Written by Steve Heller
When Paradox Interactive announced that Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 was delayed indefinitely, it was not a surprise for longtime fans of the cult-classic RPG. What was shaping up to be the first major action RPG from a publisher long known for their thoughtful 4X and Strategy offerings, had quickly spiraled into a tall tale of game development hell that included surprise layoffs, considerable delays, and eventually pondering the option of cancellation.
But all of this is par for the course for Vampire fans. To truly understand this story we have to go back to 2004; a landmark year in gaming that saw the release of classics such as Far Cry, Katamari Damacy, Half-Life 2, and a quirky game based on a tabletop RPG from the 90s, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines.
The Beginning of the curse
Troika Games started out how most new studios do – an answer to disagreements with their former employer. In this case that employer was Interplay, and the disagreement was about the future team structure of the then in-development CRPG Fallout 2. Tim Cain, Jason Anderson, and Leonard Boyarsky were designers on that project, and decided to start their own studio in Irvine, California.
Founded on April Fool’s Day in 1998, Troika Games was created with the idea to continue producing RPGs for the PC, initially striking up a publishing deal with Sierra Entertainment for their first game, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.
It was in 2001 that the team partnered with Activision to create Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, a game that is widely considered one of the most ambitious and adventurous RPGs ever created, but also one of the biggest commercial failures of its decade.
For those who missed that original game, Bloodlines puts you in the shoes of a newly embraced Kindred in a Los Angeles riddled with ancient vampires in the upper echelons of society. Choosing between one of seven vampire clans each with their own set of powers, dialogue options, and pathways for violent and non-violent conflict resolution, the game offered a staggering freedom of choice even by today’s standard. There was first-person combat, third-person combat, each clan had their own biases towards the others, and your actions dictated the response you would receive from your rivals in the game world. It’s web of intricate narrative dalliances that still hold up today, despite the many, MANY, flaws that the game had when it released in 2004.
The game was a victim of its own ambition. All the systems that make Bloodlines such a great game were its ultimate downfall. Not only were they making an ambitious RPG on a scale that we had never seen before, they were doing so with the unreleased and unfinished Source engine from Valve. Often they found themselves having to write their own workarounds for missing features in the engine just to complete the vision. After a slew of delays, and issues, Activision stepped in with their own producer, and a hard deadline for the game to be released. The problem however, Bloodlines was not allowed to be released before Valve shipped their first Source engine game, Half-Life 2.
Activision, notorious for shoveling games out as quickly as possible on an annual basis, slated Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines to release on November 16, 2004. The same day that Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Halo 2, all considered to be the best of their respective franchises, also hit store shelves. Bloodlines was unfinished, shipping with a multitude of bugs, and there was a missing in action mutliplayer mode that Activision had been marketing right up until May of that year. Despite a warm critical reception, Bloodlines only managed to sell 72,000 copies, a meager $3.4 million in sales. The development team were all laid off by the end of that year, and Troika Games closed its doors in February 2005.
In the years after release, the community banded together to deliver unofficial patches that fixed technical issues, and restored missing and unfinished content. Often the community would reach out to former Troika Games employees who were able to fill in the blanks, and the community developers often called on fans to provide some extra voice work for the new quests. The love for the game was apparent then, and seems to have continued to grow as Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines currently has a Very Positive rating on Steam with over 9,500 reviews.
So when Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 was announced on March 22, 2019, people were pretty excited. Little did they know that the development curse of the franchise was just lurking in the shadows.
The World of Darkness MMO devours CCP
In 2006 the festering curse of Bloodlines was calling out from the deep, as the dust settled from the closure of Troika and Activision had moved on to chase plastic guitars. White Wolf Publishing, the creators of the World of Darkness tabletop universe that the Vampire: The Masquerade belongs to, were acquired by CCP Games.
The Icelandic studio renowned for the long-running MMO EVE Online were planning to develop video games based on the World of Darkness properties, while White Wolf would design card games based on the world of EVE Online. It sounded like a symbiotic relationship and it eventuated with the foundation of CCP North America, who were working on a World of Darkness MMORPG.
CCP Games revealed the creatively named World of Darkness MMO during White Wolf’s 2010 Grand Masquerade fan event in New Orleans. There was a trailer shown that depicted a dark and gritty world, a far contrast from the big players in the field at the time – World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars – which had fan sites building up the hype train. A collection of concept art was also doing the rounds, and a release window of 2012 was announced. Two short years and then players would be able to step into a genuine living and breathing (Vampiric irony notwithstanding) World of Darkness.
But of course my friends, the curse had other plans.
In 2011 reports started surfacing that CCP Games had laid off 20% of their staff, shifting their focus as a company towards the continued expansion of EVE Online. They are very quick to reassure eager fans that World of Darkness was still in development, however employees revealed many years later that the game was still in the pre-production phase, and that during this time the project was limping along with a skeleton crew of just 60 developers.
Not much is said on the project for quite some time, but during the 2012 White Wolf Fan Fest, CCP Games does release a World of Darkness trailer that showcases the environments and gives us a look at the game in-engine. It’s around this time that MMO-specific sites start throwing praise towards the project, as the hype starts to build in the mainstream space.
And then after yet another lengthy silence, on April 14 CCP Games releases a statement cancelling development of World of Darkness. It was also reported that 54 staff members at CCP Atlanta were dismissed, with the rest of the remaining staff shifting their focus to work on EVE-related projects. CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson shared their disappointment in the official announcement:
We dreamed of a game that would transport you completely into the sweeping fantasy of World of Darkness, but had to admit that our efforts were falling regretfully short. One day I hope we will make it up to you.
In the years since the cancellation, staff members have spoken of a troubled development where the team was constantly fighting the management of CCP. Staff members were being shifted around between EVE Online and other related projects while World of Darkness, which had slowed down development as a result, with half-finished systems being abandoned then being restarted constantly. The constant ebb and flow of new people within the project meant that everything was half-baked, and it never really had the cohesion needed to make it work.
MMO fans were disappointed. Many saw World of Darkness as the gritty, adult MMO that was the antithesis to the colorful fantasy-led adventures that dominated the market. But for Bloodlines fans, it was the death of any hope that a suitable sequel would be coming for their beloved game.
Paradox Interactive becomes the custodian
Fast forward to October 29, 2013. Over a year later, CCP offloads White Wolf Publishing, and all of its intellectual properties for an unknown all-cash settlement to Paradox Interactive. White Wolf would remain a subsidiary of Paradox, continuing to work on World of Darkness properties for the tabletop market.
This purchase makes a lot of sense. In the early days, Paradox was a board game company that focused on strategy games, before branching out into video games. A quiet underdog in the publishing game, the growing Swedish company gained legions of fans from their 4X historical strategy games such as Crusader Kings, Hearts of Iron, and Europa Universalis. In recent years the company has been stepping closer and closer to mainstream gaming. This shift in tone has seen them push out the highly successful fantasy CRPG Pillars of Eternity, the sci-fi builder Surviving Mars, and the insanely popular city builder Cities Skylines.
But save a few dalliances with action games like War of the Roses, and the Magika series, most of Paradox Interactive’s output has revolved around strategy, building, or tactics. Picking up White Wolf who could easily make tabletop adaptations of their existing successes with ease made a lot of sense, and translating the World of Darkness into a tactical strategy game would have suited the in-house culture of Paradox.
Over the next few years Paradox Interactive’s work on the franchise is unknown, while White Wolf continues to release new game books as part of the Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition series.
Things go south in November 2018 however, when most of White Wolf’s employees are stood down after a series of scandals revolving around the highly anticipated fifth edition of Vampire: The Masquerade’s tabletop RPG core rulebook.
Allegations were made that White Wolf was specifically marketing their upcoming refresh of the rule set towards the alt-right, which included several references to neo-nazi character archetypes and white-supremacist ideology in preview documents shared with the community. White Wolf developers publicly denied that this was the intent. When the source books for the game were released, it was revealed that the materials used the torture, murder, and imprisonment of LGBTQ community members in Chechnya as a backdrop for the game.
The outrage surrounding the revelations forced Paradox Interactive to step in and shut the company down as an independent operator. Paradox Interactive’s Vice President of Business Development, Shams Jorjani steps in as the manager of the properties, releasing a statement:
In practical terms, White Wolf will no longer function as a separate entity. The White Wolf team will be restructured and integrated directly into Paradox Interactive, and I will be temporarily managing things during this process. We are recruiting new leadership to guide White Wolf both creatively and commercially into the future, a process that has been ongoing since September.
The team was reduced to a skeleton crew who oversees the brand’s lore, while licensees and other creators continue to produce content for games in the World of Darkness franchise. Paradox Interactive effectively controls the World of Darkness franchise from this moment on, and begin rebuilding the reputation of the franchise within their damaged community.
Who is Hardsuit Labs?
Before the dramas with White Wolf unfolded later in 2018, Paradox Interactive announced that they had acquired a 33% stake of Hardsuit Labs for $2million USD on January 11. Paradox CEO at the time, Frederick Wester released a statement announcing the purchase:
Since this is a minority acquisition, Paradox will act more like a silent partner and the studio will continue to operate like it has been previously. The reason for this acquisition is to increase our own capacity to manage our portfolio of brands in a strategic way, together with a studio and studio management we believe in.”
But the question was; who is Hardsuit Labs? To be perfectly honest, we don’t really know that much about them. They originally opened their doors as Zombie Studios back in 1994, which saw them release more than 30 games, working with publishing houses like Activision, Atari, Bethesda, Disney, Microsoft, and Ubisoft. Their most well known games were Zork Nemesis (1996), Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way (1998), Saw (2009), and Americas Army: Special Forces (2003).
In 2012 Zombie Studios released Blacklight Retribution, a free-to-play cyberpunk arena shooter that was published by Perfect Worlds. A sequel to a previous release from the team, Blacklight Retribution managed to welcome one million players in its first thirty days of operation.
And this is where the waters start to become muddied. Zombie Studios closed down in January 2015 when founders Joanna Alexander and Mark Long retired, but the rest of the studio staff continued on as custodians of the cyberpunk shooter. Builder Box Games was formed with former Director of Production Andy Kipling, and former Technical Director Russel Nelson taking the lead of the renamed studio, with their main focus being a major parity patch that would bring the PS4 version of the game up to par with the PC release. If you look this information up online, every mention of Blacklight: Retribution in the post-Zombie Studios time frame says that Hardsuit Labs were responsible for development. The only article I can find mentioning Builder Box Games is from Game Industry.Biz, so I can only assume that the name change to Hardsuit Labs was swift, or that history was re-written after they decided to switch names.
Just over a year after Paradox’s minority share acquisition on February 9, 2019 Hardsuit Labs announces that Blacklight: Retribution is coming to an end. They release the following statement on the Steam page:
Why is this happening? The reality is Hardsuit Labs has been engaged for some time now in some very interesting projects that require the full focus of the development teams and leadership. The studio capacity and resources are and have been entirely engaged with these projects and will be for the foreseeable future. As such, we officially will no longer be patching, updating, or doing technical support for Blacklight Retribution. Account migration will officially shut down as of today, as will the official support site.
As it turns out, we now know that one of those “very interesting projects” was Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2.
Much like the White Wolf acquisition, the purchase of Hardsuit Labs seems like a strategic fit for Paradox Interactive. Here is a studio with years of experience working on action-oriented games from some big franchises. Building a fully-realized 3D RPG in the World of Darkness universe would be a hard ask for any of the studios that the publishing house owned stakes in at the time, so it feels like this was a decision point for the company to take a swing at it’s first major 3D adventure.
The reveal of Bloodlines 2
The servers for Blacklight: Retribution are shut off on March 11, 2019. Just 11 days later on March 22, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 is announced to the public, with various top-tier outlets running previews based upon a 30 minute hands-off demo of the game. It was revealed that former Troika lead Brian Mitsoda was involved in the project, being put front and center with the press to toe the line that the Bloodlines sequel would stay true to its predecessor. Paradox Interactive bill Mitsoda as “the creative mind of the original Bloodlines,” in the very first press release, which shows just how much they were banking on his standing with the existing Bloodlines community.
And it seemed that Mitsoda was glad to be back. Speaking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun he talks about the shortcomings of the first game, and what it was like to return to the sequel he always thought fans deserved.
Once Kai’ai and I started talking about it, we were developing the game like, just, really quickly. It all came together. Getting back in that headspace was very easy for me.
This is the sequel that you have been waiting for. It’s going to be Bloodlines as you remember it. But better.
It wasn’t just Mitsoda that was driving attention for those of us in the games media. Cara Ellison, one of the more exciting narrative developers of modern gaming was appointed as Lead Narrative Designer on the project. Ellison’s unique stylings and sensitivities melding with Mitsoda’s experience working within the confines of the source material made the announcement feel legitimate. This could very well be the Bloodlines that fans were waiting for.
Hardsuit Labs soon backed up the surprise announcement with two in-depth gameplay trailers for the PC Gaming Show in June of that year. The extended trailer shows off the dark and dangerous streets of Seattle, filled with all the imagery you would expect from a city filled with vampires. It is immediately apparent that this is not a mid-tier project, feeling more akin to something like BioShock, compared to Paradox’s usual releases.
The official press release from Paradox Interactive says that Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 would be coming to PC and consoles in 2020, however this EuroGamer article from the same time notes a Q1, 2020 release. Which is correct? Well… I guess neither otherwise this article wouldn’t exist!
After all the positive previews, game trailers, and a steady drip feed of project updates, fans were starting to get truly excited for the project. On October 16 however, a joint statement from Brian Mitsoda and Andy Kipling from Hardsuit Labs reveals that the project will be delayed. This article DOES mention a Q1, 2020 window, and claims that the game will still launch in 2020 albeit later than originally anticipated.
…there’s the responsibility to avoid some of the issues that plagued the first game, which was famously launched too early. Over the last few months, it became clear that to stick to our original date would risk repeating that mistake. We won’t do that. In the end, everyone working on this game wants to offer you the best Bloodlines 2 we can.
This announcement was nothing out of the ordinary, in fact, many people voiced their approval of taking some extra time to make sure that the team could deliver the best game possible. Unfortunately as we will soon find out this was the precursor to what seems to be a rather tumultuous development cycle.
The curse begins to take hold
Hardsuit Labs was quietly dropping updates via their social media for the community, but on May 7, 2020, they released a brand new trailer called “Come Dance” that showcased the dark and twisted tone of Bloodlines 2. Dancing around a Christmas tree, a family suspended on meat hooks, the trailer was disturbing but really captured what this game was going for. Once again, the hype train was starting to leave the station, even though no official release date had been uttered by the developer or publisher.
The following month we get yet another trailer, this time one that reveals that Brujah clan member Damsel is returning in Bloodlines 2, along with the original voice actor. This along with Mitsoda’s involvement seemed to have the die hard fans sold on the legitimacy of the upcoming sequel.
Along with the trailer, Paradox Interactive announces a Collector’s Edition bundle that will include a statuette of Elif from the game, and the soundtrack on vinyl for a cool $170 USD. Despite announcing this lavish physical release and taking pre-orders, no release date is revealed outside of the nebulous 2020 window.
Just over a week later on June 22, allegations of sexual assault and harassment against renowned narrative director Chris Avellone (Fallout: New Vegas, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II) came to light from various sources. At the time Avellone was working as a free agent on a number of projects including Dying Light 2, The Waylanders, and Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2.
Dying Light 2 developer Techland publicly denounced Avellone amid the allegations, removing his contributions from the game. Indie developer Studio Gato also released a statement speaking out against sexual assault in any form, confirming that his contributions in The Waylanders were slim, and were to be replaced.
Paradox Interactive however, did not explicitly stand against the allegations. In a statement to GameSpot they claimed that Avellone’s involvement was brief, and the content that he had produced was already overwritten:
Through an iterative creative process, however, none of his contributions remain in the game that Hardsuit Labs is continuing to develop.
I can’t help but feel disappointed that while a small Indie team can speak out against one of the most well known narrative designers in games, Paradox Interactive chose not to. Especially given that the CEO has admitted to their own inappropriate behaviors in the workplace.
The flow of blood is blocked
After the Avellone scandal, all news of Bloodlines 2 progress goes dark, at least to the media. The official Twitter account is posting regularly with updates and developer diaries. Then on August 11 fans get yet another delay announcement, this time delivered via one of those stylish Twitter JPEGs. This is the first time that we have sense that something is awry, as Andy Kipling from Hardsuit Labs, and Jakob Munthe from Paradox Interactive release a joint statement. Not only does the on-brand JPEG announce a delay to ensure that the team is able to “ensure the best player experience possible,” but it also clearly states that organizational changes are afoot. No further elaboration is given, but typically in game development, organizational changes mean significant structural changes, AKA movements and layoffs.
A new launch window of 2021 is established. The sentiment from fans at the time is very much a “take the time you need, we’ve already been waiting over a decade”, with many just wanting a sequel to this misunderstood cult classic from a simpler time.
That sentiment quickly fades just 8 days later when reports start hitting the internet that Brian Mitsoda and Creative Director Ka’ai Cluney were suddenly terminated from their roles at Hardsuit Labs. Paradox Interactive issued yet another statement that claimed that the decision was made by the leadership team at both Hardsuit Labs and Paradox Interactive.
We appreciate, and value, the contributions of Brian and Ka’ai, which were instrumental in establishing the game’s storyline and dark tone and have helped to ensure that we are making a true successor to the iconic Bloodlines. We wish them both the best in their future endeavors.
Mitsoda then issued his own statement to Rock, Paper, Shotgun in which he spoke about his frustrations of the project suddenly being taken away from him, and his troubles with the intense PR expectations that were thrust upon him as the face of the project.
Very obviously, I have also been involved in the PR and marketing side of things, even though it was one of the most difficult parts for me. I’m a pretty private person – press and crowds tend to heavily trigger my social anxiety (which, if you’ve ever wondered about the gloves, they are “armor” that make me feel less exposed in situations that trigger my anxiety).
It was announced that Alexandre Mandryka would be joining the project as a Creative Consultant to help complete the game. Mandryka’s previous credits include Asassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Warhammer 40,000 just to name a few, and the consensus is that they would be filling the shoes of Ka’ai Cluney for the remainder of the project.
What is still quite puzzling about this whole affair is the sudden termination of two lead developers deep into a project, not to mention the fact that Mitsoda was the public face of Bloodlines 2. I urge you to go and read Mitsoda’s full statement on Rock, Paper, Shotgun; obviously we don’t know exactly what happened here, but these words read as genuine surprise rather than a calculated PR move in my opinion. Having said that, the circumstances are not clear as to why this decision was made, apparently unbeknownst to Mitsoda. This is one of those moments in gaming history that I can’t wait to see in a Peacock exclusive streaming series.
As the fallout from the restructure subsides, on October 20 it is revealed that Cara Ellison has also left the project. Speculation that Ellison had left began after they removed mentions of the project from their Twitter profile, and then confirmation came when it was announced that they had taken the Senior Narrative Designer role at Melbourne indie studio, League of Geeks.
Paradox Interactive issues a statement to PC Gamer that confirmed the news:
“We can confirm that Cara Ellison has decided to leave Hardsuit Labs and is no longer working on Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2,” a Paradox spokesperson said. “Cara brought fresh ideas to the project and many of her contributions will be present in the game launching next year. We thank her for her work on Bloodlines 2 and wish her the best in all of her future endeavors.”
The strange part of that statement, as PC Gamer points out, is “many of her contributions will be present in the game launching next year”. Ellison was the Lead Narrative Designer, one would assume that if the game was close to shipping at this stage, along with the departure of Mitsoda, the narrative should have largely been complete.
At this stage it’s mostly accepted that Bloodlines 2 is a trash fire, with many of the fans and media expecting that it would never see the light of day. More fuel is added to this fire in December when Paradox Interactive CEO Ebba Ljunerud revealed that they personally did not expect Bloodline 2 to arrive in the first half of 2021 during an interview with Swedish Financial outlet Placera. It was also revealed that the game was being moved towards a release on the PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series of consoles, which added to expected delays due to the COVID-19 supply chain issues.
To be able to develop for the next generation, you have to have development kits from the manufacturers. And I’m pretty sure that both Sony and Microsoft were affected by the pandemic because they did not have many development kits.
With the lead creative staff gone, further delays, and the CEO themselves throwing further doubt to the mix, there’s very little hope that Bloodlines 2 will escape the curse.
Hardsuit Labs is removed from the equation
2021 brings yet another major surprise, with Paradox Interactive releasing yet another JPEG update announcing not only would Bloodlines 2 be delayed yet again, but that they were ditching Hardsuit Labs, opting to finish the project with a different studio entirely.
The news was revealed in the company’s end-of-year earnings report, and later confirmed with an all-to-familiar sounding statement on the official Bloodlines 2 website. Graciously, the company also chose this latest announcement to stop accepting pre-orders for the game.
As you have noticed, we’ve been keeping pretty quiet for a while. With this in mind, the first piece of news we have for you is to confirm that Bloodlines 2 is still in development. Secondly, we have made the hard decision that Hardsuit Labs will no longer be leading the development of Bloodlines 2 – which also means that we will not be releasing in 2021 as previously planned. Since we cannot at this time communicate a new release date, we’ve also decided to stop accepting pre-orders for the time being.
Paradox Interactive did not confirm who the new developers were, and Hardsuit Labs stopped working on the project at this point. It must have hit the company quite hard, because just one week later a number of employees tweeted that they had just lost their jobs. It wasn’t long before it was revealed that the entire narrative team was let go, along with various staff members from other departments.
Hardsuit Labs eventually offered a comment to Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
While we worked hard to source some great work opportunities for the studio to move forward with, we were unable to provide work for a small number of individuals and thus made the difficult decision to part ways. This decision was not made lightly and was done so only after we felt we had exhausted the opportunities to avoid such a layoff.
Speaking once again to Swedish outlet Placia in October, Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester mentioned that Paraadox Interactive seriously considered canceling the project after removing Hardsuit Labs from the equation.
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. We have high hopes that this will be a good game that meets our players’ desires.
The last crumb on this very long trail came in November during Paradox Interactive’s Q3 interim report when someone asked if there were any updates for Bloodlines 2 or it’s new developer. Paradox Interactive’s CFO Alexander Bricca simply stated:
The new developer is doing quite well and we are happy with the progress of the project now, but it’s still quite some time before we can start to talk about release dates.
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. So therefore we have so far not disclosed the name of the studio, and we are very happy to keep it that way for for still some time.
Where the hell does that leave us?
There’s a little part of me writing this story that can’t help but feel that Vampire the Masquerade is cursed. Beginning with the corporate pressure to release an unfinished game against some of the heaviest games of their time was nothing short of a death sentence back in 2004. It was the game’s creativity and industry-leading narrative systems that helped it cultivate a fanbase, one that treated it with reverence, and continued to promote it, alongside continued development.
And when the World of Darkness MMO was revealed, it’s easy to see how Vampire the Masquerade fans could see this as the online sequel to a game that they loved so much. To see that project drag along for 9 years only to be cancelled, that was a moment that all but confirmed that the 2004 classic is the only game that they would ever get.
The lowest point was the White Wolf fiasco, one that saw the very source material that Troika’s masterpiece was based upon, with egregious mentions of Nazi ideals and horrific depictions of violence and torture towards the LGBTQI community against the backdrop of a country that was going through a war. The company was gutted, and the long awaited 5th edition of the lore had a dark cloud hanging over it as a result. What hope was there for this franchise?
Brian Mitsoda. A surprise announcement that he was returning to give fans the sequel that they had been waiting for. Trotted out in front of the games media despite his very real social anxieties, all in service of making something truly for the fans. All of that taken away, unannounced allegedly, with little more than a standard “good luck on your future endeavors” in a nicely designed image on their website.
Even Hardsuit Labs were removed, suffering layoffs as a direct result of the the decision that Paradox Interactive came to. I checked in on their website, and it looks like they have bounced back. Since their work on Bloodlines 2 concluded they have worked on various Call of Duty products, Fortnite, and the hilarious Maneater. They are currently hiring by the way, and despite all the dramas that unfolded, it does look like they are focused on doing good work if their catch copy is to be believed.
But the real question for us all is “will Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 ever release?”. I have to believe it will. A lot of work had already been completed on the project by the time that Hardsuit Labs was off the project, and while the narrative may need some more work or extra development once the structure and content has been completed, Paradox Interactive have access to a number of studios that could easily slot in. I can’t help but think that Harebrained Schemes could be a good fit; studio formed by former Tabletop RPG creator Jordan Weisman (creator of Shadowrun, and Battletech) has experience in the field, and have recently wrapped up season one of content on their acclaimed adaptation of Battletech on Steam. Seems I’m not the only one who thinks this – PC Gamer mention that a former Hardsuit Labs Senior Designer who worked on Bloodlines 2 is now over at Harebrained who are also in Seattle.
I don’t think there’s a world where we don’t see Bloodlines 2 get a release. So I’d argue that the question is in fact the wrong one to be asking. Brian Mitsoda is quoted as saying that “This is the sequel that you have been waiting for. It’s going to be Bloodlines as you remember it. But better.” So the question I would like to ask is, will it be better?
I can’t help but think that on this, it will fall short. But knowing the cursed story behind it’s creation, I cannot wait to see what it delivers.