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Lonely Survivor Beginner’s Guide: Tips, Tricks & Strategies to Fend Off Your Enemies

You can’t go through life without making a few enemies. It’s a harsh truth, but it’s one that we learn one way or another. Whether it was a few misplaced words, actions we regret, or some other trivial thing, it doesn’t matter.

That said, I have no idea what Ruby did. But whatever it was, it must have been something pretty bad because the whole world wants her dead. Welp, time to fight back!

lonely survivor guide

Lonely Survivor is best described as “whatever genre Vampire Survivors is”. Part roguelike, part mob shooter, and all parts chaotic, Lonely Survivor is a fast-paced game that challenges you to fend off increasingly deadly mobs and defeat the stage’s boss. Lonely Survivor is available for download on both the Google Play Store and the App Store.

The game loop of Lonely Survivor is very similar to games such as Vampire Survivors or New blood, however, is always welcome, and if you’ve decided to start your descent into madness with Lonely Survivor, here’s what you need to know.

Gameplay Basics

Things can get -really- crazy in Lonely Survivor, so knowing and mastering your basics is essential.

Quick Tips:

  • Your character automatically attacks with each weapon she has equipped.
  • Collect experience crystals dropped by mobs to level up and gain new weapons and passive buffs. You can have six of each for a total of twelve. You cannot drop a weapon or buff you’ve already chosen.
  • As this is a mobbing game, AOE weapons are an excellent choice for both mowing through mobs and creating safe spaces.
  • Almost every weapon synergizes with a passive buff to create a weapon evolution. Evolved weapons are incredibly strong compared to their base forms, but you can only evolve a weapon via a chest drop from a boss or miniboss.
  • The only thing you can control is your movement. Move with purpose – either circle around mobs to group them up for easier kills or actively hunt down barrels for health and gold. Above all, keep moving.
  • Position your movement finger away from the middle of the screen. I prefer the lower right.
  • Know what each pickup does. One viable strategy is to keep pickups close by and just circle the general area so you can get the pickup when you need it.
  • All events in a stage happen on a timer. You can refer to the bar at the bottom of the screen to see when big waves and boss waves will occur. If you need more help, I’ve included a list of events in the first stage.


In case you haven’t guessed it yet, your objective is to survive until the end of the timer – 15 minutes in most stages. Fortunately for us, our witch is more than capable of fending for herself. She’ll automatically attack enemies within range with the weapons you provide her. Easy, right?

lonely survivor horde

Not if you have to deal with literal hundreds or thousands of mobs on screen at once, it’s not!

Combat is the heart and soul of Lonely Survivor, and learning how to get stronger in each stage will save you from a quick and humiliating defeat within the first minute of the game.

The primary way of getting stronger is by defeating enemies and collecting their experience crystals. Each crystal fills up the bar at the top of the screen, and when that fills up, you gain a new level – which means a choice between three random items, which can be new items or upgrades to ones you already have. Note that you can only carry six items and six passive buffs and cannot drop them once you’ve chosen.

lonely survivor level
Death will have to wait a bit longer.

The tougher a foe, the better the experience crystal it drops. Easy foes drop blue crystals, intermediate ones drop green crystals, and tough foes drop yellow crystals. Because of how many mobs the game has, it’s advantageous to prioritize getting and strengthening an AOE weapon. A bigger attack area plus big damage equals tons of experience points.

Weapon Evolution

Are level 6 weapons not cutting it? Don’t worry – that’s where weapon evolution comes in.

lonely survivor evolve

Each weapon can be combined with a specific passive buff to ascend it to a whole new level. These evolved levels are leagues and bounds more powerful than their base form while generally retaining the same use case. Always try to evolve at least one weapon as quickly as possible. It’ll make your life that much easier.

lonely survivor fuse
These reminders appear in the level up screen, but it pays to memorize what goes with what.

Note that to evolve a weapon, it must be level 6. You also do not need to maximize the level of the passive buff; only the weapon needs to be at level 6. Most evolved weapons can also no longer be leveled up.


The only thing you can control in real-time in Lonely Survivor is your character’s movement, so it’s important to master it.

lonely survivor move
Step lively, now.

I always advocate moving around in games like Lonely Survivor. Movement is vital not only to stay alive but also for grouping up mobs and finding valuable pickups. Staying still can also make you complacent and can lead to you falling prey to the next mob ambush.

Your movement options are largely dependent on what weapons you have and how fast you can kill. Got a high damage single target weapon? Focus on one direction so you always have a straight path to traverse. Great AOE damage? Create safe zones and slowly move around within your field of death. But above all, keep moving until you can’t.


One reason movement is so important is that pickups won’t spawn unless you actively go looking for barrels and break them. These pickups not only contain valuable gold that you can use for permanent (yes, I said permanent) upgrades but also provide tools that can make or break a stage. It’s a good idea to look for these early in a stage as you’ll have a very hard time moving around once the final hordes come in.

lonely survivor gold
I wanted more experience, but sure, whatever.

The most basic pickup is gold. As mentioned earlier, gold is used to pay for permanent upgrades when you’re out of a stage. Pick up gold whenever it appears as there’s no point keeping it for later.

lonely survivor magnet
All mine!

The magnet is an incredible tool that pulls most, if not all experience crystals on the map to you. This pickup is invaluable if you’re boxed in by a horde and need those sweet, sweet levels. And even if you’re not in dire straits, the magnet is super convenient!

lonely survivor jack
Getting a picture of a rare pickup in a chaotic game like this? Good luck.

The Jack-O-Lantern is a powerful pickup that instantly kills all enemies on screen. This is a potent tool that can potentially save you from a wipe and give you a few more seconds of breathing room, as well as time to come up with a new plan. However, there’s a cost – enemies killed by the Jack-O-Lantern do not drop experience crystals.

lonely survivor heart
Not a lame power.

Finally, the heart restores health. There are very few opportunities to heal yourself outside of picking up hearts, so it’s a good idea to have a few ready!

One tactic I use in games like Lonely Survivor is camping near a high-value pickup, such as a screen clear. This gives me the benefit of being able to farm mobs by moving around but also having an emergency button nearby.

Stage Events

All stage events in Lonely Survivor happen on a timer. These events are unique to each stage, and while they can be a challenge to overcome, they are perfectly predictable. This means that forewarned is forearmed, and knowing what time particularly dangerous waves will arrive allows you to plan your build and strategies more effectively. For reference, you can see what events will happen at the bottom of the screen, via the bar.

lonely survivor time
This one.

As a demonstration, here is a list of events that will happen in the first stage of Lonely Survivor:

Time ElapsedEvent
0:00Bats spawn.
1:00Egg monsters added to spawn pool.
1:30Spawns replaced by fast-moving dogs.
2:00Horde: Small circle of bats. Spawns return to bats and egg monsters.
4:00Horde: Small circle of dogs. Spawns replaced by dogs.
4:30Spawns return to bats.
5:00Boss. All normal mobs will despawn. Boss shoots large brown projectiles in an outward V-pattern. You will need to defeat the boss in an enclosed area.   After the boss is defeated, a circle of tough flying imps(?) appears and will attempt to smother you. Get ready to dash through if you can’t take them out in time. Imps will also spawn as normal mobs.
6:00Occasionally, a wave of ghosts will dash through the center of the screen from a random direction. Keep moving!
6:30Ghost waves stop spawning.
7:00Egg monsters can spawn again.
8:00Horde: Lots of dogs from every direction. Also spawns a cactus Miniboss.
9:00Spawns replaced by imps and egg monsters.
10:00Boss. This one shoots large blue projectiles in a circular formation. As before, you’ll need to beat this one in an arena.   Upon the boss’ defeat, a wave of fire enemies will spawn. Take them down or rush through them. Fire enemies will replace regular spawns.
11:00Ghost rush event re-enabled, and a miniboss will spawn. I hope you have decent AOE by this time!
11:30Ghost rush event disabled. Fire enemies removed; imps and egg monsters returned to wave spawn. A cactus miniboss will spawn.
13:00Fire enemies replace imps and egg monsters. Miniboss spawns. Ghost rush event re-enabled.
14:00Dogs added to normal spawns. At this point, you’ll be unable to move unless your damage is insane enough that you can cleave through the mobs.
15:00Stage boss. This two-headed dragon is slow but sturdy. The boss fires a tri-shot that can be tricky to see with all the visual noise at this point. Give it all you’ve got!

Permanent Upgrades

After you’ve died cleared your first stage, it’s time to get some permanent upgrades.

Quick Tips:

  • Spend gold to buy permanent upgrades for your character via the talent tree. You’ll also need Strength Crystals from stage bosses as a one-time drop. Talents are gated by your account level.
  • Your character can equip items to get stronger. All of them give stats, but the weapon also determines your starting weapon in a level.
  • The only way to get more gear is by rolling in the gacha. You can watch an ad, use rare keys, or pay Diamonds to open chests.
  • Gear can be merged to increase its quality. Three identical items of similar quality = 1 of higher quality.
  • Unlock new heroes by collecting 50 shards either via the cash shop or as rare drops.
  • Heroes can be leveled up and ascended by spending gold, hero exp (item), and more shards. More levels mean better base stats, while ascensions unlock passive boosts.

The Talent Tree

All the gold you’ve been picking up in stages has to go somewhere. That’s where the talent tree comes in.

lonely survivor skills
Slowly but surely.

The talent tree is a sequential series of minor (but important) upgrades that just about covers every basic aspect you can think of; more attack, faster move speed, greater HP, and increased defense are all available. The talent tree also has a separate tree on the right side, which requires Strength Crystals to traverse. These crystals are one-time prizes earned from completing stages and bring better stuff to the table such as being able to reroll level up rewards.

Do note that you can only buy talents up to your account level.


Yes, your characters have permanent equipment. Surprise!

lonely survivor gear
Better than nothing.

Characters have five equipment slots: one for a weapon, one for a shield, two for body slots (no, I don’t know why), and one for footwear. Each of these pieces of gear can be further upgraded by paying both gold and Equipment Scrolls, which drop from clearing a stage and are thankfully not one-time drops. While each of these pieces of equipment provides stats, the weapon is particularly important as it determines what weapon you start with in a level.

However, getting gear isn’t as simple as clearing stages. There are only two ways to get more gear, as of writing – either get lucky and buy anything that appears in the daily shop or roll in the gacha.

lonely survivor gacha
Of course.

There are three ways to open these chests – watch an ad, open them with a (rare) key, or straight-up pay in Diamonds. At least there’s a pity system. That said, do be sure to at least grab your free rolls when they’re off cooldown. It’s 20 hours for the Normal Treasure Chest and 48 hours for the Epic Treasure Chest.

lonely survivor merge
Put three garbage shuriken together and what do you get? A slightly less crappy shuriken.

Each piece of gear can also be merged with similar items to increase its quality, which in turn not only gives that item a higher level cap and better stats, but also unlocks its passive quality boosts. You’ll need three of the same item and of the same quality to get a single higher quality version of that item.


Ruby isn’t the only playable character.

lonely survivor lucifer
This ain’t Digimon.

By collecting hero shards (mostly by buying them from the cash shop, though I also read they are available as very rare drops), you can fuse 50 of them to create a new hero that’s better suited to your playstyle. Good luck amassing 50, though.

lonely survivor ruby upgrade
I heard you like levels, so we put levels in your levels.

On top of unlocking heroes, you can also increase their levels to give them higher base stats and ascend them to unlock passive skills including ones that affect all heroes. Regular levels require both gold and the hero exp item – which looks like a tin can – to differentiate it from experience crystals. Ascension on the other hand requires shards. I hope you had extras lying around!

Resources And Where to Get Them

Now that you know what to spend stuff on, here’s a list of where to get currency and materials.

Quick Tips:

  • Lonely Survivor generates up to 16 hours’ worth of AFK gains based on the highest stage you’ve completed. You can pay for an extra 6 hours with Diamonds or an ad.
  • You can get free Diamonds, gold, and daily, weekly, and monthly packs via the store and bundle screen.
  • Clear the 5, 10, and 15-minute milestones in a stage to get one-time reward chests.
  • The Magic Tower is a more difficult stage with special modifiers but gives out nice rewards. Three clears per day.
  • Complete the new player Seven-Day Carnival to get an SSR weapon, Diamonds, and other resources. Be sure to grab the free packs and login rewards too!
  • Always participate in events when they’re up. Tap the compass on the right side of the screen to see what events are active.

AFK Gains

Yes, yes, farming gold actively is well and good, but did you know you also passively gain gold and other stage drops even if you’re not playing?

lonely survivor afk rewards
So this is what it feels like to have people working for you.

The game will collect resources for you while you’re away, based on the most difficult level you’ve completed. Note that AFK gains cap at 16 hours, so be sure to log in and redeem the stuff. If you really need to, you can also pay 50 Diamonds or watch an ad to get six hours’ worth of AFK gains.

Free Shop Stuff

While we’re already talking about Diamonds, you can get some free Diamonds per day.

lonely survivor daily shop
It’s not exactly free. You’re paying with your time.

Just go to the item shop and watch five ads. That’s all there is to it. But considering how many important things are locked behind Diamonds – better gear, new characters, more AFK gains if you need it – it’s vital to cash these free gems in whenever you can.

It’s not just Diamonds that you can get for your time. Scroll all the way down the shop tab to watch ads for gold and tap the wagon on the right side of the main menu to avail of ad-locked daily, weekly, and monthly packs.

Stage Milestones

Clearing a stage nets you rewards, but did you know you also get paid for reaching the 5, 10, and 15-minute marks?

lonely survivor milestone
Efforts recognized.

At the bottom of the screen and just above the continue button, you’ll see a bar with chests. These are milestone chests that unlock if you can survive in a level for the indicated amount of time. Don’t forget to backtrack and claim the chests for stages you’ve already finished!

Magic Tower

The Magic Toweris a special arena that comes with a set of daily buffs and debuffs. Clearing stages in the Magic Tower nets you some nice rewards up to three times per day.

lonely survivor magic tower
Eyes on the prize, folks.

Magic Tower levels are regular stages with some extra restrictions – apart from the daily buff and debuff, enemies move significantly faster here, and get stronger each time you clear the tower. You do get to bring your own equipment in though.

New Player Login Event

As with most mobile games, Lonely Survivor has a weeklong free stuff event, especially for new players.

lonely survivor seven-day carnival
Yes, this is worth doing the tasks for.

Lonely Survivors’ Seven-Day Carnival has three parts to it. First is a login event – just tap on the item icon to claim your prize.

The second part challenges you to complete various tasks over the course of a week. By accomplishing these tasks, you’ll not only get some Diamonds to help you make your first few purchases but also gain event points that net you additional prizes. Most importantly, getting at least 1200 points gives you a Dim Star Fire Staff, a reliable SSR weapon!

lonely survivor seven-day carnival 2

The last part is hard selling you packs. However, there’s a free pack that gives you gems, energy, and gold, so be sure to pick that one up.


Finally, there are events. Lonely Survivor occasionally holds events that give out resources and can be a great source of currency for F2P players.

lonely survivor event

Participate in these whenever you can – free stuff is always nice to have. To access the event menu, tap the compass on the right side of the main menu.

Thriving And Surviving

Now that all your options have been laid bare, the path to power is clear. Armed with knowledge and hopefully some rare gear, your survivor won’t just live but thrive.

lonely survivor end

That concludes this guide to Lonely Survivor, and I hope this was able to help you review your options and focus your efforts. If you have anything to add or any tips and tricks of your own, make yourself heard in the comments below!