The state of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 is uncertain, so much that we haven’t seen a new trailer for years.
The “upcoming” game is the sequel to 2004’s Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Despite Bloodlines’ cult status as one of the greatest RPGs of all time, it reached less than 80,000 initial sales.
Troika Games released the original title as a Half-Life 2 competitor. The game even ran on the same engine. Still, its market performance led to the studio’s demise.
So, the newer game comes from another developer, Hardsuit Studios. It has a new publisher as well, Paradox Interactive.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 Release Date
We don’t know when Vampires: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 will come out.
The original release date was March 2020. Developers pushed the debut window due to the Covid-19 virus.
Then, the publisher hinted at a late-2021 release date, but that’s not going to happen either.
For now, let’s wait for more official news.
With its TBC release date, you can’t pre-order the game. There’s not even an early-access option. That could mean the game is in no playable state.
According to the official page, Vampires: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 will have a cross-platform launch.
The game will debut for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox, and Xbox Series X. The page doesn’t include the Xbox Series S, but we assume there will be a version for the cheaper console as well.
Also, we don’t know if it will have versions for Linux and macOS on top of the standard Windows copy. The PC OS requirements are not even available on Steam.
Behind the Scenes: Is the Game Still in Production?
Activision shut down Troika Games after Bloodlines’ debut. The next developer, Hardsuit Labs, took the IP under a lot of pressure. The whole ordeal created an unstable environment.
In August 2020, the studio fired the Lead Narrative Designer (Brian Mitsoda) and the Creative Director (Ka’ai Cluney). These were significant positions the studio had to “re-fill” amidst the game production.
February 2021 was the last time publishers shared official information. They stated Hardsuit Labs stepped down as Bloodlines’ developer so another team could take the lead.
Therefore, Vampires: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 won’t debut in 2021.
Yet, the publisher assures Bloodlines 2 is in full development. The work goes on by or with the help of an unspecified third-party team:
“In order to meet our goals for it, we’ve come to the conclusion that a change is needed and, as a result, more development time is required.” – Paradox Interactive.
But we haven’t seen any trailers or in-game footage since 2019. It seems the game is stuck in development purgatory.
Also, after the takeover, Hardsuit laid off several employees. The former team members shared the news on their Twitter feeds. A notable cut was the entire narrative crew:
Vampires: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 has a new character, plot, and setting. Even with its 21st-Century Seattle scenario, it lives in the same universe as the same game.
More importantly, it keeps the core idea of the series, The Masquerade. This is like a set of rules that help vampires stay hidden within society. It’s the facade necessary for survival.
The protagonist becomes a vampire after the Mass Embrace event, a vampire terrorist attack where they kidnap and turn humans into vampires. Because a Mass Embrace reveals the existence of vampires, all parties involved must pay with death.
As a human-turned vampire, you’re known as a Thinblood, the weakest of the vampire kind. Your safety is fragile, but because you’re a witness of the Mass Embrace, you can still find allies by joining a faction.
Unwillingly, the protagonist becomes a part of the larger conflict within vampire society. Different factions fight for control, and some are ready to live more openly, thus leaving The Masquerade behind.
Clans and Factions
In Seattle, we find the vampire community is struggling to stay united. Several factions are hungry for power, and your character is caught in the middle of the fight.
There’re six clans, vampire lineages that share traits, and Blood powers. Joining a family unlocks a “fullblood” discipline.
In other words, you can customize your powers, “the kind of monster you want to be,” by choosing a fullblood clan.
Then, there’re five factions, rivaling vampire groups fighting for control of their species. You decide which clan to join and which clans to battle. Your choices can potentially create different story paths, gameplay experiences, and consequences.
How Long is the Campaign?
Hardsuit Labs said the single-player campaign can take up to 30 hours. Paradox Interactive added you unlock a clan power about five hours into the game, but only without side quests.
The title will have an overarching narrative with a story-driven questline, plus hours of side content.
However, it’s unclear how the game has changed, or if it has made any advances, in the last two years.
The Source Material
The original game comes from a 1991 Tabletop game. Since then, the franchise has sprawled its own game universe, Old World Darkness. Other media include books, role-playing books, horror comics, a TV show, and graphic novels.
In the latest Vampire: The Masquerade 5th edition role-playing book, elder Camarilla leaders are missing. The Camarilla was once Seattle’s main faction, but they have lost their former power.
Other Princes and “Primogens” have disappeared as well. Hence, places of power within the vampire society are open for the taking.
We believe Paradox Interactive will approach this storyline with their upcoming game.
Bloodlines 2 allows you to choose a human background. It seems like choosing who you were as a human is a crucial part of the experience.
We don’t know about further customization options, though, as a character creation screen.
A notable side character is Elif Parmak. She represents the Tremere Faction, and thus she’s the main quest-giver if you pursue the Tremere alliance.
There’re other faction-specific characters. For example, Alec Cross speaks as the leader of the Camarilla faction, so he can be either friend or foe.
That said, it appears there’s no single villain in the game. The antagonist depends on your faction choices.
With only bits and snippets of gameplay, we can only talk about what the developers are promising.
First, though, let’s see the latest gameplay trailer for Vampires: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2:
The Pre-Alpha footage shows a first-person action RPG. The setting is a dark and gritty open-world Seattle. Within the city, you go to smaller, pocket areas to complete missions.
Players would use an array of powers, like telekinesis to defeat enemies. Your skills are the most lethal weapons. However, there’re also firearms and melee weapons available.
A crucial ability is your Enhanced Senses. It allows you to see and hear people and hidden objects around you. More specifically, it reveals people’s cardiovascular systems in a radius around you.
There’re also sandbox elements. You can approach missions in various forms. That means being sneaky or aggressive while finding multiple ways around the locations.
Similarly, the sandbox feature allows you to follow particular quest-lines while ditching others. Your overall experience depends on the faction, so whatever you do has consequences with the rest of the rivaling vampire powers.
The RPG systems
An additional 28-minute gameplay trailer by the developers showcases the game a bit more. It’s a 2019 demo where the former creators commented on the first parts of the game:
First, there’s the Thinblood Discipline. These are your initial “skill trees,” and there’re three options.
Once you join a clan, your character unlocks new “Fullblood Powers,” but we haven’t seen these either.
Either way, the next RPG mechanic is the ability to choose dialog options. You talk to various NPCs, members of different vampire factions, and you have a certain freedom in your responses. Choices allow you to either help a faction or decline the mission.
Lastly, developers promise Bloodlines 2 will have a “reactive storytelling” system. That means choices can lead to you different paths, mission outcomes, and overall endings. That said, remember you’ll choose your human background and then a vampire faction.
There’s a Resonance system, which depends on how much blood you take from your victims. For example, a Full Feed gives you a buff, but it can take a toll on your humanity.
The Resonance depends on what your victim feels at the moment of the bite. It could be Delirium, Pain, Rage, Fear, or Desire. Each emotion gives you a special status known as “Merit.”
You can see people’s emotions with your Enhanced Sense. Each emotion has a particular color.
It’s a mandatory system: you’re a vampire, and you “live to feed.” If you don’t take blood constantly, you can descend into a Frenzy.
The feature comes straight from the tabletop game. The original media has four blood “resonances,” and the idea is that blood comes in different qualities.
Players have a list of vampiric powers to use in combat across various active disciplines. Three are available from the start, while each clan offers an additional discipline if you join them.
The initial disciplines are:
- Chiropterans: These are bat powers. The skill tree can unlock a Bat Glide, a Bat Swarm, and similar.
- Mentalism: These are telekinetic powers. Characters can unlock the ability to push and pull objects and people, as well as levitating enemies.
- Nebulation: It’s a shadow-based discipline. For example, it unlocks a Mist Shroud to hide your character’s sound and movement.
Once you join a clan, you can unlock three other Disciplines. Here’s a list of the clan powers available:
- Auspex: It creates an Aura Sense to see through walls. Also, it creates an astral projection of yourself to explore areas. It looks like a pathway for sneaky characters.
- Potency: It unlocks Fist of Caine and Earthshock, melee-oriented abilities. The discipline focuses on solid approaches.
- Celerity: It unlocks faster movement skills, as well as distractions. For example, Accelerate slows down the world to dodge enemy attacks; Unseen Storm disorients enemies.
- Thaumaturgy: The discipline turns blood into a combat resource. For instance, Skewer turns your blood into spikes, and Purge makes you puke blood that heals you.
- Presence: Instead of turning people into worshipers, you can manipulate minds to turn them into your warriors.
- Dominate: Instead of turning people into worshipers, you can manipulate minds to turn them into your warriors.
- Fortitude: It’s a defensive discipline. For instance, Absorb allows you to heal wounds and deflect attacks; Personal Armor turns your skin into stone. Dementation: Haunt makes an enemy flee. Otherwise, Berserk makes enemies fall into a frenzy.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 looked fine in 2019. Its graphical quality and style remind us of Dishonored 2, boosting a better engine and newer graphics.
Notably, Nvidia has already added ray-tracing to the game. Because the entire game happens at night, AI-powered lighting and shadows seem a great addition.
Similarly, Bloodlines 2 supports Nvidia’s DLSS (deep learning super sampling) on RTX 20-series onward cards. It grants higher resolution and settings without damaging the frame rate.
We’ve also seen character animation through NPC models talking to the playable characters. These are full-body animations with clean aesthetics, smooth edges, handsome appearance, and fair character movement.
As for enemies, it looks fairly standard but solid. There’re human and vampire foes. Humans move more naturally and use firearms or melee arms. Vampires are erratic, fast, and use powers.
The city itself, Seattle, looks immersive and gritty. There’re streets, back-alleys, open areas, stores, apartments, and many places to see in the city. It boasts an excellent level of detail and care.
We expect to see further improvements on the following trailers. For example, textures and depth of field could use a bump.
So, overall, the game’s graphics are fine, but nothing that breaks the mold.
Whereas there’s nothing new regarding Vampires: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, there’s something else we can share.
Early Access is available for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt. It’s a free-to-play battle-royale within Bloodlines’ universe.
It’s Sharkmob AB’s debut title, and it came out on September 7 for Windows PCs. It has about 13K concurrent players on Steam after its mixed debut. We could say it had an okay premiere.
For example, its player base suggests there’s a public eager to play a new Vampire: The Masquerade game.
Also, Sony shared Bloodhunt on its latest game PlayStation Showcase. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt is coming out for PlayStation 5 by late 2021.
Here’s the gameplay trailer:
We assume Bloodlines 2’s gameplay could be similar to Bloodhunt. The battle royale uses a familiar Faction system, the Enhance ability, clan-specific disciplines, and firearms.