Have you ever wanted to play a game that combines the awe-inspiring open-world exploration of Valheim, the crafting and freedom of expression of Minecraft, and the impending doom around every corner of Rust? V Rising is making moves to become the next great multiplayer survival game. But will the early access state of this game keep it from being something worth sinking your teeth into?
V Rising urges you to embrace the darkness. When night falls you are free to fulfill your wildest countryside vampire rampage desires - that is, if your desires consist of eating midnight snacks, slaying baddies, or gathering resources. At night, the roads are infrequently traveled by large squads of enemy units, replaced by bandits who are fewer in numbers, making them easier to isolate and feed on. Staying off the main drag not only gives you reprieve from your social anxiety, but the dense biomes give you access to a plethora of items you’d never find if you hadn’t taken the road less traveled.
Being a vampire, you’ll be preying on all sorts of creatures. The enemy variety is appreciated, but consists of the standard mix of humanoid archetypes found in most games in this genre - archers, fighters, brutes, and holy knights all wander the countryside waiting to defend their territory from you and your pals. With each new target, you’ll be rewarded with temporary perks based on the quality of blood consumed. The abilities gained from each new victim can be a game-changer when it comes to surviving long boss battles and I found myself seeking out particular creatures for their abilities before I’d head into a tough fight. With each kill, blood is added to your health pool which is the central resource managed to keep your character at full strength.
Your blood pool slowly diminishes over time, as well as when you use certain abilities and magical powers. When your blood bank reaches zero, you start to take damage over time until you wither into a vampire-shaped prune. Your hunger drives you in this game and often forces you into some compromising positions.
Vampires can’t stand in direct sunlight for more than a couple of seconds without taking massive damage, but that doesn’t mean you have to hide in your home like I do when it’s above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As you utilize shadows cast by trees and clouds, daytime exploration becomes complicated.
Do you risk getting a sunburn while mining that precious iron ore in the clearing?
Can you do enough damage to that roaming platoon of soldiers before you’re surrounded and forced to retreat to your next shady plot?
Traveling along the main path might be the most direct route to your destination but the lack of tree cover might not be worth it. Early on, my days were spent in the shady corners of my roofless base before eventually gaining the ability to create a mist brazier that creates an invisible barrier protecting me from sun exposure, so long as you have the materials to keep the brazier running.
V Rising has a crafty way of keeping you invested in your character. Your home base degrades over time unless you can harvest enough blood essence to keep your walls from crumbling, exposing the heart of your base. The more you upgrade the heart of your base, the more blood essence you can store in it. Once the heart of your base is exposed, the smallest breeze (namely, a devious enemy player) could take down all you’ve worked to build.
Fortunately, protecting your base is a process that gets easier the longer you play on your server due to creating a “blood extractor” that takes commonly found items dropped from creatures/human NPCs and turns them into fuel to keep your walls standing tall.
To create a base you need to prevent from collapsing in the first place, you’ll be doing a lot of resource gathering. Trees, bones, and stones can all be gathered frequently throughout the world and will be your most desired resources in the early game. If you’re sensitive to repetitive dialogue/sound like I am, here is my warning to you: you’re going to hear the same three-swipe sound effect a lot. While I still found myself able to go into tunnel vision to drown out the audio monotony, I am desperate for an update that changes the sound of resource collecting.
Having the right tool for the job when you’re exploring the map can make the difference in the number of resources you receive for your efforts - swords are great for collecting plant materials, axes allow you to harvest trees, and maces can be used for extracting the most from rocks. You’ll also fight plant, tree, and rock monsters so having the right tool in combat will also allow you to gain an advantage on your opponent.
For crafting purposes, nearly every item has a symbiotic relationship with another which has the potential to lead to making tough inventory management decisions with the limited bag space you’re given.
There is constantly a carrot on a stick dangled in front of you in the form of short crafting quests. These quests are present to give you a sense of progression, provide new crafting blueprints and provide you with a continuous objective to complete. The prompts will have you collecting specific resources to create a specific base upgrade.
Collect four hundred lumber and eighty stone to assemble a sawmill. Throw twenty Lumber into your sawmill to create one wood plank. Use that wood plank to wipe your tears because you’ll be doing this a lot. I haven’t hit a point where I felt the game was asking me to grind too much but you can expect to spend a lot of time hacking away at trees and rocks as the same over-exaggerated voice line grunts in your ear.
Once you’ve completed enough crafting quests, you’ll be tasked with assembling the pieces of a blood altar. The blood altar can be used to track down boss enemies in the world. Bosses in this game can be found at the end of dungeons or wandering the open world, and once defeated can be drained of their V Blood giving the player access to new magical powers and crafting blueprints.
I have to recommend seeking out the Alpha Wolf boss as early as possible because the V Blood power you receive allows you to traverse the map much quicker than you could before.
Aside from an opening cutscene, the story takes a backseat in this game. You and all your vampire pals have awoken from a deep slumber, and it’s time to take back the land. As you might figure, the humans aren’t very keen to let that happen, and while you progress further in your adventure, you’ll see their ways of deterring ghouls change over time.
Early game human settlements include small military camps and isolated farms. As you work your way inland, garlic clusters (a vampire's greatest weakness) are placed at the outskirts of villages, making you more susceptible to damage and reducing your own damage output, should you dare to cross this stinky boundary.
While humans are worried about smearing their favorite grocery items on the exteriors of their settlements, you’ve likely assembled a massive castle with decorative gargoyles adorning your entryways and loyal servants ready to fight for you.
The fortress I’ve created has more space than I know what to do with, so if you know any gothic interior designers who accept blood essence as payment, send them my way.
Offering a little bit of something for everyone, V Rising allows you to choose between PVP (player versus player), PVE (player versus environment), Full Loot PVP, and Duo PVP depending on what sort of experience you seek from a survival game. For reviewing purposes, I dabbled in all modes but spent the bulk of my time in PVE so that I could learn the ropes without fear of a player stabbing me in the back out of nowhere. I think it’s fantastic that this game offers a wide variety of gameplay types, but I fear that splitting the player base may lead to empty servers.
Time will tell, and this game is still in early access, but I never saw more than three active players on my server that were categorized as “crowded” when originally selecting it. You can also create private servers for just you and your friends to enjoy which also allows you to tweak the rules of the game to your preference.
V Rising is still in early access and can only be found on Steam. At the price tag of $20 USD, the stakes aren’t high and it’s likely you’ll have a bloody good time. As long as you don’t think grinding for crafting materials will drive you … batty.