May 18, 2024
A battle royale spin-off of the hugely fun vampire series arrives. What's the verdict? The Finger Guns Review;

A battle royale spin-off of the hugely fun vampire series arrives. What’s the verdict? The Finger Guns Review;

Ah, Bloodhunt. To drop a Battle Royale in the year of 2022 seemed like a risky move, particularly as we’ve way cleared the quota of however much we can squeeze out of a single genre. Whilst the likes of Fortnite, APEX Legends, Warzone and PUBG Battlegrounds (‘battlegrounds battlegrounds’) and 2D royales such as Super Animal Royale and now the mighty Halo having its own (kinda) effort, the genre continues to reign supreme. So you’ve got to give it to Sharkmob for taking an idea and attempting to shimmy themselves into the narrowest of spaces left to get themselves a slice of the pie. Have they made a world beater?

Well, no. Fortnite isn’t going to be losing any sleep at night over vampires coming to their island and sucking their bloodlines. What Bloodhunt has in spades is potential, even if it’s not quite firing on all cylinders just yet.

It’s questionable that Vampire: The Masquerade even needed a royale. As cynical as you like, it felt like a cash-in idea, a novel if not wholly original way to bring in some new players to a franchise that was steady, if not quite dominating and looking for a pop culture twist to appeal to the masses. Sharkmob have thankfully thrown themselves at Bloodhunt, creating a royale that is worthy to stand up against the heavyweights. Well, probably. Eventually.

The boxes are continually ticked the further you find yourself exploring Bloodhunt. The battle passes are chock full of items worth grinding for (even the free additions are dutifully designed), the combat is quick and utterly relentless and the ‘vampire’ of it all works well within the confines of the genre playbook. It’s visually impressive – even if I did have to whack the brightness up a little bit on both PC and PS5 – and it’s as atmospheric as you would expect a Masquerade title to be. From the outset, it feels exciting, even if you still scoff at the idea of a vampire ever needing an AK47 to take down its victims. Just me? It’s weird.

I’m writing this review after several more hours with the game across a few days. I jumped on immediately on day one as I’m a huge fan of the genre, and I wanted to see what Sharkmob were bringing to the party. Sure enough, at first it all felt somewhat underwhelming. The first match I won felt inconsequential purely because I had earned extra lives. In a royale? It didn’t make a whole lot of sense and I felt like I could have additional efforts at winning a single match then it feels more like a level to complete rather than an all out rumble to the top.

Being able to regenerate (because, well, you’re a freakin’ vampire) nullifies your failures. Being able to jump back up again – if you’re given the time – ensured I wasn’t really learning anything from being knocked. Even once your enemies can confirm your kill by draining your blood you’re still allowed to return for one more go, doubly so if you find lives around the cityscape. It felt like I was almost cheating, getting to be a vampire in a royale. The odds remain in your favour throughout because of this, so winning doesn’t feel anywhere near as rewarding as it should.

On the plus side of being a vampire, you’re a vampire! And it’s here where Sharkmob’s experience and history come slapbang into play. Traversal is excellent, as you might expect if you’ve played a Masquerade game before. Being able to tear it up every single building you come across is huge fun, and as a means of escape can be essential in a gunfight. From the outset your vampiristic powers are available and they’re a hoot to learn. Being able to jump from building to building with quick jumps and huge leaps doesn’t ever really get old, leading to hectic rooftop chases as you’re battling it out across chimneys and rooftop bars.

If you’re familiar with the Masquerade series you’ll be all too familiar with the ‘archetypes’, otherwise known as the classes, enabling you to find a way of playing combining skills which are more in line with how you’d want to play. There are seven across the four clans linked to their familarial archetypes. The Toreador are the sexy mother suckers that will charm you to death with their smouldering good looks, the Brujah are effectively the brutes, battle worn fighters that have a thirst for war. Combined with the match modifiers and your chosen weapons – should they be available to you on the field – and you’ll easily fall into your natural way of playing Royales, it may just take a little bit of trial and error to get there as no class particularly stands out just yet. At least not for me, anyway.

How about the ‘island’? In Bloodhunt it’s not so much an island as a city in Prague, dingy, dark, gothic and cold, full of innocent humans ripe for the sucking to get yourself some bonus upgrades like the aforementioned extra lives, armour and weapon buffs. It’s clearly been designed for top level combat and this is where you’ll find yourself most of the time. Avoiding the battleground per se but looking down on the city, whilst stalking the empty nightclubs. Keeping an eye on your enemies and trying to keep a distance. It’s a fantastic map. Nowhere near as big as say, Fortnite’s islands but far tighter and made for persistent movement.

Connecting to the overall narrative is the Entity, an NPC militia at the heart of the city you can tangle with and pick up some loot in doing so along with blood resonance points.

They’re there to piss you off but thankfully, much like the IO Guards in Fortnite, they’re stupendously simple to take down and are merely nothing more than walking loot. Can only hope they’re given a little bit more juice in future seasons, as right now they’re quite frankly just getting in the way of perfectly good battles with real, um, vampires.

Away from the city royale, there’s almost a side-quest RPG hidden away in Bloodhunt within Elysium, the games social hub where you’ll find yourself before every match. It’s here the more traditional Masquerade experience comes into play with various story beats and NPC’s telling you to go places to find things in order to get a thing to find a thing. The hub is full of players and you’ll be given various things to do the longer you spend your time there.

Well, I say that. Let’s just say if you really absolutely love fetch quests on top of fetch quests, boy are you going to love Elysium. It’s pretty clear it’s been designed to be built upon in future seasons with secret passageways leading nowhere and locked doors all over the shop, but right now there’s not an awful lot to explore if you’re not all that fussed about keeping up with the games narrative aspect.

So it’s early days and what they’ve gotten right, they’ve absolutely nailed. You may have heard me on the Finger Guns Podcast last week wax lyrical about how Bloodhunt is ‘basically fine’. And it is, but since then I’ve been playing it on and off whenever I’ve had the chance and it’s really gone up in my estimations. It’s not fantastic – yet – and my Royale of choice remains the F word, but if the future Battle Passes can keep up with the quality of the first one there’s every chance Bloodhunt will be able to retain its player base as the game progresses.

Prague is a fantastically designed city to tear across, but I certainly hope it chops and changes as the game evolves. With the Entity looking to play a big role in all out warfare against the supernatural beings we inhabit, there’s plenty of scope here for a game that lives on for years, rather than waiting at the door being asked to enter.

Vampire :The Masquerade: Bloodhunt is a solid battle royale with huge potential that it’s not quite reaching just yet. The traversal and rooftop battles are huge fun and the map is terrific. So long as Sharkmob believe in it, there could be something pretty special here down the line.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PS4, PS5 (reviewed on) and PC via Steam (also tested on)

Developer: Sharkmob
Publisher: Sharkmob

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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