Once you have learned to hunt you'll begin to encounter dispersal wolves like yourself, who have left their family pack in search of a mate to start a new pack with. If you venture into other packs' territories, you'll meet wolves who will fiercely defend their territory – and some who you might be able to persuade to leave their pack and become your mate.
Locate: You can howl to attract interest of other wolves. Dispersals may also find you on their own as you go about your business. Rival wolves are best found in their territories (this is riskiest option).
Emote: To persuade a wolf to become your mate, try to increase their interest in you by engaging in playful behavior. Some wolves may be eager, while others will take more effort.
When you meet a prospective mate, show your interest by playbowing, wagging your tail, and other friendly actions. (Press the E key to open the Emotes panel.)
Be sure to give them time to respond. They will react according to their level of interest.
Fill up the heart over their head to make and initial bond. Once you have filled up the heart of a dispersal, you can agree to a Trial Period. (Any others will then lose interest.)
Trial Period: Now that you've made a good impression on a prospective mate, you will want to go hunting together. That will let both of you see how strong and healthy the other is, before making a final decision about becoming mates.
Hunt and socialize together for several days, gradually increasing your Affinity (the blue meter on left edge of your wolf badge). When it's full, you can decide whether to make this arrangement permanent.
I do! If you both agree, you are mates for life!
Go away! Not a good match? To end the courtship with dispersal wolves, growl three times and they will lose interest.
Dispersals travel alone or in small groups. They are generally 2-4 years old. Some opposite-sex dispersals may be interested in partnering with you, as indicated by their actions (and the heart over their head). Same-sex dispersal wolves will show little interest but are not overtly hostile.
Rival Pack Wolves: It is also possible to woo a mate from a rival pack, but can take time to find a pack wolf who is interested in leaving their family to join up with you. Generally, rival wolves are quite hostile.
Personality: Some will be bold, ready to dash into a hunt or a fight without hesitation. Others will be cautious, holding back until they feel more confident about their odds. Some will be energetic, moving about constantly, while others will be rather lazy. And some will be quite social, quick to initiate or respond to social actions and emotes. Others will be loners, keeping to themselves. You can get clues about their personalities by spending time with them and watching how they behave.
- Your mate's name: Once you bond with a mate, you can rename them. To view their name: press N key or see Pack Stats
- Dispersal wolves and stranger wolves' names tell you:
- pack name (e.g. Hayden, Junction Butte, Cinnabar...),
- a number (like those assigned by scientists who study Yellowstone wolves)
- gender (M=male and F=female).
Diversity: Genetic diversity is indicated by stars in dispersal's info (displayed in the upper right of screen). To produce healthy pups, higher diversity (more stars) is better. Neighboring pack dispersals may be more closely related to each other (and thus have lower diversity).
Coat Color: Diversity is good: a black-gray wolf pair will have healthier pups, while a black-black pair is more likely to have smaller litters and more sickly pups.
A Note About Hearts: When courting, the NPC's heart indicates their interest in you – it fills up with red as they like you more. (You will also see other hearts floating up when they like what you are doing.)
Once they are your mate, the heart on the wolf badge is their health – it empties as their health drops. Their affinity with you (and later, the pack's affinity) is indicated by the blue meter on the left side of the wolf badge.
For Better or For Worse: Your mate will stick by you no matter what...even if you growl a lot. You and your mate cannot harm each other.
Until Death Do Us Part: Choosing Mate Permadeath in Game Settings may result in the death of your mate. If they die, you can re-enter the courtship mode and choose a new mate.