V Rising Early Access Review: It sucks but in an excellent way

Stunlock Studios' vampire-themed survival game will sink its claws and fangs deep into your veins.

by Jeremy Cheong

Compared to other folklore-based mythical creatures, vampires probably have the largest fanbase and footprint in pop culture. It is not hard to see why because vampires have always been portrayed with irresistible good looks, devilish charm, incredible intelligence and superhuman abilities. Some even have the ability to wield mystical powers.

But as we all know, there are also downsides to being a vampire. Traditionally, vampires fear sunlight, silver and garlic. All three of which weaken and can hurt or kill them. Not to mention there is also the need to feed on blood regularly. All this makes them perfect for playing both heroes and villains in any story. Do they use their supernatural gifts to help or subjugate lesser mortals?

Both opposing elements also make vampires a great go-to subject for video games because developers can make players feel all mighty and powerful but also balance it out easily with their weaknesses. Sadly, not many games have nailed that balance, with the closest, in my opinion, being 2004’s Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines by the defunct Troika Games.

There has been a resurgence of vampire-themed games lately, and the one that has gotten the most attention has to be Stunlock Studios’ vampire survival game, V Rising. So as a fan of both genres, I knew I had to give it a go, and I am still having loads of fun with it after putting over 30 hours into the game.

Thin on story, thick on gameplay

Like most survival games, V Rising doesn’t have the juiciest storyline. It takes place in a gothic, medieval world where vampires once ruled over humans but were defeated. After centuries of slumber, you awaken as a weakened vampire and will have to start from the bottom to once again become the apex predator of the land. That is pretty much it.

If you have played other survival games like Valheim, 7 Days to Die, Rust, The Forest, etc., you will be quite at home with the gameplay loop of V Rising. You effectively begin with nothing but the clothes on your back, then you start harvesting basic resources such as stone, lumber and animal hide, set up a simple base of operations and make your way back up the food chain.

To progress up the food chain, you basically have two methods to do so. The first is to complete the mandatory quests. These quests double as tutorials as they will introduce new equipment, skills and mechanics once you have completed them. They aren’t time-sensitive but will require you to have certain resources or abilities to complete. And they usually involve building certain equipment such as a castle heart or converting a human into your thrall.

The other method of progression is to hunt down the 37 bosses scattered around the map. Defeating bosses will unlock new technology and building structures for your castle. The former is essential as you can research and craft new gear to increase your gear level, which lets you take on tougher enemies and bosses, while the latter is crucial for refining and production purposes.

Bosses are also the sources of the sweet substance known as V Blood, which unlocks new vampiric and magic abilities, both of which are key to your survival. Vampiric abilities are usually used outside of combat and either give you a faster way of traversal or a way to sneak past humans. Magic abilities are used in combat and split into five categories: Blood, Chaos, Unholy, Frost and Illusion, with different usages such as healing, crowd control, evasion and status effects.

A+ combat mechanics

Since we are on the topic of battles and bosses, this is where V Rising truly shines, in my opinion. If you are a fan of top-down Action RPGs, then V Rising’s fast-paced and intense combat will be right up your alley. However, the difference here is that V Rising’s method of character builds comes in the form of matching weapons and magic abilities instead of pumping points into stats or skills. In total, you will have up to six abilities at your disposal, two weapon abilities, two magic abilities, a travel (dodge) ability and an ultimate ability.

Each weapon type has two weapon skills alongside the basic attack and these skills are unlocked with higher-tier weapons. For example, the basic bone spear only has a stab attack, but once you get the iron spear, you will have the “A Thousand Spears” flurry and “Harpoon” skill. But that is not all, as the former has a recast function that, when timed correctly, unleashes a thrust attack that also knocks back enemies. There are seven weapons in total, so there is plenty of room for experimentation.

All abilities have a cooldown, so it is all about learning the bosses’ attack patterns, skills and timing your attacks. As this is a survival game, there is also a need to prepare before a battle by quaffing down potions you have brewed to enhance your health, damage, resistance to sunlight and more.

Of course, the other way to gain buffs is to drink the blood of animals and humans. Drinking blood serves multiple purposes as not only does it fill up your Blood Pool, which acts as a hunger meter and mana for your abilities, but it also grants you buffs depending on the type of blood you have feasted on. Humans are divided into typical RPG classes such as Warrior, Rogue, Worker, etc., and each of these classes has up to five levels of buffs depending on the quality of the blood. The higher the percentage, the more buffs you get. So it is very important that you seek out the perfect meal to enhance your abilities before fighting a boss.

Bloody fun solo or in a coven

V Rising is definitely a lot of fun solo, but I feel it is even better with a few friends who are up for a bloody good time. This is because you can delegate the process of harvesting resources and also take on various combat roles, such as a tank, healer or DPS. The majority of my experience in V Rising has been with two of my closest friends and we just can’t get enough of the hijinks we have gotten ourselves into.

For a game that is still in Early Access, V Rising has plenty to offer. I also really like the slightly cartoonish art style of the game and the little character details Stunlock have placed on the various characters, especially the bosses.

If you aren’t all that interested in the building aspects of survival games, then you might be glad to hear that V Rising has an extremely simplified one. The only tedious bit would be harvesting resources, but building is more akin to The Sims where you just plop down building parts, and it is built in an instant. Another nice bit is that you don’t even have to worry about the roof as that is automatically generated when parameters are met. No more falling to my death like in Valheim.

As to be expected from an Early Access game, there are occasional bugs and glitches and server issues, but nothing that breaks the game, really. The worst bug I experienced happened when I was fishing. All of a sudden, I was shot 10 feet up into the air, and as my friends were too far away to revive me, I died instantly.

Overall, V Rising is a joy to play, and I can’t wait to see what it has to offer in its full release.


  • Plenty of content for an Early Access game
  • Detailed world and character designs
  • Fun and challenging boss fights
  • Simple yet nuanced survival mechanics
  • Great PvE experience


  • Occasional bugs and glitches

V Rising (Early Access Version)

Graphics – 8/10
Plot – 6/10
Gameplay – 9/10
Addictiveness – 9/10

For a game still in Early Access, V Rising already has plenty to offer and will entice any gamer with its fun gameplay loop of gathering resources, building castles, crafting new gear and hunting down the next boss to drain them of their precious plasma to unlock new skills.