[09/08/21] UPDATE: The game’s in early access and open to everyone now! They’ve added a store and a battle pass system, so you can now disregard the part where I talked about the limited customization options. Everything else I stated here still holds up. 🙂
Some of those who were expecting more news about Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 were probably disappointed when Bloodhunt was announced, and I don’t blame them. But, as someone who also enjoys fast-paced gameplay and a bit of PVP, seeing a new battle royale that isn’t just another gritty shooter actually made me somewhat excited (also, I kinda like V:TMB anyway, so I’m completely fine with this).
I signed up for the closed playtest immediately after it was announced, and a couple of days prior to writing this, I managed to get a key. So anyway, here’s my first impressions of the game so far.
For an alpha, the game flows really smoothly. Right off the bat, the game shows you that combat will be taking place in both the streets and on the rooftops, as everyone has the ability to climb straight up any wall, and half of the loot in a given match will be spawning on high ground.
The movement’s pretty fluid, if not simple. In that regard, it’s your standard third-person shooter with a sliding mechanic (which you can also chain into a longer jump), somewhat similar to how Scavengers feels. There’s currently six archetypes you can choose in the game too, with some having their own unique movement abilities, ranging from simple speed boosts to huge leaps through the air.
FEED. KILL. LOOT.
In Bloodhunt, most of the chaotic PVP action happens on the rooftops, but down in the streets, there’s quite a lot of NPCs that you can (and should ideally) interact with. Players can feed from any of the civilians roaming the city, and while all of them heal you, some of them also provide you with permanent buffs for the remainder of the match.
Unfortunately, due to unlucky RNG on my end, I’ve only run across buffs that increase my melee damage and my health regeneration. There’s at least four different buffs you can get from NPCs, each with three levels, meaning you’d have to feed off three civilians carrying the same thing to maximize these bonuses (which you probably won’t be able to do for most of your matches).
You also have to be careful when feeding. If another civilian witnesses you, you’ll trigger a Bloodhunt, which reveals your silhouette to every nearby player and pings you on the map for an entire minute. This applies to using weapons and powers as well, so unless you’re ready to fight for your life, let someone else engage out in the open before you join in.
Aside from the regular civilians roaming the city, you also have certain points in each match that will be occupied by the Entity, which is a mysterious organization hellbent on killing vampires. Needless to say, you’d ideally want to avoid these areas, which are represented by a cross on the map, as they’re more than capable of kicking your ass if you don’t have sufficient cover or supplies.
In every match, there’s also certain parts of the map that will have high-tier loot at the start. These can be worth your while if you’re confident enough to take on a significant chunk of the server, as these will almost always be crowded, as with any other BR game that does this.
According to the game’s journal (since I highly doubt I’ll find everything before the playtest ends), there’s surprisingly a wide range of weapons you can use in the game. From SMGs to an actual minigun, all the way down to crossbows and various melee weapons, there’s going to be something that will cater to every playstyle.
It’s also worth noting that, while there’s only a few melee weapons at the moment, some of them also grant you special abilities. The Scourge Blades, for example, give you the ability to dash forward, while the katana lets you deflect bullets.
You can also fully customize the look of each of your archetypes. Since each archetype is represented by one of Vampire: The Masquerade’s clans (currently only three of them spread across six classes), you can make all of your characters stand out with various outfits and accessories. Though, as expected from a closed alpha, there’s a very limited range of stuff you can put on at the moment, and as far as I know, there’s currently no way to actually unlock more (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).
I have a feeling that they’ll expand on this later down the line, as they did briefly show off various looks in the reveal.
I’m surprisingly genuinely excited for this game, as it has everything I’m looking for in a BR. The gunplay feels great, and the relatively fast TTK makes it so that matches don’t feel like a complete slogfest. I managed to reach second place in my second match, and in that short time, I probably had more fun than I did with certain other BR titles I’ve tried in the past.
I just hope the devs don’t screw this one up. If this does well, it can be a nice way to fill the gap that V:TMB 2’s delay left.