Skip to main content

Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor brings more than just beards to the auto-shooter table

How the Deep Rock Galactic IP shapes a fresh Survivor entry
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

There’s always a run to get a slice of the pie whenever a new genre trend pops up and things always end in a similar manner: the original sticks around, countless clones fizzle out and die, and a handful of titles carve out their own niches by bringing something new to the table. It’s been like this for Dota-likes, hero shooters, battle royale shooters, is happening with extraction shooters, and the process is in full swing with Vampire Survivors clones.

After playing it with representatives of publisher Ghost Ship at gamescom 2023, I think Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor may belong to that group of titles that brings something fresh and innovative to the genre – more than just beards. That’s largely down to the clever way in which the Deep Rock Galactic IP has been baked into the game.

Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor keyart.

You may think it's just Vampire Survivors with beards, but it's actually a little more than that.

If you’re not familiar with it, Deep Rock Galactic is a co-op shooter in which the players take over the role of dwarves, who dig deeply and greedily for minerals and treasure while fending off monsters and then have to escape and evacuate with the fruits of their labor before being overrun. Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor largely keeps that premise intact.

You play as one of the Dwarf classes from Deep Rock Galactic, which in Survivor decides on your starting equipment. Each run consists of five consecutive levels that each have a goal – get a certain amount of minerals and kill a certain amount of enemies, then successfully extract. You also get side missions to complete, like harvesting some mushrooms, which provide additional XP. Overall, the stages are much shorter than in Vampire Survivors, making a quick run a lot easier to get into your day.

Gameplay-wise, it’s your bread-and-butter Survivor-like combat: You move your dwarf, who shoots off his weapons automatically, and level up as you collect XP, obtaining additional weapons and bonuses. When you move your dwarf into rock or minerals, he’ll mine them to create a pathway – and that is the massive gamechanger. Whereas terrain is restrictive in other games of the genre, in Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor it can become your ally. You can weave your way into a rock formation, bunching up the hordes of enemies that follow you at the entrance and making them vulnerable to any splash damage you may have on you.

Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor screenshot.

Like the Spartans at Thermopylae.

I got a weapon with bouncing shots on my run, which transformed any cave I carved into the rock into a disco of death for anything that followed me in. Later on, I got turrets my character would automatically place down and which would form a connected electric field with fellow turrets, meaning the path I took through a rock formation would become a death march for creatures behind me.

Of course, you still shouldn’t linger around: There are flying enemies that ignore the paths you make and come straight for you and the longer you need, the more enemies will spawn on the map – and at some point, even the rocks won’t save you from being overwhelmed. So you’re definitely on the clock. That goes especially so for the extraction, which begins after you’ve fulfilled your main mission. You have thirty seconds to reach your ship and get up the ramp to safety, otherwise you lose.

My run at gamescom ended at the hands of the boss after some very intense moments and a lot of fun, but with the game being a roguelike any death contains new possibilities, as you unlock a new wave of upgrades with the minerals you’ve collected. If you’re still keen on auto-shooters, then this one should be on your list.

Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor, developed by Danish indie studio Funday Games, will be released on PC via Steam Early Access later in 2023. For more gamescom 2023 coverage, check out