Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor Early Access Review

Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor on PC

Let’s start this Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor review by saying that the grind in the game is relentless, especially early on. HoloCure and Vampire Survivors work in much the same way. But that’s just the way of survivor games, and that’s why we love them.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about classes. There are four: Gunner, Scout, Engineer, and Driller, same as in the plain old Deep Rock Galactic. Each has its own progression, where you unlock different class mods, weapons, etc.

Class selection screen in Deep Rock Galactic Survivor
Image Source: Screenshot by Twinfinite

I think the way they are balanced is okay overall, with Engineer and Driller feeling a bit underwhelming in the early game. However, you can get several sentry weapons on both of them and make the gameplay almost automatic. To get to that point, though, you’ll have to try hard.

Next, we have the biomes and the hazard levels where you can send the dwarves. There are currently only three out of the ten biomes we had in DRG, and those are Crystalline Caverns, Magma Core, and Hollow Bough.

Biome selection menu in Deep Rock Galactic Survivor
Image Source: Screenshot by Twinfinite

I wish there were more biomes right now. Yet, it’s an early access version, so it’s kind of expected. Ghost Ship even hinted at adding the Salt Pits in their roadmap, and it could be coming pretty soon. All things considered, I’ll give them a pass.

Each biome has five hazard levels you can challenge, and each one has a set of three goals you need to fulfill to unlock the other hazard levels. One of the goals is simply to complete the dive, while the others are character or resource-specific. This is fairly similar to the original DRG.

Now, this review of Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t analyze the most critical component of a survivor game: the weapon and stat upgrades. You get them after each level up, and you can also get them in the shop between stages.

Shop in Deep Rock Galactic Survivor
Image Source: Ghost Ship Games

I think the general upgrades, including their rarity and stats, are very well designed. What I don’t like, though, is that certain overclocks are simply worse than the other options. It tunnels your build towards the same upgrades each time, making each run feel the same. So, there is certainly room for improvement there.

What goes hand in hand with overclocks and artefacts are the milestones, and there are plenty of those in Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor. I’m a completionist, and I really liked the variety of challenges and the rewards you get by completing them. It also lets you set goals for each of your runs, spicing them up.

Milestones list in Deep Rock Galactic Survivor
Image Source: Screenshot by Twinfinite

There are some that might seem impossible at first, like “Dodge 100 times during a dive”, for example. But as you progress, you’ll learn how to min-max each class and how to complete each one of them.

Next, let’s talk about the general upgrades you can get from the main menu. There are 12 different stats you can upgrade, some good and some utterly useless.

The ones I have the biggest problem with are armor, luck, max HP, and HP regen. Max HP and HP regen are pointless. The highest values you can get from both will have almost no impact on your gameplay. The only difference will be the sustain, which won’t help you if you’re missplaying.

Upgrades menu in Deep Rock Galactic Survivor
Image Source: Screenshot by Twinfinite

For armor and luck, on the other hand, you will need a lot of pearls to upgrade them, and those are the rarest resources in the game. So, you’re left with nothing but to sell other resources at half price to get pearls. This kind of incentivises you to put them off for later, even though they might be the best upgrades to get early.

The graphics are probably among the best of all roguelike shoot ’em-ups currently on the market. The optimization is very good, which is very important for a game that you’ll most probably be running along with a bunch of other stuff on your PC.

Sound, on the other hand, is lackluster. I don’t mean the sound effects, but the soundtrack and the general feel of it while playing. It’s just one of those things that can make you more immersed in a game, like listening to M.O.O.N. Hydrogen while playing Hotline Miami, for example.

Even though gameplay seems okay at first glance, there are some issues with it right now. First, the supply pods one-shot any creature they fall on top of. Yes, even the dreadnaughts. It completely trivializes the end-game of each run, where you’ll only need to dodge the dreadnaught’s attack maybe once or twice before you can kill it.

Deep Rock Galactic Survivor gameplay
Image Source: Ghost Ship Games

Secondly, there is no endless mode or anything of the sort. This is the kind of thing that I love the most about survivor games. Just start a run and see how far you can push it until you inevitably lose concentration and die.

That brings us to the next issue. To have an endless mode, you would need an endless map, which you don’t. It is procedurally generated, so the implementation of an endless mode was somewhat expected.

Lastly, there isn’t enough enemy variety. I remember HoloCure having way more enemy types in one of its earliest versions, and that game was made by one guy, Kay Yu. I get that the developers want to stay true to the original Deep Rock Galactic, but Survivor should have its own unique features as well.

Most of my complaints are about easily fixable things, and the game has just gone out into early access. Also, it costs only $10, yet it holds the potential to keep you entertained for hundreds of hours. Not many games can do that.

Ultimately, for now, unless you are a Deep Rock Galactic fan, there are a few better shoot ’em-ups out there. We’ll see whether Funday Games and Ghost Ship can change that as we approach full release.

Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor

Reviewer: Aleksa Stojković

Award: Editor’s Choice