September 26, 2023: the day I thought Vampire The Masquerade Bloodhunt was going to die. While initial communications stated that the game’s microtransactions were officially getting the boot, Bloodhunt community developer Tobias Solem has confirmed to PCGamesN that “the Bloodhunt servers will continue to be live, and we will continue with our timed content releases.” He does, however, confirm that “we weren’t able to reach the critical mass needed to sustain development, which led us to the decision to stop further development” – a stake that pierces my hopeful heart.
Bloodhunt released back in April of 2022 and marked a brief rebirth for the VTM franchise. A year and a month later, however, Sharkmob revealed that the battle royale game’s active development had ceased and that in-game purchases would be removed on September 26, 2023. The night before, September 25, saw that cast to the wind, though, with the devs confirming that MTXs will remain enabled and that plans had been “postponed.” It’s an exciting development for those who are happy to support the game, but it unfortunately isn’t exactly what we were hoping for.
Now don’t get me wrong: Bloodhunt wasn’t flawless. It released with the Nosferatu ruling the roost (quite the switch-up for the World of Darkness’ most hated clan) and nerfs simply came in too late. The rocky release of duos mode was generally disappointing, and the seemingly never-ending queue times that ensued killed the action dead before it even really began. Couple that with the influx of cheaters ruining every second match, and it became a bit of a recipe for a soon-to-be-dead live service game. Even the suave, blue-blooded Ventrue and mysterious Tremere witches couldn’t save it from its sorry fate.
But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t absolutely gutted. I plowed hours into this game, picking up the original founder’s pass and everything. I forced my partner to play it during the early stages of our relationship, and my love for Bloodhunt introduced me to the VTM tabletop world, the allure of which is tantalizing. I even created my first-ever male custom character in a videogame – and he was hot as hell. Of course he was, he was a Toreador; step aside, Astarion, my Muse is a real vampire.
Personal feelings (and infatuations) aside, though, Bloodhunt served up some neat mechanics. Stacking different buffs by drinking Blood Resonances was fun and added a bit of strategy to the gameplay. If you’re running Nosferatu, Melancholic blood is always a great call, whereas Brujah will want to snatch up Choleric to enhance their melee damage; it adds a bit of strategy to a genre that’s often reduced to just ‘pop heads and take names.’
I also loved the little side-quests that the various Primogens would send you on. While they were short, they gave the world an extra bit of lore, making it feel more real. And, honestly, Sharkmob’s Prague is still one of my favorite maps to date: I could spend literal hours just sitting at the top of the cranes as a stealthed Saboteur or Prowler, looking down over the city streets. Or, alternatively, hang out in the Divine Disco and just vibe. With the flickering lights of the Burning Church gently illuminating every street corner, Sharkmob’s Prague is one of my all-time favorite videogame maps.
In fact, Bloodhunt itself is just fashionable. The character cosmetics are gorgeous and make you want to grind through the battle pass to get there. There wasn’t a single ‘bad’ item there – especially because you could get Mia’s outfit and become the literal embodiment of Toreador superiority. The customization was limitless, and the character designs truly channel the essence of VTM. Bloodhunt nailed the concept but failed to stick the landing in what is a truly overcrowded genre.
After all, whether you love them, hate them, or are entirely ambivalent about them, it’s no secret that Apex Legends, Warzone, and Fortnite have become the pillars of the battle royale genre – in fact, I’d go so far as to say they are the battle royale genre on PC. It’s the same with League of Legends and Dota 2 when it comes to MOBAs, and World of Warcraft with MMORPGs – how many LoL and WoW killers have there been now? Do you remember their names? I don’t.
When Fortnite exploded, everyone tried to get on that bandwagon (or battle bus), but it was never going to work out. Fortnite defined a genre while simultaneously appealing to both adults and kids. It has partnerships with some of the biggest brands on the planet, transcends boundaries, and has carved out its own dedicated cultural space. While it may not be as talked-about as it once was, Fortnite largely owns the BR genre – everyone else just lives there.
Apex Legends is the outlier, of course. While some of us still lose sleep over the loss of a potential Titanfall 3 (guilty, as charged), the stagnation of Call of Duty: Warzone and the thoroughly ‘meh’ response to Warzone 2 left a gap in the market. Apex is well-balanced, its characterization is slick, and it’s simply one of the best-playing games on the market.
Bloodhunt was always going to struggle against two well-established behemoths. Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines is no Titanfall in terms of its modern-day popularity, and while Bloodhunt was conceptually great, it couldn’t hope to amass the same insta-following generated by the likes of Apex Legends’ stealth launch.
As the sun rises on Prague’s World of Darkness, it’s a shame to see the game struggle despite its potential. At the moment the servers will stay up and you’ll be able to keep playing and preying, but development largely ending means I’ll never see what a Malkavian would look like in Bloodhunt. With the Bloodlines 2 release date back on the cards and a new save already started in the original Bloodlines, I’m holding out hope that VTM sees the renaissance it deserves.