Posted: January 29
Early Access Review
I have a love, hate relationship with this game. At times it's frustrating to the point of uninstalling this pile of trash. Other times it can be the most rewarding, and satisfying feeling in the world. All of this mostly comes from the Human side of things, which I'll touch upon in a moment...but yeah, when I first started playing it got to the point where I told my buddies who were downloading it to not even bother. Games were so one-sided that it felt like why even bother. Matchmaking at fault? No, this isn't like Ghost Recon Phantoms, where outside of beginner brakcet people can pay their way to win into the upper echelon of ridiculous gear, abilities, or guns. It was just that every time one team got to play as Vampires, it's so incredibly skewed balance-wise that it's a total uphill fight.
As an aside, this is a huge deal for anyone out there reading this review. It's not pay to win. Whatsoever. That's absolutely ludicrous in terms of a free to play game! Right? Every single ability, weapon, perk, or character class can be fully achieved through in-game currency or by gradually leveling up(every 5th level grants you the ability to unlock a further class). Paying real money is purely a convenience if you want to expedite the process of unlocking certain things permanently. The only thing not able to be achieved by just flat out downloading and playing is skins, which is perfectly fine!
I digress. In terms of gameplay essentially it's 4 Vampires vs. 4 Humans in a Team Deathmatch brawl to 30 kills, and they're actually working on/testing the water on an objective/capture type mode at the moment. If you liked the formula for Left 4 Dead, it has similar class concepts under the hood here. The Vampire's Reaver class starts out with a Hunter-esque type pounce that effectively CCs a target while doing damage(but leaving himself vulnerable to the Human player's teamates), the Vampire Tyrant comes equipped with a Charger bull rush type move by default, the Vampire Sentinel is kind of like the Smoker in that he can separate a Human player from his teamates, and so on. This is merely to give you an idea of what they're capable of, as the cool thing here to keep things interesting, the developers allowed you to swap out abilities to change what your character is capable of doing. E.g. the Tyrant's Charger rush type move I spoke of earlier? You can swap it out for an Incredible Hulk skyscraper type jump that does massive AoE damage. Really nifty stuff.
It's actually quite awesome, honestly. You'll end up having a blast playing the Vampires traversing the map in unique ways(skyscraper jumping, bull rushing through humans at an increased run speed, leaping like a frog from building to building, flying through the night sky, or climbing up walls like Spiderman). But then you get to the Humans. Already it sounds like they're boring in comparison by how I've prefaced this, right? It's honestly far from it. In some ways I would say they're more enjoyable overall than Vampires, they're quite fun: playing as them is tense, requires proper aim, tight timing and accurate use of your abilities, and finally having the utmost perfection of teamwork is a necessity. Unfortunately this is where the failing is. The same isn't true for the Vampires. The amount of effort you have to put into every detail of the game as a Human is nowhere near the ease of entry of playing as one of the Vampires. If a Human Hunter misses his Bola ability at close range, for example, he's dead. Period.
For some odd reason, Psyonix the developer, thought it a good idea to make the Vampire's left click(their melee attack) auto-aim towards the enemy. All you pretty much have to do is get within a certain range and keep your camera centered on your opponent and the game pretty much auto-pilots the rest. The Vampire melee attack jumps them forward as fast as a Human player's SPRINT function as well. Once you're getting hit in melee, if you don't have some teamate save you somehow, or time your own abilities flawlessly to get away, you're toast. What's worse is that some Vampire abilities, such as the Reaver base pounce, are aim assisted as well. Granted, there's another pounce ability that isn't aim assisted that does more damage, but the main reason you use this ability is for the CC so it's never worthwhile to use it.
It's frustrating how one-sided the fights can be because of this. The Vampire arsenal is full of CC, and unlike the earlier mentioned Left 4 Dead comparison, these Vampires aren't paper-thin in terms of health. They additionally come equipped with plenty of "oh ♥♥♥♥" buttons on top of this. The Reaver has an ability that makes him Agent Smith of The Matrix, as he dodges your arrow fire if he finds himself overstepping his bounds or out of position. The Tyrant has an 85% damage reduction ability if he gets overwhelmed, or hell if he just wants to initiate and bait people to waste their ammo on him. The funniest thing is that I still have yet to meet a premade, intelligent, and well positioned Vampire team. I'm absolutely frightened at the prospect of how much of a steamroll it could potentially be. Most of the time I'm playing in a PUG environment, and even then sometimes we pull out some good synergy as Humans and still fight neck and neck with somewhat disorganized Vampire teams because of just how strong they are. We can go 30-3 as Vampires, showing an obvious skill-gap, then go 20-30 as Humans. It's that tough.
All in all, though, when the frustration subsides or you actually manage to play a successful round as Humans, it's loads of fun. There's very few complaints to the game outside of the balance. The business model? How games SHOULD be. The presentation? Excellent; Soundtrack, graphically, and audio-wise this game hits everything on the head. From your Vampire Sentinel making a pun about the Human race "falling" as he lets a poor guy go from a high height, to your Human Scout talking trash as the round starts. It's all there and well done. It even additionally has a tutorial for each class, so you're never thrown into a game wondering how exactly X or Y work. So do I recommend it? Definitely.