After a troubled development, Bloodlines 2 is cracking the coffin once again. After its announcement back in 2019, the Vampire: The Masquerade sequel has been beset by a procession of departing leads and shuffled development studios, before settling into a worryingly long silence from the publisher at Paradox. For years, we’ve been wondering about what was going on with the Vampire RPG.
Now, it seems that Bloodlines 2 has had its own dark resurrection, now in the hands of The Chinese Room, developer of Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Here’s everything we know about Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2.
When is Bloodlines 2’s release date?
Bloodlines 2 is now scheduled to release in fall 2024. The sequel has had a long, fraught, and confusing development history, originally scheduled for March 2020 before being pushed back to an unspecified time later that year. It eventually delayed into 2021, and then again delayed out of 2021, leaving its status a mystery—we weren’t even sure which studio was handling its development.
In 2022, Fredrik Wester, CEO at Bloodlines 2’s publisher Paradox Interactive, tweeted that “the game is in good hands.” In June 2023, we learned that there would be a big September announcement about Bloodlines 2, and the prophecy held true: In September 2023, we finally learned that The Chinese Room has been handling Bloodlines 2 development, with its release now set for 2024.
Here’s the new Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 announcement trailer
It might be a curious decision to call this latest trailer an announcement trailer, given that Bloodlines 2 was technically announced already. But with how fraught its development has been, maybe treating this as a new incarnation makes the most sense. Regardless, we actually get to see some of the gameplay produced by Bloodlines 2’s new development home with The Chinese Room, with lots of clips of first-person superhuman vampire combat, featuring high-speed punches, blood magic, and more.
What vampire clans will be in Bloodlines 2?
Additional details are starting to arrive now that Bloodlines 2 has reemerged from its dark slumber: The Chinese Room has started confirming the Masquerade vampire clans that’ll be playable in Bloodlines 2. Four clans will be playable at launch, with two additional clans arriving later as DLC. Here are the two clans The Chinese Room has revealed so far:
Brujah: The first clan confirmed for the reborn Bloodlines 2, the Brujah are a clan of philosopher-kings-turned-anarchist-punks, its current-day ranks drawing from revolutionaries, radicals, and activists. Stereotyped as thugs and hooligans, Brujah tend to reject hierarchy and tradition, instead directly pursuing their individual passions—and tending toward a similarly fierce fighting style. As glimpsed in the Brujah reveal teaser video, Brujah abilities in Bloodlines 2 will focus on aggressive, superpowered melee combat.Tremere: Unlike most of the other vampire clans—who trace their lineage to vampires predating the Biblical Flood—the Tremere are instead descended from a group of Medieval mages who sought immortality by stealing a vampire’s blood. Today, Tremere continue as occultists who seek and hoard arcane knowledge. In Bloodlines 2, Tremere abilities will go heavy on the blood sorcery, weaponizing their own blood as projectiles while boiling enemies’ blood at a distance. You can see a brief look at their blood magic in the Tremere reveal teaser.
What’s the situation with the Bloodlines 2 development issues?
Bloodlines 2 has gone through a lot, and not just delays. Lead writer Brian Mitsoda, who was one of the main faces of the game since its unveiling, was fired from the project along with creative director Ka’ai Cluney in 2020. According to a blog post by developer Hardsuit Labs, the decisions came as part of “organizational changes” to the development team. Speaking to Rock Paper Shotgun via email, Mitsoda said that he was “suddenly terminated” and that “this came to [him] as a shock would be underselling it.”
In October 2020, senior narrative designer Cara Ellison left Hardsuit Labs as well to join League of Geeks.
As of February 2021, its Hardsuit Labs that’s been fired. Bloodlines 2 publishers Paradox Interactive announced that the game would be delayed past 2021 while they change developers. “We have started a collaboration with a new studio partner to finish work on the game,” Paradox said. “This has been a difficult decision, but we are convinced that it is the right way forward to do the game justice.”
After more than two years of wondering about the state of Bloodlines 2, we finally learned in September 2023 that Dear Esther developer The Chinese Room has taken over Bloodlines 2 development, brought in after Hardsuit Labs was taken off the project.
(Image credit: The Chinese Room)
How has Bloodlines 2 changed with its new developer?
After its development shifted over to The Chinese Room, we know that Bloodlines 2 has changed up its gameplay mechanics and RPG systems, though not exactly how. When our own fang-fan Ted Litchfield spoke to to Paradox Interactive VP of World of Darkness Sean Greaney and the creative director of Bloodlines 2 in Alex Skidmore, we learned from Greaney that they “have been able to reuse a significant amount of art and level design” with Skidmore clarifying that The Chinese Room is using “a new code base with different gameplay mechanics and RPG systems.”
We also know it’s still set in Seattle, but instead of playing as a recently-turned “thinblood” vampire, you’ll now be playing as an established vampire Elder, recently awoken from a prolonged torpor.
Beyond that, we’ll need to wait for further details to have a more complete sense of just how much Bloodlines 2 has changed. The Chinese Room has promised more details in early 2024, including an extended gameplay reveal in January 2024.
(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)
What did we know about Bloodlines 2 before its studio shuffle?
Given the fraught history of Bloodlines 2 development and its changing studios, we don’t know how much of what we learned before 2023 is relevant to the current version of Bloodlines 2. With all its complications, it sounds like the game has undergone some serious revisions. Here’s a summary of details we had for Bloodlines 2 while it was in the care of Hardsuit Labs, but again: Some or all of this might not be representative of what to expect from the game currently being developed by The Chinese Room.
The announcement trailer sets a darker tone and established Bloodlines 2’s Seattle setting, which The Chinese Room has confirmed is still the setting for Bloodlines 2. Hardsuit Labs released a 30 minute gameplay demo for Gamescom 2019. It gives a good sense for what it was like to roam around open Seattle in the earlier version.
Paradox had confirmed that five clans, the Brujah, Tremere, Toreador, Ventrue, and Malkavians would be playable in Bloodlines 2. They had also detailed 11 different disciplines of vampire powers, each with its own set of abilities. Some, like the super strength-esque Potency, the superhumanly speedy Celerity, and the Thaumaturgy blood magic disciplines are visible at least in spirit in the reveal trailer above from The Chinese Room, but it’s unclear how much of the surrounding systems are intact.
Hardsuit Labs had revealed a number of joinable factions, and had confirmed that there would be a version of the emotional blood “resonances” from the tabletop game, which provide different qualities to blood when drunk. At the time, the studio had estimated a single playthrough would take around 25-30 hours.