V Rising First Impressions

V Rising is a combination of Valhiem and Diablo of sorts, you have all the features of a great survival game, plus some great ARPG action thrown into the mix. V Rising has got off to a great start in early access, grabbing the attention of some of the top streamers in the world. Today I am going to round up my first impressions.

In V Rising you play as a Vampire, where your kind has been ushered away through force by Human Kind, left to fight for scraps. There isn’t a great deal of storytelling in the game, it’s much more focused on gameplay at this stage of early access. A compelling story could be added later on, but for the time being it’s fairly bare-bones and I think that’s OK. Nail the gameplay loop, then tell the story. This is a combination of survival and action, so you’ll be gathering resources, building a base, and then you’ll get into some fights against low-level enemies, building your way up to a boss. Vampire Valheim is a good description, although I would say V Rising has better combat mechanics.

One of your first jobs is to build something called a Blood Altar. Paired with this is a list of tasks, enemies to kill mainly, and if you do this then you’ll unlock new abilities and tech to allow your Vampire to build up a better base. Your experience in V Rising is going to vary depending on whether you play with friends or solo. For example, gathering resources and materials is a fairly slow process, so having a bunch of friends to hang out with (or even do it for you) makes the whole process go much faster and is more fun. That doesn’t mean you can’t play solo, you definitely can, although you’ll have to set up processes for the gathering and refining of materials.

Gathering and refining materials is a big part of V Rising at the moment, and perhaps this will change and evolve as the game goes through the early access process. It starts out fun but does quickly descend into repetition if you are not careful. You have to wait for refining processes to complete, which means you’ll be off out gathering and collecting more in no time. For those who like these survival games, then you will be in your element. Those who don’t enjoy this about survival may get turned off quickly. If you do end up playing solo, you can sweet talk NPCs to help you take some of the stings out of the gathering, collecting and refining.

There is a PVP element to the game if you play on public servers. You can take on other Vampires and attack enemy castles. Combat in the game is good fun, it feels responsive and reminded me of Diablo and Lost Ark in terms of skills and abilities. The feel of the combat is good too, which is so important, especially when you are often completing repetitive tasks. Games like this can live and die on the feel of the combat, as most players will put up with repetition if the game feels good and you get that power fantasy. Here, you are taking on the role of a Vampire. Personally, I’d rather do less collecting, and have a bunch of underlings do it for me, but perhaps that is later in the game and I simply haven’t got to that bit yet. Back to the combat. It feels good, you can build your Vampire in a variety of ways to cater for different playstyles. For example, if you want to focus on healing, you can do that.

The boss battle is a big part of V Rising and thankfully these are good fun, well designed and have good mechanics, plus they feel challenging. There are Vampire Archers, Hunters, Necromancers even Bears… there’s a good variety of bosses with different mechanics. There are roughly 35 bosses so far, which is big for an early access game. The bosses really are the meat of the V Rising combat, the main event even, so I am glad they are tough, fun and engaging.

The environment is interesting too. We have a day/night cycle, and it’s in your interest to hide during the day and come out at night because the sun isn’t your friend. Stay in the sun too long and your health will start to deplete. It’s possible to move around in the daytime, but you have to be much more careful and pay attention, whereas at night you can move about freely.

It’s nighttime when you really start to live the Vampire fantasy. You have a blood meter, which needs to be topped up regularly. This serves your health, and you’ll want to replenish your blood often. Different enemies have different blood too, which gives you certain short-term abilities like damage resistance and other benefits. Blood quality is a large factor in these bonuses, the better quality of blood the better the bonus.

Hunting and gathering are a large part of V Rising, but we also have a base building. You have a castle and you can develop it, decorate it and generally build it up to be the best looking Vampire castle it can be. There are loads of cosmetic items you can add to your castle, plus you have treasure chests that can recycle items into materials. It’s good fun, and you can see this part of the game being developed even more in the future. For now, it’s just enough to keep me coming back for more.

V Rising is early access hit with audiences. Personally, I don’t seem to get along well with survival games, so I don’t think it’s going to be a long-term game for me. However, if you ever wanted to live out your life-sucking blood, and hunting victims in the night, while also building up your own Vampire Castle, then you can’t really go wrong with V Rising. It’s in early access at the moment, but it’s gained a bunch of traction, and I can see this one only getting better with time. I’d say it’s better with friends, as this could be a great social hub of a game. Resource management could do with some work, however, the core loop is good fun, and the combat feels great. The team have nailed the basics, now it’s time to work with their audience on feedback, and V Rising could be a hit when it releases its full one-point-zero version in the months or years to come.

Developer: Stunlock Studios
Publisher: Stunlock Studios
Platform: PC
Release date: May 17th (Early access)