The Vampire Masquerade: Bloodhunt launches today, bringing an updated look to the dark and mysterious world in which the franchise is set. With this installment, not only do we get an update on vampire society after nearly two decades of bloodlines, but we’re seeing them in a largely unrepresented part of the world in Prague.
To delve into the setting, and how the series fits into a modern setting, I sat down with art director Erik Nilsson to discuss inspiration, what changed and stayed the same, and how to turn real-world Prague into a battle royale arena.
iGamesNews: You’re making a vampire masquerade party in 2022, so how do you modernize the style and presentation for a modern audience?
Eric: Interestingly, it’s coming out in 2022, but we started about five years ago. So Apex Legends wasn’t out by then, and Fortnite was out — but it wasn’t huge yet. There is also no bloodline 2. No one has really done anything with a PC’s IP for a while.
So, for us, it was like seeing if it was possible to be a vampire? Will people care? Our decision was ‘yes, we think they do’. There are novels that come up again and again; vampires are one of them, pirates another. There are tropes that people love and that resonate with society.We can definitely do a modern version [vampire fiction] While still retaining the coolness of the classic game.
iGamesNews: Can you give me an example of those “cool stuff”?
Eric: What we decided to do was basically just build a few core pillars. For example, we want the characters to feel very relevant. One of the advantages of VTMs and vampires is that you are not born with powers. Anyone can be a vampire. Everyone has a vampire, everyone has a clan.
And then another thing is this contrast of vampires is ancient, but they live in the modern age: how do they survive with cell phones and stuff like that? So finding those pillars and building something around them was really important to us. The style we wanted also needed attention because Bloodlines was heavily based in Los Angeles, and the movies and cinemas that were coming out at the time.
So we want to see what the media looks like today. For example, HBO makes a lot of really good, good-looking TV shows and draws some inspiration from them. So that’s something we definitely do.
iGamesNews: Now that you say that Los Angeles when Bloodlines was released inspired many of the title’s visuals, how much of modern Prague incorporates the vampires we saw in Blood Hunt?
Eric: In the legend of the vampire masquerade, many events take place in Europe. Vienna, for example, played an important role. Plus, there’s Vampire Masquerade Redemption — I think it’s called — and it’s a pretty old game. Now this is happening in Prague, Prague has a history of vampires, Prague has a Tremere Chantry and stuff.
So there is a lot of history in real-life Prague and in legends that we can draw from. But I think part of the reason we initially chose Prague was because the founders were kind of from The Division and they were really tired of America – but also because Prague is a really interesting city.
iGamesNews: In class-based multiplayer, how do you represent different clans in a way that clearly identifies enemies on the map? How do you differentiate the two classes in Nosferatu?
Eric: So I’ll use the Nosferatu clan’s prowlers and saboteurs as an example, because I think they answer that question well. yes. We use these classes as the basis for our clothing creation for the game. So vandals are the Nosferatu hacker type, so we created some costume designs that focused on that, while prowlers are more of a sewer rat, so we kept that in mind when designing costumes that fit that style.
iGamesNews: Aside from the existing vampire series, what was the main visual inspiration for this game?
Eric: Must have watched a lot of modern movies as a reference. I mean, references come in many shapes and sizes. Like the pictures we took during our trip to Prague, we also saw real life events.
So it really depends a lot on what aspect of the game you’re talking about, right? Because if you’re going to talk about entities, obviously we have some different inspirations in our minds. If you’re talking about the city itself, Prague is obviously the biggest source of inspiration, but in general, for vampires, it comes down to brands and cinemas.
I would say I think John Wick is a good movie example of how you can handle this type of secret society type of deal, like when they were in Rome. But it’s just a movie and we’ve seen a lot.
iGamesNews: I’ve been dying to ask you about entities, which replace hostile forces (except for the player). Where did the look of the modern Crusade come from?
Eric: The general idea of them is that we want them to obviously feel a lot like knights, yes, to show that they have a similar ancient history, the Knights Templar, but also have modern gear. Just like they have exoskeletons, they do have these glowing eyes, for example, to fight vampire superpowers. We want them to feel almost like a demon, like a Balrog. We want you to think “Damn, they’re here to kill me” when you see them.
iGamesNews: Often in battle royale maps, these massive landmarks can be quite noticeable. While Bloodhunt does have different locations, how do you shoot a real city and apply the BR map design to it?
Eric: It must be hard. It’s a challenge because on the one hand you have a very realistic map or world that you’re trying to represent. Not only in Prague, but obviously there is also intellectual property. Now, on the other hand, you have a very fast-paced arcade game. yes. How do you merge the two? I think a lot of it comes down to having some very clear salient places, like burning churches or cemeteries, or you know, some of them very salient.
Also, good color grading makes you feel like “I’m in the blue area and I’m in the green area”. So that’s an important part of that. I think if we make future maps, we will definitely learn a lot from them and hopefully future maps will be more interesting.
iGamesNews: When playing the game, one of the aspects of the map that really stands out is the detail in tiny areas. You can see the rooms inside and you can find small drinking gardens and unique buildings that are not these big landmarks. How much work does it take to add such intricate details?
Eric: a lot of. I mean, yeah, it’s like at least three or four years of hard work and research trips and so on. But I’d say it’s always a struggle between what you want to do artistically and what you can do, technically, so you know there’s a lot of things we want to do but can’t do in art. And then you just have to look and you know, what’s a viable performance, what’s feasible, depending on the size of our team?