2022 has been the year of the vampire, with both Sharkmob’s Vampire: The Masquerade-inspired battle royale, Bloodhunt, and Stunlock’s survival game, V Rising, snowballing in popularity, breathing new life into two stagnant genres.
As a scene queen who lived through the gothic emo revival of the early 2010s, it goes without saying that I adore vampires. Be them the sensual, mysterious personalities of The Originals (not heard that name in a while, eh?) or the spindly Nosferatu – if there were bloodsuckers involved, I was interested.
Imagine my face when Sharkmob announced their Vampire: The Masquerade-inspired battle royale, Bloodhunt, last year. Combining dark fantasy with the shooter-style gameplay I know and love, I dived into Prague during the Early Access period desperate to pop some heads and drink some blood.
Within a month of Bloodhunt came V Rising, a Dracula-inspired survival game that challenges you to build a vampiric empire and slaughter the living. Additionally, VTM: Swansong was released, adding much fuel to my already blazing fire. Not only does this mark resurrection of vampire video games, but both games also innovate on their respective genres in a way that’s incredibly exciting.
Vampire the Masquerade Bloodhunt: BR but make it bloody
Bloodhunt was probably my favorite game of 2021. I plowed hours upon end into the Early Access, creating different characters for all of the game’s archetypes and trying them all out because their abilities and personalities were just so interesting.
What makes the bloody BR so great is just how perfectly Sharkmob has intertwined the franchise’s classic clans and the wider World of Darkness with the standard BR. Draining humans with specific blood types (called ‘Blood Resonances‘) effectively grant buffs, antique melee weapons like sharpened katanas harken back to our vampiric protagonists’ pasts – everything is the gothic fantasy I’ve been looking for.
Aside from aesthetics, the systems themselves are cleverly designed. Ranked isn’t too punishing and has a focus on skirmishing (just as it should have), Extra Life Blood Resonances help you survive longer, and the vast array of different modes (solo Bloodhunt, duos, and trios) open up a collection of different ways to play.
While Fortnite and Apex will likely continue to dictate the standard of the battle royale, Bloodhunt took their systems and innovated on them, creating something truly unique in an oversaturated market. The game is like nothing I’ve ever player before, and that’s what makes it so exciting.
V Rising: The perfect Dracula fantasy
On the complete opposite end of the shadowy spectrum, V Rising harkens back to the days of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Set in a Transylvania-inspired universe with sprawling, creepy forests and rolling green farmland just waiting to be painted red, it very much champions the traditional image of the vampire instead of the hyper-modern killing machines we see today.
While the game oozes Diablo vibes (another favorite of mine, as anyone who follows my work knows), the survival element makes everything much more fun. Combat is fluid, draining different creatures grants you different buffs, and watching your influence (and castle) grow is incredibly satisfying.
Despite my Nordic heritage, I couldn’t engage with the likes of Valheim because the systems just seemed monotonous; by contrast, cutting down trees and smashing rocks in V Rising isn’t a chore, it’s a lot of fun. Juggling resources isn’t easy, warding off attacks requires strategical thinking, and even things seemingly as easy as selecting your base’s location test your gaming abilities.
Where other survival games feel like a grind, V Rising has a slew of unique elements to make everything feel a little bit different. Perfectly blending the hack and slash ARPG with the base ingredients of the survival genre, Stunlock’s macabre universe is one I want to keep coming back to.
What both games prove, though, alongside VTM: Swansong, is that the vampire genre is back in black and here to stay – it’s gaming’s gothic revival, and I’m very much on the hype train.
As we see developers continuing to stray away from more mainstream topics (wartime, superhero, and historical stories), we’re seeing the birth of some truly special titles that innovate upon some of the sector’s most iconic games.
A revolution is on the horizon; people don’t want more of the same, they want something different. Bloodhunt and V Rising are leading the charge into a brand new era of not just BRs and survival games, but of virtual entertainment – and I truly can’t wait to see what emerges from their success.