One of the games I got to check out at E3 2019 was Werewolf The Apocalypse – Earthblood. In development by Cyanide Studio (Styx: Master of Shadows, Styx: Shards of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu) and published by BigBen Interactive, this is an action-RPG based on the tabletop game world Werewolf: The Apocalypse, from White Wolf Publishing, the same World of Darkness source material as Vampire: The Masquerade.
I was shown a build of the game played in real time by the developers, who talked me through what was happening and what their goals were.
E3 2019 Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood Preview
You play as Cahal, a werewolf, or a Garou, who is fighting back against a massive corporation that is destroying the environment. As the world burns in the name of industry, a supernatural foe known as the Wyrm operates in the shadows, threatening the existence of the world. Humans are unwittingly aiding the spread and corruption of the Wyrm and the responsibility of defeating the Wyrm falls on the different tribes of werewolves. This is a story-driven action-RPG, with the plot unfolding in the American Northwest.
As Cahal, you can transform at will between three different forms: human, wolf and werewolf. As a human, you can interact and talk, in addition to operating buttons or control interfaces. As a wolf, you’re swift and silent, a perfect form for squeezing into smaller spaces and using a bit of stealth. As a werewolf, you’re a nearly unstoppable beast, a force of nature that rages with fangs and claws.
One thing that immediately stood out to me is how Cyanide is focused on showcasing the raw strength and power that being a werewolf implies. The developer running the demo explicitly stated “We want the player to feel what it is to be a werewolf.” Based on what I saw, I’d say they’re on the right track. Transformed, you tower over your human foes, sending them flying with a single swing of your claws. There’s a fairly impressive physics system at work, meaning if you pick up and hurl a human soldier, they’ll knock over most everything in their way.
Once you clear the mobs of lower ranked soldiers however, there are greater foes to dispose of. Some of the humans have heavy mechs with flamethrowers that can easily barbecue you if you aren’t careful. This is where your agility needs to come in – you can clamber up walls, leap above your enemies and strafe to avoid the dangerous attacks until you can bring the mech down.
Your most dangerous enemies however, are other Garou. Fallen werewolves who have become corrupted by the Wyrm seem designed to provide an immense challenge, a deadly duel of fur, fangs and powerful blows until one of you finally falls. You need to keep an eye on your Rage meter though. As it builds, you will eventually be forced to transform. If you’re trying to stealth your way through an area when that happens, it won’t end well.
It’s worth mentioning that some of the environments looked extremely basic but otherwise, this was a well-polished build. With the game still a ways off, it bodes well for the development.
Back at the Caern, your home base, you can rest, check your skills and get new quests. Your skill trees offer some different options for improvement but the developers are trying to be careful not to gate your strength behind unlocks, so to speak. You’ll need to progress your skills to take on greater challenges throughout the game but you’re meant to feel powerful from the very start. As an interesting aside, I liked how you can also always see the encroachment of human development just beyond the trees of your home, always reminding you about how close the threat is.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood will release in 2020 on PC and consoles. We’ll share more information on a specific release date when it becomes available.