Enemies 2.0: A comprehensive overhaul to enemies and waves

This is Nova Drift's largest ever update, incorporating a vast rewrite of its underlying systems. This update is the first of three parts, focusing on enemies and encounters.

We're very proud to finally share it with you! Here's what's new:

  • Dynamic Waves: Wildly variant procedurally generated enemy encounters. We've ripped out all of the preset enemy waves you're used to and replaced them with a system that generates them!
  • Curated Waves: New unique, hand-crafted encounters
  • 6 New Enemies:  You will now face the Bulwark, Hammerhead, Myrmidon, Cherub, Tracer, and Swarmling
  • Enemy Formations: Foes may now appear in formation with each other: Rank and File, Orbit, Flank, V, Trail, Fractal, and Support Formations
  • Battlefield Zoom: Expanded views allow more room to maneuver as action ramps up
  • Reworked Station Omega: We've raised the bar on the wave 40 boss encounter
  • A New Challenge Mode: Annihilation: A blisteringly difficult arcade experience, designed for veterans and masochists
  • New Wild and Super Mods: Deflagration, Explosive Growth, and Far Sight
  • New SFX and Music
  • Much More: Lots of balance fine-tuning, quality-of-life features, borderless fullscreen mode, background parallax, new performance settings, major optimizations, a progression overhaul, legacy build support, and Korean localization

The complete changelog:


Read a dev DEEP DIVE on Dynamic Waves:


Read about the new enemies and their formations:


Without further delay...

What you need to know PSA:

  • The unlock progression has been reworked. Please check your Unlocks menu, and be warned: You may have lost or gained access to upgrades and features, depending on your Account Rank. You may also see the new unlock order here: https://trello.com/b/4NhLxMb9/unlocks
  • Its a brand-new universe, please reset your expectations!  The new enemies and formations are tough and will require strategy and adaptation. Major changes have been made to the exp curve, enemy stats, run progression, and meta progression. Some beta players expressed frustration that they weren't able to reach previous goalposts of wave number or scores. I'd like to remind players that, since the game is endless, these comparisons are relative. Allow yourself a metaphorically clean slate or a literally clean leaderboard. Later, once the campaign is in, we'll have more tangible goal-posts.
  • Please keep in mind, even though Nova Drift has been receiving updates for years, it is still an early access game. Major sweeping changes to enemies and waves will naturally and substantially disrupt player balance. Before full release, its important for developers to be bold with adjustments and there are often unforeseen consequences. And that's okay-- its good for the long term health of the game-- know that I will continue to assess and adjust the game's balance as we receive more data from players. All that said, many adjustments have already been made to the player abilities that appeared to suffer the most from the new encounters.
  • This is just the beginning. What part 1 of Enemies 2.0 accomplishes, more than anything else, is laying the foundation for future content, making that content safer and easier to add from a development perspective. The roadmap to full release is posted on Steam and Discord.
  • We now support legacy builds! Starting with the Syzygy update, old versions of Nova Drift will be accessible on Steam branches. Legacy builds use their own global leaderboards.
Super Mod: Deflagration, Wild Mod: Explosive Growth, & Wild Mod: Far Sight

Future Content: Enemies 2.0 parts 2 & 3

The next two major updates will build upon the new enemy architecture, adding new bosses and more alternate ways to play Nova Drift. As many players have requested, alternate boss encounters will go a long way to ensuring that every run feels unique and different than the last. That's the first task: Create an alternate boss for all currently existing boss encounters. At waves 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100, you will encounter one of two possible bosses.

With new bosses in place, we'll be free to create two new game modes: Draft and Boss Rush, each with their own global leaderboards. Draft mode allows you to start with a complete build and jump into late waves, while Boss Rush puts you up against all bosses in a row, as you grow in power between each one.

We will also continue to raise the bar on existing bosses as well as add new enemies and encounters. Finally, we've got some crazy concepts for new Gear and Super Mods that we're experimenting with, including a few melee weapons! We'll preview them as we make progress.

2020 & 2021 Nova Drift Retrospective

I've always wanted Nova Drift to be a platform that could support new creative content for as long as I cared to pile it on. But as the game became more complex, the old code limitations kept getting in the way. To pull this update off, we needed to completely rewrite several of the most core architectures of the game. A lot of this work isn't visible to players, but it was all crucial, interconnected and... vast.

I'm going to be candid with you: While I had the immense support of our tiny team, I think this rework was the hardest thing I have ever done. We started the work on it even before the Syzygy update. And what an insane few years. For a lot of people, I know. Not only was I learning to be a new father but Covid happened, incurring three moves as we left Thailand looking for a place to settle in the USA. Like many others, we've now been quarantining for years, waiting for the vaccine to be approved for toddlers. Half of the time I was wondering how this update was possibly ever going to all come together, but somehow, eventually, it did.

I say all of this because I want to thank all of the people who have patiently waited so long between updates, all of the people from the community who had our backs helping us work through myriad problems and performance issues, and all of the people who took the time to personally message me support and appreciation. You are great. Thank you so much.

I think it was well worth it. It is now fast and easy to create new Nova Drift content, and I am very relieved the hardest part of development is over. I'm excited to get back into the creative space that inspired the project in the first place... after a little break.

Discord Upgraded! Come hang

We've got quite an active discord with a very chill and inclusive community. The devs are also pretty active there. We recently opened some new channels like #ask-the-devs, #weekly-discussion, #frequently-asked-questions, and #feedback. The latter allows you to submit feedback to a bot that lets players upvote or downvote the suggestion. I'm also quite proud of the #game-dev-help channel, which is a space for current and aspiring developers to learn and collaborate. So... come chat with us!

Want to help Nova Drift grow?

Steam Reviews really help! As a tiny operation, Nova Drift relies on its quality and reputation to sell, and reviews also encourage the Steam algorithms to show the game to more people. Please do take a moment to fill out a short review, even if it's only a few words. It just might make a big difference.

Thanks for reading. Best wishes,


Jeffrey Nielson