Fifteen years is a long time. We went through three presidents, ten iPhones and games – both in terms of story and design. When I learned that Paradox was working with Hardsuit Labs on a follow-up to Vampire 2004: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, I was surprised and more than a little intrigued. I saw a detailed live demo of the game and talked to some creative teams before releasing it at GDC 201
The core aspects of the original are of course still there – playing as a freshly embossed (or "hugged") vampire, trying to survive the secret world of vampires. Werewolves and other things that come at night, of which you are now a part. At the same time, you try to control your humanity, which can get harder and harder the more you feed on people or give in to your newly discovered animal instincts. And last but not least, you have to do all of this without keeping it hidden from the people – under the title of "masquerade" – to make sure that the world your vampire masters have worked so hard does not suddenly go into chaos , So yes – Bloodlines 2 is undoubtedly the successor to the original that it claims to be, but it definitely does not look like a 2004 game.
Hardsuit Labs & # 39; s appearance of today's Seattle looks great It's a modern-gothic aesthetic that creates a drab but vibrant world that I like to explore myself. The demo I saw led us not only through the foggy streets and alleyways of Pioneer Square, the explorable hub of the game, but also through the sewer and creepy underground city of Seattle and – in a funny nod to the opening of the original Santa Monica – the waterfront district, complete with a Ferris wheel on one of its pillars.
"The great thing about the World of Darkness IP," says Brian Mitsoda, Director of Narrative at Hardsuit Labs (and story lead for the original Bloodlines), "is that you go to every city and there are a thousand stories that you can tell. For us, it's about the struggle of our own city – of Seattle trying to see its identity. The old, classic idea of Seattle and the new corporate tech side with trillion-dollar companies. It changes the city right before our eyes, and so it came very easy to us.
This notion of dealing with one's identity is present throughout the game, but especially in character-making and character-making as you come through history. At the beginning you can choose a background for your character, which he had in pre-vampiric life. Depending on which choice you make, you will experience various changes in the world as you explore it. For example, if you choose the "cop" background and visit a police station, there is a good chance someone on duty will recognize you. Alternatively, you can select the background "Barista" and no one will remember you or take a second look at it. The world reacts to your character and your choices, the team says – and the implications of those decisions can have far-reaching consequences for the story, or as simple as the ones that pronoun NPCs point to.
Another shift from the beginning Bloodlines 2 no longer starts as a member of a particular clan with locked special abilities (also known as "Disciplines"). Rather, you begin the game as "Thinblood", a vampire whose natural abilities are somewhat limited over the centuries due to the dilution of the bloodline.
It's up to us players to decide later in our adventure, which clan we want to participate in and which disciplines we want to learn. "
" They look vampire-like in the vampire society, which is a bad starting point, "says Mitsoda, but Christian Schlutter, Paradox's lead producer on this project, quickly points out that" from a player's perspective, it offers progress You start small, but now you can grow as a vampire. "
Powers can still be maintained, but it is up to us as players to decide later on in our adventure which clan we want to join and which disciplines we want to learn. With your starting abilities, you can choose one of three vampiric powers that will further enhance your mobility and combat effectiveness: With the Chiropteran ability, you can hover or even fly at short to medium ranges. Fog, the power we have seen least, but by far the one that interests me most, we turn into fog and sneak through air channels or surprise your enemies (or just some truly unfortunate mortals), and finally there was mentalism , It just seems like another word for telekinesis – you can interact with and manipulate physical objects without actually touching them. I had the chance to see these skills both in traversing and in combat, and I was glad to know that I did not feel disadvantaged if I chose "wrong".
Combat in Bloodlines 2, like Most of the game is almost completely included in the first person. I mainly saw fights that were resolved in close combat, although there was a good tacky 12 gauge track there too – and both shooting and fisting seemed geared towards expelling energy and power. The camera occasionally pulls to a third person – like the newly launched Deus Ex – to perform selected maneuvers, such as rolling an enemy or climbing a wall and then hitting an unfortunate target. According to the team, it was decided that players feel drawn to the world as they explore and get to know each other. The third person, it is said, allows actions that initially feel uncomfortable and offer the players the cosmetic options that they encounter during the game. Andy Kipling (co-founder and CEO of Hardsuit) says, "It looks really cool."
For my money, the coolest (or at least the most interesting) aspect I've seen from Bloodlines 2 was what it called resonance. As a vampire, you have to feed to maintain your vitality. According to our vampire leader Dale from early game mode, there is a "pre-packaged" option. The obvious choice is the search for fresh blood. As you might expect, this is an extremely important part of Bloodline's story. If you choose to survive on rats alone, so be it – but mortal humans will always provide most of your money. The only problem is that you lose some of your humanity as you give in to your newly discovered beastly vampire nature and feed too deeply and kill your victim (as opposed to my guess, just to scare them for life). It's your humanity level that keeps you from going crazy, indulging in the beast, and turning everyone around you into human Capri-Sun pouches.
As you build with time, you develop an acquired taste."
With everything that goes out of the way, Resonance makes the selection of victims more diverse and feeds into the all-important progress loop As you stalk mortals out of the shadows, you can use your Vampire Detective Mode (Vampire Detective Mode) to focus on the blood in potential nearby targets: Each person has a specific aura, a color that changes she (and her delicious blood) lays down to indicate what her current emotional state is – red with anger, violet with fear and yellow with desire, etc. This is the resonance her blood contains: when you feed on someone who is Being in a certain emotional state, you will temporarily receive buffs for abilities that match this feeling on your melee damage or intimidation abilities I feel in love, and you will probably find it easier to seduce or convince people into conversation.
"Everyone is attuned to different types of play styles," says Kipling, "and as you evolve over time, you develop an acquired taste." These "acquired tastes" are referred to as merit and are permanent benefits that you deserve if you are constantly feeding on certain resonances. It's a mechanic that builds well on the interesting topics of Bloodlines 2. How should I keep that? My humanity, to keep control when there were so many ways to become more powerful? I do not know much about the towering story, but it is this aspect that I find most intriguing. There are apparently a number of minor issues that focus on the struggles of other newly formed Thinbloods written by Cara Ellison, and I look forward to exploring them – to see how my transformation is directed against others who share a similar fate I have experienced.
There's a lot of Bloodlines 2 made me see more, and I know I'm not the only one. The developers are aware of how much money the fan base is investing in to return to White Wolf's World of Darkness. "This is one of the biggest sect games ever made," says Mitsoda, "So we know that the first question the fans will ask is," Is this really bloodlines, or is it just something "2"? Tapped on something that does not feel like bloodlines? "And the most important thing for us is to say, 'No, it's bloodlines.'
Based on what I've seen so far, Bloodlines 2 is certainly the worthy successor it could be, and it has the potential ROLLING GAME – I'm looking forward to seeing what's still emerging on the way to its release, and how the new and old community is responding.
JR is IGN's Senior Features Editor and really hopes John DiMaggio will return to Bloodlines 2 I'll talk more about Tabletop Video Games on Twitter .