V Rising review: Good game, awful timing

V Rising is a solid survival crafting game in a sea of far too many.
V Rising artwork
V Rising artwork / Level Infinite

When V Rising launched in early access two years ago it peaked with 150k concurrent Steam players, making it one of the biggest survival crafting successes of the year. V Rising finally dropped the early access moniker in May 2024, and now that full experience is available for PS5 players to enjoy. Only, since V Rising, we’ve had Nightingale, Soulmask, Palworld, Enshrouded – in fact, those are just the survival crafting games that have launched in 2024 alone. This genre has quickly become oversaturated – it demands hours of your time to make progress, the early hours are borderline identical across the genre, and only a slim few manage to actually stand out. Going back to V Rising now, even in its fully completed state, I have to ask: why was this such a hit?

It must’ve been a right place, right time situation, because V Rising isn’t much to write home about – or, on the internet about. It’s an isometric top-down action game with spells on cooldowns – a lot like Diablo – except everything you do revolves around upgrading your home base. As a vampire lord, you need a castle, so you build one out of bits of wood, and quickly begin equipping it with facilities that will net you better gear and restorative items – once you gather the materials and ingredients you need.

The early mission goals will fast-forward you to the point where you have a barebones castle and some decent-ish gear, and then you’re tasked with drinking V Blood. V Blood is special because only powerful beings can carry it, I suppose, and so you need to hunt down the toughest blokes (and wolves) in the land. This can’t be ignored, as some of those V Blood carriers will also give you access to pretty essential items, like a Tannery to turn hides into Leather. And by the point you get the Tannery, you’ll probably have thousands of hides ready to tan.

You can tell what upgrade the V Blood will give you by your foe's attacks.
You can tell what upgrade the V Blood will give you by your foe's attacks. / Level Infinite

Once you find good places to grind out the base resources you need to keep yourself afloat, getting V Blood so you can upgrade your castle further and unlock more spells to use in battle becomes your primary focus. V Blood carriers can be tracked, leading your directly to where they stand on the map – but this serves to highlight that transporting anything in this game is actually awful.

With the default server settings enabled, you can’t fast travel between Vampire Waygates while carrying most ingredients – only your gear. Even once you unlock the ability to fast travel from your base to a waygate, you can’t fast travel back with your loot. You need to walk. And the game world is large. On bigger journeys, you’re likely to watch the world go through a day and night cycle – or several – before you arrive at your destination.

An early V Blood carrier is Alpha the White Wolf, and taking it down allows you to take on a wolf form that you can use to move faster, which definitely helps, but even with minor speed buffs like that, getting from place to place in V Rising feels frustrating. Not fun, just frustrating, especially since vampires can’t walk in the daylight.

The world is massive, and will take hours to explore.
The world is massive, and will take hours to explore. / Level Infinite

Regular V Rising players not only recommend enabling fast travel with ingredients in the server settings, they also recommend tweaking the length of the day. Vampires stood in daylight will take heavy damage, which really makes you question why the game demands – and I mean demands – that you totally eliminate any trees within the bounds of your castle. Trees are the only decent form of shade you can use when traveling between areas, and you can’t equip your castle with a roof until you get Reinforced Walls. You have a weakness to sunlight, so you make an open-plan castle with no roof as your first task. I had to build walls inside my small castle, just so I could hide behind something while smithing ingots and making sure everything was running as intended.

It’s strange that, in reality, I actually quite like V Rising in a lot of respects. Getting new gear is fulfilling, so is building your castle, and the Diablo-like combat is satisfying – it feels rewarding to defeat an enemy that’s tougher than you, which is absolutely possible while playing solo for many foes. And then when I’m enjoying all that, it’ll hit me with something like, you can only equip two spells for battle at once, out of dozens. 

There are six different magic trees, each with eight spells to unlock and three passives. Let me reiterate: you can only equip two spells at a time. Many of the spells you unlock you probably won’t ever use, but which magic tree you can unlock a spell from depends entirely on the type of V Blood you feed from, and if you’re going for V Blood carriers in order of weakest to strongest, you won’t have the chance to be as flexible and unique with your build as you might like. The combat might be decent enough, but why make it so limiting?

Quiet townsfolk will recognize you as a vampire.
Quiet townsfolk will recognize you as a vampire. / Level Infinite

I don’t dislike V Rising, I actually think there’s a lot of fun to be had here, but in such an oversaturated market, V Rising needs to stand out. In the two years between V Rising’s early access launch and full-blooded release, the survival crafting genre has become bloated, and only games with a truly unique hook manage to stand out in any way – looking at you, Palworld. V Rising doesn’t stand out. It’s a well made game, it’s decent fun, but it has a laundry list of frustrations, a majority of which haven’t been addressed between the early access launch and now.

V Rising has finally taken its final form on PS5, and it’s a fun survival crafting experience – if, for some reason, you’re looking for another one. And if you like the idea of V Rising, but you can’t quite get into it, there are literally dozens of other survival crafting games you can try instead.

Score: 7/10

Platform tested: PS5

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Dave Aubrey


GLHF Deputy Editor. Nintendo fan. Rapper. Pretty good at video games.