Fear the Wolves launched on 6 February 2019 on the PC on Steam. It was developed by Vostok Games and published by Focus Home Interactive. It is a horror Battle Royale FPS game.
AIR Entertainment obtained a digital copy of the game for review purposes.
Welcome to Chernobyl. Or at least what is left of it. Fear the Wolves puts you in the hot radiation seat, trying to survive against the radiation that grows within the wasted area.
It is a Battle Royale game, but instead of an encroaching circle, radiation areas grow until there is no space left untouched. Your main mission is to find the helicopter that will whisk you away into the sunset before anyone else does.
But that’s not your only problem. In the wastes, there are dire wolves, sickly mutated by the radiation. They will hunt anyone down who roam the small villages with ruined buildings and destroyed vehicles.
You can either play it co-op with other against other teams, or you can play Solo against other Solo or Co-op players. There is a maximum level of 8 players per round. With the increase in radiation growth and wolves and humans killing each other, the 8 players run die out pretty quickly.
There are a multitude of weapons to be found, with an array of attachments that are pleasing to discover on the field. Also to be found are radiation suits and equipment, with respective levels that provide further protection. If you are protected enough, you can head into the radiation zones for some rather fantastic loot.
As far as the enemies goes, the wolves are truly to be feared. I have been killed off more by wolves than human players or radiation. Despite killing numerous wolves, specifically the white leader, they appear to spawn endlessly. I usually run out of ammo before killing off the wolves that are hunting me down. This has been rather vexing.
Despite the frustration, the concept itself is solid. If one just takes the idea alone, you have the model for a fantastic game. And as a fan of horror, this game excites me. And this is why I’m happy to give the story element of the game a high score.
Sadly, it is the gameplay of the game that severely disappoints. Ignoring some of the terrible glitches in the game, the worst factor of the game is that there are not enough players at any given time to truly enjoy the game. Most of the time, I am playing alongside two other players, and we hardly even spot each other.
I’ve made it to a helicopter once, just to be killed off by radiation as I tried to work out how to access entry via the overhanging ladder. Every other time, I have been killed off by wolves. Yes, I know the title specifically says to Fear the Wolves. But no matter how much I kill a heard off, another one seems to spawn nearby almost immediately. This makes any attempt to even find a means to escape Chernobyl futile.
What amazed me (in a bad way) was that the wolves can kill me during the pre-match lobby. I can run around in the fields while waiting for the game to load, picking up weapons and ammo that will not load with me when the match starts. But… what is the point of being killed by wolves while I’m waiting for a game to begin?
Of huge concern is that the game itself takes so long to load. I have Steam games with much greater specs than Fear the Wolves, but somehow the game takes the longest to load. I fear there is a problem with the game itself, somewhere in the system, that is causing major issues.
Once again, the gameplay mechanics of escaping the radiation zones in Battle Royale fashion is to be praised. If only the wolves would let me live long enough to make it to the end. I know games like this should not be easy, but hell, I am meant to actually finish a round… right?
SOUND AND GRAPHICS
If you have a high end gaming computer with fast internet speed, the graphics are quite decent. There are some serious glitching in moments, and other areas where certain items seem pasted on, but the glitches I believe are more gameplay problems than graphics.
There are many spectacular scenes, especially if you’re sniping from high camping areas. In the distance, the details are beautiful. Up close, they need more work. I know the wolves are mutated, but they look more strange and absurb than frightening.
Even though some details are not as polished as the trailers promises the game to be, I am still rather pleased with the graphics. It’s better than many FPS games I’ve played recently and still deserves a high score.
Now, I’m familiar with sound lagging. When your internet ping rate isn’t as good as you would like it to be, sound can be delayed. However, I’ve had some weird experience with sound in Fear the Wolves.
The first is when certain sounds are suddenly softer than they should be. I’ve fired my gun many times, wondering why the shots were so soft. And then during mid-battle, the sound will volume up again.
The second, is the reception of the sound. I’ve been playing with headphones on, so when sounds occur in a certain area around me, I expect to hear the respective sound in a certain way. I would hear a sound behind me, but as I am turning, the sound vanishes completely until I face the new direction, and then the sound explodes.
The sounds themselves are great though. Footsteps over the gravel, water running in the river, steps on the metal stairs, etc. It is just the execution of the sound that appears to be the actual problem. I will admit that the sound of wolves nearby is quite terrifying when you know they are out to kill you. It makes me skip a beat and run for the nearest building, so that in itself is fantastic.
Just don’ expect any combat music in the background. Everything is focused on your surroundings, so many times there will be silence while you wait in tall grass.
Fear the Wolves takes you into the heart of irradiated Chernobyl, battling the elements, other players and wolves in Battle Royale mode. The concept of the game is fantastic, but poorly executed. While the game can still be enjoyed despite small issues, the major issue is that the game does not have enough players to truly be savoured it as it is meant to be. Adding bots would be a welcome feature, but since receiving a review copy of the game in February, I have not seen any improvement. I would honestly not recommend buying the game in its current state, and believe it should be made free-to-play like so many other, better, titles out there.
Fear the Wolves receives 6.5/10 for an overall score.