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Whatever Happened To Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2?

The "Vampire: the Masquerade" franchise has had several video game adaptations, spanning multiple different genres and formats. Many of the newer titles, like "Blood Hunt," are more action-oriented, while "Swansong" promises to focus more on RPG elements and "Coteries of New York" is a straight-up visual novel. Each has had its own strengths and weaknesses, but few have lived up to the heights of "Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines." This first-person action RPG was developed by Troika Games back in 2004 and is considered by many to be the best vampire video game of all time. Its exceptional writing and choice-based narrative format gave it a high degree of replayability that was rare at the time of its release. It didn't sell very well at launch, however, and Troika Games was shut down by Activision soon after.

That's why fans were so excited to hear that "Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2" was on its way. This new game from Paradox Interactive was announced with a trailer at GDC back in March 2019. This renewed the hopes of many who thought they'd never have the opportunity to return to the world of this particular adaptation of "The Masquerade" again. Unfortunately, the game was originally slated for release in early 2020 and still has not come out. Now, its fate seems more obscure than ever.

Extending delays

In the months after "Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2" was announced, Paradox Interactive started releasing details. It revealed seven vampire clans that would be featured in the game: Thinbloods, Brujah, Tremere, Toreador, Venture, Malkavian, and the Unseen. There were even several online pre-order bonuses on offer as well.

Then came the first delay. Hardsuit Labs announced that the game couldn't be completed on time and still live up to the high standards the development team wanted to hold it to. The announcement pointed out that the team particularly wanted to avoid a repeat of what happened to the original "Bloodlines," which was famously pushed to launch early. Many cite this as the reason it was considered a failure at launch and only found success later in its life cycle. While certainly disappointing, many found this to be reasonable. The global Covid-19 pandemic had been pushing back several projects at the time, so a delay wasn't altogether surprising. Sadly, the game wouldn't meet this new release date either.

Paradox Interactive and Hardsuit Labs announced that Lead Narrative Designer Brian Mitsoda and Creative Director Ka'ai Cluney asked to leave the team just before a second delay was announced in late 2020 without a new release date. Then, Paradox Interactive made another announcement in February 2020 that while the game was not canceled as of yet, it would not be released in 2021 and the company was no longer taking pre-orders. It has been delayed indefinitely ever since.

Switching studios

If the announcement of an open-ended delay wasn't bad enough, Paradox Interactive also revealed in its financial year end report that it was putting a new studio in charge of the game's development. "We have also decided that Hardsuit Labs will no longer be leading the development of Bloodlines 2," the report stated, "and we have started a collaboration with a new studio partner to finish work on the game." This was upsetting news to many fans. Games changing studios is notoriously disruptive to the development process.

It also likely meant that the game still had a lot of work that needed to be done. In fact, Paradox Interactive nearly considered cutting the game entirely. In an interview with the Swedish news outlet Placera (via RockPaperShotgun) Ceo Fredrik Wester stated, "When we removed the game from the original developer we took a long look at whether we should cancel it or continue development. We were prepared to stop production completely, but we received a pitch that was persuasive enough for us to continue with." Luckily, Paradox chose to continue development, though it never revealed which studio would be taking over, nor if it was the one who provided the pitch to keep the project alive.

Why Paradox is keeping the new studio anonymous

Months went by without any news until, in November, 2021, Paradox Interactive CFO Alexander Bricca was asked in the company's Q3 interim report if there was any news about "Bloodlines 2." Bricca responded that, "the new developer is doing quite well and we're happy with the progress of the project now, but it's still quite some time before we can start to talk about release dates, so we prefer to give the studio a situation where they can focus fully on the game development and not having to address fans reaching out to them."

Given the game's development history and the high degree of expectation that comes with the IP, it makes sense that the Paradox would want to protect the new studio from the degree of scrutiny it would almost certainly receive from the public. It is nevertheless frustrating for fans who expected the game to be done over two years ago to still have so little information on who is making it or what stage of development it is in. Paradox Interactive has not commented on the game's progress or developer again in the months since.