Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, the cult role-playing game from 2004, is getting a sequel. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 sounds a lot like Bloodlines: you’ll take the role of a fledgling vampire in the “World of Darkness” role-playing universe, then survive a war between vampire clans with a combination of special powers and old-fashioned combat. The action is set in Seattle instead of Los Angeles this time, and the game itself is slated for a 2020 release on PC and consoles.
Bloodlines’ original writer Brian Mitsoda will lead narrative design on Bloodlines 2, which is being developed by independent studio Hardsuit Labs and published by World of Darkness license-holder Paradox Interactive. In a press release, Mitsoda promised to deliver “a true successor guided by the people who knew what made the original so special.” Its full plot description, however, doesn’t offer a lot of specifics yet:
Created in an act of vampire insurrection, your existence ignites a blood war among the vampire factions who run Seattle. To survive, you’ll choose a clan and enter into uneasy alliances with the competing factions in a world which will react to every choice you make. Unleash your supernatural powers against your prey, but be mindful of your surroundings at all times or run the risk of breaking the Masquerade -- the absolute law of secrecy that keeps Vampire society hidden from humanity.
The mechanics are similarly vague, although we do know that the game is supposed to feature “a forward-driving, fast-moving, melee-focused combat system” in addition to your vampiric powers. The trailer above offers a look at some of both, as well as a little more detail about the world.
Bloodlines is beloved among fans for its dark humor, unique role-playing options, and vividly drawn world. But its development by now-defunct studio Troika Games was notoriously cut short, and it was released practically unfinished on the same day as Half-Life 2. As one retrospective puts it, the game was “sent out to die.” Since then, a community of modders has patched and maintained Bloodlines for over a decade, even going so far as to re-create levels that were cut from the game.
The entire World of Darkness franchise — which includes tabletop and live-action role-playing games, novels, and the very different 2000 video game Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption — has had a turbulent past. A massively multiplayer game was started and then scrapped by EVE Online studio CCP, and when tabletop studio White Wolf refreshed its core Vampire: The Masquerade ruleset last year, the launch was botched so badly that the studio lost its publishing rights. These difficulties stem partly from the subject matter: the World of Darkness blends sex, violence, and power in a way that can be either intense and compelling or simply cruel and ugly.
Bloodlines threaded that difficult narrative needle relatively well, and if we’re lucky, Bloodlines 2 will have as much personality and complexity as the first game — but as the kind of polished, fully realized project that Troika simply didn’t have the time and resources to make.