OPINION | GAME ON: Vampires valiantly take back the night in vast open-world ‘V Rising’

In the video game "V Rising" you play as a vampire struggling to take back the night. For Jason Bennett's Game On column June 6, '22. (Courtesy of Stunlock Studios)
In the video game "V Rising" you play as a vampire struggling to take back the night. For Jason Bennett's Game On column June 6, '22. (Courtesy of Stunlock Studios)

In "V Rising," you awaken as a vampire after centuries of sleep and must start from almost nothing, acquiring power and resources to become the next Dracula.

The game is a vast open-world, massively multi-player online or MMO-style survival game that is a blend of multiple game types and has quite likely created a new genre altogether.

"V Rising" uses W-A-S-D keyboard controls and cursor-based aiming similar to action role-playing games such as "Diablo" and "Path of Exile." It's played on permanent or semi-permanent player-vs-player (PvP) or player-vs-environment (PvE) servers similar to "Rust," and it has a world-boss-centric crafting and progression system similar to "Valheim."

There's a lot of complex systems at work in "V Rising," but the Early Access game from Stunlock Studios is incredibly polished already and has sold 1.5 million copies in the first two weeks since launch.

The basic game-play loop goes something like this: Explore the world, killing enemies and gathering crafting materials such as bones, wood, stone and ores. Materials are gained by mining rocks and chopping down trees. Take these materials back to your castle (which can be created almost anywhere on a massive map) and use them to upgrade your castle, or upgrade your gear score, which will make you more powerful and allow you to take on stronger enemies.

Game-play options in "V Rising" are wonderfully diverse. There are dozens of vampire powers to obtain (usually from killing certain creatures and bosses), lots of weapon types and armor sets and a near infinite number of combinations that form how your vampire will fight and interact with the world.

Powers include abilities such as Frost Bat, which launches an ice attack at enemies, freezing them temporarily, or Mist Trance, to block attacks briefly and short-range teleport, or Crimson Aegis, which can create a shield around you or an ally. Other powers include being able to take the form of a wolf to travel faster, or a rat to avoid enemy detection, or even a human to sneak into settlements.

There's also a day/night cycle to contend with. Spend time in direct sunlight and you start to take damage that scales up quickly over time, requiring you to dodge back into shady areas away from sunlight to reset the damage. Breaking your exposure to the sun becomes a crucial part of everyday activities. With destructible environments and changing cloud patterns, it creates this sort of omnipresent challenge to work around.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » arkansasonline.com/66vamp/]

Aside from character creation, which offers a number of colorful and stylized options, the first major decision will be what kind of server to play on. There are four official game modes: one, two, three or four player PvE (player versus environment), one or two player PvP (player versus player), three or four player PvP, and four player PvP with full loot rules.

If you want to team up with friends casually and enjoy a friendly game of crafting and exploration, then PvE is the mode to choose. Player-controlled vampires won't be able to attack each other and can form clans (typically up to four players) to share resources and craft a base together.

And speaking of base-building, that's a huge aspect of "V Rising." Bases start off as simple wooden palisades and gates, but give your vampire a place to store gathered materials and loot and create crafting stations to make better gear.

In PvP modes, bases must be fortified and defended, as enemy players will seek to raid them to get at the resources you have stored. If this kind of game-play doesn't interest you, make sure you choose a PvE server to play on.

You can also just play a solo game on your own computer, and you and friends can connect to a local area network (LAN), such as in a computer lab, to create your own private game. It's also possible to rent servers to host private games.

On official servers, the clan size is capped at four, and the total number of vampires allowed is 40, but on private servers there are dozens of settings to toggle. Some servers can hold as many as 200 players and have bigger clan sizes.

I predict that "V Rising" is going to become a staple game for quite a while and offer essentially unlimited gameplay. While it is possible to defeat all the bosses in a certain amount of time and "do" everything possible (in perhaps 50 or so hours), the co-op play and PvP options will make this a virtually unlimited time-sink, and I predict it will have quite a popular future.

‘V Rising’

Platform: Windows (Steam)

Cost: $19.99

Rating: Teens and older

Score: 8 out of 10

Upcoming Events