The World of Darkness series of games and entertainment has always been a rich tapestry of lore and imagination that has allowed gamers to undertake the roles of many mythical creatures of the night in various unique settings. Most people are probably familiar with the popular role-playing games, Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, but these are just a couple entries in a grand library of great games that have come from White Wolf Publishing. Fortunately, White Wolf has teamed up with Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide Studios to bring another of their grand franchises to PCs and consoles. This time, it’s Werewolf: The Apocalypse.
In a world where various factions are ushering the destruction of nature, werewolves stand as the primal bastions against the end of the world. What began as a pen and paper role-playing experience is now becoming an interactive journey that will have players delving deep into the powers of the werewolf to protect the natural and spiritual world. At E3 2017, we caught up to Cyanide Studio game designer Julien Desourteaux to speak about how he and his team are bringing Werewolf new life as a video game. Desourteaux shared the interesting world of Werewolf with us, as well as how players will take on the role of the Garou to defend the forces of nature, or give into their bestial blood and wreak havoc.
GameWatcher: So for the uninitiated who may not be familiar with Werewolf from its days as a pen and paper game, what can you say about this series? What is at the core of Werewolf: The Apocalypse?
Julien Desourteaux: Werewolf is all about a fight against human expansion and corruption of nature. This isn’t a Twilight thing. Being a werewolf in this game means a constant balance of primal nature and rage. Players will take on the role of a proud and bestial creature. To that end, and for what the purpose of this game’s werewolves are, you are a bit of an ecoterrorist in Werewolf. In a time when the political climate is somewhat rampant with talk and governing of climate change, environmental preservation, and other such issues, I feel it’s the perfect time to explore a series like this.
GameWatcher: The original context of Werewolf is that there is cataclysmic event known as The Apocalypse that the werewolves, known previously in the series as the Garou, are fighting against, right?
Desourteaux: Correct. In the original pen and paper game, their mission was to kill those who would move the world towards the Apocalypse either wittingly or unwittingly. It’s always been sort of a fiction that plays at the edge of reality where these mythical creatures are fighting a problem very much inspired by real-world issues. For the purpose of our game, we’re going with an action-RPG to convey that world. It’s based upon a lot of the rules of the pen and paper game, but we’re reworking the gameplay mechanics to make it a far more moving and visceral thing.
GameWatcher: Could you expand upon that? What kind of mechanics will players be using as they step into the fur and claws of the Garou?
Desourteaux: So the main three mechanics behind Werewolf: The Apocalypse are combat, exploration, and interaction, and at the center of all of that is rage management. Rage is a factor that has to be maintained by the player because if the Garou’s rage gets out of control, they will frenzy. There are pros and cons to that. Certainly it’s great for combat, but there could be consequences as well. For example, you won’t be able to tell friend from foe. You will fight all present and that could lead to attacking an ally. You can’t go back until there are no more threats present. Likewise, if you’re in dialogue with a character and you’re overcome by rage, your character might eviscerate an important character.
GameWatcher: So if you don’t maintain your rage, you could lose out on a quality source of information that could help you along.
Desourteaux: Absolutely, although we don’t intend to shoehorn you with that outcome as well. There will be other means to gain information. This game doesn’t really judge the player for their actions, although you’ll have to deal with the consequences. Killing, frenzying, and brutality feeds this entity that feeds on sorrow, anger, fears, and rage. It is to say a player that favors combat and frenzying above the other factors will feed that entity and it will create greater enemies that will come after you as a result. It’s sort of how we also incentivize stealth, exploration, and interaction. Although much of this is an action-RPG, we’re designing it to be sort of like a puzzle with multiple solutions. There isn’t one perfect way to play. It will be up to the player to decide which situation calls for brutality or other less violent measures.
GameWatcher: Where are we at in Werewolf? What kind of place are we exploring and interacting with?
Desourteaux: The area is quite large. As mentioned before, there is a human element of corruption and pollution at work and there is a balance between nature and destructive technology. At the center of all of this is the Pentex Corporation. They are a huge corporation that represents a ton of industries that harvest various natural areas for human progress. They’re very much the player’s target. Players will have freedom to choose where they go and what missions they pursue in this world. At the center of it is this area known as Penumbra, which is a place sort of set between the physical world and the spiritual world. Garou will be able to make use of this entity known as the Great Spirit of the Waterfall and she is where you will get sidequests and challenges. Pass those and the Spirit will grant you various rewards. For instance, if you do well, she can open a shortcut for you between regions. There will also be other tribes of werewolf. Some will be aggressive and some will be friendly. They’ll be interesting to interact with and we wanted to instill a sense of what kind of werewolf the player would become by way of these tribes.
GameWatcher: Does the way you play affect what paths will be open to you? If you’ve been brutal or stealthy, does it make a difference in where you go and what you can do?
Desourteaux: No, it will affect gameplay, but not the story. We wanted to go with a strong and well-built story. The gameplay will be entirely your experience with it, but there are no plans at this time to branch the story by how you use the mechanics. There will be some level of choice, but most of it will be built towards whether you advance the Apocalypse or stifle by playing aggressive or passive.
GameWatcher: You mentioned there will be combat, exploration, interaction, and stealth elements. How will these various mechanics come into play and interconnect in Werewolf?
Desourteaux: So in Werewolf, progression will be based upon how you play. Moreover, the core mechanics are each bound to a special form. For example, when you fight, you’ll take your Garou form. It’s obviously better to be in that massive build when it comes to taking and dishing out damage. Meanwhile, in exploration, you’ll be in a wolf form that allows you to move much more quickly and efficiently. We’re building it so you’ll be able to move between forms pretty seamlessly based on what you need. For instance, if you take a long jump and then attack, you can move from wolf into Garou for a vicious lunge. We want it to be visceral in many ways, but we also want it to be dynamic.
GameWatcher: As an action-RPG, how will players progress in Werewolf? What goes into your character’s strengths and evolution?
Desourteaux: We will have skill trees in the game. Players will choose between various archetypes that determine certain strengths and weaknesses. There is no bad way to choose. We supply the tools to play how you want. A good part of the core will be based around combat, but that’s also sort of a fallback when other tactics don’t work. If you fail a stealth sequence, we give you tools to fight, or you can simply skip the stealth and jump right into the fight from the get-go.
GameWatcher: Let’s talk a little bit about the interaction aspect of the core mechanics. When you say interaction, do you mean just talking with people, or does that include environmental interaction as well?
Desourteaux: It’s both. As I said, you may talk to important people or various Garou tribes. Dialogue is absolutely an interaction, but you can also interact with environment in ways that allow you to trap enemies, acquire information, sneak around, and more.
GameWatcher: So this is very much going to be a game about interchanging these three major mechanics as you need them as opposed to favoring and specializing in one?
Desourteaux: Yes, absolutely. Moving around and being sneaky throughout an area might get you somewhere you couldn’t if you came barging in the front. Your Garou form is strong, but the more you fight, the more your rage builds. When you frenzy, you’ll access some very brutal attacks and you’ll feel a satisfying sense of power, but some attacks and executions are lengthy and grisly. That could be a problem when you’re being shot at by snipers. Meanwhile, in a given scenario, if an area is cluttered and you need space to fight, you can use your combat to destroy boxes and other obstacles and clear the way for some serious damage. Alternatively, you can carefully avoid a lot of trouble by exploring and planning your way around an area and the enemies. You can discover information and track enemies to overcome a large portion of an area before you ever have to fight. That’s the kind of seamless, player choice-driven experience we’re seeking to build with this rendition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse.
Werewolf is a series that is heavy into nature, human corruption, and the way of the legendary beasts. Though Cyanide Studio is early into production of the game, their focus on translating all of what their source material has to offer is promising to say the least. Sooner or later, we’re certain to see Werewolf: The Apocalypse burst onto the scene with flesh-rending claws and blood-curdling howls. If what we’ve heard from Desourteaux is any indication, it’s going to be a wait well worth it and we’re excited to see more.
To learn more and get the latest news on Werewolf: The Apocalypse, be sure to follow the game’s official pages on Twitter and Facebook.