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V Rising: Secrets of Gloomrot Impressions

Kevin Chick Posted:
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It has been a year since Early Access began for V Rising, and developer Stunlock Studios is releasing the first major content update for the game on May 17th, V Rising: Secrets of Gloomrot. My initial opinion of V Rising has not changed. Stunlock Studios has made a great game, and V Rising: Secrets of Gloomrot only improves it further. While I knew the update was on the way, I didn't realize how much it would revamp different systems and environments. Once I started exploring the different biomes in the closed beta, the differences were noticeable and welcome. This update includes castle improvements, a world revamp, limited environmental hazards, trading markets, a spell system revamp, jewel crafting, two new weapons, 13 new bosses, 30 new monsters, and the new biome of Gloomrot. I am happy to say the changes add wonderfully to the game's atmosphere and only serve to improve the depth of gameplay.

So far, I have had about 35 hours to play V Rising: Secrets of Gloomrot on an advanced start closed beta server. I am farming South Gloomrot, but I have barely started working my way into North Gloomrot. It took me about an hour or two to warm up to the V Rising combat again. Building up my castle was when I really started to notice the update changes.

When placing your castle heart, it now claims the entire area it is placed within. I found this much more enjoyable compared to gradually expanding your area of influence one tile at a time. Players will also find new stations to support Jewel crafting and the new Fabricator for refining Gloomrot resources. The new weapons have been added to the Smithy, and the inventory bags for specific resources are on the Leatherworking Station. Castles have two main improvements, multi-level capability, and short-range teleporters.

Players can now place stairs on the current floor of their castle and then start to place foundation pieces from the upper landing. A castle can have up to three floors. The system works quite well, so long as you remember to connect all your walls/doors to generate a roof. My biggest issue with the system is there is no way to easily move a stairwell. But you can place a new stairwell if it is not blocked by any existing stations and then remove the old one. It just can be a bit tedious to line everything up.

Short-range teleports are also a great quality-of-life improvement. There are three different color teleporter pads available to craft, and you simply place two of the same color within your castle. Afterward, you can teleport between the same color teleporters by stepping onto the pad.     

The world of V Rising, Vardoran, has had quite the revamp this update. It still feels familiar from when I first played it during the Early Access release. But the Waygates feel more conveniently placed now that various town and encampment locations have been adjusted and added. Specific resources can be acquired from more locations, reducing possible bottlenecks in advancement. The new environmental hazards in certain zones add to the challenge/atmosphere without making it overly annoying. 

For example, in the Cursed Forest biome, your character gains a stacking curse. Once it reaches 100, deep fog surrounds you. The map and minimap are fogged out as well. But it doesn’t take effect if you are in the Spider Caves or if you have crafted a particular cloak gained from one of the V Bosses in the area. So, while annoying and potentially deadly, there are in-game ways to overcome the issue.

The addition of trading markets and more vendors is also a great change. Players can take on a human guise to sneak in and buy various resources, items, and rare recipes. It adds more to the fantasy of playing a vampire while providing another way to gain things you may not have had much luck with farming. My only problem with the markets, is I tend to stay around too long and start to smoke in the sunlight… glad the developers thought to put up tents for those merchants.

Spells have received changes with this update, increasing the magic system's depth quite a bit. Each element now had a secondary effect on their spells and those that already had a secondary effect were revamped. For example, Unholy spells now inflict Condemn on the target. This causes enemies to take 15% extra damage for 5s, and you summon an unholy warrior if a condemned target dies. The secondary effects really add to the fantasy of casting spells from that element.

Adding to the spell revamp, players also get the new Storm Magic element to play with. I have found the spells for Storm Magic to be quite useful. Ball Lightning, especially, has earned a place on my slotted spells. It has a good size AOE and the ability to inflict the secondary effect of Static while I am continuing to do physical damage. That extra 10 percent magic damage with every hit has saved me a few times in a fight.

The new Jewel crafting adds even more customization to spells. Jewels can be crafted or found as drops. A Jewel has a tier that determines how many effects it has and is for a specific spell. The tier-two Unholy spell Ward of the Damned adds damage to the summoned minion if it is hit by the recast and it has a percentage chance to summon a Skeletal Mage instead of a Skeletal Warrior. I have seen some interesting combinations and ability changes so far. Players can socket a jewel by opening the spell book, clicking the related spell, and then clicking edit socket. It's a simple-to-use system with a lot of depth that can change gameplay quite a bit. This jewel system is great. I hope Stunlock Studios continues to expand on it in the future with more options. 

Ancient shattered weapons have also been added to the game. They can drop and be restored at the Ancestral Forge in your castle. These weapons tend to have additional attributes, and the special attacks cause a secondary elemental effect such as Condemn or Static.

Speaking of weapons, V Rising: Secrets of Gloomrot adds two new ones; Greatsword and Dual Pistols. Both are fun to use. They fit to fill the gaps between the other weapons and feel great. Greatsword attacks hit hard and are satisfying when you are strafing away from enemies and tag them with a great sword swing or launch them into the air. Very satisfying as well to ride by a patrol on a bonded mount and take out a couple of the lesser enemies in one swing. While with the dual pistols, I tend to launch a volley of shots at medium range and then move. Hold my frontal cone ability in case something gets too close, then Explosive Bullet to dodge away while also knocking them back. I am leaning towards Dual Pistols as my favorite weapon so far because of the range. But I still swap between three weapons to deal with various enemy types in V Rising.

With the spell revamp and new weapons, players obviously need more things to fight. The developers have you covered, 12 new V Blood bosses have been added to the Acts to track down and challenge you. I have downed many of them, each one provided interesting mechanics to learn and adjust my build for. If I was having issues with one boss at a particular level, I typically had another option to try until I could get some help or I leveled my gear a bit more. Domina the Blade Dancer was especially memorable since the fight took place in the middle of Rustlock Village, she kept lashing at me with a lightning whip, and her voiceover is rather interesting. Maja the Dark Savant was also an interesting new encounter to unlock the Study, her library area was well-designed, and the use of spell effects revolving around books looked great. I have also found within the world revamp that some other boss encounter areas have been improved. They feel more functional and thematic. Overall, very well done, I look forward to playing through the remaining Act III bosses.  

The 30 new monsters were also noticeable, even throughout the existing revamped biomes. I thought my big challenge was going to be the new spiders that can cocoon enemies or the Pyro flame throwers in South Gloomrot; but it ended up being the Rock Elementals in the Iron Cave. Their AoE jump and charge attacks are tough to figure out their timing. Meanwhile, as they launch themselves around the cave, they damage and wake up more elementals and Iron Golems. Before you know it, the enemies are swarming you with big brother throwing knockdown line AoEs.

Finally, the biome of Gloomrot is split into two sections. This area has an amazing atmosphere. The flora and fauna look great, and the enemies fit the theme oh so well. While I am not the biggest fan of steampunk, I appreciate the work and effort of the developers on display here, it has me engaged with the new areas. They have both been fun to explore and die in. The constant barrage of fire and electricity from humanoid enemies keeps me on my toes. Random mutations that leap out of toxic pools have taken me by surprise a few times.

South Gloomrot is all about the polluted environment and mutated wildlife. The deer run around with two heads, and the Rat Horrors are, well, you get what the name on the tin implies. It’s rotting, everywhere. If it weren’t for the other biomes, I would say it might even be too much for me to experience for a long period of time. But dipping into the area for a V Boss hunt or some resource gathering makes an interesting contrast to other biomes.

While North Gloomrot still has that rot and decay, the rain and lightning storm really changes the feel. The enemies are similar, but you see more humanoids patrolling the area. I was worried at first that the lightning strikes would be too deadly. But it is decently balanced to keep you moving while not killing you outright with a mistake or if you are distracted by enemies. The lightning does add to the challenge of the area though, and players can gain some protection when near one of the encampments with a lightning rod or fighting around the enemy called a Lightning Protector. This enemy is a four-legged lightning rod mecha that tips over and blasts you during fights, so maybe it’s not that safe in this case.

Is it worth returning to V Rising with this update? If you enjoyed playing the game before and found it lacking a bit of depth in the game systems and amount of V Blood bosses, then yes. There is a lot of content here to play with and experience. Stunlock Studios has done a great job with the new Gloomrot biome. It looks great and sounds great. I am also shocked that I didn’t have any major technical issues, the game shut down on me once when I alt-tabbed out, and I was disconnected from the closed beta server once. The only two sticking points for some players, in my opinion, are the style of combat Sunlock Studios is known for may not be for everyone, and how much a player is concerned about balancing all the abilities/weapons for PvP. I think they all feel good to play with currently. Each weapon/element fits a situational use, but I tend to be more PvE-focused. If you are thinking of picking up V-Rising: Secrets of Gloomrot, it’s $19.99 US on Steam with a few separate optional cosmetic packs. The base game price is worth it.


Kevin Chick

Kevin "Xevrin" is an avid gamer having started playing video games on an Apple III with the Wizardry Series and Questron before the age of 10. In junior high, he branched out into tabletop gaming with the release of D&D 2nd Edition. During his first year of university, Everquest was released combining both of his favorite activities.