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In today’s hyper-saturated market, very few survival games try and push the envelope or do something different. Instead, you can see how developers have almost focus-grouped their next game and published something for the sheer want of capital, not for the love of the industry or the genre they are trying to milk for their next payday.
With this, admittedly, somewhat cynical outlook, I first booted up Bloodhunt, and I saw it as just another battle royale title trying to scrounge up some of the money that somehow slipped through Epic Games’ hands.
So, the question is, was I right or was I wrong? Did I harshly judge this title, or is it just another battle royale game with a vampiric skin placed over the top? Continue reading our Bloodhunt PS5 Review to find out.
(Blood tinted title screen sets you up for the vampiric undertones of the entire game).
A General Overview
This may be one of the most challenging games I can describe in a clipped, concise format, but I’ll give it a go. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt, which I will now only refer to as Bloodhunt due to its ridiculous name, is the next iteration of a franchise that started as a much-loved table-top RPG game that was created in 1991. This much-loved table-top game has inspired a couple of relatively well-received games going by very similar and confusing names. Currently available only on PS5 or PC, Bloodhunt is a part of a series of classic table-top games that have popped up in recent years despite a history of gaming consoles that could have released this sooner.
However, this new game moves away from its RPG routes, with the developers creating a third-person, free-to-play, battle royale title with small elements of MMO thrown into the mix. Throughout a typical gameplay session, the player can expect to roam around the vampire-infested streets of Prague, fighting as a member of one of the four clans until the killer red gas pulls the remaining players into a confined area wherein the last man standing emerges victorious.
(Running through the red mist to safety as it leeches away at your lifeforce)
Outside of this battle royale mode, the player may return to the social hub, Elysium, wherein you can emote amongst your fellow players and pick up quests from various NPCs scattered around the area. This game also includes many other cliché aspects of free-to-play titles and battle royale games, including vanity items, customizable character options, and ‘Battle Pass’ exclusive content. However, these aspects are merely subsidiary to the actual battle royale mode, in which most players will spend most of their time. So, let’s have a closer look at it.
The Battle Royale
We all know what a battle royale game is by this point in modern gaming culture. You spawn in either by yourself or with a team and fight off enemies until one person or team remains. In this respect, Bloodhunt is no different. However, in some key areas, the developers have clearly spent a lot of time ensuring that this game stands out amongst the crowd.
As you might expect, the entire game is covered in a vampiric skin that turns all menus and loading screens into blood-colored noir tropes and places some unique elements into the game.
First of all, the player can choose to be one of four different clans, each with two different character archetypes, giving the player a choice of 8 different heroes in total. These heroes or archetypes each have their own unique style, powers, and traits, which ensures that players are allowed to appropriately specialize and rank up their favorite classes, enabling them to make each character their own in the process.
(There are 7 different character archetypes in the game, representing 4 different factions and play styles)
As mentioned, these vampires have specific abilities that change your gameplay mechanics just enough to push certain players down specific character-building paths. These abilities, therefore, often fit the personality types of the clans that originate them. For example, the Brujah clan is known to act first and think later characters that rush headfirst into battle. Therefore, their powers help players with close combat. However, the Toreador clan is concerned with looks and beauty, therefore, their powers are not so much geared towards action but manipulation of the senses.
Through my hours of gameplay, I definitely found that my playstyle fitted best with the Brujah clan, and therefore I really enjoyed their archetypes mechanics and couldn’t really get into the other factions. However, it didn’t seem to me that anyone clan or archetype was ruling the random matches I joined and fought in, suggesting that each class is well balanced.
As with any modern battle royale title, there are a few tropes that one can expect to pop up eventually; one of these main things, for me, is tiered weapon spawning and tiered spawn locations that help to center the opening conflicts of each new game.
Bloodhunt adheres to all of the tropes when it comes to weapons. It has a weapon tier system, but there are also countless, ever-changing locations throughout the map wherein this high-tier loot will spawn, thus forcing players into early battles to ensure they are suitably suited up for the final rounds.
(Dual Crossbows that the player can inspect in Elysium. There are plenty of unique and interesting weapons scattered about the rating streets of Prague)
After this initial looting period is complete and players feel that they are ready to take on the world, the gunplay begins, and, to be honest, it’s alright. Each of the weapons on offer fulfills a certain role which plays well with specific archetypes and playstyles, and the actual mechanics of said weapons are pretty smooth. However, I do feel that this game suffers a bit from the influence of Fortnite. I say this because, much like Fortnite, Bloodhunt treats its weapons as if they are all essentially the same, no gun does more damage than another, and all that really seems to matter is who gets the first hit. There appears to be no damage difference between headshots and hits to the lowers limbs, and it also felt like the game was helping with my aim a couple of times, especially using sniper/marksman rifles. In this game, my usual brand of terrible accuracy improved tenfold, and I was hitting players across the map with my marksman rifle, shots that I certainly did not hit, but the game still gave me anyway.
This secret helping hand really started to annoy me at a point as I found myself switching playstyles, and instead of running in guns blazing as I normally would, I would sit back and pick targets off at a distance, with no fear that if I missed a shot, I would die.
Like most other battle royale titles, this game offers the player the choice to jump into a match by themselves or with some friends. You can join with your usual squad of battle royale chums, or you can enter a random game, and the matchmaking service will place you with some random teammates.
(Players can group up with friends or strangers in order to compete against others in the streets of Prague)
My overall experience in these modes was rather lackluster. Generally, I put this down to map size versus player density. Most games I started with either one or two teammates ended rather quickly as the game inevitably was forced to spawn us close to or right on top of another team. By spawning multiple players around each other, core elements of the game go right out the window as you do not have time to loot or gameplan before another group of players begins shooting at you with the first weapon they find.
However, there are some nice things about the team play in Bloodhunt. First of all, the game has a rather slick and easy-to-use communication system for those randomly grouped teams. This easy-to-use menu removes a lot of the confusion which is found in other popular battle royale games and helps to level the playing field against teams communicating over Discord. Lastly, the system allows the player to always see their teammates via a white silhouette, visible through walls and across the entire map. A simple thing but something I really liked.
(When running and gunning, the player can keep an eye on their teammates through the silhouette system)
General Gameplay and Mechanics
One of the things which surprised me initially about the game was the size of the map. Compared with other similar titles, this dark, rain-soaked, and vampire-infested version of Prague is incredibly small. This can be good for players looking to compete in a high rate of matches but not so good for the slow and steady players out there as the game seems to actively encourage quicker and quicker matches, sometimes even by increasing the speed of the gas spread in certain matches.
(The small map of Bloodhunt is surrounded by an encroaching red mist. The player can choose where to spawn)
This map, however small, is still an interesting one to place a battle royale in. the interconnected and enclosed city streets make the ground combat interesting and exceedingly challenging to excel in. Also, the player has the ability to climb and traverse rooftops with little effort, thus inviting another dimension into the overall combat system, yet another metric one must improve on to be truly great at this game.
Another critical feature in this game is the addition of NPCs scattered around the map. These NPCs can either take the form of scared citizens whose blood may offer bonuses such as increased health regeneration or even extra lives. The other group is heavily armed guards who patrol the higher-tiered loot areas. These soldiers add in an extra layer of danger when trying to get to said loot, as fighting them can damage your health and bring players down on you.
(Civilians and other NPCs scatter around the map, feeding on them grants the player bonuses such as increased health and an extra life)
The overall movement design is the last thing I want to mention about the general gameplay mechanics. While I didn’t hate it, I will say that this section of the game really needs to be improved should the title really want to compete with the big dogs. Throughout my time playing this game, I constantly found myself accidentally sliding off of buildings during what seemed to be a mile-long power slide that I could not cancel or cut short. I also found that players all around me seemed to be pinging their characters around the map seemingly by accident.
All of this, combined with the generally lackluster supply of weapons, results in a combat system that seems fun at the beginning but quickly loses its appeal over time. For instance, when I first picked up this game, I think I played a couple of hours straight away, performing quite well initially. However, a strange thing started to happen every time I went back for more; I liked my experience with the game less and less. It seems as though the more I know about this game, the less I actually like it and the more it infuriates me. In reality, I wondered whether it was because I simply wasn’t all that good at the game, and thus it caused me frustration. However, the more I look back on those games, the more I remember being frustrated at the controls or the general scenarios I found myself in, this annoyance simply growing over time.
User Interface that Pushes the Product
There are a couple of things that a game really should try and nail right out of the gate, one of these is the UI and the ease through which players can access the entirety of the game’s content.
In Bloodhunt, the UI is not perfect by any means as it seems bogged down by the vast amount of activities the game wishes the player to get lost in. In this sense, the UI does a good job at directing the player to two things simultaneously, the core battle royale mode and the battle pass purchase screen. Should the player wish to find or access anything else in the game’s main menu, they will find it very difficult.
Also, I do find it weird that the developers decided to inundate the player with so much content when outside of a game, especially with reference to newly unlocked or soon to be unlocked additional cosmetic content. This section of the game will not be relevant to most of the game’s audience yet it is seemingly thrown in your face at every possible moment, leaving the player’s screen feeling crowded and overwhelmed.
However, I will give credit where it is due with reference to the UI in the actual battle matches themselves. The UI within this mode is incredibly smooth and easy to operate even whilst falling through the air during a manic moment of combat, allowing the player to heal and communicate with their team simultaneously whilst fighting off a pack of Nosferatu.
(There are many menus throughout the game, each with the red-tinted look of the overall game)
The Other Stuff
It would seem that the developers of this title really wanted to convince its audience that there was an actual reason for this game’s release apart from a cash grab. This really comes to light once the player finishes a hard-fought battle on the street of Prague and comes back to Elysium, the game’s social hub wherein quests can also be acquired.
It’s here that I really got a Tom Clancy’s: The Division vibe. I say this because all of the NPCs located here seem to be mere placeholders, designed to hand out quests or lore exposition that the general player won’t really care about or even really notice. This is because the quests are usually simple fetch quests, but also because it is clear there hasn’t really been much thought or effort put into drawing the players into this element of the game.
(The player can walk around Elysium at their leisure and pick up quests from the NPC characters there)
Instead, the Elysium seems more like a location designed for players to check out each other’s cool outfits and cosmetic items in the hopes that you will see these things and instantly make your way to your wallet and buy the battle pass, thus turning a free-to-play title into the most expensive purchase you’ve made all year, including your new PS5 that you bought at 120% market value.
The Battle Pass
As mentioned, this battle royale game also has a battle pass. This system of free-to-play gaming combined with minute and easily forgettable microtransactions seems to be here to stay. It will, most likely, be the form cost of doing business for any and all game publishers across the land.
In Bloodhunt, the inclusion of a battle pass is not at all surprising, considering that the base game is free to play. It is also not that annoying on a surface level because all of the things this pass gives you are merely cosmetic, therefore, negating any possibility of pay-to-win infractions, a sin I would never forgive.
(While the player can buy cosmetic items, the game ensures its players that these purchases are merely cosmetic, nothing to do with performance)
However, this is all well and good on a surface level, but if you think about it a little more, the cracks begin to show within this business model from a pure gaming perspective. As with any game, development stages must be hit and completed within specific time frames to ensure the game is completed within the right time frame and the development fund is not run dry.
This is the same for all games; however, with games such as this, which depend on profits coming from additional purchases of inconsequential items, the importance of people appreciating and valuing the content put on the battle pass and thus purchasing said pass is crucial.
This, therefore, improperly weights the amount of development time spent on cosmetic items and other things which ultimately do not improve the base game itself. This means that by including and so heavily focusing on this battle pass content, developers have had to take time away from the base game’s mechanics, thus hurting the overall game in the process and damaging the player experience.
(Each archetype is customizable by the player. There are hundreds of options available for each character)
As much as I really enjoyed this game during my initial few games, I really did hit somewhat of a wall after a couple of hours. Whilst I can see the great work and immense amount of effort that developers truly put into this title, the end result simply is not up to par with the rest of the battle royale genre at the moment, nor is it a good enough MMO or RPG title to differentiate itself from the rest of these BR games.
In the end, I think the developers became too concerned with the idea of releasing a game that appealed to both the current core group of fans and a wide audience. This decision, therefore, led the development team down a path that split their focus and forced them to publish a title that failed at what I would call an essential aspect of a fast-paced third-person shooter; the core gameplay mechanics.
The game itself has some wonderful and enticing qualities, as mentioned throughout this review. However, nothing within the base game is actually incredibly fun or slick. No core mechanic in this game, to me at least, is satisfying enough to encourage me to do it again and again.
(Many of the weapons and other items can be found in the back of trucks and ambulances. These items spawn at random tier levels)
Instead, the movements of each character, the way you reload, and even some of the graphical decisions relating to the unique character abilities are subpar. All of this, combined with a rather shallow weapons system and RPG elements, leave the player feeling a little disengaged with the game and, therefore, little incentive to return and play some more.
To me, this is the real difference between a good game and an average title, whether you look forward to coming back to it or not, and sadly, Bloodhunt is simply average at best.
Should you have read or scanned over this entire review and got a craving for a battle royale game outside of Bloodhunt, then you are in luck. Here are some of the best games out there at the moment similar to Bloodhunt:
- Apex Legends: Another fast-paced title that makes use of a player’s quick reactions and even faster dynamic movements.
- Fortnite: The most popular game in the world right now. Fortnite is another, more cartoonish rendition of the battle royale genre, complete with quick building mechanics.
- Call of Duty Warzone: The most intense and grounded option so far on this list. Warzone takes the magic of Call of Duty and splices it with the madness of the battle royale genre.
- Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds: PUBG is the core battle royale experience, with no fancy stuff and no power slides in sight.
So, with this all being said, I hope you enjoyed this review, and it gave you all the necessary insights that you needed. However, if you do decide to give this game a go, I wish you the best of luck through the rainy streets of Prague, but please, watch your back!
Pros and Cons
- The character archetype system is incredibly well thought out, allowing players to choose a character type and playstyle that suits them.
- The matchmaking system makes finding and joining a new game incredibly quick and easy, tempting the player to stay for just one more every time.
- The base idea for a battle royale game intermixed with an RPG setting is unique and shows much potential.
- The quick communication system for team combat is quick, smooth, and easy to use.
- Certain gameplay mechanics such as the wall climbing and power slide features need some work as they can be incredibly tricky to use effectively without making silly errors.
- The map is small and therefore makes most games feel repetitive as you often end up fighting and looting in the same area game after game.
- The focus on cosmetic items is somewhat in your face as you often find yourself accidentally clicking on a battle pass specific item by mistake.
- The quests and lore systems in the game are both shallow and out of place in this game, as they have not been integrated at all well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What Clans are in Bloodhunt?
Answer: There are four clans in the game at the moment: The Vantrue, Brujah, Nosferatu, and Toreador clans.
Question: Does Vampire the Masquerade Bloodhunt have cross-play?
Answer: Yes, the average Bloodhunt game features players from both the PC and PS5 versions.
Question: Can you Play Bloodhunt on Xbox?
Answer: Bloodhunt is exclusively available on PS5 and PC, meaning that you can only play the title on these platforms. You cannot play Bloodhunt on Xbox or even PS4.
Question: Is Bloodhunt Free-to-play?
Answer: The game is currently free to play for all players with either a PC or PS5. However, some of the content is still locked behind a paywall. Certain cosmetic items, for instance, require the player to have the battle pass to unlock them. With this being said, however, these items do not affect gameplay.