You may think you’ve got vampirism down to a fine art, but there are a few complexities in Dontnod’s Vampyr which might make you think before you hiss and bare your fangs.
Juggling Doc Reid's insatiable thirst for heart juice and his Hippocratic Oath to help the sick and injured, the good doctor (you) must explore the dark wardens of London, fight other undead and level up your skills to search for the creature that bit you in the first place. Before you dive into the game, here are some tips to help negotiate your bloodlust.
Decide Early If You Want To Feed On Innocents
One of the game’s four endings can only be reached if you don’t murder a single citizen during your playthrough. The bad news is this is the most difficult path to choose as you are unlikely to gain enough XP to level up more than a few skills. Vampyr’s combat can quickly become unforgiving, with gangs of vampire hunters roaming the streets (or worse, other supernatural beasts). Combat mechanics are also quite awkward to master, especially against multiple opponents.
Quite frankly, the temptation to chomp as many necks as possible is just too great – the game pretty much teases you with it at every corner. I’d argue that the game becomes more enjoyable once you are replete with XP and start unlocking some cool vampire moves, as well as upgrading passive elements such as health and stamina.
However, if you want to be a good vamp, then make sure you’re prepared for a harder run and put thought into each experience point you spend.
Upgrade Stamina First
This becomes the most important resource in combat as weapon attacks and your cool teleport-dodge move chew through stamina quickly. Once you’ve levelled this up a few times, your confidence in fights will increase and you’ll have more opportunity to play with your prey – flitting in for a couple of hits before dodging out of reach before they can counter. It’s also a must for fighting groups, especially given that they’re almost always comprised of ranged attackers who are a right pain if you become low on stamina.
Talk To Everyone
The meat of Vampyr is its social system. People in each district have intertwining stories that slowly unlock as you talk to them, gathering gossip and clues about other characters. In turn, this unlocks new conversation trees with people you’ve already spoken to. Basically, you should be right if you follow every possible conversation option with everyone you can find.
Solving people’s problems, or at the very least listening a bit to their life story, also helps you to decide which citizens are prime candidates for a bit of neck-sucking. I had no qualms chowing down
on the foxes among the lambs, though it turned out to be a slippery slope and I soon found my mouth watering at the fat XP gains of some of the innocents just waiting to be led to slaughter.
Look For Rats
They don’t contain much blood, but a few fat rats will fill your blood meter enough to give you peace of mind. They tend to hang out around sewers and safehouses. Using the vampiric senses mode highlights rats in red, making them easier to catch. This is going to be a life saver if you choose a no-kill run.
Be On The Lookout For Flashing Things
Looting is essential, giving you materials to upgrade weapons, craft cures for citizens and concoct injectables to boost your health and stamina during fights. Unfortunately, the exact kind of loot you gain is random and (I suspect) drip-fed throughout the game. Flashing objects denote that they are open for looting, so make sure to comb each cupboard, draw and desk. And don’t forget to loot defeated enemies.
Use The Citizen Menu To Plan How Many Cures To Make
The overall danger of each London district is directly related to the happiness of its citizens. If everyone is fatigued and/or suffering from illness, then the district degrades and becomes more hostile. The game calculates this each time you rest at a safe house (which causes one day to pass). Part of your job, if you choose, is therefore to run about collecting loot and use it to craft cures for people.
Happy citizens keep the district buzzing along nicely. They also impart more XP as victims, so it’s worthwhile spending some time studying the citizen menu to work out exactly how many cures (and which specific type) you need to make for your rounds.
Evade, Evade, Evade
This is your best move in combat. In most boss battles, it’s an essential part of the fight. Don’t rush things as you’re likely to get caught by an awkward attack pattern. You can also use it to avoid conflict altogether, teleporting quickly through hostile areas, leaving the disappointed cries of vampire hunters behind.
Upgrade Weapons To Do Both Physical And Stun Damage
You can use workbenches at safehouses to upgrade your weapons. This usually means an increase in the damage they deal, but occasionally extra options will appear that allow you to more deeply customise a weapon. If you ever see the option to add stun damage to hits, take it.
This makes combat so much easier because your off-hand attacks (which also stun enemies) require a separate button press, as well as use up your precious stamina. By adding stun to attacks, you’re effectively halving the effort required.
Staggered opponents can be bitten during fights, which drains a bit of their health and adds to your blood meter (which is basically your mana for vampire skills). Fights become so much easier once this comes into play and I found myself chewing through enemies with frightening efficiency.
Don’t Be Afraid To Change Abilities And Weapons
A few hours into Vampyr, you’ll have likely unlocked more skills than there are buttons on the controller. They’re all there, just waiting for you to actively replace a current skill and experiment with combinations.
The same thing goes for weapons. You can choose a main and off-hand weapon, or you can go for a two-hander that lets you parry (I haven’t found parrying to be at all reliable, but hey the option’s there). If it’s just not working for you, have a bit of a change around.
Don’t Forget Your Consumables
In the heat of battle, when all your blood is dried up and you’re looking at a severely depleted health bar, it can be easy to feel like all is lost and a reload is inevitable. For much of the game, I kept forgetting that I had consumable syringes that I could use by pressing up or down on the D-pad.
You only start off with a couple of slots for each, but you can increase the number of consumables with (you guessed it) XP upgrades.
Good Luck, Doctor Reid
Whether you give in to temptation or walk the righteous path in Vampyr, the important thing is to take your time in each district and be aware that safehouse sleeping will cause the city to start changing. Pack as much as you can into each night, but don’t sweat a few still-locked conversation trees or the fact that you had a recovering soldier for dinner.
Your survival is paramount, just try to make sure the shadows remain your friend and that they don’t consume you.
Dylan Burns is a freelancer and former deputy editor of Hyper Magazine. You can find more of his work at Burns After Playing.