Reviews - Updated on April 9, 2022

The release of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 will take place at the beginning of 2020, so it is not surprising that its demo version is brought to major gaming exhibitions. IgroMir was no exception, but in Moscow, alas, we were shown the same assembly that was at gamescom. And exactly what was shown: the gamepad was in the hands of Christian Schlutter, the game producer and the person who, in principle, controls the RPG segment of Paradox Interactive, the publisher of Bloodlines 2, all the time.

Despite the fact that Schlütter usurped control, he often asked what he should do in a given situation. In the process, he talked quite a lot about the game and demonstrated the most, in his opinion, interesting ways to complete the task. Such an acquaintance with Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 can hardly be called full-fledged and close, but it provides enough information so that we can share our first impressions and expectations.

Sleepless in Seattle

The continuation of the cult Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is being developed by the American studio Hardsuit Labs, consisting of former employees of Zombie Studios. Although they have been working in the industry since the mid-90s, they were mainly engaged in the production of military shooters – for example, these people created the Spec Ops series. A long track record, of course, commands respect, but the fact that role-playing games were not seen in it is somewhat embarrassing.

The events of the first part unfolded in modern Los Angeles, and the action of Bloodlines 2 moved north and takes place in Seattle. In the same city is the office of Hardsuit Labs. Christian Schlutter claims that the developers have painstakingly transferred places they know well to the game, and if you were there, you would certainly recognize them. Well, I have one more reason to go to the birthplace of grunge.

Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 превью

The real Seattle is full of filth, trash and homeless people, just like the fictional one. However, in the first part, there were also enough abandoned corners and characters without a roof over their heads.

The second Bloodlines is based on the fifth, current edition of the rules of Vampire: The Masquerade, a tabletop role-playing game set in the World of Darkness universe. The protagonist of the sequel, a newly converted vampire, interacts with representatives of various factions that are fighting for power in Seattle, and is free to decide which of the coterie to join in the course of the story. We have already written more about the factions in the news, so I will not talk about them again.

During the game, you will also have to choose a vampire clan (we also already went through them at the link above). There will be only five of them on release, but the developers promise to add a few more after the release of the game. In the last part, the clan was determined at the stage of character creation; now, in the initial phase, according to the producer, it will be possible to choose your backstory, which opens up additional quests and dialogues. Let’s say, if our weak-blooded was a policeman before, then in the station they can recognize us and ask: “Hey, where did you disappear to?”

Another world

During a demo of Bloodlines 2, Schlütter suggested that he didn’t like it when games consisted of repetitive kill-and-fetch missions. As an example of a good quest, he cited the investigation into the theft of a painting in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. According to the producer, the tasks should surprise the player. I would like to believe that this approach is used in Bloodlines 2.

On the example of the only quest shown in the demo, it can be seen that the passage of missions promises to be variable. The goal can be reached in different ways: for example, if you need to get to a guarded warehouse, it is possible to do this both covertly and with the help of brute force. You can try to negotiate by impersonating your own, or even bribe the watchman. In the version that Schlutter showed me, the vampire’s magical abilities were used, namely mentalism: with the help of telekinesis, he moved the bolt on the door. And, as you understand, without such skills, our hero would be like without hands.

The main weapon of the protagonist is himself, a vampire with all his abilities. However, there is enough in the game and more traditional weapons. There is both a “firearm” and cold weapons: in extreme cases, you can tear off a piece of pipe from the wall and use it for attack and self-defense.

Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 превью

According to the producer, all vampires are essentially monsters. And the story itself is not distinguished by positive and kindness, so you should not expect a happy ending from it.

Real blood

Dying, opponents sometimes flew off like toys, and it looked strange and even absurd. But, on the other hand, vampires are incredibly strong creatures, and why should they throw a person away from them? Or take at least the ease with which the bloodsuckers climb the walls of houses. Such “parkour” behavior, by the way, does not violate the Masquerade – a set of rules that allows you to keep the existence of vampires a secret.

No one raises an eyebrow when our character easily climbs where ordinary Seattle residents cannot get. This looks again strange and somewhat interferes with immersion in the game. But at least biting mere mortals on busy streets is still forbidden by the Masquerade.

Alien blood is necessary for a vampire, as water is necessary for a person. Blood is associated with a new resonance mechanic, carried over to Bloodlines 2 straight from the fifth edition of the board game Vampire: The Masquerade. According to the rule book, the victim’s blood is directly affected by his emotional state, and by drinking it, the vampire receives various “buffs”, both temporary and permanent, depending on the situation. Blurred wording, I agree, but Schlütter did not go into details. This is rather strange, given that the rules of the “tabletop” stipulate the moment of different resonance intensity: the stronger the emotions of a mortal, the more powerful the effect of his blood.

In general, the producer’s evasiveness is a little alarming: one gets the feeling that Hardsuit Labs themselves have not yet fully decided how certain things will work. Although, it would seem, it’s time, because the game comes out in a few months. I won’t be surprised if its release is postponed, as happened recently with DOOM Eternal.

Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 превью

The original Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines boasted sexy characters in skimpy outfits. I wonder how much the second part will be inferior to her in this regard?

Gloomy shadows

Industry veterans such as Christopher Avellone and Rik Schaffer were involved in the development of the game. Avellone, best known as the scriptwriter for Planescape: Torment and Fallout 2, worked on the plot of Bloodlines 2, while Shaffer composed the soundtrack. It was he who was responsible for the magnificent instrumental compositions of the first part, which means that you definitely shouldn’t worry about the quality of the original music in the new game.

Another thing is licensed tracks. The first Bloodlines boasted a powerful selection of songs that sounded in nightclubs. The compositions of the bands Tiamat, Lacuna Coil and Chiasm were the decoration of the game, but whether something similar awaits us in the sequel is unknown. So far, in this kind of institution, alas, something completely inexpressive and pop-like is playing.

Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 превью

In multi-choice dialogues, it is important to carefully select replicas. The marks next to them do not yet guarantee 100% success, and a carelessly thrown phrase can seriously piss off the interlocutor.

***

Despite being buggy and a financial failure, the original Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has earned cult status and popular love. The game was adored for the setting, for the ability to choose the style of passing, for the bright characters, for the fact that it gave unforgettable emotions with its quests. Whether the sequel will be able to repeat the success of the first part, avoiding its mistakes, is a very acute question. Already, there are problems with the “combat” and animations – they all look somehow damp. The clumsiness, however, can be attributed to the fact that we were still shown the pre-alpha assembly.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that at the presentation the journalists were not allowed to feel the game on their own – apparently, there were fears that we would inadvertently break something while walking around the unfinished night Seattle. It remains to be hoped that by the spring the employees of Hardsuit Labs will still bring Bloodlines 2 to an optimal state and will not repeat the sad fate of Troika Games.

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