Recently there was a little game called Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 announced. A sequel to a cult classic video game, and perhaps more importantly based on a famous tabletop game, Vampire seems to have a lot going for it. However, White Wolf has more than one tabletop game to base video games on. So we get Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood, this time based on the werewolf half of the tabletop. After what seemed like a very long time in development, I got to see how the game is shaping up.
I was warned beforehand, and this seemed to hold true on what I saw, that Earthblood is still in a pre-alpha state. The graphics sometimes had trouble loading in right away, there was no real soundtrack to speak of, and it was obvious some animations were missing. Still, what I got to see left me extremely hopeful for the finished product.
First things first, Earthblood isn't really a full RPG. Rather, it's closer to an action game with RPG elements. At the start we were introduced to Cahal, a werewolf who doubles as an "eco warrior." In other words, you kill people who are hurting the planet. The first half of the demo took place in what appeared to be an oil field, albeit one with way more heavily armed guards and mech suits than you would expect.
We quickly get introduced to Cahal's powers. At any point he can switch between his human and wolf form. While human or wolf, the game is more stealth based. You'll be crouching and crawling as either form, and the human is also equipped with a crossbow for some stealth kills. While the human form may be able to pick a few enemies off, he's not really made for combat and the dev did confirm that once you enter combat you become the third and most important form: the werewolf.
You can't have a werewolf game without werewolves. Any time you enter combat you'll turn into the hulking beast. Normal humans don't really pose much of a threat, and the demo saw Cahal toss them around like ragdolls. He had some basic combos that let him tear them in half, or pick people up and throw them at each other. Each swing also felt ridiculously strong thanks to the destruction physics. Hitting a box caused it to shatter into pieces, and said pieces would go flying and knock enemies down. The first fight ended with a mini boss against someone in a mech suit, and watching our werewolf tear it apart is genuinely satisfying. Later we saw our werewolf fight a feral werewolf, and the fight ended with Cahal ripping out his opponent's jaw and beating him to death with it.
There's also a super important element present in Earthblood, and that's managing rage. As you hit enemies, or get hit by them, you gain rage. You have to spend rage to use special abilities, such as leaping slams or charging forward. You may have noticed I said "have to" rather than "can". This is because you need to manage your rage. If it fills up all the way Cahal goes feral, and the only cure for that requires killing everyone in the nearby area, including your friends. Rage doesn't just fill up in combat either. When you talk to other characters you can gain rage from the conversations. You need to be careful in what you provoke people to say, as filling up your rage in conversation has the same result as it does in combat: you become a feral werewolf and have to kill everyone else to go back to normal.
We then moved to the second part of the demo, which took place in a dense forest. This was more used to show off that each level was open enough for you to explore, even if the game won't be open world. We got to see that Cahal could just hang out with wolves and bears without being bothered. The developer said he could also talk to tree spirits to get side quests. We also got a look at the skill tree, which allowed Cahal to level up in either combat, stealth, or dialogue. While the specifics on what he could learn weren't shared, I did catch a glimpse at one stealth ability that allowed Cahal to sniff out enemies while in the wolf form.
At that our demo of Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood came to an end. I have to admit I am insanely excited for the game based on what we saw. Sure the graphical polish needs work, but the rage mechanic seems like an extremely unique way to make Earthblood stand out from the crowd. Plus you get to play as a big ol' werewolf smashin' shit. What's not to love? The game is set to be released some time in 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2019 Coverage Hub.