V Rising review for PC

Platform: PC
Publisher: Stunlock Studios
Developer: Stunlock Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

V Rising is quite the blend of various styles of games, but most importantly it’s an action RPG with a hardcore emphasis on survival. Embracing mechanics from a constantly depleting blood gauge, managing your base’s timer, and remaining hidden from sunlight, you’ll really be embracing your role as a vampire in a hostile world. It is also worth noting that I played in a single player world with modified settings to cut down on some grinding, including but not limited to crafting timers, decay timers, and material drop rates.

You’ll start off waking up in a coffin in a graveyard with no idea of what to do, but you’ll gradually complete the tutorial and learn about crafting, combat, and more as you make your way to the exit of the graveyard and into the wide-open world. I wasn’t sure how large the world would be or how similar it might be to something like Diablo, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer scale of the map available to me. I was able to travel quite far at the start without so much as continuing my “goal” and just wander into new stuff.

The “goal” of V Rising is to build and maintain your stronghold, whether it be a small tight-knit base or a full-blown Dracula castle as if it’s Castlevania. You’ll do this by gathering materials and fighting bosses to unlock new abilities and progression. If you’re familiar with other survival games like ARK, you’re no stranger to the process of farming resources. Unfortunately for V Rising, this material grind (and grind for progress in general) gets extremely tedious relatively early on. Within the first few hours, I hit a wall that requires me to build a specific number of floor tiles of a castle and some other things to upgrade my castle. Without unlocking ceilings, I could not find a method to make this possible without changing settings in a single player world to allow me to build even more castles than normally allowed. Progression is not explained very well outside of the scope of “Fight bosses, maybe unlock something new”. I think it has a lot of merit, and it’s not like progression feels lackluster, but it gets real weird with pacing and the speed at which meaningful base upgrades are given to you.

Ignoring the grind, the crafting and upgrade systems all feel pretty good. Everything I’ve explored and unlocked up to the point I have currently played to, every single upgrade is a direct upgrade to gear I already have equipped, so it avoids an unnecessary inventory flood or the process of having to start from a new square one to build up to the new piece of gear. It’s nice being able to use my existing gear as part of the blueprint for my next upgrade, making it feel like every small upgrade makes me just that bit stronger to make me question if I’m ready for the next big boss battle.

Navigating the world seems fairly daunting at first with how large it can be in scale, but you quickly start to uncover teleport points scattered throughout as you progress, so it’s not really that bad. Plus, you unlock new animal forms (Symphony of the Night, anybody?) to aid you in moving faster to flying over gaps. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing stopping you from going to the absolute top end of the map and getting yourself way overwhelmed and over your head if that’s something you enjoy.

Overall, V Rising is quite a fun package with great progression, but is held back by how extremely grindy it can be. The combat feels good (albeit can be stale with limited movesets) with the selection of skills and spells you unlock with each boss defeat, the world feels great to explore even while keeping to the shade during the day, and the building feels right at home with some modern city-builders. I think it’s definitely worth giving it a shot, especially with friends, because the solo experience can be quite boring after a while unless you’re really into a solo survival experience. Definitely keep your eyes on this title, and maybe wait for a sale to really sink your teeth into if you’re hesitant.

Note: Stunlock Studios provided us with a V Rising Steam code for review purposes.

Score: 7.5