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Kotaku: Vampire: the Masquerade– Bloodlines Is Getting A Sequel, And It Looks Pretty Good

Cult classic Vampire: the Masquerade– Bloodlines is getting a sequel. The 2004 roleplaying game left a lasting impression on roleplaying fans despite some clumsy gameplay. I spent time with the folks at Paradox Interactive and developer Hardsuit Labs to ask questions and see the game in action. It captures much of the original’s mysterious mood, with some modern flourishes.

Publisher Paradox Interactive purchased White Wolf Publishing’s assets in 2015, including the World of Darkness setting which Vampire the Masquerade is set in. The team at Hardsuit Labs has been working on a proper sequel (or, as they call it a “true descendant”) of the cult classic. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is awash with vampiric intrigue and blood and appears to live up to its pedigree.

Set in Seattle, Bloodlines 2 focuses on an event called the “Mass Embrace,” a bloody night where countless fledgling vampires were created. The player character is among the new vampires born from this event. Siring a new vampire without approval is a big no-no in the World of Darkness setting, and the player—like in the first game— is brought before a court of prominent vampires to recount what they remember of the Mass Embrace before being executed. Luckily, the court is firebombed before that can happen and the player is thrust into Seattle to find out who is responsible while also learning the ropes as a fresh-faced vampire.

Polygon: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 has the original’s lead writer and vibe

The Masquerade - Bloodlines never had a chance. Released in 2004 in the same window as Halo 2, Half-Life 2, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, it sold fewer than 100,000 copies at launch. Most of its development team was laid off shortly afterward. But over the past 15 years, the PC role-playing game based on the popular White Wolf tabletop franchise has become something of a cult classic. Fans and critics hold up its ambitious story and emphasis on player freedom as evidence that Bloodlines arrived ahead of its time.

Now, under a new publisher and developer, Bloodlines is getting a second chance with an official sequel, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2. Judging from a meaty demo showing during the 2019 Game Developers Conference, the original’s many fans have reason to be hopeful.

Paradox Interactive acquired White Wolf and the rights to the Vampire universe from CCP in 2015. Now the publisher and developer, best known for its collection of high-concept strategy games, has tapped a relatively new Seattle-based studio to build a sequel. Called Hardsuit Labs, the team is best known for its free-to-play shooter Blacklight: Retribution. It has brought on Bloodline’s lead writer, Brian Mitsoda, along with game writer and critic Cara Ellison.

Gamespot: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 Brings The Cult RPG Series To The Modern Age

After many teases on social media, Paradox Interactive and Hardsuit Labs have finally revealed Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, the sequel to the original 2004 RPG. With Bloodlines 2, releasing in 2020 for PC and consoles, several key members from the former studio Troika Games, along with some new blood at Hardsuit Labs, are looking to pick up where the bleak yet off-the-wall original left off. Just before its reveal, we had the chance to get an early look, while also speaking with Bloodlines 2 lead narrative designer Brian Mitsoda and senior writer Cara Ellison about the making of the sequel.

As an adaptation of the table-top game series from White Wolf Publishing, the first Bloodlines focused on the shadowy underworld of Vampire society in modern-day Los Angeles. Starting out as a newly converted vampire, you were drawn into centuries-long quarrels amongst elite vampires, all the while coming to grips with your new and unusual circumstances. While much of the first game hasn't aged too well, its in-depth role-playing and social gameplay are enduring achievements. Showing shades of immersive-sims like Deus Ex and System Shock, it possessed an impressive amount of complexity with how you could use your vampiric abilities to navigate the complex web of conspiracies within the secret society.

The game's original developers, Troika Games, drafted up concepts for a follow-up, however, low sales and a lack of projects after Bloodlines' launch forced the closure of the studio. In the years since its release, a dedicated online community has kept the game active, slowly turning the obscure PC RPG into an underground hit.

PC Gamer: Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 revives and expands the long-lost cult RPG series

November of 2004 was a monumental month for games. Half-Life 2, Halo 2, and Metal Gear Solid 3 were all released to critical acclaim and massive commercial success. And crushed in among those blockbusters was Troika's RPG Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines. Due to a contract with Valve involving use of the Source Engine, Bloodlines couldn't be released ahead of Half-Life 2, and publisher Activision was unwilling to push the release date into 2005. And so, Bloodlines came out that same month, forced to compete with those three huge November releases.

While Bloodlines was mostly reviewed positively and gained cult hit status among fans of the deep and engrossing RPG, commercially it just didn't stand up, and technically the game wasn't even fully finished. Most of the staff who had labored over Bloodlines for years were quickly laid off, and the rest would follow a few months later. Troika closed in early 2005, and fans have waited for over a decade with fading hopes of a sequel.

But when it comes to both games and vampires, dead doesn't mean done. Bloodlines is returning, at last, 16 years later. Announced at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 will arrive in 2020, developed by Hardsuit Labs and published by Paradox Interactive. This week I met with members of Paradox and the development team as they showed me a demo that walked (and skulked, and climbed, and flew) through the opening minutes of Bloodlines 2. 

Eurogamer: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is a darkly fascinating immersive sim

Cult classic Vampire: the Masquerade– Bloodlines is getting a sequel. The 2004 roleplaying game left a lasting impression on roleplaying fans despite some clumsy gameplay. I spent time with the folks at Paradox Interactive and developer Hardsuit Labs to ask questions and see the game in action. It captures much of the original’s mysterious mood, with some modern flourishes.

Publisher Paradox Interactive purchased White Wolf Publishing’s assets in 2015, including the World of Darkness setting which Vampire the Masquerade is set in. The team at Hardsuit Labs has been working on a proper sequel (or, as they call it a “true descendant”) of the cult classic. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is awash with vampiric intrigue and blood and appears to live up to its pedigree.

Set in Seattle, Bloodlines 2 focuses on an event called the “Mass Embrace,” a bloody night where countless fledgling vampires were created. The player character is among the new vampires born from this event. Siring a new vampire without approval is a big no-no in the World of Darkness setting, and the player—like in the first game— is brought before a court of prominent vampires to recount what they remember of the Mass Embrace before being executed. Luckily, the court is firebombed before that can happen and the player is thrust into Seattle to find out who is responsible while also learning the ropes as a fresh-faced vampire.

Justin Achilli 2016 WoD News Interview

Justin Achilli has been developing games since 1995. He is best known for his work on White Wolf products working on dozens of titles in that line. He was a lead developer on Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem but also worked on D&D properties such as Ravenloft and Scarred Lands as well. He currently works at Red Storm Entertainment on an undisclosed project. He was kind enough to have a talk with us about his background, where he sees RPGs going, and his design approach.
 
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