So before I dive too far into this, I want to get one thing straight since I’ve seen a lot of comments about this game being an MMO.
V Rising is not an mmo. It’s an online survival ARPG. There are no massively multiplayer elements to the game. If anything it’s just a coop game that happens to have up to 36 other players running around in it as well. So please don’t go into this thinking it’s going to be like Lost Ark or Albion, it has some similarities with those games, but shouldn’t be put in the same category.
Okay! With that out of the way, let’s break down V Rising and my experience with it so far.
V Rising: Early Access Review
When you first start the game, you need to create your very own vampire using the basic character creator that comes with the game, then you are thrust into the tutorial graveyard where you learn how to fight, gather materials, and craft rudimentary tools. This is a small taste as to what you are going to be doing for the majority of this game.
Once you are done with the short tutorial, you are thrown out into Farbane Woods and left to fend for yourself with very little direction – which some will like and some will hate.
For me, I love this aspect. The open exploration and “go anywhere” attitude is what I look for in open world games, so V Rising delivered in this regard.
To get started, I had to build a castle – this is where the review truly begins. So let’s talk a little bit about building your castle since it’s a cornerstone feature.
In V Rising, each player can create their own castle, an estate that can be as large or small as you want it to be. You can add gardens, throne rooms, prison cells, and everything in between. For me? I’m a simple guy who enjoys simple things. Give me a big room with all my crafting stations and I’m sold. But If you are someone who likes housing and those type of systems, then V Rising might scratch that itch.
You see, the game gives you everything you need to build the barebones castle, but it’s up to you to go out and discover new recipes, blueprints and unlock all kinds of new visuals to help make the home of your dreams. So there is some effort that you need to put into it in order to find the certain item or decoration you’re looking for.
Beyond that, you will also need the correct materials to craft that certain thing. This is where the grind rears its ugly head.
V Rising is heavily focused on crafting and resource gathering. You need to harvest tons and tons of materials in order to make progress; and just like in other survival or crafting focused games, you need to gather stone to then refine into stone bricks. Meaning you need 20 stones to form 1 brick, and when each wall takes 10 bricks, it easily sends you into the thousands for just walls.
Now, I don’t want this to come across as a huge time investment or something overly grindy, but I also don’t want to downplay how much time you will be spending on hitting stones with your hammer. I would spend a few nights just gathering resources so I could make base upgrades.
And this applies to all aspects of the game, whether it’s harvesting lumber, stones, animal skin, bones, vegetation, etc. You will be required to harvest, craft, and upgrade in order to unlock better and better stuff.
For me? I enjoy mining and because of that I didn’t mind. But there were a few times where I thought to myself, my lord this is a lot of materials just to get my walls up. So do with that information as you will.
But I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about the other half of V Rising and that’s the combat and all that this entails. So with this being from Stunlock Studios and them having created Battlerite, you can definitely expect one thing: Strong, moba-like combat. And that’s exactly what you get with V Rising. Most of your skills are skill shots, so you need to aim and land those spells or skills in order to deal the damage. You have counters to parry and give buffs to yourself if you time them right, you have shields, leech, and so on.
The game definitely feels like it was built on the battlerite engine, so if you are someone who enjoyed that game and it’s combat, you should feel right at home with V Rising.
Let’s break down combat a bit and talk about how this whole thing works.
Combat in V Rising takes two forms: Weapons and Spells.
The game features four weapons: Sword, Axe, Hammer, Spear – and these also double as your harvesting tools. So you will be using them a lot. And I mean a lot.
Now once you reach copper tier of weapons, you will gain weapon skills, which give you another skill to use in combat. For Axes, this is a blood frenzy which causes damage and gives you temporary attack speed. For Spears it’s a flurry of thrusts, for hammers it’s a wind up smash, and for swords it’s a whirlwind.
Weapons are definitely your filler damage. These are used to whittle down enemies while your spells are on cooldown. I understand where the developers were going with this concept – they wanted spells to be your nukes and your weapons to be something you could spam. But in my experience weapons still felt a little too weak and failed to really drive home some big damage or generate some excitement when I used them. Instead, I eagerly waited for my spells or skills to come off cooldown so I could get back into the fight.
This is where I really noticed this game felt like a MOBA. Damage going out was low and enemies had quite a bit of health to work through and unless you were fighting minions, your basic attacks felt a little hollow.
Now, this damage can be amped up by equipping a new tier of weapons too. So going from Bone to Copper to Iron is going to help out your damage, but compared to spells, they were designed to fall a little short.
So that’s weapons, but now let’s talk spells. These are the crown jewel of V Rising combat. These feel great to use, the feedback is awesome and you can tell how powerful they are even from the start.
When you first begin, you will have some blood spells at your disposal, but as you defeat bosses, you will unlock more spells across a variety of types, things like Frost Hawks to freeze enemies, chaos bolts to burn targets with purple fire, and unholy, which can be used to summon vile beasts and deal decay damage. These are where I had the most fun, I could experiment with different combinations since you can equip two spells at once, and see how they performed! Some worked well together, while others floundered a little bit.
And these would nuke minions or take huge chunks off boss health if you were able to land them. It felt very satisfying to use.
Ultimately, combat in V Rising is the tale of two types. You have weapon combat while feels and looks fun, but the damage and spammy nature just doesn’t hit the button some times. Then on the other hand, you have spells, which are these really cool and well-designed abilities that both feel great to use and have damage to match. I’m hoping we see some improvements to the weapon side of things to help smooth out the peaks and valleys of combat.
But that’s not the only thing that gives you the edge in combat. You also have blood types! When you fight enemies, they will have a type, something like Rogue, Creature, Brute, etc. and when you whittle down their health, you will be able to feed on them! This allows you to change your blood type to theirs and gain certain buffs that can be used in combat.
I really REALLY liked this system. It gave even the weakest of minions a chance to have perfect quality blood and gave you a reason to actually go out and fight them.
One last thing before we move on. I mentioned you only had four weapons to use. This is a big issue for me, probably one of the largest on my list if I’m being honest. In a game like this where you spend the majority of your time harvesting or fighting bosses, only having four weapons to use the entire time just feels… so limited. I was very disappointed. I mean, I understand it’s not Diablo, you won’t have fountains of loot and a hundred different weapon types to choose from, but even having 10 makes a huge difference. I’d love to see daggers, scythes, offhands, tomes, etc. There are so many things they could pull from when it comes to vampire lore – hopefully we see new types added before release.
Moving on! I want to talk about the World. Vardoran is huge. This is a massive world that they managed to create and I love it. The entry zone of Farbane woods is huge and somewhat varied. You have bandit camps and strongholds scattered about, you have packs of wolves, treants, and stone golems patrolling roads. But the thing I love most is how alive it feels.
Stunlock did a great job creating a sense of immersion and liveliness in the game. You have enemies that walk the roads, merchants to ambush, and bosses that will sometimes just show up and give you the battle of your life. All of these things seem random and offer something to help break up the monotony.
And what I mean by that is that once you establish your castle, you’re going to be following the same roads and paths to go gather resources, farm points of interest or go complete a goal, so running that same road and passing those same camps is going to get boring. So by having a little sense of randomness, this will help keep you more engaged.
I like it and hope to see it perpetuated throughout the entire experience.
During my time with the game I was able to clear Farbane Woods and work my way into Dunley Farms, these are similar, yet different when it comes to Biomes. Both feature lots of green foliage and paths, but a key difference is that there are way more humans and towns in Dunley than there is in Farbane. I really do hope that Silverlight and Hallowed Mountain are pretty different to give us a break from the farms and forests.
So that’s the world, Before we wrap this thing up, I want to talk about the V Blood Units, Spells, and Unlocks. I wanted to keep this section separate from combat because while they do overlap, there is so much more to these elements than just making your vampire stronger.
Early on in the game you are going to unlock the Blood Alter, which is something you can place in your castle that helps you track down elite enemies that you can defeat to unlock new skills, spells, and crafting workstations! And because V Rising doesn’t have a leveling system, this is essentially your progression. You will use these as milestones to work towards, and these bosses are no joke!
At first, they aren’t really a challenge, but once you get a few under you Cr belt, they suddenly take a dramatic increase in difficulty starting with the Bandit King. Prior to this boss, I was able to solo most of them, but this one required me to grab some other players and even then we wiped 3-4 times before we were able to actually down him. For me, these were a blast to do, they felt challenging enough that I wasn’t bored, but it still felt doable even if I was a lower gear score.
Speaking of, gear score works just like in any other game. It’s the average of all your items that you have equipped. As you put on new tiers of gear and weapons, you will increase, which will then allow you to take on harder and harder bosses.
Once you kill these bosses, you will consume their blood, which will give you new spells that are permanent unlocks. But that’s not all, most of the time you also unlock new crafting workstations, recipes, or baseline vampire skills like new shapeshift forms.
All in all, I really enjoyed this gameplay loop. But my concern is will there be any variety or will this be the ladder we climb and repeat until all the bosses are dead? We’ll have to wait and see.
So folks, that is my first impression of V Rising! I really enjoyed the game and while there were a few things that I feel like need to be improved or expanded upon, I think the game has awesome potential. I plan on doing a more in-depth review next week after I’ve been able to sink lots more hours into the game.