The vampire genre rises once more from its tomb. Here’s our PvE focused V Rising review.
V Rising Review – Crafty Gothic Horror Packed with Original Ideas
I'm of the era that rose with Buffy, experienced Blade, and survived the Twilight Saga. The latter, I had assumed, was the final nail in the coffin. Vampires' lives, at least in pop fiction, had been proven to be less eternal than the humble zombie (the only horror genre more saturated with B list media). Or so I thought. Because having joined the million-plus people to purchase early access, I can confirm that gothic vampire survival game, V Rising, totally doesn't suck.
You really start to feel devious as you sample the delicious pleasures of villainy.
V Rising's Ingenious Mechanics
I knew there was hype around V Rising, we wrote about it as one of our earliest Indie Spotlight pieces. Yet after my first few hours of play I couldn't understand why. The gameplay loop was similar to Valheim: build base > track boss > hunt boss > gain new powers > harvest resources > improve base > repeat. And yet the setting was less engaging and the environment less pretty. Moreover, the mechanics felt uninspired. Fifty hours of gameplay later, I can confirm that they are, in fact, the opposite.
Blood types are one such fascinating mechanic. From brute to rogue to worker to beast, the blood throbbing through your veins (and the purity of it) will provide significant boons. You can even "let blood", allowing friends to feed on you to share in that irony goodness. Though be careful, you'll lose health fast if you run out of blood and will be forced to take on the frail blood type of rats to survive.
Sunlight, which will incinerate you in seconds, really makes things fun. It reverses the typical "safety-by-day, danger-by-night" system -- forcing you to skulk around in the shadows. This naturally makes the game more immersive as you start behaving like a predator: leading victims off the beaten paths deeper into the forest, shapeshifting into rats, or disguising yourself as an OAP so you can wander amongst the unsuspecting populace. You really start to feel devious as you sample the delicious pleasures of villainy.
V Rising Combat and Bosses
Your foes, those foolish mortals, have plenty of tricks up their sleeves too. Even low-level foes have clever tricks designed to catch you out, sometimes literally -- if they catch you in a net in the sunlight, you'll be smouldering ashes before you can say "Transylvanian cherry cola". Diverse patrols of human and non-human enemies wander the map in different formations and groupings -- ready to catch an off-guard bloodsucker. There's a sinister joy in waiting for these foes to fall foul of the forest's dangers before emerging from the darkness and striking while they're weak.
The lessons in vigilance from wandering foes will prove useful for V Rising's central PvE component -- the varied series of bosses. You'll have to battle priestesses, necromancers, holy archers, vampire hunters, and great beasts. Each of which has powerful abilities and can prove to be a formidable challenge.
A lot of the fun of V Rising is in reconfiguring your Blood Type, Magic Abilities (Chaos, Frost, Illusion, Blood, Unholy), Vampire Powers, and Weapon Skills to work out effective strategies for besting them. Just a look at the darkened silhouettes of V Rising's endgame bosses is enough to make your blood run cold.
A Quick Note on V Rising PvP and Sieges
V Rising PvP does look fun, but I won't dwell on it as we opted for a private server for this PvE focused V Rising review. Feedback from other players seems to be that victory in combat is too gear-level dependent with lower-level players not standing a chance. Sieges look like they could be great fun but right now players can just build endless doors to slow down foes. Many in the playerbase are calling for traps and other such additions to spice things up. Fortunately, Stunlock seems to be the type of studio that listens to its players.
We'll be back with a PvP focused V Rising review once the game is out of early access.
Crafting and Castle Building
Ever dreamed of your own gothic castle? It's time to live those dreams, because crafting and base-building in V Rising is intuitive and devilishly addicting.
You don't have to persevere with wooden structures for long before you get to build a formidable stone-walled hill-top fortress complete with floating candles, tomb-rooms, rat-harvesting chambers, portraits, golem defenders, gargoyles, thrones, workshops, furnaces, skeleton infested cemeteries, alchemy labs, looms, prisons, studies, and servants quarters wherein you can store your dominated humans.
Those same humans can be geared up and sent out on missions or left to defend your castle. Yes, we called our first one Igor. No, we're not expecting any prizes for originality.
These are but a few of the possibilities in V Rising's extensive base-building. It's safe to say V Rising is going to show up regularly in our monthly Crafty Creations segment.
How Grindy is V Rising?
Gear-based "levelling" allows skill to hasten your progress through the defeat of bosses beyond your power. Although you are restricted from tracking bosses that are too high level, so this has limitations.
We experienced a bit of a slowdown around Gear Level 38 (pre-iron) and started longing for the early days where objectives would be completed rapidly. At the same time, the bosses first became a struggle. Boredom started to rear its ugly head.
Yet as in so many great sandbox games, the joy then comes from setting your own objectives. The fact that each boss grants you new abilities and other unlocks keeps things interesting. Moreover, there are plenty of desirable things to use your resources on which gives the game a sense of pace which makes up for its inherently grind-driven nature.
While many of the logical gear upgrades are linear, there are plenty of nice surprises littered throughout that stop the gameplay loop from becoming overly repetitive. When you first unlock iron, for example, you're delighted to discover that not only can you upgrade your copper weaponry, but you're granted an extra special attack with iron weapons as well as two completely new weapon types to construct (a scythe and two-curved blades).
There's no denying it, some of the mechanics are hard work and repetitive. While raiding mines and harassing farmers for their cotton is fun, resources can't be transported through portals, and you will tire of the journey back to your base. Still, horses, caves, and transformations do speed this up and, overall, the game's pacing won't put off most players. It is, however, definitely a game best played with friends to half or even quarter the grind-time. You also share objectives with those in your Clan, allowing you to speed through the missions faster than a bat out of hell.
The Future of V Rising
Much like Valheim, a game we cannot help but draw comparisons with, the popularity of V Rising has been a surprise to everyone: "The Stunlock team could not have possibly imagined how many of you were out there, ready to awaken from your crypts and step into this little world we'd created." The V Rising team has yet to offer a full release date, but they've announced that they're taking their time, meditating on feedback and new ideas.
While it might not be as pretty as Valheim (and the camera angle is annoyingly restrictive), V Rising rocks. We can't wait to see how it evolves. When it's ready to rise from its tomb and unleash its full force on the world, we'll certainly be coming back for more. So, expect more V Rising content soon, starting with our beginner's tips and tricks next month.
Well suck my blood and call me Vlad, I think I like vampires again.