If you dive with a hatch or the wrong valve open, you’re sunk—both literally and metaphorically

The Game: Wolfpack

The Maker: Usurpator AB, $34.99.

The Basics: Player groups of five assume the roles of key crew members on a German U-boat in this collaborative computer game that combines roleplaying and first-person action. The “captain” doles out commands, the “nagivator” controls the boat’s speed and rudder, the “radio officer” issues and receives messages via an Enigma machine, the “dive officer” ensures a safe descent, and the “helmsman” steers the submarine.  

The Objective: German admiral Karl Dönitz assigns missions across the North Atlantic; the crew’s goal is to pursue, locate, and sink as much enemy tonnage as possible while dodging attacks. Teams begin each game with four U-boats, or “lives”—if all sink, players must begin their missions anew. 

Historical Accuracy: Wolfpack is historically precise down to the tiniest details. Crews operate the U-boat via period-accurate controls. You will have to understand the basics of handling a U-boat to play the game successfully; details are outlined in an instruction manual. If you dive with a hatch or the wrong valve open, you’re sunk—both literally and metaphorically. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: This is not a simple point-and-click game; it requires a team effort. There’s also a complex interface that simulates controlling a boat, sacrificing ease of play for realism (think rough currents and weather conditions). Wolfpack is not fast-paced with constant action, but there is still terrific tension as teams try to mount an attack or avoid the enemy. 

Playability: Wolfpack takes time to master, but its variety of potential missions and campaigns makes for a compelling game. (This is especially true if one considers how the Battle of the Atlantic changed after the British cracked Germany’s naval codes, making voyages increasingly difficult for U-boats.) Since Wolfpack is a team-oriented game, playing with friends or online players adds variety.  

The Bottom Line: Wolfpack’s learning curve is steep—at bare minimum, you’ll have to continually reference the game’s manual just to stay afloat. But if you’re willing to spend some time gaining your sea legs, this may be the most accurate U-boat simulation yet.

World War II Rating: Five stars 

This story was originally published in the June 2019 issue of World War II magazine. Subscribe here.