V Rising is a survival game with some surprisingly fun fights

V Rising

The Early Access survival game puts some novel twists on the mold

I wasn’t sure what to make of V Rising in my first hour or so with it. The Steam Early Access survival game starts out just tasking you with making a vampire lord, rising from a coffin, and collecting resources. Crafting, scrapping, and surviving, it all felt familiar.

Yet the isometric world and grim, gothic setting kept giving me more and more Diablo vibes. Soon I had a castle and heart, some weapons and spells to work with, and a domain to call my own. And soon, I’d go on the hunt, and really see where V Rising would set itself apart for me. After putting in a handful of hours with V Rising over the weekend, I can absolutely see why players are so excited about its prospects.

If you haven’t been checking the Steam charts lately, well, V Rising has been steadily sitting atop them. The new king of the Steam hill is a survival game, for sure. I’ve spent a solid amount of time just smacking trees, mining rocks, and collecting resources to turn into better tools for harvesting those resources.

Thankfully, there aren’t pesky meters like hunger or thirst to keep track of while you’re harvesting. The big resource is blood, which is almost like a mana pool. You get essence from killing enemies, and fill your own blood pool by feeding on them.

Keeping your own blood reservoir sated is good, but it’s also important to keep your castle’s heart fed with blood essence and powered. It’s back at base that you can build new items, create wells of resources, and set out on long journeys for big targets.

The old blood

While setting up a ramshackle domain, with some lumber walls and a wooden coffin to sleep away in, is a core part of the early game, it soon gives way to V Rising‘s major drive: hunting targets. Various named enemies have set up around the map, usually within dungeons or camps of other foes hostile to roaming vampires. While the world has plenty of territorial beasts to contend with, these zones are filled with mobs to mow through.

The individual named enemies pack a wallop, too. A foreman, driving the workers in a copper mine I discovered, could make the earth fracture and split with his strikes. In another camp, a frost archer could cloak herself and reappear, launching a volley of arrows in my direction.

Developer Stunlock Studios is no stranger to this kind of combat design. The studio previously worked on arena-MOBA games like Bloodrite and Bloodline Champions, and it’s in the boss fights that their past work shines through. Each named enemy has some brutal attacks and special moves.

Fights were as much about staying nimble, dealing with additional enemies, and spacing myself well as they were about dealing damage. And eventually, when I brought a boss down, I was often handsomely rewarded.

Building a home

Many boss enemies carry blueprints on them for various upgrades. Getting a tannery so I could turn hides into leather meant killing a boss. Need a storage box with larger storage space? Go fell a boss. Want to turn into a wolf, like Alucard? Go fight the big wolf.

Within a few hours of V Rising, I settled into this comfortable routine. Build, refine, upgrade back at base. Venture out into the world to fight a boss. Then, ferry the resources back to my domain, and start it over again.

The vampire aspects of V Rising are interesting, though I’m curious to see how they pan out. The most interesting part of being a vampire in V Rising is that the sun will, actually, burn you. Standing in the shade of trees, or waiting for it to get overcast, means being able to work during the day.

Sunlight created an interesting relationship between my surroundings and me, because of this. Harvesting lumber near my base meant destroying potential shade. I soon had a “route” between prime mining spots and deep forests that I could take during daylight hours. The other option is sleeping through the day in a coffin, but frankly, that’s just inefficient.

Over time, I built up a solid home. My boundaries expanded out further and further, and various waypoints allowed me to quick travel around the map. New buildings let me establish a better area for myself; I could lure in rats and feed them to a grinder for a constant source of blood, and use an evil lantern to fill the area with mist, blotting out the sun’s harmful effects. It’s straightforward basebuilding, but it does exactly what it needs to. It also kept me moving forward, constantly, towards new goals and new targets. And from what I’ve seen from players much further in than I am, it goes to some wild places.

Into eternity

My initial impressions of V Rising are pretty strong, though I’m curious to see where it goes from here. PvP really seems to be the driver for long-term play; it’s been fairly straightforward to chop through the PvE content in a solo world. Plus, the vampire-versus-vampire fights seem like they’d be a hoot. I’ve been content enough with farming away in my own lands for now, but I’d be curious to see what the PvP side looks like.

As is, it looks like V Rising is doing pretty well for its launch. And it definitely seems like Stunlock’s got enough interesting ideas to stick around and see how the Early Access shapes up headed into launch. With some cool thematic ideas and a great head-start on combat, especially for a survival game, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on what Stunlock does with V Rising moving forward.

You can find V Rising on Steam here.

Eric Van Allen