Vampire Survivors: 5 tricks you absolutely need to know

Vampire Survivors
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The Vampire Survivors craze is sweeping the globe. With the recent Xbox and PC Game Pass launch, more players are getting their hands on this addicting rogue-lite auto-battler. For passionate fans searching for anything to fill the Castlevania-shaped hole in their hearts, Vampire Survivors scratches a relentlessly satisfying itch that delivers gorgeous retro-inspired pixel art and an infectious gameplay loop.   

Much like its evident gothic inspiration, this casual horror bullet hell experience offers merciless challenges. Despite its streamlined, pick-up-and-play nature Vampire Survivors does everything in its power to overwhelm and conquer players. This imposing onslaught might be intimidating for beginners. Thankfully, we’ve curated a handful of tips and tricks to help get you started. Here are five essential pointers you should know before playing Vampire Survivors. 

What exactly IS Vampire Survivors?

Vampire Survivors is a bullet hell game on the face of it, but its deceptively simple retro graphics hide a heap of depth and replayability. 

In the game, your task is to navigate a variety of gothic environments while surviving wave after wave of deadly ghouls and beasties. What makes the game so restlessly addictive is its combat loop, coupled with its progression layer, which draws inspiration from the roguelite genre. Every small bit of progression unlocks a new feature, a new playable character, a new attack, or a new level, making each failure feel as rewarding as success.

What makes Vampire Survivors so unique is the fact your attacks trigger automatically. The only thing it asks of players is to plan their upgrade choices carefully while moving to avoid those enemy hordes. Directing those automatic attacks is crucial to finding success, as you climb the ranks of what is undoubtedly one of 2022's biggest indie hits and best Xbox games to date. 

1. Attacks are automatic

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One noteworthy mechanic that sets Vampire Survivors apart from other bullet hell titles is that you don’t control when or how you attack. All abilities in this rogue-lite are automatically executed based on set parameters. The character you choose and the upgrades you acquire via leveling up within matches dictate how you’ll dispatch the staggering enemy hordes tenaciously committed to bringing your demise. Players can still move their selected characters freely. Still, the lack of combat agency will undoubtedly present a learning curve for onboarding demon slayers.   

2. Grab the shiny stuff  

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Similar to iconic rogue-lites like Dead Cells and Rogue Legacy, Vampire Survivors presents temporary in-game character progression as well as permanent upgrades and unlocks. To take advantage of these crucial systems, you’ll need to snag as many shiny objects as possible while playing. It can be difficult to identify valuable items in the explosions of chaos, but here are the indicators worth scavenging for.  

Blue, green, and red gems provide the vital in-game experience required for leveling up and selecting alternative attack abilities. And gold is the ongoing currency that persists between matches and is used to grant permanent upgrades, including character archetypes. It’s in our best interest to juke the grasping hands of death and lock down these invaluable resources.  

3. Know your enemy  

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The enemy AI in Vampire Survivors is generally straight-forward. Dozens and dozens of horrifying creatures will constantly move in your direction. In order to survive, you’ll need to bob, weave, and slaughter your way through these literal walls of monsters. While basic miscreants like zombies and bats will fall with any basic attack, stronger more resilient foes require massive damage or a strategic retreat to overcome. Enemies surrounded by an ominous blue glow will also drop rare chests filled with gold and ability enhancements.  

The gameplay in Vampire Survivors is basic, but that doesn’t mean careful consideration isn’t required to succeed. Understanding when to carve a path through the putrid corpses or turn high-tale and run is typically the difference between life and death. 

4. AoE is your friend

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When it comes to quickly and effectively decimating the forces of evil, area of effect (AoE) attacks are almost always the top choice. Vampire Survivors exponentially increases the number and power of encroaching enemies. You’ll want to be prepared when the action gets nightmarish. Regardless of your preferred starting character, I recommend investing in massive radius damage as early in your run as possible.  

As you progress deeper into Vampire Survivors, you’ll uncover elevated instruments of undead destruction, but there are a few early-game staples absolutely worth adding to your arsenal. Garlic emanates a constant aura of damage surrounding the player. Bible unleashes a circling swarm of damage every few seconds. Peachone is a bird companion that bombards the horizon. My best runs, including several 30-minute endeavors, included this holy item trinity. 

5. Complete challenges

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Vampire Survivors dangles plenty of enticing carrots. The addicting, bite-sized loop is engaging and often therapeutic. However, it’s important to keep specific goals in mind during your runs to unlock additional abilities, items, and characters. Completing designated challenges provides consistent rewards and encourages experimentation. 

Out of the gate, players are somewhat restricted in the classes and weapons they have access to. Thankfully, there are dozens of fascinating relics to earn by playing Vampire Survivors. I recommend prioritizing a small assortment of objectives for each run. 

Survive the night  

From its nostalgic visual stylings to its intoxicating gameplay, Vampire Survivors has heartily earned its status as a cult hit. What starts as a simple fling into havoc rapidly evolves into one of the most satisfying rogue-lites in recent history and a triumphant indie standout for Xbox Game Pass. Like the supple flesh of their prey, Vampire Survivors has completely sunk its teeth in me. 

Miles Dompier

Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.