V Rising is one of the best Early Access titles I’ve played this year. There, this article is complete.
Maybe you want a little more than that? Sure. But before we begin, we’re going to have to have a quick disclaimer that this write-up is 100% based on a solo experience. I get that this might defeat the purpose for most of you, but for us older gamers/anti-social types, a lone campaign is an incentive. Rather than list the ’50 players online’ stats and more, check out the Steam page.
Unlike Evil Dead: The Game, a solo outing is a bloody marvellous affair, but be mindful that it’ll take more time due to farming and the difficulty when alone. After creating a vampire (yay – customisation!), you bash in a few skellywags, loot their bones and make some weapons. There’s a sword, mace, axe and spear – later ranged weapons. I won’t list their stats, but some work better on creatures, others on stone and wood.
V Rising doesn’t use a conventional levelling system; instead, you’re ranked on your equipped gear. The ranking is a slog, so consider your co-op options if you want everything now and on a plate. If you don’t like strangers, you can create private password-protected sessions and invite those friends you have that aren’t made up. Also, ask that supermodel you’ve been dating to join, too. We all believe you.
V Rising’s world map is HUGE. Once in a while, you’ll venture out like in Command & Conquer, uncovering the shadowy bits, locating some exotic loot, and then dying at that hand(?) of an overpowered twig. Or something else ridiculous that you shouldn’t be fighting at your level. There isn’t an underlying story as such, but there is a steady flow of challenges that unlock the potential of your castle and through hunting specific ‘talent’.
V Rising is about survival, exploration, crafting, city-building and more. The survival element is obvious for a vampire: stay out of the sun and feed regularly. Blood ensures you can use your vampire skills and keep that youthful complexion, but blood is complex. There’s an abundance of class types you inherit, and depending on the level of your prey, you may end up with some excellent buffs, albeit temporary. Inevitably, you’ll feed on whatever is about to keep hunger locked until lunch.
That specific talent I mention relates to the bosses. Feeding on them will unlock new skills and blueprints for crafting. They respawn, too, allowing you to farm a couple of ingredients like the unsullied heart. A blood altar needs to be built at your castle to track one of these characters, where you’ll follow the blood scent in real-time. Note that these characters are ranked and have powers of their own. Humans spawning other humans mid-fight? That’s cheating!
Some players may face a wall in the early stages of V Rising when sourcing items for gear which can be random but most likely carried by a boss who currently overpowers you. Killing randoms won’t improve your skillset, but inheriting the V blood from a boss will unlock skill trees (shapeshift into a bear? Yes, please). To get prepared, you’ll need a lot of resources and a castle.
All respectable vampires need a castle heart to begin. Blood essence dropped by enemies or items processed through a blood press will fuel this structure. Think of it as your electricity – without blood, production stops and the castle will decay. It can be destroyed by invaders, too. Fortunately, you can build castle walls (with roofs to protect from the sun) and recruit former enemies as your servants, patrolling and hunting for resources.
Besides the enjoyable exploration and combat, the city-building – rather, castle-building element – is fantastic. Beginning with an Asterisk-like log fortification, it wasn’t long until Vulgaris the vampire had stone floors, gargoyles and vases, and a deluxe room for creating rats. Boil them, put ’em in a stew. The list of structures increases with V blood, plus occasional drops that allow you to research new exotics, such as the Merciless armour set.
Any complaints? That early levelling was challenging, but that’s due to the scarcity of certain goods and going it alone. Navigating V Rising’s map can be a chore until you can turn into an Alpha Wolf (a godsend), or venture north and pinch a horse. There were two technical issues where the screen would go black with only the HUD showing making it impossible to play, but exiting and reloading resolved this. Other than that, no slowdown whatsoever.
With one of the best day/night cycles experienced in a game (the shadows move with time, meaning survival is dynamic), V Rising is a thoroughly engaging open world. It’s no surprise that the game sold 500,000 copies within three days of release. My verdict? V Rising is so good that it has the permission to wed my eldest daughter. When she’s old enough, but no biting.