Battle royales have been “the next big thing” for what feels like ages. The idea of a new one coming along when games like Fornite and Call of Duty: Warzone practically dominate the space is hard to believe, especially after games like Z1 Battle Royale and Realm Royale have come and gone with little fanfare. While no one can say whether or not this will happen to Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt, I can say that it’s surprisingly distinct – even if some of its differences need refinement.
There seems to be an ongoing narrative of sorts though Bloodhunt, which is mainly just to explain why a bunch of vampires in Prague are killing each other while red gas closes in. The NPCs in the main hub give you lore about this vampire war in exchange for collecting items or performing feats in matches for them, which is a nice touch. It adds a bit of world-building to a battle royale when it didn’t need to, even if the way it’s presented feels very “Hot Topic.” Clearly, people who are invested in the Vampire: The Masquerade franchise will get more out of it than me, but even I found it to be a fun little distraction.
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Like many battle royales, you can play alone or with others. Playing alone will net you experience very, very slowly, so I recommend either finding friends or randoms that you can tolerate if you want to level up with any speed whatsoever. There are multiple classes, each of which has its own special abilities, ranging from crazy jumps to handy gas traps. This is a good addition to the game, as you can customize your appearance and pick the class that best suits you after experimentation. You may get a few bots in your early matches called cultists, but there are a good amount of real players in Bloodhunt as of the time of writing, especially if you have crossplay on.
Unlike many battle royales, Bloodhunt is surprisingly vertical. You cant plow through walls like in Fortnite, or drive around like a madman as you do in Warzone. Rather, you scale walls with ease and hop from rooftop to rooftop while trying to maintain a decent height (trust me, being on the ground for too long is an easy way to get killed from above, fast.) This altitude-focused slant on the gameplay makes for an enjoyable battle royale, as you can stealthily follow foes up walls or quickly escape to the roof when targeted. I haven’t played a battle royale with this kind of verticality before, and it served as a refreshing mix-up from the usual routine you fall into with these games.
Another major feature is the ability to come back to life after dying once. Having two lives guaranteed in a battle royale changes the flow of a match immensely, for better or for worse. On one hand, you get another try if you have a bad start to a match, which is a handy safety net. On the other hand, matches tend to last a lot longer as a result. I prefer a speedy pace in this sort of game, so having matches drag on as people refill their lives (more on that in a moment) to keep coming back can be a bit tiresome.
This leads me to another feature that can be both innovative and overpowered. As is fitting for a vampire, you can drain the blood from human NPCs to gain buffs and other perks. Overall, I like this feature, as it lets you build up your regeneration or reduce the cooldown on your special moves, adding a layer of customization to how you play.
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At the same time. you can gain an extra life from these NPCs at a rate that seems surprisingly frequent. This ends up prolonging matches even further, and there’s little incentive to not munch on an NPC at any given time. Yes, if you get seen doing it, you’re Bloodhunted and everyone can see you through buildings, but I’ve only been seen once in my multiple games, and I haven’t been trying to be stealthy. Toning down the extra lives to make them a rare and exciting reward would help the pacing a good deal, without losing the unique challenges that this mechanic brings to the table.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt has a lot of potential as a new battle royale contender. The way that height and vertical mobility play into showdowns prove to be novel and the blood-sucking mechanic mixes things up in an interesting way. The pacing of each match and leveling-up while solo, as well as the frequency with which extra lives are provided, could use some work, but I could see Bloodhunt carving out its own niche in the battle royale space in the near future.