Details emerge on the true sequel to 2004’s open-world, first-person Vampire RPG Bloodlines. Can it eclipse the memory of Swansong?
Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 (VtMB2) was announced with great anticipation on September 2, 2023, by Paradox Interactive, with The Chinese Room, a Sumo Digital studio, spearheading its development. The announcement, made during PAX West, rekindled hopes for a worthy successor to the cult classic Bloodlines.
The Masquerade series transitioned from tabletop to video game with Redemption in 2000, which received positive acclaim. Bloodlines, released in 2004, further entrenched the series in cult classic territory, despite its initial lukewarm reception.
The Chinese Room and Paradox Interactive, both involved in the development and publishing of Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2, have rich histories in the gaming world. The Chinese Room, known for narrative exploration games, has titles like Dear Esther, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture to its name. These games have been commended for their narrative depth and atmospheric environments, establishing a reputation for The Chinese Room in crafting engaging story-driven experiences.
Paradox Interactive, on the other hand, is recognized for publishing a wide variety of games, encompassing genres from strategy to fantasy. Some notable titles published by Paradox include Magicka, War of the Roses, Stellaris, and Europa Universalis 4, with the latter being a grand strategy game set in the Renaissance era receiving positive acclaim. However, not all titles have been well-received, with games like Two Thrones receiving mixed reviews and The Lamplighters League being labeled a “big disappointment” due to its weak commercial reception.
Swansong’s developer, Big Bad Wolf, is not as seasoned as Paradox or The Chinese Room. Before Swansong, they developed The Council, an episodic interactive mystery graphic adventure game released in 2018. The Council received mixed to positive reviews, with the PC version holding a rating of 67 out of 100 and the PS4 version a score of 74 on Metacritic, while on Steam it garnered very positive reviews from the community. The game was appreciated for its fresh take on narrative adventure and the impactful character growth and choices it presented to players. However, their next title, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, wasn’t as well-received, with criticisms often targeting its narrative and mechanical depth.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong was a letdown for many. Despite having an engaging narrative, the game was criticized for its graphics, linear gameplay, and lack of depth in its detective role-playing element.
VtMB2, now under development by The Chinese Room and published by Paradox Interactive, is looked upon as the beacon of hope for the series’ revival. The story casts players as Phyre, an Elder Kindred awakened in 21st-century Seattle, plunged into vampire societal intrigues amid an impending open war.
The gameplay is expected to be a blend of action, role-playing, and narrative-driven experiences, with first-person superhuman vampire combat in a modern-day Seattle setting.
Why Was it Cancelled?
The initial version of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, developed by Hardsuit Labs, saw its demise due to a myriad of setbacks. Hardsuit Labs was taken off the project in February 2021 following multiple delays and undisclosed challenges. This transition led to an indefinite delay in the game’s release as Paradox Interactive, the game’s publisher, decided to move the development to a different studio, thereby ceasing Hardsuit Labs’ involvement.
The version developed by Hardsuit Labs had generated anticipation among the fanbase, which was later met with disappointment upon its cancellation. However, the curiosity surrounding their version didn’t completely die down as extensive gameplay from this cancelled version leaked online. This leak allowed the gaming community to get a glimpse of what Hardsuit Labs had been working on for years. The leaked gameplay showcased the game’s environment, character interactions, and combat mechanics among other elements, providing insights into Hardsuit Labs’ vision for Bloodlines 2.
The cancellation and the shift in development were not only a setback for the fans but also for Hardsuit Labs, who had invested time and resources into the project. The new direction under The Chinese Room is now what fans are looking forward to, hoping for a polished and engaging experience that would live up to the legacy of the original Bloodlines game.
Everything We Know
VtMB2 is slated for release in Fall 2024 on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. This launch window was confirmed at PAX West 2023, although a precise date is yet to be announced.
Additional details around VtMB2 are slowly trickling in as the release date approaches. Fans are eagerly awaiting further revelations that will shed more light on this highly anticipated title.
The journey of VtMB2 from its announcement to its upcoming release has been a rollercoaster of emotions for fans. The hope is that this sequel will not only revive but elevate the beloved franchise to new heights.
The information surrounding VtMB2 has rekindled the excitement among fans, promising a potential masterpiece that could erase the disappointment left by Swansong. As the gaming community awaits with bated breath, the developers are under immense pressure to deliver a game worthy of the Masquerade legacy.
The stage is set for VtMB2 to either reignite the vampire RPG genre or to be another letdown. Only time, and the game’s release, will determine where it stands in the annals of vampire-themed video games.