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V Rising: A Bloody Good Time Suck

I’ve been a fan of vampire lore since I was a kid. Aside from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, I haven’t really played any other vampire-related game that I remember with as much fondness.

When V Rising hit early access, it was described by players as “Valheim with vampires.” As a fan of the survival crafting genre, I was intrigued. So, I tried it out for myself.

From what I remember of the early access version, it already felt like a pretty polished experience, with satisfying customization options, environments, animations, and sound design. I didn’t get too far into it, though. I stopped when I couldn’t figure out why, of all the things my vampire could build, I couldn’t make a roof. I could hide from daylight under trees, craft walls and floors and sawmills and workbenches, but somehow, I couldn’t make myself something that would shield me from the sun: the very thing that would kill me faster than anything else in the game. I thought that maybe that was just because the game was in early access, so the crafting progression was probably still in the works.

Fast forward to May 2024: With the official version 1.0 of V Rising finally coming out, I was excited to find out whether I could build a roof now.

Spoiler alert: I STILL COULDN’T BUILD A ROOF! Not yet anyway.

Roofs, apparently, are automatically added when I unlock and craft castle foundations and walls. And those need bricks, which need a furnace, which need stone, et cetera. Happily, gathering materials needed to craft things turned out to be easy as the game seemed more generous with loot drops than it was in early access.

Hunting ‘V Blood’ carriers for unlocking new spells and crafting recipes is now a more streamlined experience and integral to progression as well. Combat is quite fun, and at base difficulty, most creatures are easy to overpower. It can, however, get challenging when you aggro more mobs than you can handle but also very satisfying when you manage to survive. The map is also peppered with tougher creatures, and roaming boss/V Blood carriers. Bandit camps (and everything else) respawn at a decent clip, so there’s hardly ever any downtime if you just want to go on a vampiric murder/resource gathering spree (as much as your inventory will allow, anyway).

There’s also the option to tweak your game settings further, should you find yourself getting stuck trying to fight a particular boss, or just want resource and loot drop rates to be significantly higher. New players playing solo or with just a few friends on a private server could benefit from tweaking these settings as the game is balanced for more players in a full PVP server. My particular favorite is turning off the teleport limits on items as the map is quite huge and a lot of time is wasted just hauling stuff back and forth between your bases.

For the builders, you will need to follow the main quests and go on hunts to unlock more recipes to build the castle of your dreams. Refining the necessary materials will also take a while, but the variety of options you have for workstations, storage, production, gardening, lighting, and decorations is quite vast (granted, I did get all the DLCs; I am not sure what the base game offers on its own). There are also some merchants who will sell you some recipes and materials in exchange for coins you loot from bandits.

Just shy of ten hours in, I’m already seeing that this is a game I can really sink my teeth into (pun intended). The only things I feel are still missing would be the ability to craft from storage and the ability to hide the UI or use a dedicated photo mode. For a game that allows us to build gigantic castles, it’s a shame that I can’t get much of it in one screenshot. There were mods that addressed that during early access, but as of the time of writing, they don’t seem to have been updated yet to work with the full release.

While I could wait until the endgame to write a review, what’s important to me is whether I feel the strong compulsion to drop everything and play to my heart’s content. Right now I am just itching to get back into it so I can reorganize and expand my castle, terrorize more bandits, chop trees, smash rocks, and maybe hunt some familiar faces.

V Rising is definitely worth playing, especially for fans of Valheim that can’t quite get past its somewhat dated art style. It is out now on Steam, with a Playstation 5 version under development.