V Rising is an online survival hack-and-slash survival game akin to notable titles like Diablo and Rust. The game takes place during an uprising of near-extinct vampires who rise to the fore after losing a war against humans. After being banished to the crypts for centuries, the vampires have returned. The player's character rises from their slumber just in time to exact revenge on the humans that exiled their people.
Players can choose between joining a public server or hosting one of their own to experience the game solo or with friends. If the participant chooses to join an online server, they will be given four different options for the type of server they wish to join.
V Rising players can choose between a PvE server, PvP, PvP Duos (where the player can bring a friend along with them), or Full Loot PvP (which features the least amount of restrictions). For this review, I donned my warpaint, strapped on my adventurer’s boots, and began my journey on a Full Loot PvP server.
V Rising: Reviewing the open-world vampire survival game
As far as the in-game story goes, it is sadly absent in this Stunlock title. After the opening cutscene does a great job of building this world for the player to explore, all of the details are sadly dropped the moment a game starts. The game portrays itself as having this epic tale to tell the moment it starts up, making it all the more disappointing when I discovered it did not.
V Rising picks up right where the opening cutscene leaves off, with the player’s first move in the game being to kick open the lid to their coffin. Right off the bat (pun intended), the new character is put into an open room where they are given instructions for movement. They are also free to experiment with input commands that appear at the bottom of the screen.
Instead of telling a story full of objectives, the game has a quest log open in the top left corner of the screen, telling the player what they need to do to progress. However, there are no quest markers or anything to help direct them. This leads to a bump in progress, making it hard to play the game for short periods as it is a game the player needs to grind out.
In the graphics department, the game is nothing spectacular. The previously mentioned art style can lead to some jarring character designs. However, the more cartoony character style brings a bit of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker or Sea of Thieves feelings, which can add to the nostalgic emotions this game is so full of.
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500 6-Core
- RAM: 16 GB
The game lacks any face-value features and fails to make it stand out to potential consumers. From trailers and screenshots on the V Rising store page, the game looks like other MMOs that have recently been released, like New World or Lost Ark. However, given the game’s already sizeable playerbase, this is not a very big problem for the game as it is.
Once the player chooses their server, they can begin customizing their character. In character creation, the masculine body type the player can choose looks a little off-putting, however, I overlooked it as a style choice. The customization is very detailed in terms of skin and hair color but leaves much to be desired in terms of features and accessories.
The bar at the bottom of the screen, which holds all of the player’s attacks and abilities paired with the gothic style of the game, brings a nostalgic feeling to Diablo. This choice in the user interface, harking back to one as familiar as Diablo’s, made me feel like I understood the game right away. Even though I was new to the game, I felt familiar with it.
Eventually, I collected the required material to complete the first quest: Collect 30 bones to craft a Bone Sword. Upon doing so, the game automatically equipped it for me. In excitement, I began swinging my first real weapon. To my surprise, I began collecting resources from the environment around me, such as lumber and plant fibers.
This was the moment where it became clear that V Rising would feature a much more in-depth crafting system than I initially thought. The crafting of this game is not instant like other games like Terraria and Minecraft but instead takes inspiration from games like Rust.
To craft in this game, the player needs to open the menu and select the item. After doing so, the desired item will begin to count down. Once the timer ends, players will be rewarded with their crafted item. Multiple items can be crafted but do so in a queue rather than all at once.
The need for blood also started becoming apparent upon leaving the starting area. In my pursuit for animal hide, I encountered a wolf I promptly fought with before receiving the command to “feed” on it. This mechanic serves as an execution move and grants nourishment to the player, which can be used to restore lost health with Blood Mend.
Feeding off the blood of creatures is a vampire staple, so its inclusion in V Rising is not startling in the slightest. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see how in-depth this system was as well. Feeding off of different creatures changes the player’s blood type, which dictates the buffs the player receives as they consume stronger prey.
As I became more and more accustomed to combat, another one of the game’s glaring flaws reared its head. The game’s optimization and server lag can lead to some performance issues. More specifically, my game began to lag heavily when using the dash ability or crafting an item. However, this can be fixed in a future update.
The combat is the biggest part of V Rising’s gameplay. Battles feel and play very similarly to that of Diablo, but the experience is much less satisfying. In comparison, every hit in Diablo has an impact behind it, with enemies staggering and wincing in pain. The hits in V Rising feature a sound effect and a number displaying the damage dealt. This leaves the combat feeling unsatisfying.
The first boss the player is recommended to encounter rewards them with a wolf transformation. While this could tie into the game’s combat, it fails to do so. The transformation barely feels any faster as well. I personally could not tell a noticeable difference between the standard and wolf forms, so I stopped using it after a while.
In typical vampire fashion, this game discourages the player from maintaining stationery exposure to the sun. I found this out the hard way as my character began to combust into flames while navigating the crafting menu. While this took me by surprise, this mechanic fits in well with the game’s theme, creating a more immersive experience.
While it comes off as a cool and unique mechanic at first, once the player starts to invest themselves in the game's resource collection, the sunlight mechanic becomes annoying. This leaves a lot of gameplay restricted to sitting in the player’s castle waiting for crafting to finish or just sitting in the shade of a nearby tree or rock until nightfall.
V Rising also features a teleportation system that is borderline useless. Players can teleport to and from these waypoint locations on the map. However, they cannot do so with resources in their inventory. This leaves the system seeming pointless as it cannot be used to cross the map to gather regional resources and then return to their base.
These waypoint locations are used more as respawn points if the player were to die to an enemy or boss. These waypoints are scattered around the map and can most commonly be found in areas around enemies. However, this means that the player cannot teleport from these waypoints after looting an enemy camp due to the restrictions.
Gameplay: Multiplayer Interaction
Entering the first populated area of the game, Farbane Woods, I began to encounter other players. We were all fresh out of the starting area and showed no aggression towards each other. Overall, a pleasant first interaction with other players on an otherwise chaotic server. The game also features a server-wide text chat which provides some entertaining reads.
As my playthrough began to take flight, I began to run into more players. For a server with few restrictions, my experiences so far have been very pleasant. An incident that stuck with me was when a player kept asking me for help as I passed him by to take down a level 18 Bear. We succeeded in our hunt, collected our loot, he thanked me, and we went our separate ways.
V Rising also features a base-building mechanic. This features similarly to Rust as these constructed bases begin to degrade over time. To prevent this, players need to feed their Castle Heart; this is the castle’s power supply. To feed the Castle Heart, Blood Essence is required. This resource is collected upon killing an enemy or creature.
Another one of the game’s glaring shortcomings comes exclusively on PvP servers. Though this form of gameplay only appeals to a certain audience, it is worth mentioning. The bosses in this game spawn in the same place. This means that other players who know where these bosses spawn can wait near them to ambush unsuspecting players.
The game’s clan system can also lead to a toxic game culture seen in other survival games like Rust. However, given the game’s recent release, these types of groups have not spawned in such numbers as of writing, though players should note that every server is different. This system can give players looking to take the game on solo an unpleasurable experience.
With a lack of hostile players in my area, I began to invest myself in this game’s deep crafting and building system. The game features a wide variety of different workbenches, each responsible for crafting their own resources or upgrading the player’s gear. Luckily, the game features enough natural resources to get around, so competition is scarce.
Music and Sound Design
In the sound and music department, this game is relatively average. The game takes an atmospheric approach as far as its music and sound effects go, so there is not a lot to truly write home about. The music sounds similar to other fantasy games like Witcher 3 and Skyrim, so it is a soundtrack meant to be background noise.
After a while, the music in this game can get rather grating in long play sessions. During my time in the world, I found myself turning down the volume and putting on the music of my own to avoid hearing what sounded like the same two songs. The game's battle music can get old at times but does the job of being a high-energy fantasy fight theme.
Two of V Rising’s tracks have stuck out to me as being the best in the game. The Farbane Nights track is excellent for its calm and relaxing sound. Its violin, paired with woodwind instruments, provide the player with a sense of comfort and assurance that they are safe in the moonlight. However, the opposite can be said for the other noteworthy track.
The in-game boss theme is carried out in terms of its notoriety by one specific boss in the game. Tristan, the Vampire Hunter, is the sole reason this track will stick with me as a sound in the entirety of gaming that fills me with panic. Tristan is a roaming boss who will often see the player before they see him, resulting in frequent deaths and jumpscares.
The sound effects, on the other hand, are incredibly well made. Each weapon and tool has its own sound for hitting an object, which adds to this game’s excellent immersion. The atmospheric sound of birds chirping, water rushing through a stream, and animals running past my camp paired with my friendly neighbors made this game a cozy experience.
I was pleasantly surprised during the beginning of my playthrough of V Rising. The game is a breath of fresh air from other mainstream multiplayer survival games like Rust and ARK: Survival Evolved. The game also manages to scratch the itch for a good dungeon crawler RPG with its form of gameplay and exploration despite not having many caves or dungeons to explore.
While V Rising has a surprising amount of depth to it, it lacks a campaign for the player to partake in. With such a powerful opening cutscene, the lack of a story is greatly disappointing. This leaves the game lacking in terms of content and leaves the multiplayer experience to carry it in terms of enjoyment, however, this only surfaces more issues.
While this game was a blast to play in short bursts, I cannot help but feel nervous for this game’s future. V Rising lacks a lot of deserved attention which may lead to the game’s fall in relevancy. This experience has its shortcomings, but it is a pleasure to play for hardcore survival and RPG fans. The graphics and calm soundtrack make for a very cozy experience as well.
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
Reviewed On: PC (Review copy provided by Stunlock Studios)
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Developer: Stunlock Studios
Publisher: Stunlock Studios