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Den of Wolves is an intriguing sci-fi heist FPS from Payday veterans' GTFO studio

Heading to Steam early access...eventually.

Promotional art of Den of Wolves showing a masked man standing in a dimly lit room with dozens of red tendril-like wires stretching from behind his head out into the gloom.
Image credit: 10 Chambers

Payday 3 might've failed to wow, but there's reason for heist fans to remain cheerful: GTFO studio 10 Chamber - which was co-founded by Payday 1 and 2 veterans including designer Ulf Andersson - has announced Den of Wolves, a sci-fi take on the Payday formula.

Den of Wolves (which was teased back in August) got its formal unveiling at this year's The Game Awards via an enigmatic reveal trailer, but I had the opportunity to spent some time with 10 Chambers co-founder and narrative director Simon Viklund ahead of the show, to learn a little more about the studio's plans for the project.

With development on 10 Chambers' debut game, acclaimed hardcore sci-fi shooter GTFO, formally at an end with the release of today's The Final Chapter update, the studio's focus is now on to Den of Wolves, which Viklund describes as a continuation and evolution of the mechanics seen in Payday: The Heist and Payday 2. It's a project that came about because the team felt there was still "untapped potential in the heist genre" - and because it was desperately keen to escape the oppressive squalor of GTFO's corridors for airier climes.

Den of Wolves teaser trailer.Watch on YouTube

Den of Wolves, which has been in pre-production for about two years now, whisks players to 2097 and Midway City, built on the site of the US' Midway Atoll. Once little more than a sandy nature reserve in the North Pacific Ocean, in-game it's now the bustling heart of corporate America, the "capitol of capitalism" - an "unregulated innovation zone" where every corporate entity has a presence due to its stock exchange and impenetrable security infrastructure.

"We want to punch above our weight," Viklund says of 10 Chambers' ambitions for Den of Wolves, noting that, thanks to investment from Tencent, the studio has been able to scale up from round a dozen employees for GTFO to over a hundred for its latest project. The idea is Midway City will serve as a "grounded sci-fi" playground for Den of Wolves' evolved co-operative heist gameplay - intended to be an "unpredictable" mix of stealth, action, and everything in-between that unfolds across distinct levels (this isn't an open-world game) forming one of a number of included story campaigns.

10 Chambers' goal is to lean into Den of Wolves' sci-fi setting to create a heist game that goes beyond Payday's endless banks (and bank-like buildings) to encompass objectives including corporate espionage, sabotage, and assassinations. Furthermore, rather than giving players - here cast as professional criminals who've smuggled themselves into Midway City to do lucrative gig jobs on behalf the corporations - all the tools they'll need for a heist upfront, they'll have to do the initial legwork themselves, gathering intel, equipment, and more across additional missions in preparation for the big job.

Stylised black and white promotional art for Den of Wolves showing a character in a leering leather mask brandishing a gun so close to the camera his head can barely be seen peeking over the top of the weapon.
I don't really know what this is but it's definitely striking bit of art! | Image credit: 10 Chambers

While it's not entirely clear how much is set in stone at this relatively early juncture in Den of Wolves' development, Viklund says the team is looking at introducing branching missions over the course of a story campaign - perhaps requiring players to decide which one of three possible informants they'll attempt to locate in Midway, or which branch office they'll infiltrate in search of a specific item - and it also wants to improve the usual heist game mission flow.

For instance, while the studio is eager to maintain the kind of player agency and replayablity found in other heist games by allowing crews to choose their entry points, exit points, and routes through a mission, it also wants to make it easier for players to drop in and out without disrupting the pace. To that end, teams - which will consist of between two and four players, although 10 Chambers is currently exploring what a one-player mode might look like - will define their plan of attack before starting a map, and anyone joining an in-progress mission will be guided through the heist by the game based on those initial decisions, meaning crews won't have to stop midway through for a lengthy catch-up.

As for the big question, Viklund says 10 Chambers isn't ready to talk release windows for Den of Wolves yet - but it sounds like it's still some way off, with the studio still experimenting and iterating on its ideas. What is certain, however, is that 10 Chambers plans to repeat its successful GTFO strategy of launching into Steam early access prior to a full release so it can expand the game based on player feedback. There's also talk of a console version alongside Den of Wolves' eventual 1.0 launch, and Viklund is keen to be transparent about monetisation too.

Den of Wolves will, for instance, have post-launch DLC taking the form of new self-contained storylines, although the plan right now is that only the host of a game will need to have purchased the DLC for everyone to play. Additionally, while 10 Chambers opted against microtransactions for GTFO, Viklund says they're something the team is at least mulling over for Den of Wolves, given the ongoing dedicated server costs it'll face. The goal, though, is to do "microtransactions the right way", meaning no pay-to-win, no gambling, or "math-fuckery".

While Den of Wolves feels very much like an idea in flux at this early juncture, 10 Chambers' initial chatter suggests it's already honed in on some smart refinements that'll set it apart from its heisting peers. It's unclear how long we'll have to wait before 10 Chambers is ready to show anything more concrete than its enigmatic teaser trailer, but it seems to be saying all the right things to get heist fans talking.

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Matt Wales

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Matt Wales is a writer and gambolling summer child who won't even pretend to live a busily impressive life of dynamic go-getting for the purposes of this bio. He is the sole and founding member of the Birdo for President of Everything Society.