Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 – Review on the game

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 is a game developed by Hardsuit Labs and published by Paradox Interactive. Set in the World of Darkness setting by White Wolf Publishing, the game is based on the vampire tabletop role-playing game: The Masquerade from White Wolf, and is a sequel to the vampire role-playing game: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004). The action takes place in 21st-century Seattle. The hero of the game is a person who was killed, then reborn as a” weak-blooded ” (thinblood) vampire with relatively weak vampire abilities. Bloodlines 2 will be a 1st-person game, sometimes switching to a 3rd-person view. The player will assign the character one of three unique and upgradeable forces-weak-blooded disciplines. Later, he will join one of the 5 full-blooded clans. Release Of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 is scheduled for March 2020 for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One platforms.

Gameplay

Vampire: The Masquerade-Bloodlines 2 is represented from the 1st person, and for contextual activities such as specific attacks, it switches to the 3rd person view. Before the game, a vampire character is created, and you can choose the character’s background. A Barista (by default, without bonuses), a criminal, a coroner, or a police officer are suggested as the background. Each option affects the dialogs and interaction with the game world.

After the game starts, the weak-blooded player must choose one of the 3 updated Disciplines (vampire powers): Chiropteran (the ability to hover and summon bats), Mentalism (the ability to levitate objects and people), Fog (the ability to summon fog to attack and hide the character, turning into fog to move through small spaces). Over time, a weakblood will be able to join one of the 5 full-blood clans, which will give them access to specific disciplines and updates of this clan that complement the original weakblood disciplines. Although some forces in clans are duplicated, no two clans have the same combination of disciplines. The Bruch clan can improve physical strength for damage (Potency) and speed (Quickness). Tremers can use blood magic for combat (Thaumaturgy) and sense enhancement (OSP). Bullfighters also have Speed and can control the worship and devotion of others (Presence). The ventra can absorb or reflect the attack (Resistance) and to control the will of others (Dominance). Malkavians also use OSP, can weaken the mind of victims (Dementia). Other clans will be included after the release.

The player can participate in side missions separate from the main story. Some side missions can be found through research. The player has a mobile phone and can write text messages to non-player characters to get information leading to other missions. You can deal with enemies forcibly, avoid them using stealth, or even seduce them if you have sufficient abilities. There are also several factions with which the player can form alliances. It is possible to join several factions at the same time, remain loyal, or work against a faction from within. Some factions, under certain actions of the player, refuse to work with him.

Blood is essential for survival. The player can feed on living creatures by drinking some of their blood or all of their blood. You can also get blood from rats and from blood containers. Enhanced vampire senses can be used to sense Resonances in the blood of human victims. Resonances provide information about their current emotional state – fear, desire, pain, anger, or joy. Feeding certain resonances gives the player temporary efforts, such as increasing the power of contact attacks or the ability to seduce. Repeated consumption of a certain resonance can produce permanent improvements called Merits.

The player is fined for using certain vampire abilities in front of witnesses. The identification of the existence of abilities eventually attracted the police. Constant violation of the masquerade leads to the fact that civilians absolutely avoid going out on the street, and the player becomes the object of hunting other vampires. The player has humanity points that represent the vampire’s humanity. Some actions, such as killing innocent people, reduce the number of humanity points. A reduced humanity score brings the player closer to becoming a mindless beast.

Setting

Vampire Action: The Masquerade-Bloodlines 2 takes place in Seattle in the 21st century, during the Christmas holidays. Taking place in the “World of darkness”, the game depicts a world where vampires, werewolves, demons, and other creatures shape human history. Vampires are bound by a code that maintains their secrecy (it is forbidden to use vampire abilities in front of people), avoid unnecessary killings (to preserve the last remnants of their humanity). The vampires are divided into 7 clans of the Camarilla vampire government. The clans have their own characteristics and abilities. Bullfighters are the closest to humanity and have a passion for culture. The ventra is a noble, powerful leaders; Bruch – idealists, excellent in battle. Malkavians-cursed with madness, or gifted with insight. Gangrels are loners, attuned to their animalistic nature. Tremers use battle magic. Nosferatu-monsters forced to live in the shadows to avoid humanity. The clans are loosely United by faith in the goals of the Camarilla and oppose the Coven: vampires who enjoy their nature, giving free rein to their inner beast. The anarchs are a faction of idealistic vampires opposed to the political structure of the Camarilla, who believe that power should be shared by all vampires.

The main character of Bloodlines 2, which the player controls, is a newly minted weak-blooded vampire. He becomes a vampire at the beginning of the game when criminal vampires attack people. Weak-blooded-this is a modern, weakened type of vampire, to which full-blooded vampires are condescending and dismissive. Unlike full-bloods, weak-bloods can absorb human food (although in limited quantities), and are more resistant to sunlight. Since Seattle has only recently come under the control of the Camarilla, there are more vampires who are tolerant of the weak-blooded.

Plot

The playable character is one of a number of people turned into vampires in the course of Mass Coverage: an incident in which criminal vampires openly attacked people, breaking the Masquerade and causing controversy among urban vampire groups.

Development

Prehistory

Release Of Vampire: The Masquerade-Bloodlines in 2004 was a relative failure. At the beginning, it sold less than 100,000 copies, and the game competed with sequels: Half-Life 2, Halo 2, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. This game was the last in the Troika Games development line, which was positively received by critics, but suffered from technical problems and low sales. Troika closed shortly after its release. In 2004, then-Director Leonard Boyarsky said that the team wanted to release a sequel, but that only the publisher, Activision, could make that decision. Before closing, Troika began developing a prototype based on other tabletop role-playing games from White Wolf, Werewolf: The Apocalypse. The prototype had the same universe as in Vampire: The Masquerade. The first part of Bloodlines has become a cult classic. For more than a decade, fans have made many fixes to the game’s technical problems in the form of patches.

In October 2015, video game publisher Paradox Interactive bought White Wolf, thereby gaining the rights to Bloodlines. Then Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester confirmed the possibility of a sequel: “when the time is right, I think the sequel will find its place in the market.”

Production

Shortly after White Wolf took ownership of Paradox Interactive, Seattle developer and Hardsuit Labs creative Director Kay’ai Clooney convinced one of the company’s founders, Andy Kipling, to offer Paradox the idea of a sequel to Bloodlines. Clooney signed a contract with Bloodlines writer Brian Mitsoda. A meeting was soon arranged and Mitsoda became the lead writer of the sequel, Kara Ellison became the senior writer, and game designer Chris Avellon became the writer. The composer of the first game, Rick Shaffer, became the main composer again. Producer Christian Schlutter said: “When we, Paradox, acquired the intellectual property, we saw Bloodlines as the crown jewel… then Hardsuit Labs came up with the perfect concept, with the original writer involved. Everything happened faster than we expected.” The project’s internal code name was “Project Frasier” (a reference to the Seattle sitcom Frasier).

Allison said that the plot and game factions were influenced by conflicts over Seattle’s modern identity, between its traditional music, culture, and modern developments from big corporations. Mitsoda said ,” here’s the idea: Seattle can change until it’s no longer Seattle. We have done aspects of the old and new in the factions.” Allison said the team wanted to move away from the” male power fantasy ” Bloodlines to reach a broader audience. The team also wanted mass coverage to show the transformation of a person into a vampire, how people with different backgrounds react to their transformation by continuing to have relatives.

The game gives the player the ability to make decisions on how to play for the character, but Schlutter called these options “preference for evil”, since the protagonist is not a hero, because vampires are parasites on humanity. Mitsoda noted that the tone of the game has been modernized for a modern audience, but remains true to the original combination of Noir, personal drama, political intrigue and humor.

The malkavians, a popular clan from the last game, are back. The clan is cursed with insanity, revealing knowledge of the future or unseen events and secrets, though not necessarily with a context to make this knowledge clear. Their dialogues may refer to events in the previous game that have not yet occurred. As in the previous game, the malkavian dialogues are written at the end of production, as Mitsoda stated that the script must be completed before it can be rewritten to fit malkavian’s point of view. Because the malkavian clan is popular, it was always planned to be included in Bloodlines 2, but its mental illness was portrayed with less comic effect to reflect a change in real public views on the topic. Mitsoda said it was a challenge to show the “darker aspect” of separating the network of epiphanies and paranoia. To better portray mental illness, the team studied medical publications and real-life cases of mental illness.

Although the game character partially tolerates sunlight, the developers decided to spend the entire game at night. They experimented with a day-night cycle where sunlight was an obstacle, but decided that the cycle made it harder to enjoy. Mitsoda said that the fight was the main task, the team wanted to improve on the previous game, considered by it as “not very good”.

Release

The first teaser for Bloodlines 2 appeared in February 2019 with the release of the Dating app “Tender”, created by Paradox. The app suggested using the “soul mate algorithm” and asked for the user’s blood type before suggesting matches from the nearest sick people. On the software stream Twitch.tv, and later on Paradox’s official Twitter account, showed a note from the fictional Director of Tender, Malcolm Chandler, suggesting preparing for March 21, 2019 in San Francisco – the date when the game was officially unveiled.

The release is scheduled for March 2020 on Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. There will be 3 different pre-order versions: Standard, Unauthorized, and Blood Moon. They will include 2 story DLC and the expansion “Season of the Wolf”, dedicated to werewolves. Also, in the Unauthorized version and higher, there will be game items that refer to such Bloodlines characters as Jeannette Voerman and Damsel.

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