Imagine trying to compete with Half-Life 2 on the same day it was released. That's what happened to the original Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines. A contract with Valve prevented Bloodlines from being released before Half-Life 2, but Activison didn't want push the release date for Bloodlines back. So, not only did Bloodlines have to compete with one of the greatest PC games of all time, but Bloodlines was marred with bugs. Commercially, it didn't do well, though it did end up on our list of the best RPGs of all time.
Still, Vampire: The Masquerade fans were drawn to the cast of characters, the story, and fell in love with many of the missions. Given the circumstances around its release, Bloodlines was still widely loved and accepted, and obtained cult status. If that wasn't evident back then, it's evident now.
Paradox Interactive announced Bloodlines 2 at GDC on March 21, a sequel that, by the time it releases, will have been 16 years in the making (which is a mere blink in vampire years). And until Bloodlines 2 is released, we'll be collecting every bit of news here for you to devour. Or sip casually. Whatever your feeding style.
Here's everything we know about Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 so far.
What is the release date?
While we won't know the precise date for a while, Bloodlines 2 will release sometime in March 2020, a little less than a year away. So, if you need to brush up on your vampire lore or play through the first game again, you have plenty of time.
The announcement trailer suggests a much darker Bloodlines than the original
We move on from the city of lost angels to the Pacific northwest—Seattle. Here, the vampire community has been fragmented, and several factions are vying for power all at once. At the start of Bloodlines 2, your character is caught up in the middle of a mass embrace—a group of vampires kidnapping and forcibly turning humans into vampires. It's a huge no-no to even turn one human into a vampire without permission from a city's Primogen (clan leader) or Prince (ruler of a city). If you get caught, it usually means the final death for both the sire and their childe.
The Camarilla was once the faction to keep things like that in-check, to punish vampires for breaking the Masquerade. But if things are that chaotic in Bloodlines 2, it seems like the Camarilla doesn't have the power it once had. In the new Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition roleplaying book, elder leaders of the Camarilla have disappeared, most having been called away by something called the Beckoning. With many cities around the world now missing Primogens and Princes, their dominions are left open to rivals from opposing factions. Cities like Seattle are ripe for the taking, leaving the possibility for even a newly turned vampire to establish some power over a city.
Given the controversy around the 5th Edition, it's hard to speculate how closely, if at all, Hardsuit Labs and Paradox will stick to that canon. The Bloodlines 2 website mentions that players will be able to "meet the old blood founders present since the city’s birth," so maybe some old vampires are still around. But I bet the mass embrace is the least crazy thing in store for us in Seattle.
Where can we buy Bloodlines 2?
Paradox seemed happy to announce that Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 will not be exclusive to any one store. The game will be available on the Paradox store, Steam, GOG, Epic, and you will also be able to buy it on PS4 and Xbox One. However, eager neonates and elders alike can pre-order a copy now at the same storefronts.
There are three different editions available for pre-order: digital standard edition, digital Unsanctioned edition, and digital Blood Moon edition (which includes two DLC story packs and a werewolf-themed expansion called Season of the Wolf on Steam). Those who pre-order the Unsanctioned edition or higher will get some exclusive launch add-ons and bonuses, like Jeannette's outfit, Damsell's beret from the original game, or the Voermen family portrait.
No word yet if physical copies of the game will be available—but there will be NO loot boxes in the game, so that's good news.
How long is the campaign?
Hardsuit Labs estimates a single playthrough will take around 25-30 hours, depending on your playstyle.
Like the first game, there will also be a branching narrative and many side quests, so the developers encourage multiple playthroughs.
Do I get to create my own character?
Unlike the original Bloodlines that limited your character’s physical appearance to the clan you choose, it seems like character creation in Bloodlines 2 will be more robust. The unofficial patch added the ability to choose your character's background in the original game, but it did not have much effect on the overall story. That's going to change this time around.
No word on how much control players will have over the character creation process, but an integral element to the story is being able to choose who you were in your human life. If you say you were a cop or a coroner and you walk into a police station—the people in there are going to react to you differently compared to giving your character a different background. Little things like that seem like they will make Bloodlines 2 a different, personalized experience for everyone, which is a great thing when it comes to RPGs.
What clans will be playable?
No word on what Camarilla clans—or other faction clans—will be playable. You'll eventually choose your clan later in the game, rather than pick one before starting like in the original Bloodlines. Players start off as newly created vampires called thin-bloods, aka 14th or 15th generation vampires.
In the lore, thin-bloods are not exactly the same as neonates. Both can denote a baby vamp, but a neonate could be sired from an 8th generation vampire, which makes them a more powerful vampire. Thin-bloods are generally their own clan, but some have the characteristics of their bloodline or are able to develop their own powers. It’ll be interesting to see how Hardsuit Labs and Paradox weaves this slight change in lore into the game’s narrative.
Paradox will have more information on the clans closer to the release date, but it did mention that more clans will be added to Bloodlines 2 after the game is released. What clans will make a first appearance is anyone’s guess. (I’m hoping for Malkavian and Tremere, at least, or maybe we can play as a Sabbat clan this time.)
What are my disciplines (aka vampiric powers)?
Like the original Bloodlines, players will have a few vampiric powers at their disposal to aid in combat or other in-game situations: Telekinesis gives you the ability to move or manipulate objects with your mind; you can literally turn into mist, which can come in handy for a variety of encounters, like floating through vents; and you can grow wings and fly while surrounded by a swarm of bats. The demo we played at GDC allows players to choose between those powers, but maybe we’ll have access to all of them once the game is released, like in the original Bloodlines.
No word yet if your powers will change based on what clan you join later in the game; Vampire: The Masquerade lore ties abilities to specific bloodlines. Gangrel have the ability to shapeshift (an ability called Protean), while Tremere have Blood Sorcery, or blood magic. But many disciplines aren’t exclusive to one bloodline, so maybe you’ll get to keep the ones you start with, or acquire new ones along the way.
Can I choose my faction?
Absolutely. Another main difference between the original Bloodlines and Bloodlines 2 is that the story won't be so linear this time around. Given the volatility between vampire factions in Seattle, you'll not only be able to pledge your allegiance to one of them, but you can change your mind at any time. Be a double agent. Go rouge. Be completely loyal to one faction. Whatever you want.
You could do this in the original Bloodlines, but on a much smaller scale. You were given only one opportunity to choose between three factions—Camarilla, Sabbat, Anarchs—or you could become a lone wolf. Paradox hasn't said exactly what factions will be available in Bloodlines 2, but at least choosing between them will be more fluid this time around and more heavily integrated into the story.
Anything else we know?
Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 will support ray tracing and DLSS, as Nvidia announced March 21. Bigger news: Mod support. The original game supported mods as well, so it only makes sense to allow that again this time around.
Ray tracing/DLSS support also seems like a perfect fit for a setting all about moody lighting. Vampire stories are generally cast in a dark and ominous world (because of the whole not being-able-to-go-into the sun thing), so ray tracing should make those midnight shadows at the end of an alleyway look more threatening to both humans and the supernatural alike.
Also, it wouldn't be a complete vampire party if a few developers didn’t return for more blood. Brian Mitsoda, designer and writer of the original Bloodlines, is on board again as Bloodlines 2's lead narrative designer. Rik Schaffer, who composed the OST on the original Bloodlines, confirmed via fan email that he has already been working on the Bloodlines 2 score over the last year as the main composer.
The VO cast "might be one of the best VO casts of all time," claim Mitsoda and Hardsuit Labs' creative director.
Alright, I'm excited.
Us too! Are you excited for the same reason's we are?