The Rise of V Rising: Reviewing Steam's newest chart-topping survival game
TLDR: If you like survival games, buy and play V Rising.
The gothic, night-stalking game V Rising has made waves in the Steam charts; despite being released in Early Access for less than a week, it's sold over 500,000 game copies on Steam. While it's been lovingly dubbed "Vampire Valheim," the catchy monicker diminishes the unique gameplay elements that make V Rising great.
I'll touch on some need-to-know elements of gameplay, give you some comparisons with my two cents, and let you decide if you want to take the plunge and join the undead.
Before I dig in too much, I'd like to mention that the game already feels really polished for an early access title-- most devs who put their games out in early access will spend the next few years building and polishing them to get to a level V Rising has already achieved. It's not perfect (what game is?), but the fact that their dev team has been so diligent about bugs and hotfixes shows me that V Rising is a gem purely for that reason. Active community support and clear communications are always green flags for excellent games. (Anyway...)
V Rising is an isometric, open-world survival game created by Stunlock Studios, who are also responsible for free-to-play arena brawler Battlerite. V Rising has official servers, but players can enter their own servers and choose between PvE and PvP experiences, with servers able to tweak the rules and influence gameplay more than other sandbox survival titles allow. Players enter the world of V Rising as weakened vampires emerging from a centuries-long slumber, hungry and eager to rebuild their kingdom. From there, the grind begins.
Like most survival titles, you're encouraged to find a base location quickly so you can expand as you gain power. You'll spend most of your early nights deforesting your region and clamoring for materials, eventually working your way up to fight your first boss. Boss fights are essential to game progression; like Valheim, your level is gear-based, with upgrades, abilities, and next-tier resources locked behind boss fights. You can find tomes or research that help with your leveling, but ultimately the bosses you encounter are your best bet.
Your vampirism comes with obvious benefits and weaknesses, all of which play into V Rising. Resource grinding during the daylight hours can be a one-way ticket to Hell for the careless, as sunlight will send your character scorching. I wouldn't recommend trusting the shadows much either, which move as the day progresses and can leave you sunbathing if you aren't paying close enough attention. It felt good, albeit frustrating, to have this extra environmental challenge. On top of that, you'll need to find thralls and meals in the human NPCs, and feeding isn't something you want to leave on the back burner.
The world exploration isn't perfect-- it's a large world map, and you can find other player bases or villages, but I didn't feel the world was as exciting to traverse as other sandbox worlds. The base-building in V Rising also felt limited-- the isometric view made it easy to build, and the building mode in the game was a relief, but (IMO) a lot of creative agency was robbed. There are plenty of cosmetics to add a bit of gothica flair to your dreary domicile, but ultimately I felt the building leaned more towards utilitarianism than beauty.
Mechanically, I have to say I was impressed. Combat feels good, miles better than Valheim IMO. (I could get into the details more of how hoards work, raiding, pillaging villages... but isn't it always better to do it yourself, if you're so curious?)
Without going into extreme nitty-gritty, I'd say that anyone with an affinity for survival games will definitely enjoy their time with V Rising. As a friendly note, most reviews I've read of the game felt that solo gameplay was lacking at the moment. Most of life is easier with friends-- if you decide to take the plunge and become a vampiric lord, you may want to phone a friend and have a blood-sucking buddy by your side.
What are your thoughts on V Rising? Have you played? LMK your review of the game in the comments!