V Rising Review – Hypnotic Fun

While I may not be the biggest fan of Diablo or Diablo-likes, I am a massive fan of progression systems, and – while slightly less technical – I’m a huge fan of vampires. In that sense, V Rising on the PlayStation 5 should be right up my alley!

It’s a shame it wasn’t released around October when I’d be knee-deep in macabre stuff anyway, but let’s see how it did.

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I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air


You start the game after having just awoken from your vampiric slumber. You burst from your coffin and have to make your way through a graveyard before you come to the first major area: a forest.

Thankfully, the game has 5 biomes (many of which are more notable than JUST a forest), but this is how the game starts.

While gathering your low-level gear and making your way through the tutorials, it’ll suddenly dawn on you that you haven’t been gaining XP. That’s because there’s no traditional level-up in this game. Enemies don’t give you xp, but rather they give you materials which can then be used to craft items and gear.

About halfway through the tutorial, the game starts expounding on how you can build your very own castle. This involved me having to chop down some trees in order to make a dinky little shack so that the tutorial would stop bothering me.

By this point, I hated this game. The first hour is such a boring, brick-and-mortar set of tutorials that – if not for the sunlight that can kill you – it would be difficult to convince me that i was actually playing as a vampire.

The entire early impression of this game is sacrificed on the altar of making sure you know how everything in the game works. Sure, the game does have to teach you other things along the way, but this initial front-loading of bland information and busy work is what I imagine will initially turn a lot of people away.

But please stick with it, because V Rising is still a legitimately great game.

Once again…welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring

The Blood is the Life

V Rising’s gameplay loop goes like this: kill enemies, obtain materials, craft gear, kill boss, use their blood to gain and upgrade abilities.

This loop doesn’t present itself until after you free yourself from the shackles of the tutorial, but once it does, it carries throughout the rest of the game.

Each biome of the game has several bosses. Each boss can be viewed in the blood menu along with their gear level as well as what you can get from beating them. In this menu, bosses are typically shrouded in a blood-tinged fog before you beat them for the first time. This creates a nice bit of mystery when pursuing each fight.

After each boss fight, you will drain their blood. This gives you the option of unlocking another vampiric ability to flesh out your once bare hotbar. Blood can also be drained from regular enemies; however, their blood gives you small percentage buffs to certain passive skills.

The game is split into three acts, and while you can go from biome to biome and only fight the major bosses, there will come a point where you just can’t keep up. This is where the material grind comes in.

To build anything you need the recipe for said thing as well as the materials to build it. This is where the lions-share of the grind comes in, and if you aren’t down with scouring the world for materials in order to build a chest piece which gives you +4 resistance to something that you’ve never even seen before, then this might not be your game.

That being said, I’m not usually one for this kind of grind, but my love for vampires, and the earnest thrill that each boss fight – and their unique mechanics – kept me invested.

..the world seems full of good men–even if there are monsters in it


When you start the game, you have to set up your server. There is a lot of wiggle room here. I was relieved to find that there were not only ways to increase material yield/ decrease requirements so that the grind was less of a hassle, but that you could also give yourself level 90 gear right off the bat if you want to experiment with some late game stuff early on.

I tried this for about an hour just to get a feel for the endgame power level. It was pretty great mincing level 5 bosses with full Dracula gear. It was also a relief knowing that the material grind is only as invasive as you want it to be. This was by far the weakest part of the game to me, so I’m happy to set every yield to the max, every requirement to the minimum, and just start playing.

You can also play the game in either co-op or PVP. Either team-up with a friend and begin laying the foundations for your vampiric empire, or you can lay siege to a rival’s castle. All of this is here if you want it, but thankfully it’s not a requirement.

One thing I was initially worried about was the castle system. Even if it’s something you never really get invested into (like me), I was still worried that I’d eventually have to trek through several areas in order to get back to my castle. However, rather suitably, your castle in this game has the Castlevania-esque ability to warp to any spot in the world which is able to accommodate it.

Speaking of Castlevania, V Rising also has a ton of DLC. In fact, the price of all of the DLC is more than the price of the game. I wouldn’t worry too much about this as it’s mostly cosmetic stuff. So, if you care about decking out your castle, then maybe look into it.

Thankfully, the best piece of DLC content is free: a boss battle with a famous Castlevania character. Incredibly good fight. One which only makes me pray for another actual Castlevania game.

But we are strong, each in our purpose, and we are all more strong together


Translating a PC game to a console isn’t easy, and that certainly shows here.

While most things here are fine, certain things feel a little off. Some abilities’ button combinations can have you look at your controller to check your finger placement well into the mid-game. Also, the stick sensitivity when aiming your vampiric abilities can be a little finicky, as well as unwieldy when you have to focus on every other aspect of a fight.

With all of the customization options, I’m surprised there isn’t some kind of soft lock-on toggle.

This next complaint may just be a me thing, but the game’s camera is slightly too far away from the character. You can switch it to be more zoomed in using an input, but – aside from it being too close to the character – you can’t then perform any actions without it snapping back to default.

I get that this camera mode is just for viewing your character and gear, but I’d still like for this to have been as modular as the rest of the game, just so that I never felt like I had to squint at my TV.

For the dead travel fast


The game may have its bumps, but some promissory comments from the devs have shown that they’re willing to iron out any bugs or perceived issues, and that they’ll be taking in all the fan feedback they can get.

My only hope now is that they steadily add a stream of non-cosmetic DLC so that I can truly play this for the decade or so it’ll take for Konami to make the next Castlevania game.


  • Fun and diverse bosses
  • Great sense of progression and scale
  • Entirely modular and customizable world
  • Diverse and interesting biomes


  • Some control translation issues
  • Unflattering tutorial slog
  • The potentially ceaseless material grind

V Rising


Despite some control quirks and initial annoyances, there's no better modern vampire game. I know what I'll be playing this Halloween.

PS5 version played with a key provided by the developer via Keymailer for review purposes.