If you’re a fan of getting together with friends, cranking out some character sheets, and rolling some dice, then chances are you are a familiar with at least one of White Wolf’s “World of Darkness” games. The big three—Vampire: The Masquerade, Mage: The Ascension, and Werewolf: The Apocalypse—have millions of fans between them. While never attaining the popularity of the one-and-only Dungeons and Dragons, plenty of players prefer the expansive lore and deep roleplay that World of Darkness has to offer. Unfortunately, World of Darkness has made scant few appearances in the world of video games. You’d have to go back to 2004’s cult classic Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines to find the most recent rendition. I have absolutely no idea why the property was left idle for so long (it might have something to do with the franchise rebooting and rebranding a couple of times), but the early demise of Troika Games left the promising Bloodlines in an ultimately unfinished state. If you haven’t ever checked it out, you really should. Over a decade of fan patches and mods have left the game a wonderful patchwork of amateur passion and idealism.
A long time coming, the White Wolf World of Darkness is once again being brought to life in video game form. This time, it’s Cyanide Studio at the helm, and the world of Werewolf: The Apocalypse gracing our screens. Judging by the amount of questions I got about it at E3, the fans could not be happier. Seriously. I got more questions from other attendees about the secretive Werewolf: The Apocalypse than I did any of my other appointments. This has never happened to me before, but I would have strings of people come up to me as I stood in line to ask me what I found out about it. I’ll admit there was an air of mystique about it; without any trailer premier, it was featured on the Focus Home Interactive display and only available for private press interviews. I don’t think that the people at Focus knew just what kind of fan fascination this title would stir up.
Well now, here I am to let you all know what I know. Which admittedly, is not much. I got to speak with Game Director Julien Desourteaux, who told me everything he was able to about Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Mainly, that it’s still in prototype phase, has no release date, and they want to do lots and lots with it. Alright, that’s all folks! See you later!
I mostly kid, but I really don’t have a lot to actually show you about the game. Conceptually, Werewolf: The Apocalypse will focus on the interaction between Garou (werewolves) and humans. The expansion of technology and industrialization has forced the spirit realm into smaller and smaller pockets, and the Garou that defend them are unsure of how to deal with it. I mean, you could just eat all the humans, but that might not be very good for your soul. You could reason with them, but it’s really hard to stop the march of progress with words. What kind of Garou you’ll be, and how you ultimately deal with the human threat, is up to you.
Gameplay will split between three main werewolf forms. There’s the humanoid form, best for diplomacy and trying to interact with the human world. Then you have the wolf form, which gives you increased mobility and tunes you in more acutely with the spirit world. The third form is for combat, a hulking mass of flesh and fur that’s great for ripping things apart. A core element between the forms is managing your rage, which will cause you to frenzy when it boils over. Frenzy turns you into the ultimate unrestrained killing machine, unstoppable in combat but unable to distinguish between friend and foe. It isn’t the same, “hand your character sheet over to the DM,” that it was in the pen-and-paper, but rest assured that there will be consequences to letting the beast take over.
I also got to see a working mock-up of Werewolf: The Apocalypse‘s map, which you’ll be able to explore in a semi-open fashion. Rather than a true open world, you’ll be able to tackle each zone and resolve its issues in an order of your choosing. Each will be its own instanced area with a border, but that doesn’t mean that what happens in one won’t effect the others. It’s all glued together by a central massive forest hub, where the Garou will roam freely and commune with the spirits. The example Julien gave me of how this communion would work was a hypothetical quest given to you by the spirit of a waterfall. If you do what it wants (say, shut down the coal mine polluting the river), it will let you travel up the waterfall like a super industrious salmon.
Now this is normally the time I’d point to the studio’s pedigree as evidence for how the game might end up, but Cyanide hasn’t really come out with anything like this before. They have done RPGs before with Of Orcs and Men and A Game of Thrones, but neither can compare to what they are trying to do with Werewolf: The Apocalypse. I liked Styx 1 &2, so that gives me confidence. With no release date announced, there’s plenty of time to see how this will shape up. For fans, I think the fact that there’s something in the works from a developer that clearly knows and cares about the property is what matters. So what about you folks? Fans of World of Darkness? Ever try out Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines? What kind of thing are you looking for in your ideal Werewolf: The Apocalypse game? Let me know below!