Scavengers for Xbox, PC: Gameplay and everything you need to know

Scavengers (Image credit: Midwinter Entertainment)

Midwinter Entertainment's debut title Scavengers is a free-to-play battle royale with some twists: not only do you need to worry about other players, but you'll also need to be wary of the dangers of the game's frigid winter environment. Deadly groups of scavenger cannibals, hordes of zombie-like monsters, various forms of wildlife, and the freezing weather all stand between you and the dropship that you need to be on before it skyrockets into orbit.

Here's everything you need to know about Scavengers, including in-depth gameplay details, what you can expect from the game's progression systems, release date information, and more.

Scavengers: Development and reveal

Scavengers was first announced during The Game Awards in 2018 with a short announcement trailer that gave players a first look at the setting, including an emphasis on the game's frozen environments. Since then, the developers have been conducting alpha playtests with the community, adding more features and just generally polishing the game. This has culminated in the game's arrival on Steam Early Access in 2021.

During the reveal, fans also learned that the studio behind Scavengers, Midwinter Entertainment, was founded by and consists of several ex-343 Industries developers that worked on the Halo series. Some notable names include former studio head and creative director Josh Holmes and executive producer Mary Olson.

Scavengers: Story and setting

Source: Midwinter Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Midwinter Entertainment)

There's not a ton that we know about the story of Scavengers, but what we do know that it's set on a post-apocalyptic Earth that was subject to an ice age after the Moon was destroyed. An infection called the Scourge also broke out, turning humans and animals alike into zombified monsters that sought to infect and kill others. As a result of these new dangers, survivors were forced to enter the planet's orbit to survive as remaining people on Earth either succumbed to the cold, became infected by the Scourge, or became a member of a cannibalistic tribe of humans called the Outlanders that adapted to the conditions of the new world.

Survivors often take drop pods down to the surface of Earth and brave its dangers to collect salvage and other valuables from the remains of society. However, other survivors often try and take them down so that they can claim the loot for themselves. This forms the narrative context behind Scavengers' gameplay.

Scavengers: Gameplay and presentation

Source: Midwinter Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Midwinter Entertainment)

Scavengers is best defined as a three-sided war between your team, AI enemies, environmental threats, and other players. As players roam the map and search for sources of datapoints (this is the salvage you need to collect and extract), they'll run into three different kinds of hostiles.

The first are the Outlanders, which are well-coordinated human scavengers that use cover and flanking to pressure you. Then, there's the Scourge, which are animalistic in nature and rush you directly in large numbers. In the later stages of each match, minibosses and bosses from these factions will spawn as well. Killing these enemies is a serious challenge, but doing so rewards you with lots of good resources and datapoints.

There's also wildlife, which includes deer, rabbits, wolves, and bears. There is Scourge-infected wildlife, and these animals are harder to kill and do more damage compared to their normal counterparts. Notably, killing wildlife is a good way to get food to keep your stamina up (you can also occasionally find food while looting abandoned structures).

Beyond killable threats, there's the weather, which slowly freezes you over the course of the match and will eventually kill you if you don't periodically warm up by seeking out fires. Roaming storms, in particular, are very deadly since they immediately extinguish all fires in their area of effect and hasten how quickly you start to freeze. Being in the storm does make it difficult to be spotted, however, so players in good shelter or equipped with thermal boosters may find it worthwhile to intentionally stay inside the storm to hide from opposing squads. Perimeter storms that shrink the playable areas of the map are even deadlier, though, and players will die very quickly if they get caught in them.

Of course, there are also other players to worry about. Eliminating other squads rewards you with their datapoints and salvage, so if you have good opportunities to kill them, you should. However, it's important to note that unlike other battle royale games, your objective is not to be the last one standing. Rather, you need to ensure you're on the large dropship that touches down on the map at the end of the match. If you aren't in the ship, you'll be abandoned on Earth and will lose everything. Therefore, players need to strike a balance between playing aggressive enough to get lots of datapoints, but conservative enough to ensure that they'll be able to get on the ship.

Scavengers puts you in control of one of seven characters in a third-person view, and each team is made up of three players. Everyone in the match has shields that can be upgraded with collected scrap, and every character can make use of the standard weapons and useful consumables that are scattered throughout the environment. You can also run, clamber, and slide, ensuring that everyone has the same movement options available.

Each character is unique thanks to class weapons and abilities. For example, Valora is a close-range brawler that can craft a powerful assault shotgun and can drop a special shield that blocks damage but allows teammates to shoot out of it, while Tarik is a marksman that can craft a high-powered sniper rifle and can use a stun trap to disorient players and enemies that walk into its area of effect. These weapons and abilities can be game-changers, especially when used in combination with one another.

In terms of presentation, Scavengers features a semi-stylized art direction with lots of color and use of cel-shading. The animations are fluid and exaggerated, which makes the player almost feel as if they're in an action movie. It's worth noting that the game currently supports NVIDIA Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology, which preserves the visual fidelity of a game while also making it run much better. According to the developers, there will be support for ray tracing in the future as well.

Scavengers: Progression systems

Outside of the gameplay experience itself, Scavengers also has some progression systems. The first of these is the "Research" mechanic, which allows players to take the salvage they extract from matches and use it to research new pieces of equipment they will then be able to find during gameplay. These include different types of weapons, grenades, and consumables that each have unique strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, this system can also be used to unlock new talents for your characters that alter your stats and capabilities slightly, and can more adhere to your preferred playstyle.

Secondly, there's also a shop that you can buy skins from, as well as characters that you haven't unlocked yet. This can be done with the "chip" currency that you accrue over time by playing the game. According to Midwinter Entertainment CEO Josh Holmes in our Scavengers interview, the developers are making sure that all of the cosmetics in the game will be obtainable through playing the game normally, even if some of the items will also be obtainable via microtransactions.

Scavengers" Release date, pricing, and platforms

Source: Midwinter Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Midwinter Entertainment)

Scavengers is available now on PC through Steam Early Access. The game isn't playable on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, PS5, PS4, or PS5 just yet, although the developers have stated on the game's Steam page that they're aiming to fully launch Scavengers globally before the end of 2021. The game is currently free-to-play, and according to the developers, Scavengers will stay that way when it fully releases.

Your thoughts

Will you be playing Scavengers now that it's out in Early Access? Let me know. The game just might end up being one of the best multiplayer PC games as well as one of the best Xbox multiplayer games, so you should definitely keep an eye on it. If it doesn't sound like a good fit for you, however, make sure you check out our roundup of the best battle royale games for Windows PCs for other great options.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.