V Rising Review

When I think of the vampire fantasy, I picture the secret societies and the intrigue. I think of stalking prey through the night maybe, like, a cape & ascot customisation minigame. Minecraft-style crafting and base-building is the last thing that comes to mind when I picture what I want out of a vampire power-fantasy game, and that dissonance is what kept me away from V Rising for so long. Coming around to check the game out in its 1.0 release has been an incredible surprise, though. While the vampire simulation seems thin at a glance, what this game accomplishes in streamlining and incentivising the usual tedium of survival games blew me away.

There isn’t any dense world-building or character-driven drama spurring you to action in the opening moments of V Rising. You awake and arise from a coffin, all vampire-like, and you’re given a list of bounties and a goal: reclaim your vampire power. The idea is that each of the 50 boss battles present on your bounty list rewards you with a different vampire ability, and also takes you across various realms that scale in difficulty as you grow. This loop was everything to me. I always suffer from the lack of direction in survival-crafting games: I find my focus depleting and my interest in playing further entirely vanishing. The constant boss-battle goals and your checklist of progress for them kept me engaged – and as I progressed through the list, I naturally found myself falling into the other systems of the game all too naturally.

Another thing that kept me engaged with V Rising is that, unlike so many other survival crafting games, it isn’t set in a massively open or procedurally generated world. The game feels and handles much more like Diablo, guiding you through hand-crafted and sometimes claustrophobic environments. The visuals of these varied biomes aren’t all that impressive, as the game rocks a consistently underwhelming color palette and aesthetic throughout. What matters more, though, is how these more structured environments and the engaging combat encounters they guide you toward feel – and they feel really good.

Combat in V Rising feels like a MOBA, but centered around smaller engagements and one-on-one duels. No matter how many weapons and abilities you unlock, you’re only able to equip two weapon abilities, two spells, and an ultimate at once. So you’re always working with a limited tool-belt, but combining that set of tools with the task of dodging enemy attacks and aligning your own character optimally to dish out damage kept me on my toes in every boss battle. Additionally, I rarely felt like a boss I encountered was fodder or generic. Each one has a really special thing going on, whether it’s a combative fisherman flinging trout at you or a bullet-hell necromancer battle. I was surprised by how much depth there was to each encounter, and it made me all too excited to track down the next.

In-between boss-battles, V Rising has you building a base, gathering resources, and smithing weapons. This is where all of the typical survival-gaming tedium would come into play…but only if you want it to. If you’re like me, and the repetitive grind and long-wait times associated with those tasks is a chore, V Rising lets you fine-tune the difficulty and scaling of almost every aspect of the game to your liking. I was able to lessen resource requirements, shorten wait times, remove restrictions on fast-travel and more – the result was my own personally tuned vampire survival experience, where I could focus on the systems and challenges that excited me the most while the less-interesting elements were kept to a minimum for the sake of my sanity.

That kind of accessibility goes a long way – not just for gamers who need assistance like that to be able to properly play a game, but for making me feel like I have the ability to truly play V Rising any way I would like to. I got to dive in deep on the base-building, crafting my own gaudy vampire castle full of ridiculous candelabras and torture chambers. In doing so, though, I didn’t have to sit through the tree-chopping tedium that might frustrate me, feeling rewarding and peaceful – hopefully it’ll feel the same for other house-proud would-be-vampires. All these balance adjustments can be done on live servers, too – whether you’re playing co-op in a PvE world or dealing with player threats on a PvP one.

At the end of the day, V Rising isn’t a typical vampire fantasy. Yet the way it blends survival-crafting with a boss-focused action RPG and sprinkles the themes of vampirism throughout turn it into an incredibly successful power fantasy nonetheless. Plus, the sheer depth of customisation you can dig into for tuning and balancing the game exactly as you need it is a breath of fresh air, and helps make this one of the most innovative and approachable survival games I’ve ever played.

Summary
V Rising is a delicious duo of survival-crafting and action-RPG fun that puts the best of both worlds together without making either side fall flat.
Good
  • Incredible depth of difficulty & balance customisation
  • Rewarding combat and unique, challenging boss fights
  • An addictive blend of survival and RPG adventure
Bad
  • Drab, repetitive visuals
9
Written by
I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.

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