Vampyr's Leveling System Impacts the Greater World

By Marc Caccamise, 3 months ago
When it comes to most RPGs, there's a select list of activities to count on for leveling up your character. Whether it's completing quests, finding collectibles, performing miscellaneous tasks, or killing enemies, there's a rather routine outline that most players expect to find. Dontnod's upcoming game Vampyr offers a change to this format that, instead, revolves around a system that affects the game's overall world.

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Vampyr is set in early 20th century London, plagued by sweeping illness and the appearance of cannibalistic monstrosities known as Skals. Based on the game's media presentation at E3, the city streets are appropriately bleak and lifeless. In contrast, the citizens are quite the opposite in the traditional sense of AI, as every citizen has a name and background, and is interconnected with others throughout the city.

Playing as Dr. Jonathan Reid, the player's goal is to find a cure for the city's flu-ravaged citizens, but Reid is a vampire himself and therefore must feed on the very people he’s trying to protect. It's here where the central dilemma and groundwork of Vampyr are set. While killing enemies will start Jonathan on the path of what he needs to become stronger and gain new abilities, it is feeding on the innocent citizens of London that will be necessary to become strong enough to overcome new challenges. The question becomes, who do you kill, and why?

To aid in the decision, Jonathan will set off to investigate nearby citizens and determine who is the best selection for feeding. All of the information that is uncovered revolves most importantly around a resident's blood purity level. Those who have a higher blood purity will net Jonathan a higher amount of XP towards leveling up, while those with low blood purity might not net enough points. This ultimately adds an entirely new layer to the already present dilemma.

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During the presentation, Jonathan encountered two citizens that were potential feeding targets. The first man seemed innocent enough until further investigation revealed that he was a serial killer, and therefore would seemingly be a perfect target. But while you know that life would be better for the citizens with him dead and gone, his low blood purity level would not be enough to make Jonathan stronger. The next person, however, was an elderly woman and also the mother of the serial killer. She is revealed to be kind-hearted and charitable and therefore an ideal citizen to keep around for the benefit of the city. But, she also has a higher blood purity level, which would allow Jonathan to level up much quicker. Do you feed on the serial killer and receive a lower amount of XP, or the kind woman and receive significantly more?

Whichever way players decide to approach scenarios like this, these actions will have an effect on the ending you receive. In the presentation, Jonathan killed the elderly woman, essentially choosing to benefit himself more than the city. As a result, the blood purity level for every citizen living in that district lowered, therefore making them less attractive targets for feeding in the future. When the purity level of a district drops, it also carries negative effects on the area itself. Merchants can suffer from inflation, and supernatural monstrosities become more prevalent. By altering the life of one citizen, there is a chain reaction that causes life to be better or worse for others.

Killing a citizen allows Jonathan to absorb their memories and get hints about that person's relationship with other people in the city. Jonathan also has access to loot through a victim's property, which opens up additional dilemmas. In the presentation, for instance, the elderly woman had an ingredient that would heal the homeless man of his sickness. You're presented the option to either manufacture the medicine for the man, or keep the ingredients for yourself to make other potions. Whichever you choose will, again, affect the greater world around you.

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The bright spot of choosing to target those with higher blood purity is the access to new abilities for both investigations and combat that you'll gain. Vampyr is very much an action, stamina-based game. The gameplay seemed similar to a mixture of the melee combat in the Batman: Arkham games and the supernatural powers of Dishonored. Using a combination of these attacks is the best way to deal with both the Skals and vampire hunters who are constantly on the prowl. Abilities such as Spring allows Jonathan to pounce on enemies that are a great distance away. The skill tree allows players to build Jonathan around their preferred style of play, whether that be aggressive or stealthy.

Vampyr is set to release sometime this November and the choices that you make will either save or endanger London.
Marc Caccamise
Written by Marc Caccamise
Writer of news, features, and reviews for TrueAchievements since June 2013. Discovered the incredible world of video games at a young age with Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, and haven't looked back since. Outside of gaming, I'm usually found reading up on various history topics or rooting for the lowly Buffalo Bills and Sabres.