Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is the long awaited follow up to the 2004 original, based on the ever expanding tabletop RPG series of the same name. This modern take aims to put player choice front and centre, with a twisting narrative determined by your actions.
You take on the role of an unfortunate, recently deceased human, who was one of many victims in a recent culling colourfully referred to as the "Mass Embrace". Aside from being a logical way to segway into a character creation menu, the in universe impact is keenly felt, with vampires and other dastardly creatures creeping out from the shadows and striking in plain sight. The titular "Masquerade" (the code which dictates secrecy above all else) is therefore broken, and the various factions vying for control of Seattle (the games primary location) are forced to assert their dominance in a fight for leadership.
Developer Hardsuit Labs are doubling down on RPG mechanics for this long awaited sequel. You'll select from a series of disciplines that provide class specific abilities; this forms the basis for your character, and allows you to specialise in areas that speak to your chosen play style. So far, so Mass Effect. Where things really take a turn is the subsequent decision regarding your Full Blood clan, which opens up a whole mess of customisation and additional powers. These range from being able to seduce and coerce your foes, to enhanced senses and combat endurance.
Once you're thrown into the night, you'll have optional side quests to distract you from the main quest line, whilst you simultaneously attempt to balance the loyalty of each faction. They each have opposing ideology, and designated targets for feeding, so you'll spend a fair amount of time making sure you don't encroach on their territory or do anything to upset the status quo.
A.I. characters are fully voiced, with branching dialogue choices that really opens up potential for you to shape each encounter as you see fit. Although unlikely to be the case for every single conversation, up to five different lines can be selected, each with their own unique responses from non player characters. This should provide a pleasing depth to most interactions, especially since player choice is being touted as a marquee feature.
Bloodlines 2 will predominantly be a first person adventure, but during key moments the camera will transition to a third person perspective, to give you a better view of the action. This typically occurs during specific traversal sequences (such as vaulting over a tall obstacle) or when executing an enemy. Combat is largely first person though, and with a mix of hand to hand, weapon based, and mystical attacks at your disposal, you won't be short of ways to dispatch unsuspecting enemies.
There's a lot we don't yet know about the overall structure, and to what extent your actions will impact the world. But there can be no doubt that Hardsuit Labs and Paradox Interactive are doing their level best to deliver an authentic version of the tabletop saga, whilst ensuring enough wiggle room for players to carve their own path.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 launches in 2020 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.