There comes a point in a Vampire Survivors run when I know my build is good enough to go the distance, because the violence is so intense and colourful that my framerate grinds down into single digits. I like that point. To me, that's the real win; any minutes remaining before the actual end are a victory lap. Alas, this will change. The devs have laid out revised early access plans and, alongside loads of extra wizards and things, they're moving to a new engine with potentially a tenfold increase in performance. Booo?
The arcade survival shooter launched into early access in December, with the developers estimating at the time that Vampire Survivors was 60% complete. It initially only found a handful of players but blew up in January 2022 following attention from streamers and YouTubers.
"Thanks to the overwhelming success and support from the players, new content has started to come out at a much faster pace than anticipated and the roadmap has also been expanded significantly," they said in Thursday's post. "The amount of playable characters planned for version 1.0 of the game has been doubled and so has the number of stages with the introduction of bonus/challenge ones. A dozen new weapons have been designed and a handful of new power-ups thrown into the mix."
So while they've added loads of new wizards and weapons and levels and things since launch, under the revised plan the game had only 70% of v1.0's content as of Thursday's post (a patch followed on Friday with a new wizard and new weapons).
Along with even more new wizards, weapons, power-ups, stages, and special stages, they're working on "two new major game mechanics". They say the first of these is due in April, a feature named Arcanas which "will unlock a whole new level of viable builds and power creep." They're also planning to ditch the planned Story mode they had mentioned before, with an Endless mode currently the most likely candidate to replace it.
"This doesn't necessarily mean that Story mode is gone forever, but the deep lore of Vampire Survivors requires a solid grasp of theoretical physics to be fully appreciated, so maybe environmental storytelling and subtle hints are the way to go," the devs said. "Please don't take anything from this last paragraph seriously."
And yeah, they're planning to shunt Vampire Survivors onto a different game engine (an unnamed "industry-standard game engine") this summer. They say they're still working on it but benchmarks have shown "a tenfold increase in performance (and so in framerate)." This engine swap is also why promised features like key remapping haven't been added yet—because "it's just more time effective to implement those things directly in the new engine, and the same goes for worrying about game performance and hardware compatibility."
Some might welcome an end to the endgame chug but I see it as a challenge. A tenfold increase in performance? I'll just have to try to build a run ten times as daft, with even more particles murdering even more monsters.
I'm enjoying Vampire Survivors through early access. After doing everything (aside from bothering with super-secret characters), I'm mostly only playing when they add new stuff, to check it out. But they're adding new stuff at a decent pace, so I'm still regularly returning. It's good. I like these explosions. Also it only cost two quid, sheesh.
"'Compulsive' really is the word, here," Matt Cox said in our Vampire Survivors early access review. "Most of us are wired in such a way that watching numbers go up feels good, and there's enough passivity baked into Vampire Survivors that comparisons to idle games aren't unwarranted. There's the same basic allure of escalation, and the same brand of absurdity within its eventual cacophony of flailing axes and rainbow-hued destruction."
Vampire Survivors is available on Steam Early Access for £2.09/€2.39/$2.99.