V Rising, the new gothic vampire survival game that was recently released to Steam’s Early Access by Stunlock Studios, takes your survival game genre and puts you in the shoes of a newly awakened vampire.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I loaded up the game for the first time, but I found myself instantly hooked soon after. From the building to the crafting, this was a pleasant change of pace, especially as someone who rarely plays survival games like these. I often find myself easily sidetracked or bored with games, but this game guarantees constant engagement and intrigue. After watching the trailer and seeing the reasonable price on Steam, I was excited to get my hands on this vampire-esque Minecraft.
While this game is still in its Early Access state, by no means has the game disappointed. Before long, I found myself absorbed in the universe and spending endless nights crafting and gathering. While there is the potential of the game facing changes, below are my thoughts on the game so far and why you should also sink your teeth into V Rising.
Character Creation & Plot
You begin the game by creating your character, which, unfortunately, because the game is still in Early Access, doesn't offer a stellar set of options. The character customization provides a good deal of hairstyles and faces, but sadly, they all look rather similar to each other. It doesn’t help that out of the twenty-seven options you have, not only are they similar, but they come across as bland or somewhat weird on your character. Still, you trudge on, and once you’ve created your character, you awaken in your coffin with only one task: survive.
The game gives you many ways to get on with surviving. When trying to avoid being hunted down by vampire hunters, you have the option of building the gothic castle of your dreams to not only protect yourself but to feed on poor, helpless creatures. In order to survive through the day, it goes deeper than just sating your hunger. You’ll have to craft various weapons, gear, utilities, and, of course, your castle.
Being a vampire isn’t all fun and games, though. Staying out of the sun is crucial in V Rising. To avoid direct sunlight and spontaneous combustion, building your castle is crucial. To do so, you’ll need to construct your castle by placing walls within the proper boundaries and floors to increase your chances of survival. I'll explain the nuances behind the castle building later on.
The story right now is admittedly a little lacklustre for being the vampire-based game that V Rising is. That being said, survival games rarely have a story. And aside from the opening cutscene, there really isn't much else to go on beyond the goal of survival. However, this could change once the game is out of early access
Instead of progressing by the story, in V Rising you progress in the game by completing various tasks assigned to you, with more opening up as you play the game. That ranges from building a certain object for your castle to taking out various enemies. You do, however, have a free hand in what you would like to do, as well as how to take out enemies in the game’s great combat system, which I've explained further in the next section.
V Rising is a third-person survival game with some MMORPG light mechanics with its multiplayer aspect. You can craft various types of equipment and armour using the resources found on the rather large map, from iron to gold and leather. Gathering these materials allows the player to craft various armour and gear.
Instead of your typical experience points needed to level a character, V Rising has ditched that completely and replaced the usual format with a gear level.
At the time of writing this review, the max gear level is 81. When you start, the game gives you the option of joining a server or playing through the entire game single-player, which was added with the newest update. When you join a server, they present you with four different modes: PVE, PVP, Duo PVP, and Full Loot PVP
Full Loot is the most challenging survival mode, where you are not only fending off your human attackers, but you also fend off other players as well, allowing you to lose that hard-earned gear upon death. This can be a boon and a curse, allowing players to power level if they’re lucky and take out a higher geared player. Or you can lose all you had previously collected.
PVE is what it sounds like, you trying to survive with other players against the game’s initial enemies. There are not a lot of changes in the game’s PVP mode from PVE. The only major change is you can now attack other players. This brings us to the games duo-PVP system. This is essentially the same as Full Loot, but teaming up with another player.
The game can start off slow with not much to do other than build a coffin, which currently seems to serve no purpose other than to stay safe from the sun. After the initial tutorial quests, the game beings to open up, allowing you to build more, craft more, and fight larger stronger enemies.
After you reach a certain point, you can then craft an item called a Blood Altar. This item allows you to track many of the game's larger enemies. Defeating these larger enemies will reward you with various abilities and new recipes to craft.
Fighting is pretty straightforward; you equip your weapon, which can grant you unique skills depending on the quality of the said weapon, increasing your chances of survival. Being a vampire is not only deadly, but this, of course, gives you a set of a wide range of abilities that can range from throwing projectiles to skills that can cause various debuffs to further increase your arsenal.
Fast Travel Features & Enemies
With the map as large as it is, you may wonder if you can fast-travel? The answer to that is yes!
You can do fast travelling through the use of one of the many way-gates across the map. Unfortunately, the downside of fast travel in the game is that you can’t do it with items in your inventory.
Being a vampire in V Rising has its many perks, but also has its weaknesses. As mentioned before, that weakness is sunlight. Like any shut-in, you would want to avoid the sun and this is where you can see the amount of detail the developers poured into the game. The primary way to avoid the sun is to craft a Mist Brazier which provides the player with a type of safe zone. Burning bones collected from your defeated enemies can do this.
Other than that, you can hide in shadows and wear capes that allow you to shield yourself from the sun’s deadly rays. After you get to gear level 20, you are ready to face the first boss. Once you defeat this boss, this allows you to transform into a wolf. This form grants you increased movement, speed, and sun protection for a short period. Not only is being a wolf great, but this will also act as a sort of your mount, allowing you to get from point A to point B quicker as the game’s time can move pretty slow. So it’s best to move quickly at night to get to where you need to go.
Another unique mechanic is how you can heal. Being a vampire, the obvious way of healing is by drinking the blood of your enemies. You can, also, store the blood for healing at a later time. Doing so will also allow you to change your class, which grants you various perks the more you play the game.
The enemies vary from the typical wolves, zombies, and even plant-like creatures. Enemies you will face will become stronger as you explore further into the map and the different regions in the game. These creatures will each drop various materials which allow you to craft the game’s various items. Then you have V Blood creatures. These creatures contain a special type of blood and act as the game’s bosses. Defeating these creatures as mentioned before grants the player unique powers. With a whopping 38 different bosses for you and your friends to fight, there are bounds to be a variety of different play styles for you to choose from.
Audio and Graphics
The music of the game is slightly repetitive after a good ten minutes with its looping tracks. It’s fitting, but there isn’t much to it otherwise that makes it stand out. This is one downside to the game being in Early Access, and is one of the ways that this classification of games has disappointed me in the past. Despite the repetition, the game's music hits its mark and makes you feel you are in a gothic setting and that's what the game needs to achieve for its player base to feel fully immersed.
Graphically, the game isn’t all that special, looking similar to something like Divinity II. There's no sense in fixing something that isn't broken, though. That being said, V Rising doesn’t really try to achieve much in terms of any significant advancement. What the game does right is that it sets the tone rather well, from the sombre feel to the anticipation of what you’ll find exploring the game’s massive environment.
V Rising’s early access is currently at $19.99 on Steam. The game is definitely well worth the price, proving to be the start of something that feels like it can only get better as time goes on. Players can often lose interest as these Early Access games go through the development process. This may end up being a bridge the developers will need to cross when the time comes, but also an opportunity to improve and polish the experience so it is more appealing to players.
Early Access games have left me cold before, due to lack of content or a shortfall of length in the experience. V Rising is a welcome change and a pleasant surprise, appearing to give players a satisfying amount of content even at this early point. In summary, here are the pros and cons to consider when making your purchase decision:
- Vampire survival game with a lot to offer early on.
- Crafting can be a good distraction
- No experience points needed to level your character
- Can be a grind
- Not too much in terms of a tutorial to show players what to do.
- A soundtrack that sets the mood of the game but also can make you feel a little too relaxed.
Are you looking forward to trying out this new vampire survival game? Any first impressions if you've already given it a try? Let me know on Twitter!
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