Deep Rock Galactic’s first spin-off is out now in Early Access, and it’s the best autobattler since Vampire Survivors

Playing Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor’s demo last year, I already felt like I’d discovered a promising vein of gold. Playing a preview of the game’s full Early Access build this week has been like digging through and finding a whole glittering cavern of riches. As a big fan of Vampire Survivors-inspired games, I think this is my favourite yet—and it’s out today

Spinning off from ever popular co-op FPS Deep Rock Galactic (rock and stone!), Survivor uses elements of that game to add texture and depth to a very different genre. As swarms of enemies descend, you’re not just trying to survive and level up your auto-firing weapons, you’re digging through destructible environments searching for resources, creating new paths for yourself, and clearing space for supply drops—and, ultimately, dodging and weaving around the hordes as you sprint to the extraction point.

The Early Access release adds brilliant new wrinkles to this already textured formula. There are four different classes of dwarf—I had a blast with the nimble all-rounder Scout in the demo, but it’s a pleasure to discover the others encourage very different styles of play. 

The Digger loves to be churning through stone while their guns fire back out the tunnel behind them to keep the bugs at bay, relying more on buying upgrades with gold and nitra than XP; the Engineer is always dashing between different defensive positions, turtling up whenever they can to drop their defensive turrets; while the Gunner needs to create bottlenecks that allow them to face their foes head-on with a storm of bullets. Variant loadouts for each class open up even more possibilities—I’m particularly a fan of the “Interrogator” Digger, who specialises in spraying anyone who gets close with fire and acid. 

Two new environments join the starting Crystalline Caverns biome too: Magma Core, where lava streams that burn dwarf and bug alike can be hazardous threats or turned to your advantage, and Hollow Bough, which complicates your expeditions with mazes of unbreakable thorns and regenerating vines. With tons of challenges to complete at ever-ascending difficulties in each, along with a hefty set of unlocks to earn, it feels like a really generous offering of content for an Early Access launch. 

(Image credit: Funday Games)

In fact, beyond a bit of balancing needed for weapons and items (some combos are simply much more effective than others, as it stands) this already feels like a complete game to me. That only makes the prospect of the Early Access journey ahead more exciting—if they keep building more cool stuff on this already rock solid foundation over the year ahead, I could easily see this being a comfort game I come back to again and again. 

If you’re a Deep Rock Galactic fan, this is a fantastic new take on that game’s core ideas transposed to a very different genre; if you’re a Vampire Survivors fan, this is a really refreshing reinterpretation that stands out from all the more by-the-numbers clones. Check it out, and try to make it back in one piece, miner.  

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