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Stunlock Studios Reveals V Rising Free Expansion and Dark Magic Update

Content has been edited for clarity from original source.

Following a lengthy update at the end of 2022 about the future of V Rising, developers Stunlock Studios are back once more, this time to pull back the curtain on their first check-in of 2023. Needless to say, it is shaping up to be a year worth sinking the teeth into for players of the successful title with a free expansion on the way for V Rising.

Upcoming Free Expansion for V Rising

Scheduled as the first major content release in May, a free expansion will be coming to V Rising with the primary aim of strengthening the foundations with news ways to live out the vampire fantasy.

To the team, this means enhancing the way players already play by giving them more of what they already love, but it also means adding more layers of depth and complexity to the world to masterfully tie things together. They are taking this time to build the game out and prepare it for a satisfying endgame, where Stunlock can build up to an apex moment that lets players fully realize their potential.

That journey should be dense with memorable and diverse experiences. By creating new layers of enrichment, like Multiple Floors and Jewels, they are able to build a game that creates more of those moments. The free expansion for V Rising will let aspiring vampires 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.

Magic Schools, Jewels, and New Tools in the new V Rising Expansion

Constant feedback from the community has always centered around a world of greater spell variety and more in-depth interactions between them, and this will be one areas the free expansion will address in V Rising.

The 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, all kits should be more exciting and put the tools to create more unique, focused, and intentional builds in the hands of the most devious tacticians.

Introducing Jewels

Jewels are a new item type used to strengthen and modify spell powers individually, which give players the ability to specialize how they like but also get the opportunity to experiment and try out many different kit combinations. Allowing players to become the dark warlock of their dreams means the ability to turn their surroundings into hell frozen over, ripping the life essence out of anyone who dares to challenge them, or moving through the battlefield shrouded in illusions like a phantom assassin.

To acquire Jewels in the 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 can be identified by their eye-catching gold detailing. When a jewel is looted from an area, it will be tailored to the progression level of that area, so players will only be finding jewels they can currently use or will be able to use soon. With progress, the number of spells with corresponding jewels will increase.

The original idea was for Jewels to be slotted into weapons and magic sources, but it made it inflexible to swap out different spells in the upcoming V Rising expansion. Such a design discouraged vampires from being adaptive and from exploring all of the deadly possibilities afforded to them. It is vital that this system offers more freedom in spell choice and variety to satisfy any dark desires.

For this reason, jewels now slot into each individual spell, and as long as they’re equipped, they cannot be dropped upon death. It is only possible 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 in the expansion, and each spell has many different gameplay-altering options that can manifest in these magical treasures found in V Rising. Some effects are unique to that spell, but others will be shared between others of the same spell school. The earliest jewels found will only have one modification on them, but in later areas, there will be more infused with up to three different effects. These changes to spells will unlock a new level of customization and interaction between the various magical workings players can employ.

Spell School ReVamp

There are currently five prime schools of magic in V Rising: Blood, Unholy, Illusion, Chaos, and Frost. Not counted among those core magics are the Vampire Powers, abilities such as mind control to charm weakened humans and make them into servants, and the various shapeshifting abilities.

Each of the main spell subdivisions has been refocused to have a stronger identity. Stunlock has 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, the team will also be experimenting with diminishing returns on stacking debuffs as 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.

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 tosses out 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.

There will also be a brand new sixth spell school in the free expansion for V Rising, but things are still under wraps at the moment.

Bloodsuckers, Take Heed

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 enemies, allowing attacks on an afflicted foe to replenish life force much like a leech. Blood has acquired a little gift from the Unholy branch as well. The area of effect spell, Purgatory, which sets down an explosive magic circle to heal allies and harm enemies, is now exactly where it belongs.

Raising Hell

More ways to summon an army of the undead have been a frequent request, and Stunlock is 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 join players in battle for a short time. Unholy will be all about striking down bloodied enemies and using their remains to serve players.

There will be other ways to get the most out of the undead army using the Jewel system, such as exploding skeletal minions or summoning up some of those aim-hacking skeletal mages. Unholy emphasizes its summoning nature by conjuring up a trick from the Illusion school, with the Spectral Assassin finding a new home as the unholy Death Knight as another change in the V Rising expansion.

Bring on the Chaos

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 the 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.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

Illusions are more elusive than ever, this is the magical technique of support and defense and the only spell type so far imbued with two unique mechanics. This speciality 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, and with each stack, it will increase the chance to bypass 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, the Phantasm stacks will clear and begin the process again.

With Phantasm, a dedicated illusionist makes up for their defensive nature by casting more often. 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 in the V Rising expansion, Illusion has proven its playful nature by stealing not one but two spells from other specialities. Unholy’s Mosquito and Blood’s Crimson Aegis have been reworked to fit their new shrouded siblings.

Batty, It’s Cold Outside

There have been major changes to how the chilling debuff works, which no longer freezes outright. There will be methods of consuming the chilled debuff to freeze 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.

New Looks

Improvements to the spell book’s general look and layout have been made 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 ability slots.

Legendary Weapons in the V Rising Expansion

To add additional layers of depth and complexity to the spell kit and make builds more unique, Stunlock is experimenting with Legendary Weapons. Legendary Weapons will be rare weapons found in the world, and much like jewels, will have randomized benefits related to 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.

More on Legendary Weapons will be shared if the feature survives the fires of testing.

Experimental Feature: Territories

The team is going to be experimenting with a feature internally called Territories that allows 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 Stunlock believes 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 to build a lot of interesting systems much more easily. The developers have discussed using this to implement a mechanic to move the 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 players have to defeat to take over an area, preventing vampires from rushing the best spots on a new server, and more.

The drawback is that it will remove players’ ability to build freely in any location outside the currently restricted points of interest. To the studio, there is some debate over how much this tradeoff is worth it. In an open-world game, Stunlock is trying to understand how important that feeling is compared to the benefits of the Territory system, and interested players can share their feedback via a survey.

Beyond the V Rising Free Expansion

As the team build away in their crypts at Stunlock Studios, the aim is to see well beyond the next milestone. Black magic is in full effect, and the focus is on the future. There are many roads forward, and it’s important to be ready to take a detour if needed. To clarify the current strategy, the future expansion of the game is not the full release of V Rising, as there will be more things Stunlock wishes to improve on and more work to finalize the vision for the complete game, currently set for 2024.

2023 is a glorious year to be a Vampire.

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