A look back at the troubled development of Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2

Gare – Friday, November 5, 2021 2:25 PM
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Promising beginnings

For many, the still-ongoing saga of Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 began in early 2019, with a fake dating app. Cheekily dubbed “Tender”, the app and the way it was presented immediately made the alarm bells go off in the minds of many a World of Darkness enthusiast; they suspected – no, felt it in the air – that something was coming. Something related to Vampire: The Masquerade, the hugely popular RPG franchise about everyone’s favorite humanoid bloodsuckers. As it turns out, the internet’s sleuths were right: a few weeks later, during a livestream that both myself and fellow VTMB enjoyer Dracholich sat through, the game was revealed with a promising trailer and the reassuring confirmation that original Bloodlines writer Brian Mitsoda and composer Rik Schaffer were both on-board for the project. In other words, the game seemed to be in good hands, and to me, this was nothing short of a dream come true.

Signs of trouble

A 2020 release date was set (with pre-orders already available), and although I knew the year-long wait would be painful, my mood at the time was characterized by elated optimism. A few months passed by and E3 season rolled around, bringing with it the PC Gaming Show, as well as the first-ever gameplay trailer for Bloodlines 2; at that point, the game was still being advertised with a Q1 2020 launch date for both PC and consoles. This, sadly, was not meant to be. Delays followed – in October of 2019, the team announced that in order to avoid the notoriously buggy launch of the first game, Bloodlines 2 would not be releasing in Q1 2020, but sometime later in that year.

Unfortunately, this objective could not be met either, and in August of 2020, it was revealed that the original 2020 launch is deemed no longer possible by then-developer Hardsuit Labs – the team cited the need for more time in order to properly deliver on their promises and create a game that can live up to their vision of Bloodlines 2. And so it happened that the game was pushed back to 2021, a year that, at the time of writing, is two months away from ending, with still no Bloodlines 2 in sight. Unfortunately for all of us hankering for another dive into that beloved World of Darkness, the project’s development would continue to show a number of alarming signs.

A downward spiral

2020 would not be a kind year for VTMB2: in August, it was announced that lead writer Brian Mitsoda and creative director Ka’ai Cluney were both let go from the project, with Alexandre Mandryka taking on the role of creative consultant. Considering Mitsoda’s instrumental role in turning the original Bloodlines into the cult-classic favorite it is today, fans wondered what the future would hold for the sequel. Regrettably, further bad news followed: senior narrative designer Cara Ellison would also leave the project – she, along with Mitsoda, would later go on to join the team working on The Fermi Paradox, a narrative sci-fi strategy game currently available via Steam Early Access.

Development of Bloodlines 2 would continue to be rocky, to say the least: in February of 2021, publisher Paradox Interactive announced the departure of Hardsuit Labs as the project’s developer, while also halting any further pre-orders of the title. And while it was confirmed that the game is indeed still in development, it reportedly came dangerously close to being outright cancelled, as revealed in a recent interview published by Swedish site Avanza.

The show must go on

So what does the future actually hold for Bloodlines 2? Who knows. If Paradox decided not to cancel the project and instead gave it a second chance, we might have cause for remaining optimistic. It’s hard to tell how close the game will be to its original vision when or if it gets released, but the fact remains that the World of Darkness is an endlessly fascinating universe, and it would be a colossal shame to see one of its most prominent projects never make it to the finish line.

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