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    Footage from the full E3 gameplay demo for the recently unveiled Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 has been released, and it appears to be a faithful successor to the original. Gameplay focuses on dialog trees, vampire powers, feeding, protecting the Masquerade that keeps vampires secret from humanity, and rather awkward combat.

    The Bloodlines return

    Players begin by choosing from a set of three Thinblood abilities. They then begin in their apartment, complete with a radio station that should revive nostalgic memories for players of the first Bloodlines. The player character then heads to a night club called Atrium, where he shows off some dance moves that aren’t likely to one-up Fortnite in the popular imagination. He also receives a mission to collect information from a fellow Thinblood vampire called Slugg.  Unfortunately for Slugg, the Nosferatu are all too willing to let you know where he is hiding. That said, they do try to cut you a deal to betray your masters and get them the information instead.

    The mission takes you to an area called The Jungle. Players will encounter a number of enemies and get to test out their powers there. Character animation, traversal, and lighting are all much improved in Bloodlines 2. Unfortunately, the combat looks as awkward as that found in many first-person RPGs of previous decades. With little sense of impact and physicality to blows, it appears to fall well short of more polished games like the Dishonored series. Guns seem especially weak, with unconvincing sound design and animations. They almost reminded me of old-fashioned first-person RPGs like Deus Ex. Paradox did advertise the game as being in a “pre-alpha” stage, though, so we will hopefully see substantial improvements in the final release.

    Choose your path

    After either negotiating or fighting your way past an anonymous gang, you run into Slugg himself. Some skillful talking can resolve the encounter without combat. In this case, you get the info and Slugg gets his money. Win-win. However, making the wrong dialog choice forces you into combat with Slugg and his gang. After beating them, you even have the option to use an execution mechanic to kill him. Doing so may feel satisfying, but it doesn’t please your handler that you failed to retrieve the information she requested. Retrieving the information from Slugg will lead to more dialog options with your handler. No doubt, Bloodlines 2 would have this dialog feed into future quest lines.

    Whether or not we will see a more polished combat system by the game’s Q1 2020 release date, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 does seem set to offer the player a deep role-playing experience, making it a faithful successor to the first game in the series.

    Kyle Thompson
    A long-time PC gamer, and notorious mecha fan. I design tabletop RPGs between sessions of Brigador and sometimes teach game design.Full disclosure: I backed Indivisible and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

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