From the studio that brought us the brilliance Line Champions and Battlerite, Stunlock Studios has always been about creating something truly special. After launching just two days ago, the studio’s new title V rising currently has 30,000 people viewing its landing page, not to mention the 160,000 who viewed the game on Twitch when it moved to Early Access. With likely sales north of 350,000 within days, it’s fair to say the game is a massive hit.
While Battlerite was hugely successful when it launched, its player base quickly dwindled over time. by Battlerite the competitive arena offered too little longevity and depth for some. Rather than fix this, Stunlock, to the displeasure of many, spent time and resources pursuing a new mode in its much-maligned Battlerite Royale instead of investing in its predecessor while it was still very much alive. As an entirely separate product that lifted everything Battlerite was, but thrust into a battle royale setting, Battlerite Royale crashed and burned almost overnight.
Despite this faux pas, it’s obvious that Stunlock learned a lot, dusted himself off, and pursued something new but familiar. As a team, Stunlock has always been exceptional in combat in a top-down setting, while their brief stint with Battlerite Royale allowed them to get creative with level design. Combined with their focus on polish, the culmination of all of these things has resulted in a game that’s ready to bleed all your free time.
As a mash-up of Battlerite and Valheim, V Rising scratches a certain itch that the survival genre has lacked until now. Although it’s an Early Access title for £15.49, it offers a level of polish and content that few fully released games can match. While it’s far from perfect, there’s no doubt that it’s damn good (sorry – couldn’t resist).
With fast collection, no stamina, no weight limits, generous inventory size, and fast building, it’s obvious that Valheim has influenced the team. This expands further if you draw comparisons to Valheim’s bosses and V Rising’s V Blood wielders and the structure of crafting and itemization progression. Comparisons aside, V Rising does things differently by building on the foundations of Battlerite and bringing satisfying combat and movement to a genre where both are generally stale. It also charts its own path, placing players in a beautifully hand-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 attractive world to explore.
Whether you’re exploring an abandoned mine littered with workers, traversing snowy mountains chased by yetis, or stalking through the woods with wolves snapping at your heels, there’s more to explore. Filled with risk when you equip your vampire, there’s also an urge to push the limits of your level when you venture out. You must weigh the quality of your weaponry as well as your own ability. That’s part of the reason why I loved Battlerite so much. There was real skill in the perfect positioning and timing of your abilities. With several V-blood carriers out of my level, I’ve managed to kill them just by learning their skills and whittling them down over time (they’ve all been brilliant at fighting so far).
V Rising’s solar system, which I feared was either trendy or out of place, plays a particularly interesting role in the game and how you explore. It’s not hard to avoid being scorched by its rays (maybe too easy at times) but there will be times when the sunrise will have a dramatic impact on your game play and survivability. While fighting Quincey the Bandit King atop his mountain, not only did the sun rise, but the shrunken game arena resulted in my death as I cowered to protect myself from his barrage of AoE attacks. Even a gentle walk for a yarn at Dunley Farms saw me lick my wounds as I struggled to kill Christina the Sun Priestess while trying to find shade.
Sometimes it’s a mechanic that feels subtle and could pose greater risks to the player, but there’s a real challenge here for Stunlock Studios to implement an imminent threat that doesn’t make the game laborious. It’s a tightrope for them and a challenge I certainly don’t envy.
Despite my love for the game and whether you choose to pursue PvE or PvP, V Rising isn’t perfect. Having lost interest in Valheim after killing all of its bosses, I fear V Rising will suffer the same fate for many. Without procedural maps, the world risks aging rapidly, while the accessibility of horses trivializes much of its size. Combined with a lack of enemy scaling, by the time you get a decent set of weapons and abilities, most enemies outside of V Blood carriers feel totally out of place.
I suspect the biggest disappointment for many, however, will be the building. Although easy to do and with effective results, it simply lacks the creative depth to create original and stunning locations. Where Valheim offers incredible opportunities to build and design truly unique towns and homes, its combat and PvE encounters are woefully weak. In contrast, V Rising offers incredible combat and PvE encounters at the expense of deep base building. As someone who prefers fighting epic bosses and battling opposing players, this is great for me, but it takes away from the longevity of the game. Valheim has continued to thrive on its community creations and the ability to experiment with a player. Right now, that’s just not possible in V Rising.
Having just started life in Early Access and with over 50 hours of PvE content available, there’s incredible value to be had here. If Stunlock Studios can steadily refine its vision, add new abilities and weapons, and figure out how they’re going to tackle the outdated map, I have no doubt it will retain its player base and grow even more than it does. has already done. Stunlock’s biggest hurdle, however, will be establishing what they want base building to be and what role that really plays on gameplay. Right now, your home is either a place to store your things and tools, or a place where an opposing player can sometimes attack, rather than something you can be proud of.
Regardless of these minor concerns, V Rising is an exceptional game that is absolutely worth your time and money. Stunlock Studios has created a worthy successor to Battlerite and just to complete the challenge of finding and killing its V Bloodbearers, you absolutely must jump headfirst into the crypt.