Video Game / WolfQuest

WolfQuest is an educational computer game created by the Minnesota Zoo and Eduweb, designed to raise awareness about wolves. It is the first video game to have received a grant from the National Science Foundation.

In this game you play the life of a wild wolf in Yellowstone, from finding a mate and establishing your own territory, to raising your own pups. Along the way you are free to hunt (including on a cattle ranch outside the park if you're willing to risk it), interact with other wolves, and encounter other animals such as coyotes and bears. There is also a multiplayer option where players can connect to create their own pack.

The game was originally envisioned to be four "episodes" long, with each one covering a different season and a different stage in a wolf's life. Episode 1, "Amethyst Mountain" (the fall season, which focused on finding a mate) saw its first release in December 2007. Despite funding issues along the way - the game had grown far bigger than its original scope - the game got its second episode, "Slough Creek" (aka "Survival of the Pack"), two years later, on January 1, 2010. This was the summer episode, focusing on a series of missions where you and your mate establish a den site and raise pups. Its "deluxe" version added weather and time - the winning suggestion in a contest - and was released in fall 2011. This was intended to be the "final" version of the game, since everything was about as complete as it could be and there was not enough funding for a third episode; the game had already outlived expectations by several years. This version, now known as "WolfQuest 2.5", remains free on the WolfQuest website.

WolfQuest 2.7 was released in November 2015 - the name was chosen because it doesn't include a 3rd episode, so "WolfQuest 3" isn't entirely accurate, but the changes make it distinct from 2.5. It was originally meant to just be a tablet port of the game with some bug fixes; however, with the unexpectedly large amount of interest in a tablet version, the massive number of improvements in the game, and additions such as a graphics overhaul, new map, and account/achievement system, it was decided that it would be released on PC and Mac as well. The game has since been released on Steam, iOS, Android, and the Kindle store.

The third major revamp of the game, "WolfQuest 3" (also called "Anniversary Edition"), is expected to be released in late 2017 or early 2018, and is in fact a full remake of the game rebuilt from scratch, with an entirely new codebase and AI, updated gameplay, and bigger, re-made maps. Future purchaseable DLC, such as the third episode, "Tower Fall", will be based upon this edition of the game.


  • Always Over the Shoulder: The main camera setting.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Prior to the release of Slough Creek, your mate was pretty much useless. All it would do was follow you around, and run in circles.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • A fan-nickname for a particular dead tree in the game - the one on the far bottom-right of the Amethyst Mountain map, surrounded by a forest of live trees - was the "Moontree". The Lost River map acknowledges this by having a movie poster on the cinema advertising a movie called "The Moon Moon Tree", combining both the WolfQuest community's meme and the more widespread Moon Moon meme, and showing a wolf near a dead tree.
    • Similarly, a movie poster with a bear and the words "Bob's Angry" was added later on, in reference to players frequently nicknaming the grizzly bear "Bob".
  • Autosave: Added in 2.7.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Bears are dangerous and can kill you in about three or four hits, but at least as of 2.7 there’s a 20% chance of scaring them off each time you bite them.
  • Beating A Dead Player: In older versions of the game, bears would continue to attack your wolf once they killed him.
  • Brick Joke: In 2008, when someone asked on the forum if there'd be any other animal games in the style of WolfQuest, WQ Project Coordinator Michelle joked that the team thought "SlothQuest" could have some exciting gameplay. In 2015, the Lost River map was released, containing some abandoned arcade games named SlothQuest.
  • Camera Lock-On:
    • You can lock onto anything you can bite, whether prey or predators.
    • A full-screen lock-on occurs when your pups are in danger from a specific predator - can be skipped by the player.
  • Camera Screw: Can happen sometimes, but 2.7 improves it a lot.
  • Character Customization: You design your wolf by picking from five pelt colors and moving the sliders to adjust the hue, and you also choose how to balance your wolf's strength, stamina, and speed. 2.7 adds seven new howls to choose from, ten new pelt colors, and some options such as scars, notched ears, and walking with a limp.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: To portray the way a wolf can scent things, we have "Scent View": the screen is grayscale (or not, with older or integrated graphics cards) with a different color for each type of scent: Purple/pink for elk (with a more reddish tint for the bull elk), green for coyotes and wolf pups, yellow for wolf territory markers, blue for bears, and orange for hares.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: Depending on what you're locked on to, the spacebar can be used to either attack another animal, eat from a carcass, or pick up/put down pups.
  • Death from Above: The golden eagle is an unusual enemy in that it flies, and therefore is unable to be chased away before it dives down to scoop up one of your pups.
  • Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer: As long as the player who started the pack doesn't leave.
  • Escort Mission: The final one - taking your pups to the rendezvous point.
  • Experience Points: Earned by killing things, interacting with enemy wolves, and marking territory. Earns you things such as a bonus den choice, one of your pups being pure white, and the ability to name your pups. As of 2.7 it is required as part of the game itself: a certain number are needed in order for dispersals to start appearing in Amethyst Mountain.
  • Fast-Forward Mechanic: You have the option to make your wolf sleep until a different time of day.
  • Free Rotating Camera: You have the option of rotating the camera if you wish.
  • Freeware Game: The pre-2.7 version of the game remains free (though the text chat of 2.5 has been killed off due to an agreement with the Minnesota Zoo, leaving only phrased-chat and no-chat options.)
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • The early versions of Amethyst Mountain, before Amethyst Mountain Deluxe was released, had some of these:
      • The infamous "Circles" glitch in Multiplayer happened frequently: all players' wolves would suddenly stop moving properly - they would either walk slowly in a perfectly straight line (unable to turn), or run in circles. The only way to fix this was leaving the Multiplayer game.
      • One patch caused wolves to get stuck in the elk-biting position, standing on their hindlegs and losing their stamina, making it hard to move and impossible to eat or do anything else.
      • Another patch mixed up the pelt colors and names of the wolves in various save files if there was more than one save file on the same computer.
    • A common complaint about the Lost River map is how easy it is to get stuck in literally any set of stairs. The only way to escape a stairway once you're stuck in it is to reload the game.
  • Ghost Town: A major feature of the Lost River map.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted; though they're not exactly "children", your pups are definitely vulnerable and can be permanently killed by starvation, predator attacks, and even you.
  • Howling to the Night and Wolves Always Howl at the Moon: Originally inverted - before Slough Creek Deluxe came out and the entire game was just "daytime", players could make their wolf howl at any time, except the nighttime cattle ranch mission. Now that we have different times, players can howl at whatever time of day they want, including night.
  • HUD: Contains your wolf's four meters (Life Meter, Stamina Meter, Pack Affinity Meter, and Territory Security Meter), your mate and pups' Life Meters, how much food you are carrying for your pups, and a compass that also shows wind direction and the location of nearby wolf territories and elk hunting grounds.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: A wolf can be near death, but eating a good quarter of an elk or so brings it back to good health in a matter of seconds.
  • Idle Animation: Your wolf will eventually sit down and... lick. Your wolf's mate always remains standing when idle, but will occasionally wag its tail. Pups may bow down in the "let's play" posture, among other things.
  • Instant Death Bullet: All it takes is one gunshot in the cattle ranch to instantly kill your wolf.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: When your wolf sleeps, you can plan what time to wake up in. This is mostly just an aesthetic thing, though elk won't detect you as easily at dawn or dusk.
  • Invisible Wall: The edges of the map are bounded by these, and there's some extra ones blocking you from places you might get stuck.
  • Microtransactions: Due to 2.7 and later versions being made without grant money, they're relying on money from the game's sales.
    • While the PC version contains the full game of 2.7 (Amethyst Mountain, Slough Creek, Lost River, all customizations, and multiplayer) for one price, the mobile/tablet version gives the demo for free and offers two microtransactions ("pelt options", which includes all customizations beyond the default 5 pelts, and "full game", which includes Slough Creek, Lost River, and multiplayer.) The total of the two microtransactions comes out close to (slightly less than) the PC game's purchase price.
    • Future updates, such as "Tower Fall", will also be individual paid DLC for both mobile and PC versions of the game.
  • Mighty Roar: Bears.
  • Mook Bouncer: Enter the southern territory when trying to bring your pups to the summer rendezvous point, and one of their pack's wolves will run up to you and you'll be teleported outside their territory, usually a considerable distance toward the direction opposite the one you're trying to go. As of 2.7, stranger wolves now run up and "greet" you at their territory border should you cross it. This merely results in your wolf taking a few steps back and being warned to return to your pups before any stranger wolves get at them.
  • New Game+: Experience points allow you to unlock special abilities and things such as the ability to name your pups, how efficiently you mark your territory, a secret 4th den, and a "white" puppy (who, as of 2.7, is no longer pure white but instead just a noticeably lighter colour than its siblings). In 2.7, experience points are connected to individual wolves, not to save files, which means you can play through the single player campaign again and again with the same wolf, gaining more EXP for it each time you do. Rack up enough EXP for that wolf over time and you'll eventually unlock everything.
  • The Nose Knows: Scent View.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • Unless your wolf has near-minimum strength, rabbits only take one bite to kill.
    • Being shot at the cattle ranch results in your wolf dropping dead instantly.
  • Power Up Motif: There is a little chime in Multiplayer when players successfully complete a Pack Rally to get a temporary strength bonus.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: While you can choose to be male or female, the only thing that this affects in-game is your wolf's size (males are larger than females) and which gender dispersal you need to find to be your mate. The gameplay itself is completely the same whether you choose male or female.
  • Respawn Point: In Multiplayer, it's a short distance away from where you died.
  • Save Point: Any time except when a stranger wolf is nearby (due to the fact that many glitches were caused by saving in or near a social arena).
  • Shown Their Work: The game realistically portrays a wolf's life. The game areas (apart from Lost River) are based directly off real areas in Yellowstone - right down to small ponds and a dead lightning-struck tree. The packs - and pelt colors of wolves in those packs - are based on real-life Yellowstone packs that existed at the time (Druid Peak, Slough Creek, and Specimen Ridge.) The new customization options in 2.7 are also based on real-life packs (the Lamar Canyon pack and Blacktail Deer pack), while the "limpy" customization option comes from a real-life Yellowstone wolf nicknamed Limpy. The team consults with wolf biologists such as Dr. Dan MacNulty of Utah State University and Dr. David L. Mech, Senior Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and one of the most famous wolf biologists in the field.
  • Spiritual Successor: WolfQuest is one of these. It's essentially the old Abandonware DOS game Wolf modernized.
  • Skybox: Has different ones for each map's four times of day.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The golden eagle up to 2.5. No matter how many times you chase it away, it will come back. It's less frequent in 2.7.
  • Tuckerization: Many locations and buildings in Lost River are named after developers and beta testers. A full list can be found here.
  • Updated Re-release: 2.7 was this to 2.5, with updated graphics, a new map, an achievement/account system, tons of bugfixes, and some other updated features. 3.0 will also be this to 2.7, as it is an entire remake of the game: a new codebase (since the previous one was a decade old and had become pretty tangled over the years), new AI, remade/bigger maps for Amethyst Mountain and Slough Creek (updated to reflect how the land has changed since then; the burned region in Amethyst Mountain is now a growing forest), and more.
  • Variable Mix: There's several different music tracks for just exploring and gameplay in general, but there are specific ones for hunting, interactions with stranger wolves, coming across coyotes, and being near angry bears.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Aside from the predators you have to kill/chase off during the "Defend Your Pups" mission, it's up to you just how many animals you harass, injure, or kill in Yellowstone. This even extends to your own offspring.
  • Video Game Geography: Type 1, of the flat and rectangular variety. With Invisible Walls.
  • Video Game Objectives: Which include finding a mate, protecting your pups, and escorting them to the other side of the map, among other things.
  • Wild Wilderness: Well, it does take place in Yellowstone.