Updated on July 18, 11:26 a.m. (GMT+8): Improved relevancy.

It’s time to warm up your WASD keys and train your middle three fingers because Operation Swarm is here.

This Anima Squad Swarm guide was written after selected media were given the opportunity to play an exclusive preview build of the 2024 PvE game mode at Riot HQ way before it hit PBE and live servers.

In fact, the build we played on was even harder than the live version, which is why it took many tries for our impromptu 4-man squad to clear the first boss, which was met with an applause.

Battle Bat Xayah skin in ONE Esports featured image for article "Where’s Rakan? Riot Games explains how they landed on Anima Squad skinline and PvE mode"
Credit: ONE Esports, Riot Games
Where’s Rakan? Riot Games explains how they landed on Anima Squad skinline and PvE mode

For those unfamiliar with the genre, bullet heaven survivor refers to a specific genre of video games commonly found in bullet hell or shoot ’em up categories.

Players maneuver through complex enemy formations, striving to survive as they dodge or destroy adversaries with bullets (projectiles) that emerge from your character at fixed times. Meaning, no, there’s no left click to basic attack here, and that took a while for a seasoned League of Legends player like me to get used to.

Anima Squad 2024 key visual in ONE Esports featured image for article "All Anima Squad skins in PVE game mode that you can also use on Summoner’s Rift"
Credit: ONE Esports, Riot Games
All Anima Squad skins in PvE game mode that you can also use on Summoner’s Rift

You’ll need to rely on precise movement and shooting abilities to evade swarming enemies and hazards. Succeeding in these games demands rapid reflexes, strategic planning, and mastery of game mechanics.

If you’re new to the genre, don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to become acquainted with the PvE game mode that runs from July 17 (Thursday) to August 19, 2024 (Monday) in the League of Legends client.

ONE Esports’ Anima Squad Swarm guide for League of Legends Operation Swarm PvE game mode

Best Anima Squad champions for beginners — mind your builds!

All League of Legends champions featured in Swarm Anima Squad PvE mode
Credit: ONE Esports, Riot Games
All League of Legends champions featured in Swarm Anima Squad PvE mode

I’ll be the first one to admit that I have very limited experience in the bullet heaven survivor genre, so not being able to control my attacks made me feel a bit powerless.

And because I’m not used to being, well, swarmed, I also panicked often at the start.

The first two free champions that’s immediately available to all players are Jinx and Seraphine. You can only unlock other champions — Yasuo, Xayah, Illaoi, Leona, Briar, Riven, and Aurora — once you accomplish specific objectives.

Battle Bunny Aurora in PVE mode Swam Anima Squad
Screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

You’ll have no choice but to make do with the support-AD duo at the start, so when it comes to upgrades, it’s highly recommended you build them according to their role. Seraphine players should focus on selecting support power ups, increasing HP, and shielding your AD carry, while Jinx should focus on damage output.

Beyond the bot lane duo, Aurora is one of the best champions for beginners because she can easily escape sticky situations with stealth, modeled after her W ability. If you find yourself swarmed in a corner or low on health, use your ability (E in the PvE game mode), stealth, and run!

Remember, this is a survival PvE game mode — your HP is key

Seraphine, Yasuo, and Illaoi in Swarm Anima Squad 2024 PvE game mode
Screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

In the first map, there’s a green futuristic fountain in the middle (see screenshot above) where you can stand on to regain health limitedly.

That’s helpful, but it has its limits. You can’t stay in this area forever, which is why you still need to invest in your own survival by selecting powerups that give you HP.

I was greedy at the start, pumping in offensive powerups all the way, but learned through trial and error that you constantly need to balance your powerup stats, always deciding between utility, experience, range, raw damage, and defenses.

Anima Squad skins icons for Miss Fortune, Sylas, and Riven in ONE Esports featured image for article "Ranking all Anima Squad skins in League of Legends"
Credit: Riot Games, ONE Esports
Ranking all Anima Squad skins in League of Legends

Sometimes, you just get unlucky, and the powerups don’t sync as well with your character, and that’s part of the game.

There is one secret that the game devs did let us in on: if you see a hammer, pick the hammer. That’s the one powerup that’s particularly effective for bludgeoning enemies in a large AoE.

If you are playing with more than one person, communication is essential, no joke

Seraphine in Anima Squad 2024 PvE game mode bullet heaven survival
Credit: Riot Games

Similar to Arena, you can revive your teammates but you’ll need to wait a while and stand in the circle to do so. Because of this, you really shouldn’t be going off on your own to your corner of the map where your teammates can’t reach you.

What’s more, champions like Seraphine gives everyone shields within her range, while Illaoi’s tentacles can be helpful. Support your AD carries (not you Yasuo), and you’ll have a much better chance at surviving.

You’ll also get more breathing room by moving into the area that your teammate’s powerup has cleared. Plus, when mini bosses appear in certain corners of the map, you’d want to group up to take them down together.

Anima Squad is a PvE game mode, after all, where you can’t blame anyone on the enemy team for your loss, so please, work nicely together for once and save the world.

READ MORE: Full list of PvE game modes in League of Legends — past and upcoming