Within the cult 2004 role-playing recreation Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, vampires love to bop. Your protagonist can present up at a nightclub and bounce into the middle of the motion, throwing their limbs wildly with an enthusiasm that’s not usually credited to the undead. And in a demo of Bloodlines’ upcoming sequel from Hardsuit Labs and Paradox Interactive, dancing is without doubt one of the first belongings you see, courtesy of a group member who did “in depth analysis” into the sport’s unique animations.
Developer Hardsuit Labs appears to be constructing plenty of these little, acquainted particulars in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. However in an interview at E3, its creators additionally talked about the right way to translate the unique recreation’s tone and concepts into a brand new period and a brand new metropolis — on this case, a darkish and supernatural reimagining of Seattle, due for launch early subsequent 12 months.
Bloodlines was an adaptation of White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop role-playing collection, set in an alternate “World of Darkness” model of Los Angeles. The sport had a famously troubled improvement cycle but additionally earned a famously enthusiastic fan base; it’s beloved for its distinctive tone and numerous gameplay mechanics. The sequel’s designers embrace each unique group members — like lead author Brian Mitsoda — and longtime lovers like Cara Ellison, who wrote extensively about Bloodlines as a video games journalist. “We’ve plenty of followers within the workplace. It’s actually, very easy to basically convey the outdated Bloodlines into the brand new one,” says Ellison.
Bloodlines 2 takes place in a Seattle the place vampires and different supernatural creatures secretly maintain sway over the town, sustaining a deception referred to as the Masquerade. The participant is a fledgling vampire going by what Hardsuit refers to as a sort of “vampire puberty,” however they’ve had the great luck to get in contact with the town’s feuding vampiric clans. (You possibly can play both a male or feminine character, and the builders say they’re exploring different choices as properly.)
My hands-off E3 demo was drawn from early within the recreation and showcased a small set of particular powers — I selected a type of telekinesis known as Mentalism and the Tremere clan’s weaponized blood magic. As in Bloodlines, you’ll use your powers and stats (issues like charisma or “humanity,” basically a measure of your gameplay cruelty stage) to perform duties in numerous methods. In the meantime, characters can provide you contradictory objectives which may ingratiate you with one faction or one other.
Within the demo, the protagonist received a mission from an area chief and nightclub proprietor, who wanted data from a just lately turned vampire. The protagonist obligingly infiltrated a seedy space known as the Jungle with telekinesis and clean speaking, convincing some drug sellers that they had been a pharmaceutical salesman seeking to make a deal. However then I voted to change allegiances and assist the goal take refuge with the Nosferatu, a clan of hideously remodeled however extremely resourceful vampires. By the top of the demo, the membership proprietor was distinctly displeased.
Bloodlines 2’s demo is a deft mixture of familiarity and strangeness. Characters converse with theatrical aptitude, however they’re recognizably grounded within the Pacific Northwest. The Nosferatu chief is a goofily dressed weirdo who was turned throughout Seattle’s ‘80s tech increase, and his clan lives within the metropolis’s very actual underground tunnel community.
The sport nonetheless appears to play so much like the unique, however it emphasizes your supernatural powers whilst you’re in fight or navigating the town. The demo confirmed off new climbing talents, and it downplayed the primary recreation’s use of conventional weapons and clumsy melee weapons. There’s additionally a brand new system known as “resonance,” which basically allows you to learn human characters’ emotional state and acquire completely different means buffs by feeding on them.
Within the World of Darkness, 2010s Seattle shares the fundamental grittiness of 2000s LA, however it’s purported to be a much less unstable metropolis with distinct vampire politics. “We’ve constructed up Seattle as extra of a separate location with its personal separate factions that work in a different way from LA,” says Ellison. However the recreation continues to be, at its core, about “energy struggles and the way folks maintain in energy.”
The Masquerade works in a different way in an age of social media, too. The unique recreation had you often get well images and VHS tapes to cowl up potential violations. Now, virtually everybody within the metropolis will probably be able to doc any supernatural habits. “It’s extraordinarily harmful nowadays to interrupt the Masquerade — due to surveillance, due to folks wandering round with telephones of their pocket on a regular basis,” says UI / UX designer Rachel Leiker.
The World of Darkness isn’t the one place that’s modified since Bloodlines. Some parts have aged badly in the true world, significantly its typically stereotypical and surface-level depictions of psychological sickness. You possibly can play a Malkavian — a fan favourite clan whose members are all cursed with some type of madness — in Bloodlines 2. However the recreation will extra deeply discover the best way they see the world and spend much less time leaning on broad tropes. There’ll nonetheless be bizarre and probably comedian moments, like a Bloodlines Easter egg that entails arguing with a cease signal. However as Ellison places it, “Brian [Mitsoda] and I’ve matured since he made the primary recreation and I performed the primary one. So we sort of wish to mirror that.”
Vampire: The Masquerade’s tabletop system turned mired in controversy final 12 months, and your entire collection is concerning the intersection of sensuality, energy, and violence. Your character is way from the hardest vampire in Seattle, however they’re nonetheless a robust monster that lives by exploiting human weak point. (And, extra actually, blood.) This may be creepy when dealt with poorly. When it’s dealt with properly, although, it may let gamers discover sensitive points in a fantasy setting with much less real-world baggage. And it units Bloodlines aside from video games that simply provide context-free fan service or awkwardly dip their toes into “grownup” themes.
“One of many coolest issues about writing a vampire recreation is that no matter I do, everybody’s going to ooze sexuality,” says Ellison. “Like, they’re vampires. It’s very tough to not write to that.” With the suitable stats, you’ll be able to apparently flirt your method by substantial components of the sport, identical to the unique Bloodlines. And whereas Seattle doesn’t look as glitzy as LA, it appears to nonetheless have its share of dangerously seductive and charismatic characters — apparently together with those that aren’t conventional intercourse image materials. “There are some very unusual ships within the workplace, let me inform you,” says Ellison.