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Bloodlines 2 dev talks how it will, and won’t, be like Baldur’s Gate 3

astarion and phyre

The developers behind Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 have name-dropped Baldur’s Gate 3 as a source of inspiration for the long-awaited sequel, but can it live up to that? Or even its predecessor?

Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 is the long-awaited sequel to the 2004 cult classic RPG. That alone has the developers The Chinese Room with big boots to fill. With Baldur’s Gate 3 releasing just this summer to an overwhelmingly positive response, it showed just how big the genre can be and how much of an appetite there is for well-executed adaptations of classic TTRPGs

In an interview with PCGamer, narrative designer Aron Le Bray discussed the exciting task of creating the next Bloodlines game while tailoring it to today’s gaming culture. Included was the scope of Bloodlines 2’s narrative, as well as how the game will be connected to its tabletop inspiration.

Will Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 be like Bloodlines 1?

Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 will still be an RPG with gameplay similar to its predecessor but with major changes to the narrative style.

It was recently revealed that the player character in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 will be an elder vampire named Phyre. An elder vampire has been undead for at least 300 years, giving The Chinese Room an interesting challenge to account for while creating Bloodlines 2.

Aron Le Bray has previously worked for Bioware’s narrative department for almost 15 years, working on titles including Dragon Age: Origins and the Mass Effect series. Le Bray has brought his expertise to Bloodlines 2, indicating that the massive hit Baldur’s Gate 3 has proved to be valuable inspiration and insight into what fans want from a story.

“[One of our writers] is a huge fan of Baldur’s Gate 3…we’re looking at how we can borrow aspects [from it], or how we can make sure we’re not taking giant steps backwards in terms of stories,” Le Bray said regarding the game. 

Even if The Chinese Room doesn’t reach the same level that Larian Studio did with Baldur’s Gate 3’s narrative, it should still be a good sign that Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 is looking to bring the series into the future with the sequel. The 20 years between games was fraught with “development hell,” seeing the game get passed along from the original studio Hard Suit Labs to The Chinese Room. Known for games such as Dear Esther and Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture, The Chinese Room is no stranger to narrative-focused games and might bring a fresh look to the RPG genre.

Will Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 be good?

Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 will have a branching narrative without overtly good or bad choices with first-person, action RPG gameplay. Not only does Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 need to compete against the likes of Baldur’s Gate 3, but also has high expectations to grapple with.

Fans of the original Bloodlines game have been critical of the switch to a predetermined character, rather than the blank slate that other games in the genre offer. Although players can choose which clan Phyre belongs to, it is quite different from the original allowing players to choose both the clan and appearance of the character.

In the official announcement trailer, Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 was confirmed to take place in Seattle after a power vacuum opened in vampire society. Phyre, a recently awoken vampire elder, will be the main character controlled by the player. The tease of gameplay that has been shown seems similar to games such as Bioshock.

Le Bray mentioned that Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 will also take inspiration from the tabletop system that inspired the game. One example Le Bray mentions is that Bloodlines 2 will use the humanity scale. The vampires of the franchise, called Kindred, have a sliding scale of humanity, with 10 being saintly and zero being more akin to an uncontrollable monster, known as “the Beast.”

There was also a focus on making sure choices were more than just good or bad in Bloodlines 2. Le Bray discussed the change in focus in video games from choosing options that were good or bad to a gray morality.

“If there’s a clear right and wrong, that’s less interesting to me…How can we make the player feel like they’ve owned their outcomes? How can we make the player feel like they have the agency we want them to?” Le Bray discussed.

Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 has garnered a mixed reaction from fans, but the developers have a track record of success. The Chinese Room needs to satisfy both fans of the original Bloodlines game and the new era of narrative-driven RPG fans, which may prove difficult with a relatively short development cycle compared to the years that a game like Baldur’s Gate 3 had.

It’s not a unique position to be in, as other games like Pillars of Eternity 3 and Titan Quest 2 have to juggle the expectations set by their predecessors and modern gameplay standards. Bloodlines 2 may still win gamers over with a compelling story and its gameplay.

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Written by Cassie Gardner

Cassie Gardner has been playing games since she was but a child, starting with a Game Boy when she was 5 years old. The discovery of Pokemon led to a lifelong interest in role-playing games of both the video game and tabletop varieties.

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