Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodhunt - Unleash the Bloodlust
The Battle Royale genre is one that has never really clicked with me. That is no surprise I guess as I have never been much of a competitive gamer. My multiplayer tastes have always leaned in the direction of co-op not competition. Nevertheless, there was something about Bloodhunt, the latest game to feature the Vampire The Masquerade licence, that appealed to me. So when the opportunity came up to review it, I sharpened my fangs, stocked up on blood packs and jumped in without hesitation. Boy am I glad I did.
For those not up on the lore of The Masquerade, it is a world where shadowy vampire clans control the citizens from behind the scenes, all the while maintaining the secret of their existence. This plays into the gameplay of a Battle Royale in surprising and enjoyable ways. Things start off as expected. A 40 player map, pick your start locations, high loot areas and a closing circle play area. Pretty standard stuff. It is when the actual lore of the Vampires comes into it that things get interesting.
The first thing that sets Bloodhunt apart are the inclusion of humans on the Map. There are two types of humans, the first are simply normal people going about their business. They are perfect for a snack to refill health but each human also offers a bonus in the form of things like health regeneration, timer cooldown boosts or even an extra life. The catch here is that technically you are breaking the rules of The Masquerade by chowing down, so if another human sees you the Bloodhunt is called and your position is revealed on the map for 60 seconds. It is an exciting risk/reward mechanic that not only shakes the standard gameplay up but fits in with the established lore of the franchise. The second variety of humans is a group of vampire hunters who, unlike other humans, recognise you for what you are and open fire without hesitation. These hunters have bases established around the map and these locations are great for high-level loot. But once again a risk/reward conundrum comes into it, is the loot worth a noisy firefight that is likely to attract attention?
Being a vampire comes into the combat in interesting ways as well. There are four clans to choose from at the start of each match, with each clan having two warriors. These warriors have a mix of powers, one based around movement and one used for attack or boosting. There are invisibility powers, teleporting, traps, force blasts and timed invincibility that really change up the feeling of combat when used correctly. The judicious use of these powers will often mean the difference between victory or having all your blood drained by the opposition. Each vampire is incredibly mobile as well and can climb to the rooftops with ease. This means height becomes very important to proceedings. While up higher players obviously have a clear view of what is going on but become more visible to other players in the process. Each vampire also has a “sense” ability that sends a pulse that detects weapons, humans and noise to aid in map navigation and strategy.
Speaking of the map, this is where I have a few issues. But before I get to the annoyances I will say that it is great that the map is so interactive. Shops and cars have alarms, there are small side missions that encourage exploration and the environment can be used in interesting ways during firefights to create confusion and cover. That being said the map itself is a little on the boring side. It is based on the real city of Prague and as a result, it feels appropriately gothic but the colour palate is very bleak with only the occasional splash of colour. This results in a lot of areas on the map struggling to feel distinct. That’s not to say that certain points of the map are not recognisable, but more that outside of a few key locations it is easy to get lost in the sameness.
The gunplay in-game also feels satisfying, with guns behaving in an expected manner in regards to accuracy and power. There doesn’t feel like any RNG involved in shooting enemies and skill with a lesser weapon will trump an unskilled player with a great weapon. The fact that each player gets an extra life and that healing is readily available through both pickups and quick tasty human snacks means that players (like me) who prefer games that give players the chance to escape and survive as opposed to a quick time-to-kill are going to be happy here. The variety of weapons feels spot on too. Traditional fare like snipers and shotguns are complemented by more vampire oriented fare like flaming crossbows making an interesting selection of death-dealing implements available.
Presentation-wise the game looks and sounds great but it isn’t without a couple of issues. The main problem has to do with text size and the lack of accessibility options. It seems like a serious oversight in this day and age to have no ability to alter text size, put the game into a colourblind mode or have text readout. It is disappointing and something I hope the developer fixes soon. I was forced to play on my monitor instead of my TV because the text was simply unreadable on the bigger screen from my lounge. Otherwise, the game looks great, with character models wonderfully detailed and some nice effects, lighting and reflections sprucing things up.
While the Battle Royale genre will never be my go-to for entertainment, Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodhunt does enough different to make sure I had a blast playing it. The excellent risk/reward elements, cool vampire powers and deep lore make this free-to-play title worth the price of the download. Some improvements to the map and the addition of accessibility options would take the game to the next level, but as it is, Bloodhunt is still very much worth checking out. This sort of game lives or dies on how much support it receives from the developers but at this point in time Bloodhunt is a blast that is sure to entertain Battle Royale players and fans of the Vampire IP.
Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodhunt was reviewed on the PS5 with a battle pass code kindly supplied by the publisher.