The latest video game entry in the Vampire: The Masquerade franchise, titled Bloodhunt, has received a great deal of backlash from fans. Specifically, many are critical of how Sharkmob's offering is turning the tabletop RPG into an action-oriented multiplayer shooter, akin to Call of Duty: Warzone.
Newsweek recently spoke to the developers about this controversial decision, with the team explaining why they chose to make a battle royale in the first place. Over the course of the interview, they also assured fans that Bloodhunt will fit neatly into the established canon of Vampire: The Masquerade. Here is what they revealed.
For a bit of context, Vampire: The Masquerade began its life as a tabletop RPG (in the vein of Dungeons and Dragons), before eventually spawning a number of video game spinoffs.
The whole franchise is set in an alternative universe where vampires (known as "Kindred") are hiding in plain sight amongst human civilization. The titular "Masquerade" is a conspiracy that all the undead clans are meant to adhere to, so that their existence is never revealed to society at large.
Having been revised multiple times since its debut in 1991, there is plenty of complex lore in the Vampire world for new players to wrap their heads around. There are several rivaling factions, elaborate political structures and various rules that kindred are not allowed to break.
In short, it is a very deep and intricate universe that focuses mainly on intrigue and subterfuge, with only intermittent bursts of violence. As such, it does not immediately lend itself to the multiplayer shooter genre, which is why so many fans are skeptical about Bloodhunt.
Like Apex Legends or PUBG, the newer game is a battle royale in which you must fight against others to emerge as the last player standing in a constantly shrinking map. While you do have access to a few supernatural abilities and melee weapons, the emphasis is largely on gunplay, which is a source of contention.
Despite initially feeling incongruous with the rest of the Vampire universe, Sharkmob believe that Bloodhunt is in line with the established lore.
Although diplomacy is at the heart of Vampire: The Masquerade, violence is also a key factor and conflict does happen. Yet for most fans, the problem is not so much that the kindred are fighting but rather that they are violating the masquerade by doing so out in the open. The whole idea behind this universe is that vampires are supposed to operate in the shadows and remain undetected, but in Bloodhunt they are brazenly running amok in the streets firing AK-47s.
Martin Hultberg, IP director and co-founder of Sharkmob, stressed that this aspect has been factored into the battle royale matches. "We have systems that mimic the core experience of the original tabletop game. We took what we could from the RPG and moulded it into a form that fits."
Namely, if a player is spotted by a human civilian, or otherwise exposes themselves to unwarranted attention during a match, then they will be penalized. A bloodhunt will be declared on the rulebreaker, giving away their position on the map to everybody else and effectively painting a big target on their back. As such, there is still an incentive to keep a low profile.
In general, Hultberg seems to be quite well versed in the fiction of the masquerade, as he gave us a rundown on the history of the universe and where Bloodhunt specifically fits into the canon.
Hultberg continued: "We were fortunate enough to come in as [Paradox Interactive] was finalizing version 5 of the tabletop RPG's core rulebook. So, they gave us a spot in the lore and said 'This specific point in time is yours. We want you to portray this event here'".
The incident in question is an outbreak of civil war between the Camarilla and Anarch factions. "They are meeting in Prague, where our game is set, to find a diplomatic solution to their falling-out", explains Hultberg. "When they gather for this meeting; something goes wrong and the second inquisition [vampire hunters] attacks."
Following the botched negotiations, the Camarilla blame the Anarchs for exposing their race to human eyes and subsequently issue a bloodhunt order. Soldiers are then sent into the city of Prague to eradicate any remaining Anarchs, which forms the background for why everyone is trying to kill each other in the multiplayer sessions.
Much like in Fortnite, this storyline will unfold gradually through content updates. David Sirland, Bloodhunt's producer, teased a little more information about this, explaining: "We have several environmental storytelling parts that we will be using to constantly bring the narrative forward. This will be especially prominent in our social hub, the Elysium neutral zone, which is where you will be dropped right before matches. There will be things added periodically here to drive the narrative."
Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodhunt will be released on Steam, where it will be free to play, in 2021.
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Sharkmob Explains Where 'Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt' Fits in the Series Canon - Newsweek
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