Sharkmob was counting on Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 settling the fanbase down before it released its free-to-play battle royale, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt. While an action game set in World of Darkness’ acclaimed Vampire universe has been a long time coming, the 18 year wait since the release of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines back in 2004 has left fans hungry for more.
While five Vampire: The Masquerade interactive fiction games have launched in recent years, many players had been looking towards Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 to satiate their bloodlust. Sadly, with the game in something of a development hell, that responsibility now falls on the shoulders of Sharkmob’s battle royale set in the Vampire: The Masquerade universe.
“The funniest thing with all of this was to announce a Vampire: The Masquerade battle royale game, because we knew people were gonna go apeshit,” says Martin Hultberg, communications and IP director at Sharkmob. He’s acutely aware that as great as the battle royale genre is, it doesn’t provide the same style of role-play as a focused action-RPG. “We knew it was gonna be a rage storm on the internet.”
That rage storm was anticipated because Sharkmob knows how desperate this fanbase – one the studio itself is a part of, and deeply entrenched in even before it secured the license – is to role-play in the evocative Vampire: The Masquerade universe again. When Sharkmob announced Bloodhunt in 2020 it braced for impact, and got exactly what it was expecting. “When you release information on a game, initially it’s very limited,” Hultberg continues. “It’s like a press release and some basic info, and so all the hardcore fans immediately go bonkers, and they started swearing about it. Some were screaming ‘At least we’ll have Bloodlines 2’ – no, you wouldn’t.”
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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 was announced in 2019 and had a proposed release window of 2020, although the game has since gone MIA. Citing everything from staff changes, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, publisher Paradox eventually removed Hardsuit Labs as the lead developer on the project and is yet to announce who has taken the reins. As it stands, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 has no release window. That created a problem for Sharkmob.
“We always hoped that Bloodlines 2 would come out before us. And that was the initial plan as well, because we knew that Bloodlines 2 was the – for lack of a better word – ‘proper’ Vampire: The Masquerade experience. So we were supposed to come out after Bloodlines 2, which would have fit us perfectly,” says Hultberg. “The hardcore fans would have gotten their experience and we could have come out afterwards. Sadly, that team ran into problems and, obviously, we didn’t run into as many problems.”
With Bloodhunt set to launch on April 27 for PC and PS5, Vampire: The Masquerade fans won’t have long to wait to see how the battle royale feeds into the broader universe. Hultberg says that Bloodhunt was “properly integrated from the start” with Version Five of the core rulebook, meaning there will be plenty of relevant questlines to take part in. “As people start playing the game, engrossing themselves in the lore and reading all the explanations, it’s going to be very fun to see. It’s going to be very fun to see, even the hardcore fans are going to be very happy about that part of it.”
“We wanted to do it justice. We have this deep love for the franchise ourselves,” says Hultberg, who explains that the release of Version Five of the rulebook, which updated a lot of the dusty lore and world, worked in Sharkmob’s favor. “The only thing we had to make sure we were 100% aligned with was Version Five. The World of Darkness brand team worked very closely with us to make sure that we got it right, with it comes to timeline, events, characters, and all that stuff.”
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt launches April 27, 2020, on PC and PS5 with cross-play support between the two platforms.