Chatting with V Rising developer Stunlock Studios

by MaddOx
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Step into the shadows as we unveil the secrets behind the enigmatic world of V Rising, from the innovative minds at Stunlock Studios. Having originally been released in Early Access in 2022, V Rising is now coming to console, so what better time to chat with the developers about their game?

In this exclusive interview, we delve deep into the heart of darkness, exploring the inspirations, mechanics, and artistic direction of this captivating vampire survival game. From the eerie, gothic landscapes to the thrill of nocturnal hunts, join us as we discover what makes V Rising a blood-curdling adventure that redefines the survival genre.

Whether you’re a fan of spine-tingling horror, strategic gameplay, or the timeless allure of vampire lore, this conversation is bound to captivate your imagination and leave you thirsting for more. But before we get to the chat, here’s the announcement trailer for the game’s arrival on PS5:

Can you introduce Stunlock Studios and share a bit about the team’s background and previous game projects?

Sure thing! Stunlock Studios has been around since 2009, formed in Skövde, Sweden out of a student project at the local university. That project would go on to become the PvP action brawler Bloodline Champions, Stunlock’s first game, which would pioneer the style of super tight top-down action combat that has been a trademark of our work.

We went on to work with a publisher on another PvP game called Dead Island: Epidemic for a time, and from there took the opportunity to create the spiritual successor to our first game; Battlerite! While we have a deep appreciation and love for the pure PvP experience, and we’d found a lot of love for our work on Battlerite and previous titles, we felt inspired to tackle something a little different. That’s when we dove into the action survival genre with V Rising!

What were the main inspirations behind creating V Rising? Were there specific elements of gothic horror literature or other media that influenced the game’s development?

V Rising was inspired by the classic vampire mythos, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the Castlevania games, the Netflix series, and innumerable other little influences! It’s hard to deny that there’s been a resurgence in interest in vampires in general. It’s littered across the cultural consciousness. I guess we got bit as well. When we decided on going the vampire route, it was also during a time when we were looking for personal inspiration for the survival genre, and I think there was a sort of upside-down appeal to the bloodsucker experience that just grabbed us. 

V Rising is described as a vampire survival game. Can you elaborate on the core gameplay mechanics and what players can expect in terms of survival elements?

Of course! The survival aspects of V Rising are tied in directly with the vampire fantasy as much as possible, which we felt blended together naturally. You start off as a weakened vampire, needing to hunt for blood to regain your strength and survive in a world full of deadly creatures, and to make matters worse, humans! We spiced things up with a day and night cycle, and as a vampire, you will, of course, need to stay away from the burning sunlight during the daytime.

Building is a big part of the survival experience, so we made the fantasy of the vampire castle central to the mechanics of the game, making your sprawling lair a core part of your progression. We also added blood elements to absolutely everything, including making it necessary to keep your blood reserves from running out if you don’t want to wither to the edge of death.

V Rising in the forest gameplay

How does the open-world design in V Rising enhance the player’s experience? What can players expect to discover in this world?

We tried to fill the world of Vardoran with little draws off the beaten path, and deliver a world that feels full of potential experiences. You have factions of monsters, animals, undead, and humans that stand in opposition to each other. It isn’t at all uncommon to find bosses (we call them V Bloods, some of which wander the world) squaring off against each other on the open road or militia squads slaughtering bandits. All sorts of enemies are lurking around corners and… more surprising locations.

There are plenty of beautiful locales to discover in every corner of the world, monster nests, and even an entire city run by the nefarious Church of Luminance that you can raid. We wanted to take full advantage of our first open-world game, and we’re proud of what we were able to pull off! With 1.0 coming around the corner, we’re looking to do EVEN MORE with dynamic world events introduced to the equation!

Building and customising a castle is a key feature of V Rising. How does this process work and what options are available to players for customization?

Oh, this is kind of a long one, depending on how much you want to get into it. In our game, building your castle is an integral part of the entire journey and is closely tied to your progression as you claw your way up from a freshly awakened, starving Vampire to a full-fledged lord of your domain. You start out hobbling together a wooden campsite but quickly work your way up to stone walls, roofs, multiple floors, and magically automated workstations. You learn to subjugate human servants to go on missions to collect supplies for you or keep them in cages for their particular variety of valuable blood.

There are lots of styles of lighting, wallpapers, and extravagant decor that have only expanded more since our initial start in Early Access, and we plan to continue to expand your options as we fully launch this year!

The game offers both solo and co-op play. How do these modes differ, and what dynamics does co-op play bring to the game?

You probably won’t be too surprised to hear that V Rising is more fun with friends. You can still have a complete experience playing alone at your own pace or share your journey. Both are totally viable and enjoyable ways to play.

The V Blood bosses, which you hunt down and slay to drain knowledge from their blood, are the main challenge you face at key points in your quest to become the best. These V Blood bosses scale in difficulty when facing multiple vampires, so they’re designed to be able to be fought with assistance while giving you just the right amount of challenge. However, if you want more of a challenge, we also offer many server options to make the game as easy or difficult as you want!

V Rising being a survival game does also open it up to all roles of play within the genre, so that can play into group dynamics a lot as well. If you want to hang out and gather basic materials for the group you can do that, or if you’re more into going out and taking the lead on scrapping with the V Blood bosses or farming materials from more dangerous enemies to upgrade your group’s equipment, there’s a place for you too.

V Rising PS5 screenshot

Could you discuss the PvP and PvE aspects of V Rising? How do these elements integrate with the overall gameplay?

That’s a really good question! Something that’s really interesting to tackle is the way PvP and PvE interact because we want V Rising to be a game where you aren’t required to engage in PvP, but it’s also important that it’s tied in well with the gameplay if you do. Every part of the PvE aspect of the game ties into the crafting, building, and fantasy of the game and helps fuel it, and the things you gain in PvE, including the gear, spells, supplies, and progression, fuels the PvP. So while you don’t have to engage in PvP if you don’t want to, if you do choose to, it’s tied directly back into every other aspect of the game.

What enhancements and optimisations have been made for V Rising’s PlayStation 5 version? How does the console experience differ from the PC?

Much like the way we approach PvE and PvP and the different kinds of players that enjoy those styles of play, it’s extremely important for us that we deliver parity to players between the console and PC versions of V Rising. Working on some aspects of the port to PlayStation 5 has allowed us to prioritise things that benefit the PC as well, such as a focus on optimization and performance that players will definitely be feeling on the PC.

We’ve also done a lot of work on the HUD and the smoothness of the UI/UX and general gameplay experience that greatly improves console play but will also be felt on PC. Let’s not forget the gamepad in general, which has been in demand for a long time! It was really hard to keep that under wraps, so we were very excited to be able to announce that finally.

So, in summary, they won’t differ too much at all!

Can you detail the UI improvements for the PS5 version? How does the DualSense controller enhance the gameplay?

A surprisingly big question, actually! Between our push to console and our desire to polish up the game for our full release out of Early Access, we’ve revisited every single UI element, and it would be a bit much to list off every detail here. Just expect a bit of an overhaul, including separate UI elements and screen HUDs for the keyboard and gamepad.

On the subject of DualSense, it’s allowing us to add haptic feedback. It’s another layer of sensation added to the experience, which we’ve embraced as a way to further immerse our players in the action.

V Rising giant gargoyle creature

Are there any plans for future content or updates for V Rising post-launch, especially in light of its expansion to consoles?

We’re planning at least one more major update after our full release, the 1.1 if you will. So our players can expect that much. Beyond that, we’ll have to see what the future looks like! Right now we’re just very focused on the PC and Console release.

Will any expansions or other content be available across all formats, or will there be certain exclusives?

We don’t have any plans to release content exclusive to individual formats at this time!

How does Stunlock Studios engage with the V Rising community? Are there ways for players to contribute feedback and suggestions?

We’re a pretty small studio, and with the success of V Rising we get a lot of really great feedback, so it’s actually a bit of work to make sure we can see everything! We’ve put together all sorts of tools for that, mainly using our feature upvote feedback boards for bug reporting, feature suggestions, and feedback, but we also keep avenues for that open in our Discord.

You’ll find me personally lurking in that Discord quite often, popping in to say hello or answer a question here and there when I can. Between scouring our socials, discord, and feedback boards, I think it gives us a pretty strong idea of what our players are looking for from us… so please, keep it coming!

If you could add any mythical creature or famous character from vampire lore into V Rising, who would it be and why?

Personally? Haha, they might kill me for this one, but I really want to add a big Vampire figure, like a REALLY famous big name. THE definitive Vampire, you know?

Like Nosferatu, maybe.


As our journey into the night concludes, we are left with a profound appreciation for the depth, creativity, and passion that Stunlock Studios has poured into V Rising. This interview has not only shed light on the dark corners of Vardoran but also highlighted the studio’s commitment to creating a uniquely immersive and challenging experience for gamers.

With a blend of gothic horror, strategic survival elements, and a vibrant community, V Rising is set to captivate players around the globe. We extend our deepest thanks to the team at Stunlock Studios for sharing their vision and insights with us. As the shadows lengthen and the night deepens, we eagerly await the adventures that await in the world of V Rising.

The night is young, and the hunt has just begun. Add the game to your wishlist on PS5 by clicking here.

For even more interviews with people from the gaming industry, click right here.

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