V Rising Review: A survival game obsessed with the processes of vampirism

The sun goes down and like clockwork my circle comes to life. We rise from our stone coffins to gather in the main hall of our shared castle. Once we’ve settled on our target – in this case, Tristan, a vampire hunter who plagued our early forays into Farbane – we waste no time. In an instant we have transformed, running like a pack of wolves through the dense forests outside our stone castle walls. We enjoy the light of the moon, greedy and hungry for blood. We are vampires.

V rising is a hybrid survival action game deeply inspired by the Gothic lens of vampire fiction. At the beginning of the game you are thrown into the world as the only survivor, your coffin hidden deep in the recesses of a forgotten cave – your goal is to fight your way back to power.

The written narration is relatively sparse, with interactions with NPCs reduced to crouching or single lines of spoken dialogue. but V risingThe interlocking systems of lead to player-generated, emergent stories. This has facilitated the growth of a whole range of RPG servers in different languages; Some server owners have created completely unique world rules. On a German RPG server I joined, players were divided into different circles ruled by individual vampire lords and in some cases entire councils. I have witnessed power struggles where members were ostracized and alliances torn apart. Those enticing bits of drama and intrigue remained V rising feel fresh while teammates dictated the flow of the game outside of the immersive vampire mechanics developed by Stunlock Studios as a foundation.

In V Rising, two vampires ride into a city

Image: Stunlock Studios

Speaking of which, the sun was perhaps one of the biggest inconveniences for me in the early hours of the game. But I loved it. I enjoyed sulking in the shade as the sun scoured the sky while making my first and somewhat flimsy attempt at building my own castle. It’s a great use of what would otherwise be a trivial environmental detail in any other game. It added to the Gothic aesthetic and immersive tension, and made me think more carefully about how I would approach certain challenges (like bosses) within sometimes tight timelines. There are other small touches that go a long way in adding vampire flavor such as: B. Garlic’s weaknesses (which players can bypass with craftable potions).

but V risingThe most compelling game systems are V Blood and Blood. As vampires, you must consume blood to survive – but every single enemy has a specific blood type, each with their own stats. For example, drinking from a wolf or a stag will increase your movement speed, but drinking from human enemies with Rogue blood type will increase your critical hit rating. There are also different blood qualities that affect how much these secondary stats increase and how good your innate healing ability becomes.

V Blood, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether. You get additional abilities by killing bosses scattered around the world. These can come in the form of transformation or more combat-oriented abilities like frost or gore stained attacks. These abilities create more varied playstyles between vampires. I preferred to use freeze skills as the chill effect either slows down enemies – be it a player or NPC – or freezes them completely. This made it easier for me to secure kills and keep many incoming threats at bay. After gaining the Frost Bat ability, boss hunting became infinitely easier – it made it so much easier to maintain reasonable range to my prey.

A collection of coffins in a vampire castle in V Rising

Image: Stunlock Studios

But certain spells and abilities are clearly better than others, leading to stark power disparities on PvP servers. Because player level is determined by the armor and weapons each player has equipped, and certain abilities are tied to specific late-game weapons, high-level players can prevent new players from accessing certain abilities. I’ve witnessed this multiple times, watching a high-level vampire blast away a group of young players with the ultimate ability Crimson Beam (a powerful beam of blood magic that not only deals massive damage but also heals the user with each hit). With nothing stopping Veterans from roaming the land, they can effectively protect late-game abilities and content. In addition, they can prevent early players from developing their own castles.

These caves serve as strongholds where you can communicate with other players, form circles, and craft equipment. They are effectively your base of operations, where you can sit back and choose your next target. You can add furnishings and decorations, better crafting benches, and even coffins for thralls that can fulfill your dark bidding while you engage in other quests. However, customizing your castle can be a chore at the moment – better walls, windows and other furnishings are locked behind hours of gameplay. However, if you don’t bother to bother, the limited options can lead to some impressive abodes: A player on my dedicated community server has created a three-story castle, complete with an art gallery and a basement to drain people’s blood from one nearby village had been kidnapped.

Unlike games like rust or Walheimhowever, V rising‘s Gothic creations often serve secondary purposes. For example, harvesting the enemies’ blood essence is important to nourish the heart of your dark lair and thus keep everything functional. If you don’t, your castle will fall into ruin. I found this extremely boring – even though it gave our collective something to do, the castle continued to absorb essence even after we all logged off. Fortunately, you can always disable this in the server settings.

A vampire uses fire abilities in V Rising

Image: Stunlock Studios

There are countless other ways how V rising attempts to encapsulate the experience of being a vampire by clearly deviating from classic literature such as Dracula and pieces of pop culture like 30 days night. You can make your vampire look like a modern-day grotesque, with rows of massive fangs and all; You can opt for long, flowing curls that exude the look of the mid-80s to early 90s goth subculture; There are even options of an aristocratic nature, including rococo-inspired updos and waves. Clothing options are a bit lackluster in the early levels, but you can find and craft hats to make up for the lack of style.

In this way, V rising is a game very obsessed with the processes of being a vampire, if not the broader implications. It’s a game obsessed with the superficial aesthetic and popular myth-making surrounding the creature – but it doesn’t offer an allegorical, let alone satirical, storyline about a creature that has haunted and enchanted audiences for centuries. However, that alone deserves a discussion of what V rising chooses to prioritize, and as survival games of this nature often fall into similar narrative gameplay loops: explore, discover, take, rebuild, and control. That’s what V rising is basically about that, albeit with complicated systems that only vampires can provide.

On the surface, V rising appears to be just another survival game given a different coat of paint. In many ways, it’s hard to argue otherwise. However, it manages to layer complex systems inspired by popular vampire mythology to set it apart from the sea of ​​survival games. While V rising hasn’t fully quenched my thirst in its current form, I hope it will eventually someday.

V rising was released in Early Access on Windows PC on May 17th. The game was verified on PC using a pre-release download code provided by Stunlock Studios. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links. you can find For more information on Polygon’s Ethics Policy, click here.

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