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The Chinese Room says it's building Bloodlines 2 around 'doing things only a vampire can'

As new developer blog is launched.

A promotional image for Bloodlines 2 showing a female vampire in close-up, staring confidently at the camera as she sits in shadow in the seat of a car.
Image credit: The Chinese Room/Paradox Interactive

Following the surprise news that Paradox Interactive's beleaguered Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is now in the hands of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs studio The Chinese Room, the developer has talked a little about its goals for the rejuvenated project, saying it's building its action around 'doing things only a vampire can'.

Bloodlines 2 has, of course, had a tumultuous journey since its unveiling back in 2019; original developer Hardsuit Labs was ditched following a number of controversies, almost resulting in the cancellation of the game, but Paradox eventually confirmed development had been handed to a new studio, now known to be The Chinese Room, sometime in 2021.

Bloodlines 2's re-reveal earlier this month was fairly light on detail, but Paradox did say the game would cast players as an Elder vampire in the "dark underbelly of Seattle, where vampires struggle for survival and supremacy". It also confirmed there'd be characters for players to chat with, combat, a need to keep a low profile to ensure vampire society stays hidden from humanity, and "complex political relationships".

Bloodlines 2's 2023 announcement trailer .Watch on YouTube

Now, though, in the first of a new series of developer blogs on Pardox's website, The Chinese Room has talked a little more about its creative approach to Bloodlines 2, saying it's aiming to deliver the kind of "compelling and rich plot you'd expect from an adventure game, but with RPG agency allowing you to act out your vampire fantasy". Crucially, it says its design ethos has been to ensure "everything you do in this game should make you feel like a [vampire]".

"In video games," studio design director Alex Skidmore writes, "we often get to be a mighty hero fighting against the darkness. Vampires, especially as playable characters, are underrepresented. We're building the game around the experience of doing things only a Kindred can." Skidmore says the studio initially found itself leaning into RPG tropes when designing Bloodlines 2's non-combat gameplay - "find a keycard to open a door, turn on a generator to restore power to a lift" - but ultimately introduced a rule that this side of things "should be about something only a vampire could do; keep it aspirational."

That philosophy is said to be the driving force behind combat too. Skidmore reveals Bloodlines 2's combat was originally envisaged as something like Dishonored, where players would be more cautious when approaching encounters with enemies. This, though, "didn't feel right for a vampire...To us, a Kindred should stalk its prey and strike fearlessly like a predator."

"We want to build an action experience where players feel confident, almost trolling the enemies with their disciplines," Skidmore continues. "Testers use the phrase 'playing with your food', which we love and illustrates how we think a Vampire: The Masquerade ARPG should feel... When you have a supernatural edge and immortality to back you up, there should be a sense of 'I know what is going on and, I can control this situation'. We want to give you the tools to do that in combat, conversations, or travelling across the city. When they come together, you should be immersed in the feeling of being a Vampire."

Skidmore says the studio will discuss Bloodlines 2's exploration and combat in more detail in future developer blogs, but its next update will focus on the game's narrative themes and atmosphere. First gameplay is set to be revealed in January next year, with a full Bloodlines 2 release planned for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X in Q3 2024.

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