Fear the Wolves is a project that was started last September and is being developed by Vostok Games, a Ukrainian studio composed of several of the key developers who made S.T.A.L.K.E.R., a series that helped lay the foundations of the now thriving survival genre. During Focus Interactive's What's Next event in Paris, we were in attendance during a short presentation of this new title. The booth was discreet, something which mirrors the sliver of information we have so far about the game, however, despite it being too early to get our hands on the game, it sounds like it's going to be rather innovative.
This innovation is set to manifest itself via Vostok's take on the battle royale genre, which we've seen in the last-man-standing PvP action we all know from the likes of PUBG, except here there are additional PvE challenges. The goal of the studio is to build new and original ideas around this burgeoning genre, expanding on the ideas seen in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Fortnite, and H1Z1.
If you know a little about the past work of the developers, then you can probably work out in advance that the setting will be an immersive post-apocalyptic world. The 25 square kilometre map shows the ruined structures that acted as the infrastructure surrounding Chernobyl, the Russian town that was left to nature back in 1986 after a catastrophic nuclear incident. In this irradiated area there'll be vehicles to help you get around (if you can find them and get them started, that is), with the threat of radiation poisoning pushing a hundred players toward a certain area on the map.
Players begin the game either in a small team or playing solo, but always empty-handed. As we've seen before in other games, we'll have to find clothes and equipment, as well as weapons and consumables, scavenging the local area in search of game-changing gear. Also, don't expect the stuff you need to simply fall in your lap, as you'll often have to face dangerous creatures if you're to get to them. Can you already feel the disappointment of risking life and limb only to find terrible loot?
You should know that in Fear the Wolves death won't only come at the hand of a fellow survivor, as there are also supernatural beasties and mutated animals that want you dead. The wolves, for example, vaguely resemble the dogs from Resident Evil, with missing pieces of flesh making them look particularly menacing. Avoiding confrontation with other players might then be a genuine tactical option, with the environment potentially pitching in and handling some of the dirty work for you. That goes both ways though, and you'll also need to find a way to survive on your own...
And it's not going to be easy either, with both other players and the local fauna trying to kill you. A day/night cycle is being added to make your life (and vision) tricky, and we were promised an agonisingly tense atmosphere during the night-time phases. Dynamic weather also brings additional difficulties. Windy weather, for example, could handicap players and their aim, with ballistic physics duly impacted, and may we even prevent them from hearing a nearby enemy as they approach. Furthermore, rain will affect survivors' vision, making spotting an enemy off in the distance even harder, and it can even impact on your stamina. Other types of weather are still being planned, and we were told that there might even be several different types appearing during matches, depending on the duration. The triggering of these environmental events will be decided by a voting system for players, while viewers watching streams may also have their say in influencing the game (not dissimilar to what we've seen in Darwin Project).
According to the studio there are still a lot of different pieces of equipment and weapon types in development, however, the range of guns is going to be pretty straightforward. While the monsters might be out of the ordinary, your arsenal won't be grounded in science fiction. It's not all about the guns though, as a few of the gadgets will help you stay alive in other ways, such as gas masks that assist with radiation for an extended period of time so you can stay in the more dangerous zones for a little longer, maybe buying you the time to find improved gear, or even giving you the edge in fight with an ill-equipped opponent.
It would be too easy to pigeonhole Fear The Wolves as merely the evolution of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. into a battle royale shooter, but neither can you deny that the cult favourite franchise was a major source of inspiration. That being said, the game-changing dynamic promised by the dynamic weather systems and the day/night cycle, as well as the deadly mutated creatures you'll find in the world, will clearly contribute to what sounds like a unique atmosphere. The idea to involve viewers in the triggering of random events is interesting too, which along with its heritage could make it popular among streamers, which is essential for the survival of these types of games.
Developed using the Unreal Engine 4 engine, the title is expected to land on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with Vostok Games aiming to release it publically later this year. Before that happens there are plans for an early access launch, which should be available soon. We'll then have the opportunity to take a more detailed look at what Fear the Wolves has to offer, and we'll share those thoughts with you here on Gamereactor as we always do...