Fear the Wolves Review: A Half-Baked Battle Royale
Fear the Wolves, a new battle royale game from Vostok Games, has just left Early Access on Steam. Those of you who have had the chance to play Survarium, another game by Vostok, will have a clear idea of what to expect from this one. Unfortunately, that is not much.
Fear the Wolves follows the traditional battle royale formula, with a few extra concepts on top to make it standout from the rest of the games in the genre. But ultimately, it's a half-baked attempt at an increasingly hyped idea.
Fear the Wolves is set in the Chernobyl zone, which is under constant threat of a radioactive cloud. Everything looks old, rusty, and practically ready to collapse at any second.
For a moment, you might think that this would make for an interesting and original setting for a battle royale game. However, Fear of the Wolves' world looks almost exactly like PlayerUnkown's Battlegrounds' first map, Erangel.
While other new battle royale titles have tried to find their own distinct look when it comes to world-building, in this game, there is nothing but the same old buildings and barns PUBG players will have seen many times before. That said, there are a few original things in Fear the Wolves map, but the execution is questionable.
For example, the game has a dynamic weather system, which seems great on paper but doesn't work here. While changing weather could add to a sense of immersion, sound plays such an important role in any battle royale game, and when weather gets stormy in Fear the Wolves, you get completely distracted by the noise of the rain instead of hearing your enemies approaching.
One of the biggest innovations that has been implemented in Fear the Wolves is the game's take on the so-called "ring of death." Here, actually, it's not a ring, but more like squares, which fill out the territory and narrow down the safe zone of the map. These squares are the aforementioned radioactive cloud, and it damages players who get within its borders.
Notably, this cloud doesn't move in a linear fashion. This makes things a bit annoying, as you often can't figure out where to move next because the cloud can simply get there first and destroy your plans. That's not even the worst part though, as there are also anomalies that manifest out of nowhere that can kill you instantly.
All of these "innovative" mechanics don't make the game more exciting. On the contrary, they make it terribly frustrating, and it completely kills the experience.
There is one thing that the developers did get right though: a change to the way matches begin. When the game was first released through Early Access in 2018, matches started as they do in many other battle royale game, with players dropping from the sky.
This landing mechanic was executed horribly in Fear the Wolves, as there was no possibility to control the speed of the landing or manually release a parachute. This led to matches starting slowly, which, obviously, many players did not like.
Now, you simply spawn in a random location on the map, and you are immediately ready to go. No more waiting to land, and that is a good thing here.
Another feature that sets Fear the Wolves apart from the rest of the pack is the end-game. Instead of needing to kill all of the opponents on the map, players just need to be able to survive until a helicopter arrives. The player that gets to the helicopter first wins the match.
Additionally, the final stages of a match introduce violent wolves to the map. These beasts appear from the woods, and they're quite terrifying. However, the AI is pretty bad, so there is no problem killing them or getting away as needed.
Graphics and Optimization
With the release of Fear the Wolves, the visual have improved slightly from the game's Early Access days. However, the FPS drops remain untouched, and it looks like it's going to take a lot more effort to fix that issue than many players thought.
Another problem is the network problems and unreliable servers that regularly blackout in the middle of a match. This occurs despite the fact that there aren't even that many players on the servers.
This is the main issue that have to be fixed as soon as possible. A game that requires quick reactions is simply not playable with constant lag, and this problem is likely to suck all of the joy out of the experience for much of the game's playerbase.
- Wolves, as the PvE element
- Unoriginal setting
- Unnecessary dynamic weather system
- Frustrating "ring of death" mechanic
- Lack of weapons and attachments
- Lag and glitches
If you look really hard, you can find a few redeeming qualities in Fear the Wolves. If the developers had one more year to polish the game, then it could even be a decent alternative to PUBG. But the fact is that the game is currently in worse shape than many other battle roayle games that are free-to-play.
Of course, if the game gets better with bug-fixing patches and more good content, then it does have a chance to survive. However, that ship may have sailed, and Vostok may simply not be able to salvage Fear the Wolves.
[Note: A copy of Fear the Wolves was provided by Focus Home Interactive for the purpose of this review.]