Can you fully transform into a werewolf in Bloodborne? The game has been out for two weeks, and it's still unclear.
Here's what I know with certainty. Bloodborne takes place in Yharnam, a city that drinks blood for healing and recreational purposes -- in fact, blood is supposed to be more popular in Yharnam than alcohol. Yharnam's reliance on magical blood caused the city to boom, and most of the citizens of Yharnam partook in the consumption of blood. But somewhere along the way, the blood became tainted, and Yharnam became overrun with cursed, blood-hungry creatures. The game calls them beasts, but they're really just werewolves. At the start of the game, you learn that your character is sick, and so he or she seeks out Yharnam's special (but potentially corrupted) blood to buy themselves some more time.
Let's look at some of the smaller details surrounding werewolves in Bloodborne. The game has a "Beasthood" stat, though it's difficult to grok what this number actually does:
"Beasthood"? "Temporarily transformed"? OK, that sounds interesting.
You can also find a consumable item called a "Beast Blood Pellet":
"Grants a spurt of beasthood," it says. Hmm.
You can find an item called "Beast Claw," a weapon that looks like this when equipped:
There's even a beast rune, which you can equip to buff your "temporary transformation."
[Image source: QP GAMES]
All of these Beasthood details are surprisingly understated for a game that's all about werewolves -- so much so that it took me over a dozen hours to realise that the main character can actually (at least partially) transform into a beast. The only reason I stumbled on that epiphany was because I performed something called a "Visceral Attack" at such an exact angle that I noticed I was actually using claw hands to rip out the guts of my enemies. The game never points this out to you. You could miss it if you're not paying attention. Here is a close-up, so you can see what I'm talking about:
After noticing that, I realised that my appendages looked similar to the beasts I was hunting. That made a lot of other things about the game make more sense. This was why the villagers, who at first seemed to be spewing crazed nonsense, were going on about when they called me a beast. They weren't mad. They knew exactly what I was: a beast. I was just like them, only I was able to control my Beasthood. I could choose when I wanted to transform. Except, when I actually transformed into a werewolf, it was only a partial transformation. Instead of becoming a beast from head to toe, as the citizens of Yharnam could, only my arms seemed to change. Really, it's not much of a transformation at all.
Hardcore Bloodborne players have discovered more about the Beasthood system. Thanks to these players, we now know that Beasthood exists for what is essentially a "beserk" mode. You can devour a Beast Blood Pellet and use a Beast Claw to partially transform into a buffed-up beast. Once in this mode, you gain a bar above your head. The more you attack enemies, the more the bar fills, and the more damage you can deal. But the more your damage multiplies, the more damage you can take, too. The "Beasthood" stat I mentioned earlier determines what kind of a damage multiplier the player gets when they use the Blood Pellet or Beast Claw.
Player MudShadow, using Beast Claws against some Bloodborne enemies.
This information about was received with almost universal disappointment by fans. The game revolves around werewolves -- it was code-named Project Beast -- and you can only partially transform? The only thing you can do once you've transformed is hit harder? Seriously? There's an entire stat devoted to Beasthood, and it only influences a couple of items? Meanwhile, non-player characters get to transform into things like this?
Say it ain't so.
While nobody has been able to find more than what I've discussed here, some players are still holding out on the idea that maybe, just maybe, there's still more to Beasthood. In order to understand why some players are convinced this is the case, we have to go back to last year, when the world originally learned about Bloodborne.
Back in the summer of 2014, Bloodborne screenshots and footage leaked onto the web. Fans immediately noticed that the game would feature beasts of some kind -- hence the original code name for the title, Project Beast. The game's developers at From Software are famous for offering scant details about their games in the time before, and even after, release. While most game companies would have announced Bloodborne with an accompanying fact sheet laying out the finer points of the Beasthood system, Bloodborne remained much more mysterious.
As game websites got a chance to play the game and offer some impressions, many players already seemed to have very specific notions of what the game would include. One early comment on our first hands-on with Bloodborne for example had a commenter saying that they had heard that the protagonist could "slowly transform into a beast." This was before anyone really knew concrete details about the game -- and again, I emphasise that after playing it, everything about Beasthood seems like it was meant to be a surprise, not a marketing bullet point for Bloodborne prior to the release.
So where did this person get the idea that there would be any transformation in the game at all before this information was officially known? The internet, naturally. In some ways, rumours seemed more reliable for some fans over other more official sources. Consider, for example, that the initial trailer for Bloodborne floated around on the internet as early May 2nd, 2014. We didn't post about Project Beast until May 30th, when it seemed more certain that the footage of Project Beast could be legit. In the meantime, unsubstantiated speculation about Beasthood ran rampant on the web, and continued to snowball right up until the release of Bloodborne.
Some players believed that perhaps the blood featured so heavily in the trailers could somehow fully transform the player into a beast. Some fans spoke of something called "beast mode," a transformation that the player could undergo while playing. Fans wondered if the game would allow you to become a werewolf. One Reddit post made six months ago even detailed a supposed Beasthood system that was the cornerstone of the multiplayer experience.
The widely-quoted fan-made Bloodborne Wiki, meanwhile, had this to say about the supposed beast system:
A new game mechanic that will be featured in Bloodborne is the Blood system. Players will be able to harvest blood from enemies. Blood can be used to improve the player's character, however, there are two types of blood: Pure Blood and Tainted Blood. Pure Blood can be obtained from NPC's and human players and, although it is harder to obtain, its consumption doesn't have any negative repercussions to the player's status. Tainted Blood can be obtained from common enemies and it is much easier to find. However, if the player consumes too much Tainted Blood, they will transform into a beast. Becoming a beast will make the character much harder to control and the player will be targeted by other hunters who want to get rid of the beasts. One can regain their human form by consuming Pure Blood.
That all sounds pretty convincing, when you consider it. In the finished game, you can pick up "coldblood pellets" to consume at your leisure. These are given names like "frenzied coldblood" and "kin coldblood," implying that they might have some unique effect. In truth, they just give you varying degrees of the same blood echoes you earn from defeating enemies. Furthermore, the idea of increased beasthood attracting other Hunters feels in line with the antagonistic multiplayer of From's previous Souls games, where other players would frequently invade your world and try to kill you -- something that has been significantly dialed back in the final version of Bloodborne.
A good chunk of the fanbase went into Bloodborne expecting a way more developed transformation system than what the final game appears to have. But this is a From game, and so there's always room for mystery, and even after a couple of weeks of investigation, it remains difficult to authoritatively say what is and isn't in the game. As a result, despite the evidence to the contrary, rumours about an elaborate Beasthood system continue to capture the imaginations of some Bloodborne players.
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This reaction is understandable. Players heard about a cool system before the game launched, and even though it was all rumour and speculation, they ran with it. It reminds me of when GTA players held on to hopes that Grand Theft Auto V hides a jetpack somewhere. So far, players haven't found anything concrete, but they're still searching. Same thing with Bloodborne: some players are still trying to see if there's more to the Beasthood system than what is currently known.
Is it perhaps possible that some of the early rumours were spawned from a legit leak? Things change during development. Maybe there was a more full-fledged Beasthood system that was stripped out at some point in development, and that's why some of the rumours about Beasthood are so detailed. That isn't so outlandish to consider. Bloodborne also hasn't been out for very long, and there's the lingering sense that the game is still hiding many secrets that people haven't found yet.
Remember, the developers at From Software are famously cryptic. Years after the release of Dark Souls, for example, some players are still debating the finer points of the game's lore. Similarly, it's very easy to miss a lot of Bloodborne if you don't look in every nook and cranny -- the game hides damn near everything. Maybe a more elaborate Beasthood is one of these things. Maybe it isn't.
It's also worth considering that one of the authors of the official Bloodborne strategy guide, EpicNameBro, has hinted that there's more to the Beasthood system than people realise. Here's a partial transcript of a Let's Play episode, where he describes Beasthood:
The game is almost built like a horror movie in some ways. There are lots of build-ups that lead to nothing, and then there are plots of build-ups that lead to something...there are some more subtleties to [beast pellets] but I am going to let the community puzzle on that. I'm sorry, a lot of this stuff I only know because I worked on the guide. I have two things I need to consider when I'm talking about [Bloodborne.] The first one is, it's stuff that should be revealed in the guide. The second one is that you wanna give the community a chance to find some of this stuff...[Gascoine] has a really cool line of dialogue. He says something along the lines of, "what's the matter, afraid to show your true self?" That, in combination with beast blood pellets, in combination with your character's hands when performing a visceral attack really starts to give some hints as to what's really going on with your character here. The relationship between hunters and beasts is complicated indeed.
While people have used these comments as evidence that we're missing something about Beasthood, it's still far from a hard, indisputable confirmation of a full werewolf transformation. If anything, EpicNameBro is primarily teasing lore stuff that players might otherwise miss while playing.
A week from now, the official Bloodborne strategy guide will drop, and with time, players will discover all of what Bloodborne has to offer. The mysteries about the game will disappear, and in its stead we will have GameFAQs-level certainty about how it all works. Maybe we'll all be disappointed. Maybe we'll find out that there was something really cool hidden inside of Bloodborne all along, and we just didn't know where to look. Whatever ends up happening, I'm happy to keep obsessing over this stuff. I'm going to keep holding out on the hope that I'll get to watch my character go full werewolf.
Illustration: Sam Woolley