V Rising Preview – Carpe Noctem

A year and a half after Valheim entered early access on Steam, it’s time for another survival game to conquer its charts by storm. V Rising is an isometric, PC exclusive vampire RPG; it’s sweet-looking, cheap, accessible, and addicting. It’s less rough on the edges than Valheim was back then but still suffers from significant disbalance. More importantly, V Rising is more tailored toward cooperative gameplay, in both PVE and PVP sense. Valheim was a loner’s dream, but this one, at a certain stage, becomes challenging if you shun the company of others.

In V Rising, you are a member of an ancient vampire civilization, driven underground eons ago by humans. Great awakening is now at hand, and you must do your part in the resurgence. The game looks and controls like most isometric ARPGs, except that the base-building is the essential part of the progression. Survivalism is, for the moment, implemented pretty “thinly.” Besides feeding on animals or humans in order to replenish the blood pool, there’s little more to it.

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Wishing for a less linear progression

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The first few hours of V Rising offer a straightforward experience. You’ll mostly farm the basic stuff for the initial tiers of your dwelling. There’s a quest system in place that guides you, step by step, in building your starting castle and equipment. Progression is linear, so you’ll be compelled to follow those quests to the letter to make any progress. You’ll fight bandits, skeletons, wolves, bears, and other entry-level foes, slowly unlocking the better goodies.

The game will soon introduce the bosses, an essential element for most unlocks. Every boss opens up something new and intrinsically tied to gear, ability, and inventory progression. Those bosses are much more numerous than a handful of Valheim’s, and the degree of challenge they present is also more gradual. The first ones will be a pushover; later ones will tax both your skills and nerves. The difficulty will always be exacerbated because you cannot out gear most bosses. Better equipment and spells are always tied to their defeat.

Besides fighting, resource management and the base building will take most of your time. Depending on the type of the server (PVP or PVE), your buildings and possessions will be safe or up for grabs. The game itself recommends playing with three or four other people if you aren’t fond of being ganked and/or robbed. But even in the PVE server, you need to maintain your holding by putting the blood essence in your castle hearth to prevent its decay. That essence is a byproduct of feeding, so you’ll always have a significant surplus.

The Sun is trying to kill me

V Rising 01

Sun is deadly to vampires, of course. This well-known fact is a chief gameplay concern in V Rising. The clock slowly ticks during the 24h period, and nine hours of daylight is followed by fifteen hours of sweet, sweet darkness. You can move around during the day, provided you streak between shadows, trying to minimize exposition to sunlight. You don’t get burned right away, as you are allowed a second or two immunity before rays start sizzling your pale flesh. But combat, even with low-level foes, is a major drag in a sunny environment. Even going AFK outside is pretty much out of the question, as shadows shifts as hours go by. Lovely shade under the great oak gradually becomes exposed to Sun, so if you go for anything longer than a piss, you’ll get back to a charred corpse. An exciting and well though-off concept that’s nevertheless irritating.

When night finally falls, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief or, IDK, perform a vampire equivalent of it. During the average night, you won’t enjoy any particular benefits – reduced vision in human foes, for example, would be sensible. Only during the blood moon, which happens every once in a while, you’ll move faster and have lower ability cooldowns.

Not really suitable for lone wolves

V Rising review map

V Rising just entered early access, so managed expectations should take precedence over angrily pointing out its flaws. But one particular problem definitely needs prompt addressing – totally gated progression. Moving forward in the game is exclusively tied to killing the bosses and drinking their blood, which unlocks practically everything. It’s fine in theory, but…

But around gear LVL 30-33, I have hit the brick wall. Clive the Firestarter, who was supposed to unlock the explosives needed for opening the way to Bandit King and iron weapons, proved to be almost insurmountable. The fight with Clive takes place in the sulfur quarry with mobs at every corner, who got pulled into the fight due to his erratic manoeuvers. I tried to spend the night clearing every group, but after I fiddled my thumbs during the day, the respawn timer ticketh. So, in every fresh attempt on old Clive’s life, mobs gradually respawned, and I got overwhelmed. Repeatedly.

I could have grouped with another player, but that would conflict with my wow of vampiric solitude. So I had invested half of an (actual) day tweaking my tactics until I finally got him. And then I realized that, between attempts, I had spent at least two hours camping in the shadows, waiting for the night, turning the podcast on and off on my mobile. Screw that.

Second Valheim?

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Since we all recently suffered through a pandemic, It’s reasonable to assume that almost nobody likes a forced lockdown. I personally don’t know any vampires, so I can’t vouch for their preference, but I guess that they feel the same about daylight confinement. But what if 1/3 of the game revolves around sitting on your ass and waiting? Will you embrace the (logical) inconvenience or give up? I guess that’s the second major thing the developers need to address if they wish to keep the tremendous commercial momentum. V Rising can become the second Valheim if it stops being majorly inconvenient.

Highs

  • Sweeet-looking, accessible and addictive game.
  • Polished and presentable even at the start of the early access phase.

Lows

  • Some bosses are woefully unbalanced.
  • Day/night mechanic is cool but inconvenient in its current form.
  • Progression needs to be less linear.
Preview platform: PC
Review platform: PC
Developed by: Stunlock Studios
Published by: Stunlock Studios
(read our Review Policy for clarification)
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Author JoeTheBard profile picture
A language teacher and video game enthusiast turned rogue, Joe is on a quest to become the ultimate gaming journalist. This is somewhat hampered by his belief that the golden age of gaming ended with the PlayStation One, but he doesn't let that stop him. His favorite games include Soul Reaver and Undertale. Other interests are D'n'D, dad rock, complaining about movies, and being the self-appointed office funny man, which nobody else agrees with.

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