A ravishing new year to you all, my Vampires! It is our first check-in for the new spin around our most feared enemy, the Sun, and an ideal time to discuss our plans for the coming year. We at Stunlock Studios have been spending the most enjoyable endless Swedish nights preparing for the coming year, and what a year it will be.
Tonight, on this most thirsty of nights, we will share with you our visions of the future. We will unveil a massive overhaul to spellcasting and magic progression, as well as a few other things we’re experimenting with.
Be sure to check towards the bottom of the blog, where we discuss an experimental feature we’re working on. We want to know what you think about it, and this is another opportunity to directly affect the development of V Rising, so please give us your feedback in the survey toward the end of the blog!
Our Upcoming Free Expansion
Our next step on the road to full release is the Free Expansion, our first major content release in May!
This update will primarily be about strengthening our foundations with new ways to live out the Vampire fantasy. To us, this means enhancing the way you already play by giving you more of what you already love, but it also means adding more layers of depth and complexity to the world to masterfully tie things together. We’re taking this time to build the game out and prepare it for a satisfying endgame, where we can build up to an apex moment that lets you fully realize your potential.
That journey should be dense with memorable and diverse experiences. By creating new layers of enrichment, like Multiple Floors and Jewels, we’ll be able to build a game that creates more of those moments. The Free Expansion will let you build bigger and better lairs with more control than ever, wield new weapons and magic, explore new areas, and encounter new bosses and factions. Vardoran will get grander, darker, and deeper.
So to whet your appetite, Vampires, how about a little bit of magic?
Magic Schools, Jewels, and New Tools
Let’s talk sorcery.
Like many of our kin, you might remember that we’ve sent out a few feedback surveys between the beta tests and the period after the Early Access launch. One common theme that surfaced was that our ever-clever vampire community imagined a world of greater spell variety and more in-depth interactions between them.
Our aim is to update spells holistically, adding layers with stronger type identity, individual spell modification, and improving the connection between spell types to allow for many more combinations of techniques. With these changes, our kits should be more exciting and put the tools to create more unique, focused, and intentional builds in the hands of our most devious tacticians.
To begin, let’s talk about our most magical overhaul to date, starting with Jewels.
Jewels are a new item type used to strengthen and modify spell powers individually. We want to give players the ability to specialize how they like but also get the opportunity to experiment and try out many different kit combinations. We want you to become the dark warlock of your dreams, whether that means turning your surroundings into hell frozen over, ripping the life essence out of anyone who dares to challenge you or moving through the battlefield shrouded in illusions like a phantom assassin.
To acquire Jewels in our current vision, they’re something Vampires will begin to find around the time they’re killing Clive the Firestarter and similar tiers of V Bloods. They can be dropped by standard units, V Bloods, and chests but will most often be found in the more extravagant treasure chests, which you can identify by their eye-catching gold detailing. When you loot a jewel from an area, it will be tailored to the progression level of that area, so you’ll only be finding jewels you can currently use or will be able to use soon. As you progress, the number of spells you can find jewels for will increase.
Give me your spell jewels, Clive!
While our original design had jewels slotting into weapons and magic sources, it was found to be inflexible to swap out different spells. It discouraged Vampires from being adaptive and from exploring all of the deadly possibilities afforded to them. It’s important to us that this system offers more freedom in spell choice and variety to satisfy your dark desires. For this reason, jewels now slot into each individual spell, and as long as they’re equipped, they cannot be dropped on death. You will only be able to equip one jewel for each ability. Still, not to worry, an extra spell jewel can always be a valuable bargaining chip with a potential ally or a gift for a less fortunate clanmate.
The modifications available on every jewel found will be randomized, and each spell has many different gameplay-altering options that can manifest in these magical treasures. Some effects are unique to that spell, but others will be shared between others of the same spell school. The earliest jewels you find will only have one modification on them, but in later areas, you’ll be finding ones infused with up to three different effects.
These changes to your spell will unlock a new level of customization and interaction between the various magical workings you can employ. With so many possibilities, we’ll be watching closely to see what kind of tweaks we’ll need to make the system as freeing and exciting as possible.
Values are still being adjusted.
My Villain Academia: Spell School ReVamp
We’re taking you Vampires back to school.
There are currently five prime schools of magic in V Rising: Blood, Unholy, Illusion, Chaos, and Frost. Not counted among those core magics are your Vampire Powers, abilities such as mind control to charm weakened humans and make them into servants, and your various shapeshifting abilities.
Each of the main spell subdivisions has been refocused to have a stronger identity. We’ve created better cohesion within specialized schools by adding debuffs that benefit from stacking. This will encourage leaning into the individual magical archetypes but shouldn’t be so beneficial that they discourage a smart Vampire from mixing techniques for other strategies. To act as an adjustable counterweight to balance out any overpowered debuff spamming, we’ll also be experimenting with diminishing returns on stacking debuffs to give us a tool to even them out if it’s too much.
The sheer amount of changes means that every individual spell has had some kind of tweak. Some have only had minor changes, like being rebalanced around the added debuff, while others are almost entirely redone. There are also a few who have been rebranded and moved into different categories where they now fit in better, with their visual effects and theme reconstructed to fit their new place in the new arcane taxonomy.
Placeholder animation for the newly rehomed illusionary mosquito.
Some recognizable archetypes have also been reworked, such as the various shield spells now having a recast to send out a projectile. For instance, Chaos Barrier now lets you toss a chaos bolt, Ward of the Damned sends out a wave of unholy energy, and Frost Barrier bursts out into a cone of cold. Overall, the number of abilities has increased, and each group now has five standard spells, one veil(movement ability), and two ultimate abilities.
We’ll also be seeing a brand new sixth spell school in the Free Expansion, but let’s leave you pondering that mystery a little while longer.
These are about to become a bit more important.
For All You Bloodsuckers Out There
Blood Magic has become the center of vampiric healing and represents a Vampire controlling raw life essence. Blood spells now inflict a leech effect on your enemies, allowing you to attack an afflicted foe and replenish your life force much like, well, a leech. Blood has acquired a little gift from the Unholy branch. The “area of effect” spell Purgatory, which sets down an explosive magic circle to heal your allies and harm your enemies, is now exactly where it belongs.
The Blood Magic page, still in development.
Let’s Raise Some Hell
We haven’t forgotten about the necromancers, of which there are many. More ways to summon an army of the undead is a frequent request, and we’re happy to deliver. The unique debuff for Unholy inflicts an effect that amplifies damage on the target but also has a ghoulish secondary effect. If an enemy dies under the effect of the Unholy amplify, a skeleton will rise from its corpse to aid you in battle for a short time. Unholy will be all about striking down bloodied enemies using their remains to serve you.
There will be other ways to get the most out of your undead army using the Jewel system, such as exploding skeletal minions or summoning up some of those aim-hacking skeletal mages.
Who wouldn’t want this handsome lad on their side?
Unholy emphasizes its summoning nature by conjuring up a trick from the Illusion school. Our favorite spinny fellow, the Spectral Assassin, has found a new home as the unholy Death Knight.
The Unholy Magic page, still in development.
Feel the Burn, Bring on the Chaos
Where else would you expect to dish out colossal damage than the home of our beloved friend, the Chaos Bolt? Chaos magic will be all about aggression, damage, and wreckage. The familiar ignite debuff is making a comeback as a staple of this branch of arcana, and some of the more supportive spells are going to be tweaked to focus on offensive stats instead of defensive ones.
There will be more focus on causing damage to large groups and increasing your ability to put enemies in a position to take a hit. For example, the area of effect spell Void no longer pushes enemies away but instead draws them towards the center.
The Chaos Magic page, still in development.
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
Illusions are more elusive than ever, being reimagined to let you fulfill your fantasy of being a slippery trickster. This is the magical technique of support and defense and the only spell type so far imbued with two unique mechanics. This specialty will inflict a weakening effect on foes, making them deal less damage with their attacks.
Casting an Illusion won’t just cause a debuff. It will also provide a buff to the caster. The ‘Phantasm’ buff will stack with each cast. With each stack, it will increase your chance to bypass your standard spell cooldowns and give the user a free ability cast. This is similar to a benefit currently available from the scholar blood type. Upon getting this free cast, your Phantasm stacks will clear and begin the process again.
With Phantasm, your dedicated illusionist makes up for their defensive nature by casting more often, so don’t think that you’ll have it easy just because you’ve run into a “support” themed Vampire. There will also be some new crowd control abilities, like a fear effect to scramble and punish an overly aggressive opponent.
In addition to these changes, Illusion has proven its playful nature by stealing not one but two spells from other specialties. Unholy’s Mosquito and Blood’s Crimson Aegis have been reworked to fit their new shrouded siblings.
The Illusion Magic page, still in development.
Batty, It’s Cold Outside
The spell school we all love to hate is being horrifically petrified by Frost Magic. There have been major changes to how the chilling debuff works, which no longer freezes outright. If you think you’ve escaped the freeze, think again! There will be methods of consuming the chilled debuff to freeze your foes; it will just require a bit of specialization with spell jewels.
Chill effects also now affect V Blood units, making the effect much stronger in boss fights.
The Frost magic page is still in development, and the text is inaccurate.
New Spell Looks For Your Spellbooks
As another small note, you may have noticed that we’ve made improvements to the spell book’s general look and layout to fit its new, more intricate needs better. Equipping spells, vampire techniques, and emotes have been updated to make each spell category easier to understand and make room for fitting jewels into your ability slots.
To Be Legendary
To add additional layers of depth and complexity to your spell kit and make your build unique, we’re experimenting with Legendary Weapons. Legendary Weapons will be rare weapons you can find in the world, and much like jewels will have randomized benefits related to your physical abilities. It may even include an additional way to implement some of the debuffs otherwise only accessible through spell schools, albeit in a more limited way.
Should it survive the fires of testing, we’ll be able to share a bit more on Legendary Weapons later on!
Experimental Feature: Territories
We’re going to be experimenting with a feature internally that we’re calling ‘Territories’ that allow Vampires to claim individual plots of land instead of placing a castle heart and expanding single tile by single tile.
In brief, the goals of this system are
- To fit more players in the world in a more balanced way, which we believe will benefit the lifetime of a populated server.
- Reduce player friction. This will prevent players from blocking each other’s bases from reaching the road, whether accidentally or intentionally. It will also prevent players from settling on the same ‘plateau’ or pre-defined space and learning eventually that they don’t have enough space to build properly.
- Prevent various technical issues, like vampires being able to land on unclaimable ledges, clans building castles just to buffer their main castle, or building armies of servants to defend.
- Will make detecting and communicating how full or active a server is easier.
This may also set the stage for us to build a lot of interesting systems much more easily. We’ve discussed using this to implement a mechanic to move your castle between two territories. This would open up possibilities for servant-to-player interactions and missions like infiltrations, invasions, and spy missions. There could be mechanics like PvE territory holders that you have to defeat to take over an area, preventing players from rushing the best spots on a new server. And more!
No matter what, we’re building bigger.
The drawback is that it will remove players’ ability to build freely in any location outside the currently restricted points of interest. To us, there is some debate over how much this tradeoff is worth it. In an open-world game, we’re trying to understand how important that feeling is compared to the benefits of the Territory system.
The only way to know how you feel is to ask. So we in the darkest crypts of Stunlock Studios would like to reach out to you, our beloved kin, to hear your opinions.
Beyond the Free Expansion
As we build away in our crypts at Stunlock Studios, we aim to see well beyond the next milestone. Black magic is in full effect, and we’ve got our attention focused well into the future. There are many roads forward, and it’s important to be ready to take a detour if needed, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to plan your adventure the best you can.
To clarify our current strategy, the future expansion of the game is not the full release of V Rising, as there will be more things we wish to improve on and more work to finalize our vision for the complete game, currently set for 2024.
Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, though! There’s still so much to know and prepare for right in front of our noses. In only some months’ time, you will be drinking deep the fruits of our labors!
2023 is a glorious year to be a Vampire.
… with new mysteries to uncover.
We want to hear you out! What do you think of the new spell ability overhaul? What do you think about territories? What ARE legendary weapons? What is the mysterious glowing object?
Let us know on Twitter, Discord, and the Steam forums! We’re very curious to see where your imagination takes you. We’ve already seen some very prescient Vampires here and there. Maybe you’re one of them.
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Lots of love and a pint of blood,
/The Marketing Team