V Rising

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V Rising


Close the Casket

EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access

Pitchforks and torches

Survival games have come and gone in popularity in recent years, with the AAA market mostly moving on to greener pastures. One of the most obvious recurring factors behind the failure of so many of these survival titles is the relative lack of creativity regarding the core gameplay mechanics. Obtain resources, do a bit of base-building, and occasionally go out of your way to cleanse the earth of some variety of evil or dangerous creatures.

In most of these cases, you are the everyman survivor, pitted against vastly superior foes. There’s a certain underdog mentality involved with this kind of roleplay. Where V Rising attempts to change up the formula is by granting you at least the idea of a power fantasy, by occupying the role of a vampire. Who are you? Don’t know, don’t care. What is it you want? Don’t know, don’t care.

V Rising takes the form of an isometric top-down action-RPG, except that it’s essentially an RPG in name only. In the preview code we played, there doesn’t appear to be anything in the form of character levelling, setting aside a very rudimentary gear score system. There’s a lot of emphasis placed on combat, except the combat system is so likewise basic and unremarkable that you pretty much have nothing but a single left-click mouse primary attack and a meagre handful of cooldown abilities for the player to rely upon.

Once you play through more than an hour or two, and your initial excitement for the basic mechanics begins to subside, most combat encounters will end up feeling almost unbelievably boring and tedious to get through. I eventually found myself avoiding most combat opportunities, not out of an abundance of self-preservation, but because I didn’t want to spend another 60 seconds moving around in a constant circle, baiting enemies as my character idly poked his spear with the exact same attack animation over and over again ad nauseum.

The only times when I felt myself at least reluctantly appreciating some part of the combat system was during the boss fights. Once you build your initial base, you gain the ability to track down any of the bosses using some kind of vampire smell ability, which will guide you toward their direction on the map with all the accuracy of two people playing a verbal game of "Marco Polo" in a swimming pool the size of a bowling alley. Once you finally arrive at said boss' location, you’ll quickly notice that each boss has their own unique fighting pattern, and once you adapt to it, it is just a matter of chipping away at their health until they die. No multi-phase battle here. Just keep poking away at them over and over again for two or three minutes until they fall over dead, at which point you can suck the life force right out of them, along with a new cooldown ability of some form, which is a nice, albeit minor, reward for your effort.


An altogether separate element where the game does, at least in theory, go out of its way to impress the player is in the size and extensively distinct biomes of the playable map. On foot, it would take a player several hours to explore the full extent of the map, even without other impeding factors like enemy patrols and lookouts. Even on horseback, assuming you manage to steal yourself a decent mount before a nearby squad of enemies decide to casually burn you alive for your casual transgression, uncovering previously-unexplored areas of the map will keep you busy for quite awhile. However, this isn't done for stylistic reasons so much as for more practical ones.

V Rising is, at its core, a server-based multiplayer experience. So if you're not one for always-online gaming, this might be a turn-off for you. You can choose to play on either PVE or PVP servers. Your progress in the game appears to be strictly tied to that server, so if that server happens to eventually be taken offline or consolidated with another, it’s currently uncertain whether your data will transfer over. It should be noted that the option to play on a private server with friends does seem to be enabled, for those who prefer a more solitary experience.

The problem with this formula is that, unless you plan to play PVP, there isn't much of a reason to throw two dozen people together onto the same server. There’s nothing in the vein of world bosses or PVE raids that require large player teams to cooperate in order to emerge victorious. Almost all bosses currently existing in this world can be quickly and easily taken out within seconds by a small team of 2-3 players. There appear to be no neutral towns or events that draw in groups of friendly players. For all of the developer's talk of creating a communal experience, the overwhelming majority of the in-game content seems to not only support solo play, but explicitly encourage it.

More than any other mechanic, the undead heart of V Rising is supposed to be its base-building, and on a strictly-mechanical level, its implementation is passably par for the course. You have your research table, your crafting benches, your storage chests, everything that every other game has. But if you're looking for a more open-ended free build creative experience, prepare to be disappointed in every possible way. The V Rising developers have gone on record saying they have no intention to support multi-level buildings, and the opportunities for decoration currently appear limited at best, with the costs involved being so astronomically tedious that even after dozens of hours of play, the end result is, at best, on par with what players could pull off in other games like The Forest in literally a tenth of the time.

What is undoubtedly the worst component of V Rising of them all is the unforgivably garbage-tier user interface. When looking at base unlocks, like crafting stations, and you need a certain resource, the UI, unlike most other survival games, will not allow you to click on said item to pull up a snippet of information about where you can find said resource, and what it can be used on. It’s worth noting that there is no other form of in-game wiki which you can use to fulfil the same function. Likewise, while the map does show enemy camp locations, it will not tell you the gear score level of said enemies, which makes it actively impossible for players to pre-emptively plan how they want to go about attacking that location. You could just show up and find every enemy is 20 levels above you in gear score, and they immediately kill you, forcing you to respawn and trek back into their territory, and keep dying until you manage to bring your fallen backpack back to base, because all of your loot, save for weapons, will drop upon death.

Wooden stake through the heart

For every positive step forward V Rising takes, it seems compelled to, simultaneously, take two steps back. It is quite likely that many of the problems currently afflicting V Rising may very well be addressed over time, as is par for the course with most early access games, but for those seeking an at-least decent experience right now, there are far better survival games on the market. We will reserve our full judgement closer to release, but for now, we're likely to give it a miss.


It pains us to say this, but we don't see how this game will mesh. At the current stage of development the game should be much farther ahead than it is.

Hooked Gamer's Steam Early Access forecasts are intended to help you differentiate between Early Access games that have the potential to blossom and those more likely to fail. We look at the team's ambitions, their track record, and the state of the latest build to predict if opening your wallet will help fund a potentially great game, or is better used to light other fires.