Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt Review: "Stands Shoulder To Shoulder With The Titans"
It can sometimes be difficult to pin down exactly what makes one game good and another game bad. Games of the same genre, often similar in design, can have vastly different levels of quality and success. When you are presented with a new game in a popular, almost over-saturated genre, you often have to dig down deep to figure out how you truly feel about it. Sure, I could tell you that Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt is Fortnite but Dracula-flavoured, and while you will get most of the point from that short synopsis, we are no closer to actually attributing any merit to the game. No, to do that we will really have to sink our teeth in.
- For anyone thinking of trying the game, check out Bloodhunt tips: complete beginner's guide to the vampire battle royale.
From The Beginning
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt is a battle royale game set in the popular Vampire: The Masquerade fictional universe, known as the World of Darkness. Said universe first came to un-life as a tabletop RPG game; think Dungeons and Dragons but with sexy vampires and secretive, Illuminati-style organisations. The franchise has expanded into books, comics, board games, TV, and the occasional video game. Fun fact, the WWF (the wrestling one, not the one with the pandas) had to pay royalties to White Wolf Publishing to use Gangrel, the name of one of the vampire clans of the game, for one of the wrestlers. See, this review is educational in more ways than you expected!
Video games based on V:TM became a thing about twenty years ago with the release of V:TM Redemption, and then Bloodlines. Neither game was particularly successful at the time, but Bloodlines would go on to become a cult-classic PC role-playing game. For many years, there were no new games from the franchise, but a change of ownership and the post-humous popularity of Bloodlines would spur on a new wave of games set in the World of Darkness. A sequel, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is in the works, despite setbacks it is hoped to launch in the near future. In the meantime, we have Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt to wet our whistles. Probably with blood, you know, vampires and all that.
Being part of the World of Darkness gives Bloodhunt a very particular vibe. Think Fortnite, but set in that Vampire nightclub from the start of Blade. This game is for people who think fashion peaked when The Matrix came out, and personally, I am all for that. The presentation is wonderful, with such a deep well of inspiration to draw on it is great to see that this is an element of the game that shines. You can customise your characters' looks with lots of cosmetics that you can buy or several that are free to unlock, and every outfit really makes a statement. There are a wide variety of outfits and accessories to represent the diverse looks of the various vampire clans, so there should be something for everyone here.
- To succeed in Bloodhunt, you're going to need to arm yourself. For some tips on that, check out our Bloodhunt best weapons guide.
A Secret War In The Streets
Aesthetics are super important in a game like this, but visual fidelity is not the only feather in Bloodhunt’s cap. As mentioned, Bloodhunt is a battle royale which puts players in the beautiful city of Prague and tasks them with murdering each other to death. You start the game by choosing a spot on the map to spawn in, rather than dropping from the sky, then you can hit the streets or the rooftops looking for loot. You need to arm yourself quickly, as you are never far from a fellow night-walker. There are all kinds of guns of various rarities, as well as melee weapons, health items and body armour. Finding gear is fairly easy in this game, as you have your vampiric extra senses to rely on. Use your senses to scan for nearby items, and also nearby mortals. Yes, Prague is dotted with regular folks just standing around, minding their own business.
The purpose of the NPCs that litter the streets is, of course, for drinking a spot of blood. Draining a human will fill up your own health, but many of these humans have special blood. Resonant blood grants special abilities, such as health regeneration and quicker ability cooldowns. Each power-up has a colour attached, drink the blood of humans designated in those colours to gain these powers. You can only have up to three of these powers at first, but you can increase that number to seven by drinking the blood of enemy players. Beware though, because there are consequences to interacting with humans.
The Masquerade mentioned in the title is a law that the vampires live by, where they must keep their existence secret from the mortal world. This means punishments for any vampire who jeopardizes their secret existence, and this is true in the game as well. Killing a mortal is a violation of the Masquerade, and your punishment is that you are revealed with a red outline to all nearby players for sixty seconds. This is such a great way to bring the theme of the game and gameplay together, and one of the features of Bloodhunt that makes it a unique game among its peers.
Not all mortals are hapless cattle, however. Around the map, you will also encounter the Entity, a well-armed military organisation who have moved into Prague to hunt and kill vampires. These regular humans have powerful weapons and are tough armour. They exist as an extra challenge for players, you can take them on and likely take a beating in the process, but defeating them will give you access to their powerful weapons. This is not advised to do alone, and be warned that picking a fight with the Entity is likely to draw the attention of other players, who may just wait until the dust settles to pick the bones. You have to be clever if you want to make it out with those powerful guns.
- Blood Resonance is a system by which you can turn your lowly thrall into a vampire lord. To learn more, check out best Bloodhunt Blood Resonance types.
Less Bark, More Bite
You have more than just weapons at your disposal, however. There are many vampire clans in the World of Darkness, each with unique characteristics. In Bloodhunt, you have multiple character archetypes you can choose from, so far there have been up to two from each of the vampire clans. For example, you have the Vandal and Brute of the Brujah clan, or the Saboteur and Prowler from the unfortunately-faced Nosferatu clan. Each archetype has its own powers and perks, with some of those being the same across the clan. Both archetypes from the Brujah clan can perform a massive leap, but where the Brute can produce a large moving shield, the Vandal has a dashing smash attack. These archetypes add a huge amount to the game, giving players plenty of options to play around with and adding a lot of interest to encountering other players in the game.
Befitting the supernatural nature of the game, combat in this game is fast and frenetic. Players are highly mobile, and the game has a lot of verticality to it. Combat can be very intense, which might be off-putting to some. For players who like the twitchy shooting of something like Apex Legends but prefer a third-person perspective, this game could be their perfect battle royale. That said, the game still has plenty of options for players who aren’t head-clicking aimbots. If your reflexes aren’t your best quality, then maybe range is your best bet. Grab a long-range weapon and post up on a rooftop, then take potshots at other players running around below. Or maybe the opposite is more your style, grab a studded bat or a katana and get right up in people’s faces. There are plenty of options here, so while the game does appeal to the die-hards, it doesn’t completely leave the casual player behind.
- Bloodhunt gives players a lot of ways to tailor the game to their playstyle, and the most important way it does that is with Bloodhunt archetypes.
Prague By Gaslight
Regardless of the kind of player you are, you are bound to have a good time exploring Prague. The Czech capital is beautifully rendered in the game, with winding streets, impressive landmarks, and giant buildings to clamber over. There are many buildings you can enter as well, giving the city even more layers of gameplay possibility. In terms of function, Prague is a fantastic setting for a battle royale game, especially one with the traversal mechanics this one has.
What is almost more impressive is the visual presentation. The rainy, gloomy vibe of the city at night is broken by warm street lights and the ever-encroaching red cloud of deadly gas. The architecture is amazing, and even running around on similar rooftops is often broken up with gardens, spires, and rooftop plazas. It all comes together as a consistent and pleasing palate that makes Prague one of the most enjoyable locations to explore of any battle royale. There is an argument to be made that this map, as it is, should be included in Bloodlines 2, as it could be an ideal setting for an open-world RPG.
- There is plenty to do in Bloodhunt, including performing tasks for your fellow vampires. to learn more, check out our Bloodhunt quests guide.
The Lifeblood of the Game
Let’s talk about technical performance because this is where the game- not necessarily does, but can fall down. The game is now out in full release but there has been a lengthy period of early access. Over that time, players have noted some serious issues that the developers have been quick and effective in dealing with. Though the game is now officially out that does not mean there are no more issues and we have hit a few snags. There can be the odd bit of stuttering but for the most part, the game runs really smoothly.
The biggest issue we have hit is matchmaking. Sometimes we could ready up and be loaded into a game almost instantly. Other times, we would be left sitting in the lobby for five, even ten minutes, only to restart the game and be back on the streets of Prague within seconds. These issues are fairly minimal, and considering it is still early days for this game, the odd hitch is excusable. Hopefully, these wrinkles will be ironed out before too long because they really are the only thing bringing this game down.
A Fangtastic Time
All in all, this adds up to a big win straight out of the gate for Sharkmob and the folks behind the Vampire: The Masquerade franchise. Traversal is so much fun, the gunplay is fast and responsive. The atmosphere is perfectly moody, making this maybe the most stylish game in the genre. The unfortunate question is, is it good enough or special enough to stand out in the battle royale space? Plenty of very promising games have shown up and disappeared just as quickly, all for the crime of being good but not good enough to carve out a spot among the bigger names.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt has a unique selling point in its presentation and universe that can, and should, carry it forward. The game is more than good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the titans of the genre, which is fortunate because that puts them right in line with all their necks.
Reviewed on PC.