So you heard someone talk about the addictive, brain-pleasing indie rogue-like Vampire Survivors. Then you thought, why not I’ll give it a go. Maybe you started off with the free version on itch.io. You played it in the browser for a few runs, and then when that itch needed further scratching, bought the game on Steam. Now you’re well and truly hooked. 

That’s how it happened for me anyway, after reading the glowing review on Kotaku – Castlevania-Inspired Roguelike Is Pure Dopamine – I tried it out on itch.io on my phone, before taking the plunge on Steam. Now I have to ration myself out time to play the game lest I lose hours to its dark joys.

And so in a bid to do anything with my life other than crunching satisfyingly through waves of bats with an array of pixelated projectiles, I decided to write this listicle. Before we get into the top 10 list though, I want to walk through some general strategies for putting together a good build and crushing hyper mode in Vampire Survivors.

What Is Hyper Mode in Vampire Survivors And How Do I Get It?

There are two “hyper” versions of the two Vampire Survivors game levels – a Hyper Inlaid Library and a Hyper Mad Forest. Unlocking these levels is the same in both instances, you need to survive to near the 30 minute mark on either base level and then defeat the final boss that appears. In the Inlaid Library this boss is called the Nesuferit and in the Mad Forest it’s the Giant Blue Venus.

Once you’ve defeated the final boss of a level you then unlock the “hyper” version. You can play this level by ticking a box that appears on the bottom left of the level select screen next time you play that level. Everything about the level will be the same except much faster. Both you and the monsters get a major speed boost.

How Many Different Weapons/Items Can You Have At Once?

This is a crucial point, but one that I didn’t figure out until putting over 10 hours into the game. There are two types of level-up items you can choose from: weapons and accessories. You can only get a maximum of 6 of each type of powerup. Once you have 6 of one type, you will only be offered powerups of the other type in future level-ups. For example, if you already have Spinach, Bracer, Spellbinder, Duplicator, Hollow Heart and Wings – you will be unable to pick up Empty Tome or any other accessory items. You will only be offered weapons from that point on.

This is important because you will need certain combinations of weapons and items to get the full benefit of each. You need to be careful that you don’t max out your accessories before picking up one that you need for a weapon evolution, for example.

How To Beat The Game In Hype Mode: Plan Out Your Build

Following on from the discussion above regarding the limit on both number of weapons and accessories that you can acquire mid-run, it becomes obvious that the key to a powerful build is planning. Why? Because without planning you can’t ensure that you don’t inadvertently miss out on maximising the potential of your existing weapons and items when faced with the choice for a new pick up, and likewise can’t be sure you’re making full use of your character’s passive abilities.

The strategy I use to plan out a winning build to beat the full 30 minutes of a hyper run, is to choose items and weapons that work together to unlock evolutions, to keep any passive abilities of my character in mind and pick powerups that work well with character buffs. In addition, the main strategy is to prioritise damage output, which is needed to survive the last 2-3 minutes of the game.

Example Winning Vampire Survivors Build To Beat Hyper Inlaid Library

Character

Porta

Her starting weapon is the Lightning Ring. She gets a +30% area bonus. So I’m going to pick weapons that work with that area bonus (such as the Vandalier, Axe and Cross) and I’m going to focus on evolving weapons and using items that increase the frequency, size, strength, speed and number of those attacks. 

Weapons

  • Lightning Ring.
  • Peachone.
  • Ebony Wings (to evolve with Peachone into Vandalier).
  • Axe.
  • Runetracer.
  • Cross.
  • Fire Wand.

Accessories/Items

  • Empty Tome (to get more frequency out of all attacks).
  • Candelabrador (to evolve the Axe into Death Spiral and also to enhance the existing character buff to area of attack).
  • Duplicator (a lot of our attacks involve projectiles, getting 2 more of these for each weapon is a big damage boost).
  • Clover (Used to evolve the Cross into the Heaven Sword and also to get better pickups).
  • Spinach (to get better damage from all attacks and to evolve the Fire Wand into the Hellfire).
  • Bracer (to get faster speed from all projectiles).

Note that apart from Clover, all the choices either provide or augment damage in some way. I’ve chosen Clover to unlock the Heaven Sword evolution, and to get better chests, more level options and random loot from light sources.

Also note that there are 7 rather than 6 choices in the weapons category. This is because once the Peachone and Ebony Wing are united, they will turn into the singular Vandalier and take up one less weapon slot.

Things Don’t Always Go To Plan

Somewhere in the middle of the run above I had to choose between three items that were not in my plan. Luckily one of those items was the Knife. I was already planning on levelling the Bracer and I knew that this was the evolving item to turn the knife into Thousand Edge. So I ended up taking the knife instead of the Fire Wand, as I’d planned for that weapon slot.

The lesson here is that even the best laid plans sometimes need a bit of revision on the fly. If you get forced to make a choice like this very early in your run, it may be best to just restart and try again. But it’s fine to substitute when needed if it happens later in a run.

What Order To Pick Items In?

My main advice is to focus on damage dealing before utility so you can kill more enemies quicker to then level up again. You only need one level from accessories like the Empty Tome or Spinach at first to unlock the corresponding weapon evolutions.

If you are choosing between two weapons, it’s better to get one up to max and then evolve it rather than having two weapons at average levels.

What Items To Avoid

When I first started playing I used to love items like Wings for added speed and Orb for picking up experience gems because I felt they helped me level up faster. But eventually you’ll be swamped with so many enemies that the only thing that will matter is how fast you can kill them. 

Because there’s a limit to how many items you have, every slot you fill with a healing item or something to help you move around faster, is one slot that you could have been using to achieve more damage output.

In general, I’ve found that the best form of defence is offence. Even with maxed out Armor and Laurel, you will be quickly overwhelmed in the later minutes of a run due to the sheer volume of enemies descending on your position. The only sure way to survive is to kill them before they get to you. And for that you’re going to need every bit of offensive fire power you can squeeze in.

Also, as great as it seems at first glance, don’t bother with the Pentagram. The extremely slow cool down combined with the possibility of losing all experience gems from destroyed enemies makes it less viable than pretty much any other weapon you could choose in it’s slot.

The Top 10 Weapons & Items In Vampire Survivors

A few notes about the list. This is ranking the items that you choose from each time you level up in the game. Not the items that you pick up from breaking light sources or other means. It also doesn’t refer to the power ups that you buy between levels using the gold you’ve collected in your previous runs.

10. Vandalier

I haven’t done a thorough comparison of DPS between the different weapons yet. But based on what I have seen, I don’t think the Vandalier would top the list. It does however appear close to the top of my list of weapons that look badass and are super satisfying to obtain. What’s not to love about death rainbows? Also, it can deal a significant amount of damage in the late game if you fully upgrade the evolution.

How to get the Vandalier

The Vandalier is a special evolution of the Peachone. To evolve it, you first need to unlock a special Peachone variant called the Ebony Wings. You unlock the Peachone by surviving for 10 minutes with any character and then unlock the Ebony Wings by upgrading the Peachone to level 7.

Once you have the Ebony Wings unlocked, choose both it and the Peachone from level ups in the same run. Then whenever possible upgrade both the Ebony WIngs and the Peachone. When you have both of them at level 8 or higher you’ll need to open chests. You might not get the Vandalier evolution on your first chest, but eventually it’ll show up. The higher your Luck, the more likely it will be to appear. Once it appears in the chest and you collect the Vandalier upgrade, you will no longer have your white Peachone projectiles or the Ebony WIngs. Instead you’ll have a new weapon that spews out powerful rainbow bolts of death. Enjoy!

9. Cross / Heaven Sword

The Cross is one of a few weapons in the game that have both early game utility and late game power. In it’s first from, the Cross’s swing back ability helps clear large swathes of space for you to step into when evading enemies. After being evolved to it’s final form as the Heaven Sword, the weapon can do some of the highest DPS in the game and will cut down bosses with ease.

How to get the Heaven Sword

Have your Cross upgraded to level 8, acquire at least one level of the Clover and then keep opening chests until you receive the evolved Cross.

8. Duplicator

It took me a while to understand how powerful this upgrade can be. At first it can seem a bit underwhelming, having only one upgrade giving a total of two extra projectiles. That is until you realise that this means two extra instances of every projectile that you use. When those are giant flying axes and flaming swords the damage really starts to stack up.

7. Candelabrador

What’s not to love about making everything bigger? This is especially useful if you’re using area of effect weapons like the Garlic or Santa Water.

6. Empty Tome

Most weapons in the game come in spurts separated by a gap of cool down. By making that gap shorter you’re reducing this cool down time and spending more of your time getting damage out of your attacks. The Empty Tome is a useful upgrade in nearly any build.

5. Spinach

Much like the Empty Tome, the Spinach is useful no matter what weapon combinations you’re working on. While I’d prioritise unlocking new weapons early in the run, you can quickly upgrade your build in the mid and late game by stacking on Spinach upgrades, giving all your weapons greater damage dealing potential.

4.Clover

As mentioned earlier in this article, the Clover is the only non damage-dealing or buffing pick-up that I think should be worth a slot in your build. Why? Because it increases the chance of picking up awesome one-off items like the NFT and Orb, makes it more likely that you’ll get 4 choices rather than 3 at level-up and increases the odds of encountering a 3 or 5 pickup chest. All these benefits add up to extra firepower, more quickly for your build.

3. Runetracer

The Runetracer scales quickly as you level it, soon becoming a formidable weapon that cuts through rows of enemies with ease. Not only does it have great crowd control and damage dealing properties, it also works with any other items you may be focussed on as it doesn’t require a set accessory to unlock its full potential. At max level, the Runetracer makes a great addition to any Vampire Survivors run.

2. Death Spiral

It took me a while to realise how great the Death Spiral is in the late game. This is because its unevolved form, the Axe, is only an average weapon at best during the early to mid game. But if you stick through the awkward early levels of the Axe, its evolved form is well worth the wait. One of the most consistently performing evolved weapons in the late game for both personal protection and crowd control.

How to get the Death Spiral

Once you have the Axe upgraded to level 8, and at least one pickup of the Candelabrador, keep opening chests until you receive the evolved Axe.

1. Garlic

Okay, hear me out. I can already hear the cries of protest from many of you. But I truly believe that Garlic is the best weapon or item in Vampire Survivors. Yes, it doesn’t have the greatest DPS, yes it’s not the most viable weapon for the end game. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t even choose it now when I’m coming up with new builds. And that’s because I’ve already unlocked every item in the game, I’ve finished both levels on normal difficulty and am now seeing how easily I can get through the hyper versions of the levels. And yes, for that Garlic isn’t the best.

So then why is Garlic my number one pick? Because it’s the item that first made me fall in love with the game and kept me playing for the last 20 hours. There is something so supremely satisfying about getting an early Garlic pickup and then chewing through clouds of bats or swarms of tree monsters with ease. It was at this moment that the appeal of this game really clicked into place for me. When you’re starting out with Vampire Survivors and even when you’re finishing the original version of each level and working to unlock all the weapons – Garlic is invaluable. When you’re first using it, it feels completely overpowered, and the playstyle it encourages of dancing around the tougher enemies and ploughing through the easier ones is a great teaching tool for understanding how the waves of enemies are structured in each level.

So while I’ll admit it’s not the most powerful weapon in the game, I still feel it’s one of the funnest and holds a special spot in my heart as my favourite Vampire Survivors powerup. If you are going to get it, stick with the unevolved garlic, as the Soul Eater evolution just doesn’t keep up in the last few minutes. It does pretty well in the mid-game though, so if you’re a garlic fiend like me, you still might enjoy giving it a try.


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