Vampire Survivors' latest DLC is a perfect $2 jolt of the game I fell in love with last year

Vampire Survivors Eleanor closeup
(Image credit: poncle)

Vampire Survivors has gotten its second round of DLC, Tides of the Foscari, and like the first, Legacy of the Moonspell, there's a lot to love here: more characters, maps, items, and secrets for 2022's best roguelike, all for just two bucks. While the starting map, Lake Foscari, didn't immediately light my fire, the continuation of Vampire Survivor's signature secrets and unlocks really won me over.

I missed Moonspell on the first go-around, so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect when I broke my long absence from Vampire Survivors and loaded into Foscari. If I have one complaint about the whole package, it's that this primary new map just needed some more visual flair. It's got a great layout with more distinct landmarks (including a cheeky hedge maze) than many of the base game's stages, but while December's Mt. Moonspell hit us with an evocative, snow-clad Japanese Village, Foscari's look just reminds me too much of vanilla levels like Mad Forest, Il Molise, or Green Acres.

[Some light spoilers of DLC unlockables follows]

I've yet to reach the second map, Foscari Abyss, though, and that name already has my interest piqued⁠—I only just snagged the new character (the third of the DLC) who can trigger the Lake Foscari secret that unlocks the Abyss. These cascading secrets interacting with each other is the real draw for me here, and I'm excited to see the team continue to implement those twisty little secret levels and bosses that made the main game really sing.  I think that capacity for surprise and delight is what'll make continued DLC drops for Vampire Survivors really worth getting.

The new characters are really managing to get me out of my well-established Vampire Survivors comfort zone too. Initial unlockable character Eleanor Uziron is fun: she gets three spell attacks, one every ten levels, that are strong enough on their own but can be ascended to an ultra-powerful endgame singularity ability. The real juice for me, though, was with the second new character: Maruto Cuts.

He's got a full-on, classico, knockoff Guts sword which is always a winner with me, practically pandering. It's mechanically interesting as well, offering a variation on the main game's lateral whip attacks, as well as a counterattack ability on taking damage⁠—he slams his sword down for a supremely satisfying, big ole' AoE that leaves some superficial spiderwebbing cracks in the ground. Maruto really leans into that beefy greatsword warrior fantasy, and I had fun building him out and playing differently than with my go-to spellcasters.

Creator and lead developer Luca Galante included some detailed patch notes about what players can expect from the new DLC, as well as the team's philosophy on building out Vampire Survivors with these $2 content packs: "What we do in terms of business decisions depends a lot on player feedback and on what we'd like to see as players ourselves. Personally, being able to pay a small fee to get more straightforward content for a game I'm really into sounds great (ages ago I literally had dreams about spending €5 to buy a disk that would add 1 more stage to Valkyrie Profile)."

"As announced some time back, we'll be done with VS for real only once I⁠—or you⁠—get tired of it," Galante concluded.

I'm definitely not tired yet, while the secrets and sense of discovery in Foscari is what really has me excited about Vampire Survivors' future. Lake Foscari is a well-designed map, and with a more memorable tileset it could have been a stone-cold classic, while the new characters have already shaken me out of an Arca Ladonna-shaped stupor. I hope poncle continues to lean into the weird, obscure, and surprising as the team builds on this winning formula.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.