"We want you to feel like a vampire in everything that you're doing," says Hardsuit Labs' narrative lead, Brian Mitsoda. He admits, "[The first Bloodlines felt] kind of more like an FPS where you occasionally drink blood for fuel." This time, he says, "The violence of the vampire is more reflected in how you approach combat."
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The veteran developer continues, "[That's] not just represented in your disciplines but [also] your speed in combat [and] your ability to scale buildings this time and using heights for getting the drop on an enemy or a target that you want to feed on."
Pacifism isn't an option for your fledgling vampire. "Dale is what happens if you're a vampire that doesn't want to really do much in the political realm and really wants to just sit and feed on rats or blood bags," Mitsoda tells us, referring to your fledgling's bathrobe-clad floormate. "It wouldn't be that exciting to play as Dale because sitting in your bathroom watching TV is great in real life, but you probably wouldn't want to play a game of doing that."
When it comes to vampire politics, a good scrap is inevitable as senior narrative designer Cara Ellison explains: "Unfortunately, it is quite a violent world [so] you'll get attacked at some point."
There's plenty to entice you to explore the new setting of Seattle. Referred to as a character in its own right, in this fictional version of Hardsuit's home city each district is shaped by whoever holds power there, and your dirty deeds can make the headlines. Your actions can also annoy other factions so much that they refuse to work with you.
Thankfully you're not stuck with the first faction that offers you a toothy grin. "You might get a better opportunity if you switch," Mitsoda explains. "[...] It's [hugely] personality-driven, like, what personalities do you feel strongly aligned to? Or have you learned something about them by allying with them that you're like, '[...] I just found out this person is not the vampire I thought they were, so I'm done here.'"
Ellison tells us she and Mitsoda drew heavily on pulp fiction and noir when crafting the game's narrative, so it's no wonder your allegiances can get complicated.
Each clan and faction has worked out how best to use their power to protect themselves, Mitsoda explains. "Essentially power is anonymity [...] You can work through people doing your bidding [...] or just by virtue of having so much money that you can hide [...] or you're part of the criminal underworld that already has a kind of code of silence. So, vampires use the fabric of society and they use these entrenched kinds of political structures [that] they manipulate for their own benefit."
This is something Ellison echoes when we ask why she thinks we're so obsessed with vampires: "Because of the 1%. [...] The most important vampire metaphor is that they're old money, and there's [a] secret society kind of thing going on, [as in they take] the resources and then stockpile them for themselves. [...] I think vampires to us are like a kind of relic from the past that seem to be like parasitic and leeching from us. And I think that's [one reason] why we're interested in them."
Mitsoda's answer is on similar lines. "Vampires are the perfect monster for [acting as a metaphor for] whatever's going on in society right now. [...] So we always find ways to reinvent the vampire as like an embodiment of aspects of society that we don't appreciate."
So which groups do the pair identify with? Ellison tells us Mitsoda has a fondness for The Pioneers, or the old money in Seattle, as he appreciates the city's history. "I get the privilege of writing the Nosferatu," Ellison tells us. She says that technically the Nosferatu are both a clan and a faction as The Unseen and adds, "They're kind of like these weird shut-ins. [...] They have to find something to do in the dark [...] The Nosferatu are just really interesting because they're [...] like information brokers of the city." She later says, "I think I'm just a Nosferatu [...] I like sitting in the dark [and] I like that they're really good at hacking."
The game has been delayed from its Q1 release date but we can't wait to make our own allegiances when Bloodlines 2 ventures out of its haven later in 2020.