In 2004, Troika Games and Activision released a bit of a forgotten gem of an RPG with Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines (VtMB). The game received generally solid reviews that acknowledged the flaws, but ultimately labeled it a masterpiece while paying special attention to the graphics, character creation tool, and the strength of the narrative due to its diverse and adaptive writing backing a rich story. The game highlighted a conflict between the three major factions of vampire society in post-9/11 Los Angeles. The game garnered a sizable cult following despite the flaws, but it has been growing since more information has come out regarding the upcoming sequel.
What information we currently know is the fact that the similar power struggles have continued. You are embraced and created in an act of vampiric terrorism in Seattle. The setting and the set up already opens a wealth of possibilities for storytelling. That alone leaves a lot of ground to look forward to as Brian Mitsoda is returning as Narrative Lead for the upcoming game. He showed a great understanding of the world and material that he was working with in the original, while also using enough social awareness to create amusing as well as relevant social commentary. Also returning from the original production is composer Rik Schaffer, who did a great job building mood through music. So, on those two fronts alone, I’m expecting great things from VtMB2.
As stated earlier, one of the original game’s highlights was the in-depth character creation tool. This is partially because of the fact that, at least in the original game, your clan played a huge role in how the world perceives you and could make things either more interesting, easier, or more difficult before you even start playing. For example, playing a Nosferatu in the original game makes the game harder, especially if you suck at stealth. It’s mostly because even the physical form of a Nosferatu is a breach of the Masquerade, which will likely kill you. In terms of VtMB2, it seems like they’re changing stuff up where there’s even more possible customization. You’re a thinblood vampire who can work into any of the five playable clans though. Your chosen background as a human may also affect starting stats and resources. If implemented well, this will offer both higher levels of customization and more personal experiences within the story.
To build off the character customization, there’s one other thing to hope for. One of the most interesting things about the original VtMB were the clan specific dialogue options. Most of them were similar, but, in the case of the Malkavians, entirely new dialogue options were written and recorded because Malkavians are completely insane. Aside from the new dialogue options (including font), scripted hallucinations, and new interactions where you can get into arguments with inanimate objects including stop signs and the tv. Hopefully, VtMB2 uses clan-specific touches like this again.
These are just some of the reasons that I’m excited for VtMB2. Hopefully, we get something as unique and darkly beautiful as the original game. If they emulate the strengths while shoring up the weaknesses, it will be a great game to be bridge across generations. Judging from the Gamescom 2019 gameplay reveal, it seems like they’re making good progress on shoring up the biggest weakness (combat and vampiric skills use).