It’s far too easy to disregard Fear The Wolves as yet another battle royal game, and you’d be mostly correct. There are a lot of options for BR fans to chose from, PUBG is most popular when it comes to paid BR games and Fortnite is popular among the free-to-play market, Fear The Wolves falls into the paid BR category.
Fear The Wolves is developed by Vostok Games, a studio consisting of talent from former S.T.A.L.K.E.R development members, they obviously know their way around PC gaming and has used their knowledge from their past experiences from the aforementioned game franchise.
The rules of the game is just like any other BR game, players are dropped onto a big map and must scavenge for weapons and material to aid them in the upcoming battle of survival against other players and an ever shrinking map.
Unlike many other BR games, Fear The Wolves puts more emphasis on the environment, parts of the map is radioactive and will kill players that enter without sufficient gear. The weather will change and hinder movement speed, long range weapons, how far anybody can see and even how vehicles control on the roads. These added touches can keep a match from getting stale and add even more challenges when you know that your bullets are at the mercy of the sudden burst of strong winds.
The biggest part of Fear The Wolves are the titular creatures themselves, the wolves can impact a match by forcing players to use the very limited amount of ammunition they have and could even give away positions.
Running around the map and hearing the leaves blow in the wind or the rain falling to the ground can give you a false sense of serenity, suddenly you’ll hear the heavy panting of a wolf and that sense of peace instantly leaves, the wolves hunt with at least two members and are capable of calling their mate(s) with a unsettling howl.
While running and conserving ammo is the smart thing to do, if a wolf catches scent of a player they will pursue, even going inside of a building won’t help against the overgrown mutated beasts. The wolves are capable of breaking down doors and will do so in their fight to kill players.
Cautions players may be able to sneak past the wolves, given enough space, while resourceful players can use the wolves to attack other players and force them out of hiding. Being able to adapt to the wolves and using them to your advantage is what gives Fear The Wolves a unique edge over other BR games, it’s too bad that the wolves are also the only thing that make the game interesting.
Fear The Wolves has so much going on for players to worry about. The weather, the wolves, radiation sections, the ever closing map, other players and anomalies. All of these things should accumulate to something fun and exciting, instead they’re more frustrating after a few rounds.
The weather never seems to actually affect anything, vehicles are sparse and blends in with other broken vehicles and buildings so players will mostly sprint past them, the only time the weather seems to play a deciding factor is when the map gets foggy and vision takes a noticeable hit.
The wolves appear so often that players will mostly see and fight them before even crossing path with another contestant, it isn’t abnormal to see and kill three or more wolves before getting into a firefight with another player, and that’s if you don’t run across the matriarch wolf herself. She’s larger and far more noticeable than the other wolves and can call in even more wolves as long as she’s alive and the player is within range, taking her down will reward players with her heart, this can be used to ward off wild wolves and even call in a couple of friendly wolves to help protect the heart.
The most basic part of any battle royal game is the closing ring and the rush to avoid it. Fear The Wolves has an interesting way of handling the ring, instead of an actual ring the map closes off according to map squares, this cuts off entire grid squares and leaves no room for error.
Map closure is odd, there are two waves, the initial warning that will cause damage if players are not running, and the normal damage when the first wave has been active for a few seconds. The closure happens a little too quickly, the timer will war players when a square will be cut off within the next minute, but nearly as soon as that square is gone the next one activates, this can lead to sprinting for a good portion of the match if players are out too far.
Anomalies are less scary and more annoying, they don’t move and show up as barely visible waves and will cause irreparable damage if touched, they randomly show up on the map and can be detected by the radiation detector that all players have. While avoiding them is key, they can even pop up close to one another and create maze like traps, running away from one anomaly could just lead players into another and nearly kill them in an instant.
Gameplay is solid and weapons feel balanced, pistols and shotguns work well in closed environments and long range weapons take some time to get used to with their different use of range and wind. The recoil feels different for each weapon and the limited amount of attachments keeps the game from feeling like Call of Duty’s Blackout and more like a survival game, this helps keep things balanced when going up against both players and wolves.
The map is big and full of personality and makes running around discovering new areas fun, but ultimately it starts to feel shallow when every other building looks the same. There are a couple of areas that look vastly different than a majority of the map, but the constant push of the ring ensures that those interesting sections are the first to go.
Scavenging through the map of Fear The Wolves is more than just picking up guns, gear plays an important part as well, from body armor to hazmat suits. The choice of picking a backpack to carry more things over an air tank that can save players if they get caught in the ring is oddly the best thing when it comes to exploring the map.
Planning ahead and finding the right pieces of gear can lead to players surfing long enough to reach the helicopter that shows up at the end of the match. But players will quickly learn to ignore the helicopter and camp nearby instead.
The rescue aircraft will drop a thick coat of red smoke around a small area, players can run through the smoke and make their accession to escape and win, or they can camp within the smoke and wait for others to show up and try their chance. The chances of escaping are far less than just waiting and killing whomever shows up to the escape rope, the climb is woefully slow and leaves players at high risk of getting killed by everybody, the helicopter is basically a giant loud ‘come kill me’ sign. If everybody dies, the last person standing wins, so there’s nearly no point in trying to escape using the helicopter.
Fear The Wolves feels like a free-to-play game but looks and plays like a game worth buying. Unfortunately, there are too many F2P games that has more content and then there’s PUBG with more content for the paid crowd, this game just picked a bad time to come out with a price point.
Fear The Wolves is a solid battle royal game that is marred by questionable design choices and a lack of satisfying content, it still feels like an early access game and could use some more time to add in meaningful gameplay tweaks and a rewarding system beyond coins for apparels that will go unnoticed.
This review of Fear The Wolves is based on the final game provided by Focus Home Interactive for the purpose of review
Fear The Wolves
- Weapons feel balanced
- The map is fun to explore
- The wolves are fun to plan around
- Map closure needs tweaking
- Unsatisfying rewards
- Environment hazards ruins the suspense
- Ideas, like the weather, feels tacked on