From the studio that brought us the brilliant Bloodline Champions and Battlerite, Stunlock Studios has always been tantalizingly close to creating something truly special. After launching just two days ago, this is the studio’s newest title V rising 30,000 people are currently viewing the landing page, not to mention the 160,000 who watched the game on Twitch when it originally went into Early Access. With a probable sales of 350,000 north in a matter of days, it’s fair to say the game is a massive hit.
During Battlerite When it first met with great success, its player base dwindled rapidly over time. Battlerites Competitive arena lacked longevity and depth for some. Rather than address this issue, Stunlock invested time and resources, to the dissatisfaction of many, in pursuing a new fad in his much-maligned Battlerite Royale, rather than investing in its predecessor while it was still very much alive. A completely separate product that lifted everything Battlerite was but crashed into a battle royale environment, Battlerite Royale crashed and burned almost overnight.
Despite this misstep, it’s evident that Stunlock has learned a lot, dusted himself off, and pursued something new, yet familiar. As a team, Stunlock have always excelled at combat in a top-down environment, while their short stint in Battlerite Royale allowed them to flex their creative muscles in level design. Combined with their emphasis on polish, the culmination of all of these things has resulted in a game that will steal all your free time.
A cross between Battlerite and Valheim, V Rising scratches a certain itch that the survival genre has been missing. Despite being a £15.49 Early Access title, it offers a level of polish and content that few fully released games can match. While it’s far from perfect, there’s no doubting that it’s pretty damn good (sorry – couldn’t resist).
With fast gathering, no stamina, no weight caps, a generous inventory size, and quick build, it’s obvious where Valheim influenced the team. This goes even further when you draw comparisons to Valheim’s bosses and V Rising’s V Blood Carriers and the structure of crafting progression and itemization. Comparisons aside, V Rising does things differently, building on the foundations of Battlerite and bringing satisfying combat and movement to a genre where both are typically stale. It also carves its own path, dropping players into a beautifully crafted world filled to the brim with enemies, unique locations, and bosses that offer serious challenge and spectacle. There’s no denying that it’s an enticing world to explore.
Whether you’re exploring an abandoned mine full of workers, trudging through snow-capped mountains while being hunted by yetis, or stalking through forests with wolves on your heels, there’s always something more to explore. Full of risk when equipping your vampire, there’s also an urge to push the limits of your level as you venture out. You must balance the quality of your weapons as well as your own skills. It’s one of the reasons I loved Battlerite so much. It was real skill in the perfect positioning and timing of your skills. Since several V-Bloods were out of my level range, I managed to kill them by learning their skills and degrading them over time (they’ve all been brilliant in combat so far).
V Rising’s solar system, which I feared would be trendy or irrelevant, plays a particularly interesting role in the game and the way you explore it. Avoiding being burned by its rays isn’t hard to avoid (perhaps too easy at times), but there will be moments when the sunrise has a dramatic impact on your gameplay and survivability. As I fought Quincey the Bandit King on his mountain, not only did the sun rise, but the shrinking game arena resulted in my death as I ducked for cover from his barrage of AoE attacks. Even a gentle stroll for a few threads at Dunley Farms saw me lick my wounds while struggling to kill Christina the Sun Priestess while trying to find shade.
Sometimes it’s a mechanic that feels subtle and could pose greater risks for the player, but here’s a real challenge for Stunlock Studios to implement a looming threat that doesn’t make gameplay tedious. It’s a tightrope walk for them and a challenge that I certainly don’t envy.
Despite my love for the game, and regardless of whether you choose PvE or PvP, V Rising isn’t perfect. Having lost interest in Valheim after killing all of its bosses, I fear that V Rising may meet the same fate for many. Without procedural maps, the world can grow old quickly, while horse accessibility trivializes much of its size. Combined with a lack of enemy scaling, the moment you get a decent set of weapons and abilities, most enemies outside of V Blood Carriers feel completely irrelevant.
However, I suspect the biggest disappointment for many will be the building. While easy to make and producing effective results, it simply lacks the creative depth to create original, stunning locations. Where Valheim offers incredible opportunities to build and design truly unique cities and homes, its combat and PvE encounters are terribly weak. In contrast, V Rising offers amazing combat and PvE encounters at the expense of deep base building. As someone who prefers fighting epic bosses and opposing players, this is brilliant for me, but it shortens the game’s longevity. Valheim has evolved because of its community creations and player experimentation. Right now that’s just not possible in V Rising.
Since it’s only just entered Early Access and has well over 50 hours of PvE content available, it’s incredible value here. If Stunlock Studios can regularly refine their vision, add new abilities and weapons, and dictate how they deal with the outdated map, I have no doubt that they will keep their player base and grow even more than it already has. However, Stunlock’s biggest obstacle will be defining what the base layout should look like and what role that really plays in the gameplay. Right now, your home is either a place to store your belongings and tools, or where an opposing player can sometimes attack, and not something to be proud of.
Regardless of these minor concerns, V Rising is an exceptional game that totally deserves your time and money. Stunlock Studios has created a worthy successor to Battlerite, and just for the challenge of finding and slaying its V-Blood carriers, be sure to jump headfirst into the crypt.