bullets. Purple bullets will knock you down.
- Justice's final phase. Hectic action with three helios, laser posts, and Justice's lasers. Try to get a shutdown and burn him out quickly with secondary.
- Medulla appears. Destroy the various hazards that appear around the arena and avoid bullets while you put damage on Medulla.
- The Aethersphere. You have 1 minute of battery to complete this phase, which requires destroying numerous geometric shapes that spawn in succession.
Upon defeating Medulla's 8th phase, you will unlock the final campaign achievement (and Licorice as a playable character):
There is a potentially annoying miscellaneous achievement that can only be unlocked during this encounter. You must have a laser turret deliver the killing blow to Medulla in the seventh phase. You'll need to advance the battle to that phase, then deal enough damage so the phase is almost defeated. When a laser turret appears, you need to get to the opposite side of Medulla so the laser hits her and deals the killing blow. This will unlock an achievement:
For a random miscellaneous achievement that doesn't really fit anywhere else, you need to get your chain to 1000. Since none of the campaign levels have 1000 enemies, one way to make this a possibility is through the EX Options. Buy and activate "Virtual Player Count" (up to four), which makes it so enemies spawn in numbers scaled to a four player game. You may also consider using "Mega Weapons," which replaces secondary weapons with incredibly powerful versions of the primary weapon. I used Holly on level 2-1 Hive, but Lemon is another good option.
Once you build your chain to 1000, an achievement will unlock:
At the end of each campaign level, you are awarded a rank based on your score and performance.
The requirement for getting an S+ rank is that you chain every enemy in a level, which means that you can't lose your chain or get knocked down. There is an S+ indicator to the left of the battery that breaks with an audible shattering sound if you lose your chain or get knocked down, at which point you'll have to restart the level to try again.
The levels range from reasonably easy to extremely difficult and some will take practice and potentially dozens of attempts to get an S+ rank. Level previews will display your rank with each character and whether or not you have earned an S+:
Since I only started recording my S+ runs towards the end of my run through the game, I'll instead refer you to PureRuby87's full S+ playlist, which you can use to refer to any levels that may be causing you problems.
Here are my S+ runs on each of the bosses and for levels 5-3 and 5-4, which I found to be two of the most difficult levels:
5-3 S+ run with Holly
5-4 S+ run with Holly
Many levels will take practice and persistence in order to get an S+ rank. Refer to videos if you are struggling and be prepared to retry some of the later levels dozens of times to get through them successfully.
Once you earn your first S+ rank, you will unlock an achievement:
Once you get an S+ rank on all 25 campaign levels, you will unlock an achievement:
Boss Rush is unlocked after completing the campaign. This mode tasks you with playing through all five main bosses back to back without any sort of break in between. I suggest earning S+ ranks on individual bosses to get a solid mastery of the encounters before attempting this. Since you only need to complete a successful run (as opposed to an S+ rank), there is a lot of room for error.
Once you complete Boss Rush mode, you will unlock an achievement:
Infinity drive is an endurance mode that features a series of levels (called layers) that immediately transition from one to the next after all enemies (or the boss) are defeated. The arena remains largely unchanged as a circular area, although some parts vary slightly from layer to layer. Each layer consists of either scripted waves of enemies or a boss. Time is your main foe and your primary goal is to prevent the battery from fully depleting, which means you must kill quickly, try to collect all battery drops, and hope to not get knocked down too often (which results in wasted time). A run to layer 25 will take about 40 minutes.
I used Starch for my successful run but Cactus is another strong option. Using any of the other androids will likely make things harder.
You should be very familiar with the Embryo, Vespulla, and Justice encounters as you will engage them on layers 7, 15, and 24 respectively.
Remember that powerups remain where they appear until you pick them up (unless the level layout changes and they fall into a hole).
Be sure to take out dangerous enemies first and don't hesitate to pause the game if you need a break.
Once you reach layer 15, you will unlock an achievement:
As soon as layer 25 begins, you will unlock an achievement:
Feel free to abandon your run once the layer 25 achievement unlocks unless you want to try for a full completion after layer 49. Might as well go for an S+ Rank, too :D
You will accumulate credits as you progress through the game that you can use to buy things in the Collections menu. You should have enough credits to buy everything before you finish all of the other achievement requirements.
For a combined 2,100 credits, you can buy all of the Codex entries (on the Auxillary page), unlocking an achievement:
For a combined 7,100 credits, you can buy all of the art in the Art Gallery, unlocking an achievement:
For a combined 23,500 credits, you can buy all of the EX Options, unlocking an achievement:
If you've completed everything, congratulations on a fairly difficult completion!
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