V Rising Review: Castlemania


V Rising

By: Jason Siu


8 min read

Home » Reviews » V Rising Review: Castlemania
V Rising Review Gallery, FullCleared

We prefer to run an ad-free site, so this post may contain affiliate links. If you wish to support us and use these links to buy something, we may earn a commission. Learn more here.

Quick Verdict

From Dawn to Dusk

V Rising Review Gallery, FullCleared

Somewhere, there’s an alternate reality where Minecraft was never created, and the crafting survival genre as we know it never came to be. But we don’t live in that reality. In our world, Minecraft is one of the best-selling video games of all time, with over 300 million units sold as of October 2023. Its core gameplay mechanics and ideas have gone on to serve as inspiration for hundreds of games, if not thousands. Many of those games have taken these core concepts and evolved them, resulting in titles like V Rising. Sometimes, it almost sounds like hyperbole when people say a certain game changes everything about the industry, but often they do. Looking at Minecraft or Elden Ring, it’s easy to see their influence years later, as other games try to capture that same lightning in a bottle.

V Rising is an interesting game in that the genre it falls into largely depends on which aspect of the game you enjoy the most. It’s mainly an action RPG, but those who love crafting and building might see it more as a base-building (castle-building) game. There’s even a role for players who enjoy gathering materials for the rest of their group. If you love challenging boss fights, some of which have a heavy focus on timely dodges, there’s plenty of that too. While it’s fair to assume that a game that does many things does none of them well, V Rising properly delivers on all the gameplay elements and does so satisfyingly. It’s a game I thoroughly enjoyed when it first launched into Early Access, and I was excited to play through all of its launch content.

Crafting Chaos

V Rising Review Gallery, FullCleared

Progression in V Rising is split between character growth and castle growth. The game starts off like many other crafting survival titles, with a basic tutorial that involves chopping trees, hitting rocks, crafting armor and tools, as well as setting up a crude base for shelter. These quests will continue throughout the game, helping guide players on major milestones to unlock new tech and further progression. In other words, you’ll never get stuck in V Rising, as the game will always tell you what to do next. This typically involves strengthening your character by crafting new gear and hunting down bosses, or V Blood carriers.

As a vampire, much of the game’s unique mechanics revolve around the idea of blood. Instead of managing hunger or thirst, you’ll have to keep your blood meter filled. This is straightforward and easy to maintain, as you can exsanguinate nearly everything on the map. Draining a creature or human of its blood will give your vampire a bonus as well, depending on the class and quality of the unit. These are generally nice bonuses to have, ranging from increased movement speed to higher critical chance, and can make a real difference in some of the more challenging boss fights. Later on, you’ll unlock the ability to imprison high-quality blood donors to siphon their blood whenever you want. There’s a bit of a minigame behind this, as you’ll need to keep them well-fed and happy; otherwise, they’ll become miserable and die. These blood mechanics offer a refreshing twist on the usual survival elements seen in other games. Not only does the system tie into the vampire theme, but its bonuses also add a strategic layer to combat.

Stake Your Claim

V Rising Review Gallery, FullCleared

The core gameplay loop of V Rising will be familiar to those who have played other crafting survival games. As you take down bosses, you’ll unlock new technology, typically in the form of crafting stations for your castle to upgrade your gear. V Rising borrows elements of its gearing system from other action RPGs like Diablo, but it’s a very basic interpretation. There are multiple slots of gear, and there are set bonuses, but much of the armor boils down to choosing the set that aligns with your preferred playstyle. Focus on defense if you like being a tank, or increase spell damage if you prefer playing from range. Things become more RNG-based toward the endgame when you’re seeking out the perfect weapon for your build. That said, it’s important to understand that V Rising isn’t a loot-based action RPG. The gear is mostly an afterthought, except for the endgame, and even then, it’s primarily for your weapon.

When it comes to customizing your vampire’s combat abilities, three of the buttons you see on the hotbar are tied to your equipped weapon, one of which is a basic attack. You also get to choose two basic spells, one travel spell, and one ultimate ability. Defeating bosses grant you the necessary points to unlock additional spells, which fall under different elements. Blood spells, for example, typically have a life leech effect, while Illusion spells focus on tricking your enemies with decoys. Weapon skills range from having a whirlwind skill while using a sword to throwing a reaper that spins and deals damage in place. Passive abilities also get unlocked later on in the game, requiring Stygian Shards that lean more towards endgame content. Overall, there’s good build variety here that caters to your playstyle, although some builds work better than others for certain bosses.

Bloodied Blades

V Rising Review Gallery, FullCleared

Living out the ultimate vampire fantasy also means having unique abilities that aren’t used directly in combat. Throughout the campaign, you’ll unlock new abilities that allow you to shapeshift into a bear, human, rat, bat, and other forms. Other vampire abilities include blood mending, which consumes blood to recover health, dominating humans and mounts, and exposing your vein so other vampires can drink your blood. All this is to say there is plenty to unlock for your character and your castle as you progress through the sizable campaign.

Combat in V Rising is somewhat influenced by soulslike games, with a focus on dodging attacks and being quick on your feet. It was one of the most talked-about features of V Rising when it initially launched into Early Access, as players were pleasantly surprised by how well-executed the combat felt, especially with the challenging boss fights. Combine that with the threat of the sun, where you take significant damage if you’re not hiding in the shadows, and you have a battle system that truly shines for what some consider a crafting survival game. The panic truly sets in when you’re in an intense boss fight and you hear the rooster crow, signaling that the sun is rising. It’s smart to keep track of the time before engaging an outdoor boss, unless you enjoy the extra fun and challenge—as we often did, accidentally.

Sanguine Sanctuary

V Rising Review Gallery, FullCleared

For those more interested in the castle-building aspect of V Rising, you’ll be happy to know there is plenty of customization available. Depending on your server settings, castles can reach up to six stories, and with the 1.0 launch, moving your castle from one location to another is much less painful. One of the biggest limitations is that castles can only be built on predetermined plots of land throughout the map, although these plots are abundant. Another limitation is that everything is very “square,” meaning you won’t get rounded corners or angled walls in your base. This limits some creativity for the overall footprint of your castle, as you’ll want to occupy as much space as the base area allows.

Since you’ll be spending most of your time under the roof of your castle, it’s good that there are many different ways to customize the interior. One interesting mechanic is the different floor types, which provide benefits for your crafting stations. Essentially, you are encouraged to create individual rooms for specific uses. For example, you’ll want a room with workshop flooring for your lumber mills and a separate room with tailor flooring for your looms and tanneries. If you want to be efficient, this means the game forces you to build rooms within your castle instead of putting everything out in the open. This is important because crafting can be slow with default settings. The good news is that if you’re playing on a private server, you can change all those values, so there’s less waiting and more killing.

Grave Matters

V Rising Review Gallery, FullCleared

From a pure gameplay perspective, V Rising is excellent. The combat feels great, some of the bosses offer a real challenge, and even the gathering and crafting aspects are well thought out, although a bit basic. Where the game disappoints, however, is its story or lack thereof. For a game that features such an iconic villain as Dracula, it could have spent more time building a narrative. Some of the bosses could have also benefited from a backstory. The game even features an iconic Belmont from the Castlevania series, but it does little to leverage that IP.

While most of my gameplay was with friends, I imagine the solo adventure in V Rising could feel a bit empty. It’s also worth noting that we rented a private server, so we didn’t experience what it’s like to participate in a PvP server. Finally, while there is a bit of endgame content to get you to farm for a better weapon, it isn’t very compelling to stick around once you’ve completed everything. And that’s fine because not every game needs to keep its fangs hooked into your neck for months on end. It’s worth mentioning, though, if you think V Rising is one of those games you can play for months.

Veil of Darkness

V Rising Review Gallery, FullCleared

Admittedly, V Rising can feel shallow in certain parts. There isn’t much depth when it comes to its gear, and progressing in the game can feel a bit repetitive. There is some farming involved for certain materials, especially if you’re trying to outfit an entire party. Personally, I enjoyed spending time in the game on three separate occasions, with my playtime now totaling over 130 hours. It’s uncommon for an Early Access title to keep me coming back for more, even through launch, but V Rising successfully did. The game now costs $34.99, which is still half of what AAA titles ask with their $69.99 retail price. It’s a great deal if you enjoy these types of games.

In an era where many Early Access games flounder after an initial surge of revenue, I appreciate the polish V Rising received from Early Access to launch. It was great to see how the game evolved over the years with its major updates. As a group, we’re looking forward to whatever expansion developer Stunlock Studios has in mind and can’t wait to revisit the game.

V Rising exited Early Access on May 8, 2024 on PC. This review is based on a purchased retail copy of the game on PC. While FullCleared does have affiliate partnerships, they do not influence our editorial content. We may, however, earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.

V Rising Review Gallery

Like our content?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get video game news, features, and deals straight to your inbox.

This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to the newsletter indicates your consent to our Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.

With over 20 years of online publishing experience, Jason Siu is currently the Content Director at VerticalScope and used to spend most of his time writing about cars. His work can be seen on websites such as AutoGuide, EV Pulse, FlatSixes, Tire Authority, and more. As the former co-founder of Tunerzine.com and West Coast Editor of Modified Magazine, he has also authored two books for CarTech Books. In his spare time, he founded FullCleared to indulge in his passion for writing about games. Although Jason is a variety gamer, he generally prefers RPGs.

Latest News