After months of conceptual chatter over on its blog, developer The Chinese Room has finally whipped back the shroud on its version of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, giving a first proper look at its in-game action courtesy of an 15-minute gameplay reveal.
Prior to today, The Chinese Room – which took over the troubled Bloodlines 2 back in 2021, although the studio’s involvement wasn’t announced until last year – has talked a little about the game’s main character, vampire elder Phyre, its clans, and its “visceral immersive combat”, and all of that comes together in today’s extended gameplay debut.
According to The Chinese Room, this 15-minute first-look features a sequence from relatively early in the game, taking place after Phyre – who in this particular playthrough is part of the Brujah clan, imbuing her with supernatural speed and strength, as well as a rather short fuse – has established herself in Seattle and made inroads with the court. As she investigates the mysterious mark on her hand limiting her powers, she receives a tip-off leading her to a warehouse and a vampire known as Willem who might just have some answers.
It’s all moodily subdued at first as Phyre roams the labyrinthine warehouse interior, chatting with Fabien – the vampire stuck inside her head for reasons currently unknown – and scouting for clues. Eventually, after following the sound of an aria drifting through the shadowy building, Phyre finds Willem and we get to see Bloodlines 2’s conversation-nudging dialogue trees in action.
Things don’t go well and Phyre is transported into some sort of roar-induced illusion; initially she takes a stealthy approach, slipping through the shadowy warehouse to catch – and feed on – the roaming ghouls unawares. She can hoist foes up from below using telekenises, initiate a teleport dash, and claw and punch with abandon, which comes in useful once her cover is blown and combat starts proper – with plenty of throat-ripping, blood-letting, and head-severing along the way.
Things get weirder still when Willem launches a second attack, catapulting Phyre even deeper into the illusion and a warehouse now swarming with living mannequins. As the fight continues, we see a number of her other abilities in action, including a glide, a powered-up dash letting her steamroll through multiple enemies at once, plus her heightened vampire senses, enabling her to see incoming enemies from behind objects and even slow time.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 – Extended Gameplay Reveal
Another loop and reality warps even further as she attempts to break free of Willem’s influence once and for all – at which point the gameplay portion of today’s showcase reaches an explosive end. But for anyone looking to learn more about what they’ve just seen, The Chinese Room sticks around to chat, singling out some of the sequence’s individual elements and how things like the atmospheric exploration, dialogue, brawling, stealth, “vampire detective gameplay”, and pacing are reflective of its design approach as a whole.
One area the studio spends a bit of time highlighting is Phyre’s combat feeding (it says it’ll talk about social feeding at a later date), enabling Phyre to drink enemy blood – either by sneaking up, using telekineses, or mid-brawl – to recharge her health and power her abilities. Abilities – which include selectable active abilities and a clan-specific passive – can be used once their “pips” have refilled, so blood drinking effectively serves as a means to chain attacks together.
Elsewhere, there’s some talk about how dialogue options will effect your relationships with other vampires, on how players can determine Phyre’s back story based on their dialogue choices, a bit about Phyre’s heightened vampire senses – which have applications across exploration, combat, and puzzling – plus a few additional scene-setting story details.
It’s an intriguing first real taste of a game that at one time looked like it might never see the light of day, and while The Chinese Room isn’t yet ready to share a release date for Bloodlines 2, we do know it’s aiming to launch on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S this autumn.
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