Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse take place in the “World of Darkness” setting. How do these two monster mashes compare?
Set in the same universe as the upcoming Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, the under-development Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood will explore similar themes to its sister series while focusing on more aggressive, action-focused gameplay. While the gameplay of VtM – B deals with vampires navigating murky urban politics and manipulating societies, Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood will be a more primal, angry story about the shapeshifting champions of Gaia and their bloody war against the spiritual and material forces polluting the planet.
Both the Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse franchises started out as tabletop roleplaying games released by White Wolf Studios in the early nineties. Both games innovated by putting players in the shoes of monsters rather than the heroes who slew them and both tapped into strong cultural zeitgeists. Vampire: The Masquerade, unsurprisingly, had themes tied to Goth subculture, with musings on the omnipresence of death and the moral compromises people make to survive.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse, in contrast, tapped into grungy punk themes. Its werewolf protagonists, the Garou, embodied the activist anger of youth, furious at the destruction of the earth and the human race that wasn’t doing anything to stop it. Just as Troika Studios drew on Gothic-Punk themes when making Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, so has Cyanide Studios invoked these themes of frustrated anger when creating the action-focused gameplay of Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood.
The Nature of Vampires and Werewolves Influences Gameplay
The 2004 Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines and its upcoming sequel, Bloodlines 2 take place in urban environments where players must tread carefully in the first-person perspective. To dodge the torch-and-pitchfork mobs, they must drink blood from isolated victims, talk their way through challenges, and avoid revealing their true nature to others. The gameplay of Bloodlines offers mechanics and powers that facilitate this specific challenge.
In contrast, the werewolves of Werewolf: The Apocalypse –Earthblood have a much different set of priorities. Their battlefield is where industrial civilization encroaches on nature, their goal to tear the throats from the “Wyrm-spawn” seeking to destroy Gaia. These aggressive, wild themes necessitate a more action-packed style of RPG gameplay: a third-person perspective that lets players brawl and smash their way through armies of foes. By all accounts, this gameplay is exactly what Cyanide Studios is working to deliver.
Werewolf’s Gameplay Tackles All Forms
The premiere cinematic trailer for Werewolf: The Apocalypse ends with a profile shot of three different werewolves against the light of the moon – one in human form, the other in a four-legged wolf form, the last in the iconic two-legged wolf-man form. These three werewolf forms reference the three forms of gameplay that Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood will draw on to tell the story of Cahal, a veteran werewolf trying to save his home from being bulldozed by the supernaturally-corrupted Pentex Corporation.
In human form, Cahal can talk with humans, use tools, and employ complex weapons. In wolf form, he can sneak through the wilderness and talk with the animals and spirits that inhabit the game maps. During fight scenes, he transforms into Werewolf’s war-form, a hulking man-beast hybrid that can send security guards flying like pinballs and go toe-to-toe with the pilots of mechanized exoskeletons. Each gameplay mode, according to Cyanide Studios, is linked through the mechanic of Rage, a resource spent while ripping the environment apart in wolf forms and regained in human form through conversations and story interactions.
The vampires in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines are faced with constant struggle between the humans they pretend to be and the monsters they are. For all their differences in form, ability, and goal, the werewolf protagonists of Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood will likely also have to struggle with the double-edged sword of their rage. Properly channeled, their rage can get things done and change the world but it can just as easily backfire or bring harm to those they love.