The results of the poll for this month on my Patreon are in, and the winner is an opinionated article on werewolf video games!

For clarity’s sake: this will be a relatively concise list of SOME video games in which you can or do play as a werewolf. It will NOT include every single game in which you can or do play as a werewolf, nor will it include certain kinds of playable werewolves that exist in gaming, for the sake of brevity. You’ll notice some missing and then want to be first to tell me I left out [thing], but I assure you I am aware of those too. I am also not going to list games in which you can play as a werewolf but it requires either user-made mods or else playing in a custom campaign/tileset/server (like Neverwinter Nights <3), only games wherein you can play as a werewolf as part of base game or expansion pack mechanics.

This IS a tiered list. It is tiered based on the werewolf gameplay mechanics and elements in the game.

Let’s get started. I will begin at #9, go to #1, and then I will close with some words on some other games that didn’t make the numbered list.

9. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Note: your player character will never have torn-up clothing or use his claws like in this artwork/like the enemy worgen do

I’m just going to list Cataclysm here because, frankly, I don’t even want to discuss WoW at Shadowlands and beyond… even if discussing the model update will reach into that era of content. Obviously, I don’t play WoW anymore and haven’t in quite a while, but yeah, I used to really enjoy it. Played it for many, many years. Probably too many.

Cataclysm was a pretty outright bad expansion, but it did add playable worgen (something I obviously wanted from day 1 after seeing the worgen mobs running around), and they can even turn into human form, which is a must for me in terms of actually being a werewolf instead of just a wolf-person, which I wouldn’t even roll. That was a nice touch I didn’t actually expect from the devs.

Unfortunately, the model update turned them into something far “cuter” and more cuddly than I liked, not to mention adding preposterous fur options like stripes and merle, but the human form customization was nice. Still, the model update drove me toward playing different races, like maining my kul’tiran and night elf instead of the worgen I was always ultimately pretty disappointed in, given his wearing fine armor and wielding giant weapons. Anyway, the entire game took a huge nosedive not long after the model change, so it’s a moot point for me regardless.

As for the deeper worgen lore beyond “they are werewolves with a funny name”: I hate it with all my heart. I did my best to ignore every scrap of that and how they are just self-parodies, to delete the Gilneas/worgen starting zone quests from my entire brain, and especially to ignore the fact that they were all preposterously British despite England being one of the last places historically to even have many werewolf legends of its own. I have an article about that here if you are interested in the topic. The game made all of these things very difficult, especially how hard they wanted to drive home that the worgen are silly posh British parody dog-people strutting around in waistcoats and tophats instead of being fearsome cursed werewolves. So I won’t bother going into all that.

The mechanics are fun except for the fact that you have to wear armor and use weapons, so ultimately you just look like a beast-person instead of a werewolf, especially after the model change making them far more appealing to a certain demographic. If Blizzard had wanted to put in effort, they would have made your gear look tattered and would have made you swap to claws when you turn, but that would’ve been a lot of work. They could have at least added a specialized class or something and then also given it to some Horde races to make the precious Horde players happy. I don’t know. I just think werewolves wearing fine clothes and armor and wielding weapons is immensely silly. They’re supposed to be werewolves.

So while they are extremely far from perfect, the worgen are at least relatively fun in that, if nothing else, you can go between werewolf and human forms and run on all fours as fast as the fastest ground mount, and I am deeply surprised they did either. I immensely enjoyed both of those things during my time playing a worgen, and they helped mitigate the great disappointment otherwise in many other regards – though not enough to keep me from maining other races, especially later on. But, in the end, WoW sucks now and it’s unrecoverable, and WoW Classic is a joke, so I’ll never be playing a worgen again anyway.

8. Diablo II

I’m sure you were looking for this one – the werewolf druid in Diablo II (preemptive sidebar: I am not going to talk about Diablo IV). I love his design and gameplay mechanics. He’s fantastic. However, he is of course yet another instance of “the werewolf must be a druid,” which I personally find a little tiresome after so much of it. But hey, this was one of the earlier games to do that, so it predated a lot of the craze.

At any rate, the Druid class in Diablo II obviously gets a werewolf form. It also gets a requisite werebear because werewolves can almost never just be werewolves, but at least the werewolf does not completely suck. You can also summon wolves, which is a bonus.

While I’m not really that big on Diablo-type gameplay – I prefer either third-person or else a proper isometric, party-based RPG – so Diablo II didn’t really hold my interest a lot, the werewolf druid is very fun and a very cool werewolf, the setting is great, and the werewolf suits the dark Gothic feeling and look of the game that is enjoyable and well conveyed in the first place. The werewolf druid is a great addition that I am glad they added.

7. Baldur’s Gate II

Let me make something perfectly clear: Baldur’s Gate II is, in my opinion, the best game ever made (only Uncharted 2: Among Thieves also makes this rank for me). Combined with BG1 to create the Baldur’s Gate Saga, it is one of the best stories ever told and also my favorite game mechanics-wise, again alongside Uncharted 2 even if yes, I know that those games could almost not be farther apart in terms of mechanics. I absolutely love BG2 beyond words. Please note I am talking about the original Baldur’s Gate II, as released in 2000, not the “Enhanced Edition,” which is a disgrace to the game, the entire series, and a piece of garbage. It’s shamefully difficult to find the original game anymore, but it’s worth it over playing the EE; trust me. I’ll try to spare you any further ranting on this topic, as the original Baldur’s Gate Saga is something very close to my heart.

Anyway, the werewolf in BG2 is – once again – a druid, specifically a druid subclass called Shapeshifter. It doesn’t really have any werewolf gameplay mechanics in that you are not treated differently for it, nor do you transform out of your own control. In fact you will be spending the majority of your time in werewolf form, which can get quite tiresome. I’m not the biggest fan of a werewolf holding normal conversations with NPCs, etc. But regardless, it’s there, and I love it, and it looks awesome, and that’s more than I can say for so many games. Plus, you get cool bonuses and stuff. The power of it varies over time and with the progression of your character. I will not go too deeply into it, as I am actually an insane D&D video game nerd and even today I can spend far too much time building characters and tweaking numbers and doing ridiculous tricks in D&D games to powergame. If you want just one of my credentials I beat BG2 on the hardest difficulty with Ascension and no other gameplay mods. Long story short, the Greater Werewolf is quite powerful, and it shouldn’t be a detriment to your party to either be one or bring along Cernd, one of my favorite companions.

So don’t listen to the people down on the Shapeshifter in BG2. You can get mods that make them overpowered, anyway. Also don’t listen to my complaints about it not feeling werewolfish enough because that’s nearly impossible to come by anyway if you’re not playing the #1 game on this list. Go try one out. It’s fun! Plus, BG2 is the best game ever made.

6. Altered Beast

What are some of Mav’s favorite things? Ancient Greece, hoplites, hot men, werewolves, dragons, tigers…

When I found out Altered Beast exists and is a game wherein you play as an awesome hoplite dude and turn into a werewolf, a green dragon, a tiger-man, and ultimately a werewolf is still the most powerful of all his forms, I was ecstatic. I had to play it immediately.

I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a fun, unforgiving game, because it was made before video games started becoming what I think we’re supposed to call accessible today. I don’t know what else there is to say about the game if what I’ve already said hasn’t convinced you to play it. The werewolf form is your first transformation, and your most powerful is a golden werewolf. Me being me, I appreciate that a werewolf form is still the best in the end instead of being outshone by other creatures, and even the other forms available are all very cool.

As I said, I really don’t know what more one could ask for of this setting and gameplay. I’ve never been picky about genre; I play a very wide variety of video games and have plenty of fun, and I certainly had fun with this one.

(Note: I’m not going to talk about that 2005 Altered Beast remake, I like to pretend it never happened)

5. Werewolf the Apocalypse: Earthblood

I’ll be the first to admit I’m far from the biggest World of Darkness fan ever, as has brought many insults my way already, but I was pleasantly surprised by the mechanics of the werewolf form in Earthblood. I will not call it the “crinos form,” as that terminology is so immensely silly that I could no longer take it seriously if I did. So anyway, the gameplay actually lets you feel like a werewolf, and you even get two stances you can swap between for different combat styles instead of anchoring werewolves down to just doing one thing. I’m not going to wax on about the lore, the story, etc. – but man the werewolf mechanics really are fun. It is, of course, the main draw of the whole deal, and they didn’t slouch on that element.

It’s important to me that a werewolf feel powerful and also violent. Werewolves should not be cuddly, or else they are no longer werewolves. Painting hallways with the blood of my enemies as if I’m recreating the Ninja lead-up in Metal Gear Solid while in werewolf form is cathartic and a good way to give the player a sense of being a werewolf instead of just an animal-headed person. This is a very solid “play as a werewolf” game, and one of the few games that exist with the primary purpose of letting you really play as a werewolf, whether you are a predetermined character or not. Be warned, the game is notoriously janky, but if you’re like me, you’re enjoying the werewolf mechanics enough that you don’t care – or you can be even more like me and not give a toss about “jankiness” in a game in the first place.

4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

While a significant and crushing downgrade from the werewolves in certain other Elder Scrolls entries – more on that momentarily – at least Skyrim let you become a werewolf in the base game. No waiting for an expansion pack and no waiting forever until you move on (thanks, Oblivion). However, the differences between the mechanics of werewolves in past entries and the Skyrim werewolves are many and tragic. I confess I did not play Skyrim much, partially as a result of these exact elements, and partially because I just don’t spend much time playing video games anymore, among other things.

In Skyrim, being a werewolf becomes what is colloquially called an “awesome button,” letting you turn into a big, strong, cool werewolf that can eat people to extend your werewolf timer. It’s great and enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t actually feel as if you are truly cursed with lycanthropy or smelly lupus or whatever silly name Elder Scrolls gave it (yes, I know the name, but that doesn’t make it less silly). You have no real disadvantages to being a werewolf, such as having to worry about when you will transform outside your own control – because you never will, which is an immense downgrade in terms of feeling werewolfish and adding appropriate challenge and downside to being a werewolf. You also don’t have to worry about being forced to devour a civilized race in order to sate your accursed hunger. Instead, you’re doing that on purpose to turn out of werewolf form again, because the more you eat, the longer you stay transformed. Still, the werewolves in Skyrim are good – they just don’t compare to previous entries. But I certainly appreciate them and the fact that they are present in the base game.

3. The Sims 3

Trust me, they do look better in game, but I couldn’t find any of my own screenshots because it’s been a hot minute since I played this.

You probably think I’m trolling you, but the werewolves in The Sims have always been pretty fun; I remember when the ones in 2 first came out, I enjoyed them like crazy. The ones in 3 rocked and were easily the best variant; too bad the game is relatively difficult to get running properly, and many aspects of the werewolves are delicate and easy to glitch, including your entire Sim’s werewolf form design. I am not going to talk about those abominations that were added to The Sims 4, because they are some of the worst things I have ever had the misfortune of seeing and are not werewolves by any metric.

Sims 3 changed the aspects of Sims 2 werewolves that I didn’t like, such as how being a werewolf altered your sim’s entire personality over time and how the werewolf form always looked the same. They made the system much more robust. Frankly, the Sims 3 werewolves are some of the better werewolves in gaming, especially for the kind of game that The Sims is (expect assorted dog jokes, for example, given it’s The Sims, yet it still isn’t half as bad as it could be). I also love the wolf-man design; it works much better with Sims than something bigger and more wolfish. Certainly far better than whatever the hell is in Sims 4, which again, I will try my best not to talk about.

Anyway, I absolutely recommend Sims 3 if you enjoy Sims games and werewolves and want to have some werewolf fun. I’d probably still be occasionally blowing my finite amount of time on this earth playing it if I had it properly running on my current PC.

2. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

Bet you didn’t expect to see this one, did you? You thought I was gonna say Skyrim as #2, right? Actually, I bet you thought I was going to say that one as #1.

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall is a game many would consider unapproachable today. I enjoyed it. Obviously, I played it for the playable werewolf, and I had fun! They work similarly to the ones in Bloodmoon, but, in my opinion, they still aren’t as fantastic as the Bloodmoon ones. But the game does force you to actually live and behave as a werewolf – I love the werewolf hunter[s] mechanic – which, again… it’s almost the only one of its kind other than Bloodmoon. For that, it gets #2 on this list.

And that means you know what makes #1, untouched in its glory, undimmed by time…

1. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – Bloodmoon

Alright. Have I ever talked about how this is the single greatest werewolf game ever made? I think I have, but let’s get into it again.

I like Morrowind in the first place. I think it’s hands down the best of the Elder Scrolls series and, frankly, the only one really worth dedicating much time to (forgive me). I played it when it first came out, and while I have never been the kind of person to pour hours into any ES or even any other open world game, Morrowind held my attention even as a kid – before I knew about “open world” and before it was such a buzzword – whereas other games before and after it struggled to do so or else failed entirely. Morrowind was groundbreaking for its time in many ways. And then they announced the expansion pack called Bloodmoon that would let you play as a werewolf. I was so excited I could hardly stand it, and even with my extreme werewolf pickiness, I was not disappointed. At all.

This is a game wherein the werewolves are treated as a serious threat, they are insanely rare to encounter in the wild in any capacity (I actually became a werewolf through a random encounter because I ran around on Solstheim obsessively every night rather than just becoming one through the story – it took me many nights, IRL, to encounter one), and when you do run into them, they are likely to destroy you. You are insanely, over the top powerful when you turn into a werewolf, yourself. Some would even call it stupid. I would not. You run at the speed of light and your jump turns into borderline flight. It’s basically gliding. You’re also preposterously powerful in general. I love it.

Most importantly of all, however, is that you are actually forced to roleplay as a werewolf. You will turn each night, and you must consume 1 victim NPC of any of the playable races. Solstheim is full of assorted enemies that will work for this, but when you go back to Vvardenfell, it can be harder to find a nightly meal while avoiding devouring any quest NPCs. Plus, you have to manage your gear before and after transformations, and you have to be sure you are never witnessed transforming. The entire system is in-depth and very awesome, making you actually feel like a cursed being that has to worry when the sun starts to set, forcing you to run far from civilization.

I cannot put into words how much I adore this game’s werewolf system. Nothing compares. This is a real werewolf system, instead of “play as a wolf-person” or “hit the awesome button to become a werewolf for a little while with 0 consequences” like basically every other werewolf game out there.

So long story short, if you claim to love werewolves and want to play as one in a video game, and you haven’t played Bloodmoon, then you’re lying to yourself and the whole world. Shame on you.

And now for things that didn’t make the list…

10. Assorted Acknowledgements

This category is for ones I don’t even really have a lot to say about, but I figured I would mention them.

  • Terraria – You can get an item that lets you turn into a werewolf when night falls. It’s pretty fun! I like the mechanics of it, plus it has a neat werewolf design, to boot. I dock serious points in this game for straight-up replacing the zombies with hordes of werewolves in hard mode, though. “Werewolf infestations” and werewolves being zombie stand-ins these days is preposterous and overdone.
  • Pillars of Eternity – The “werewolf” in this game is one of several animal-person forms the druid can get, continuing the common theme in gaming of druid werewolves. The wolf is decidedly the worst of the lot, less useful even than the prey animals available. Put bluntly: they are basically terrible, and you’re an idiot to ever use this form when there are so many build options available. There are also lots of other RPG options available. As in other games out there in the world. You should play those instead.
  • Guild Wars 2 – You cannot actually play as a werewolf in Guild Wars 2, but I figured I would mention it because lots of people do. If you want to roll one of the Norn giant race, either as a pretty giant woman who is the mommy stepping on you from some men’s dreams or as the ugly tiny-headed cartoon men, you can get an ability to turn into a werewolf for like 30 seconds; it’s far from exciting. And like so many werewolf abilities today, it comes with the option to also turn into other humanoid animals with different abilities. I’ve heard that, of them, only the cat and bear are useful, which is not a shocker as video game logic goes (game devs think wolves straight up suck at everything lol). I didn’t play a Norn during my stint with Guild Wars 2 – I played a male human. He’s Nolan North, so he’s obviously the only choice and also why I played the game as much as I did.
  • The Elder Scrolls Online – This disgraceful abomination of a “game” is terrible in every way and could not have been a bigger disappointment on the promise of an “Elder Scrolls but MMORPG” concept even from the very beginning. It was never good, it only ever got worse, and I am happy to say I abandoned it long ago (I am not happy to say I was playing it in early closed beta because of the promise of werewolves – and I played it far more than I should have, so I am not coming at this from ignorance). It is a game with designs so ugly and unremarkable that you want to quit and walk through the woods just to remind yourself beauty still exists in the world. ESO clearly had no idea what direction to take itself in from the moment it dropped, and it certainly was never created with the pretense of playing like an Elder Scrolls game but being massively multiplayer. It has no sense of mood or atmosphere whatsoever and possesses writing that will make you long for the riveting tales in other low-rent, low-thought MMORPGs. You can play as a hideous weird sad werewolf model that is absurdly small (most likely smaller than the race you are playing as, which means you actually shrink when you transform) and should have been left in beta, which functions like a worse awesome button werewolf than the ones in Skyrim, because you also suck gameplay-wise especially depending on the dev’s mood with the meta. It is terrible, as is everything about the game. ESO also went out of its way to completely wreck all previous Elder Scrolls werewolf lore that was actually really good. Anyway, don’t play this. Your time is worth more than that, even if you don’t think it is.

That covers some of the best! Requisite apologies if I didn’t include your favorite.

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