Battle royales and other types of multiplayer survival games have skyrocketed in popularity over the course of the last few years. Still, one thing that has always bothered me about them is that if you manage to survive the initial scramble for weapons and armor, you usually won't see much action again until the final stages of the game when players are driven into each other by the shrinking boundaries of the playable space. This makes most matches feel pretty boring overall as a result, and because of this, these types of games generally don't hold my attention very much.
Scavengers, an upcoming free-to-play title from ex-Halo developers at Midwinter Entertainment, solves this problem by introducing hostile AI, wildlife to hunt, and dangerous weather to the mix. Hearing about these elements got me excited to try the game out when I was offered a chance to play a preview build, and by the end of my time with the game, I knew that I had finally found a multiplayer survival game that I would enjoy.
Environmental dangers galore
Scavengers is wholly unique compared to other multiplayer survival games thanks to its hostile and dangerous environment. As your three-person squad travels the map looking for loot and resources, you'll come across organized groups of hostile scavengers, hordes of zombie-like Scourge creatures, and various forms of wildlife like deer, wolves, and bears. Each of these AI groups will be hostile to you, but taking them out will often reward you with some sweet new gear or resources that you can use to survive or upgrade your character's shield or ability (more on these later). There are also minibosses and bosses to find throughout the world that drop even better loot as well as salvage that nets you a higher score at the end of the match — much like Halo 5: Guardians' Warzone mode.
Scavengers' PvE elements help keep gameplay fun between PvP engagements.
These PvE elements help keep the gameplay fun and full of action between PvP engagements, and the way that the AI can influence PvP engagements is also incredibly interesting. It opens the door to the possibility of emergent gameplay opportunities such as baiting other players into the middle of a boss' arena and then killing both the boss and the enemy players once both parties are weakened from fighting each other.
AI aren't the only dangerous part of the environment, though; temperature and weather are things that you need to keep an eye on, too. The map is a bitter, frozen wasteland that can kill you with hypothermia if you don't warm up by a fire every once in a while. Additionally, there are also huge snowstorms that randomly move around the map, increasing the rate at which you get cold and making navigation difficult. Being in the storm isn't all bad. However, smart players can use storms to hide themselves from other teams that may be looking to take them out for their loot and salvage.
Your abilities can make all the difference
Another feature of Scavengers that I love is the ability system that each of its seven characters have. Depending on who players choose, they'll be able to drop down a protective shield that can be shot out of, create a healing zone for rapid recovery, go completely invisible, and more. These abilities have long cooldowns to balance out their power, but players who use them wisely will gain an advantage in battle or save the lives of themselves and their teammates. For example, when my team and I were in the storm, and we were being shot at, one of my allies put down a protective barrier that we used for cover as we figured out where the enemy team was and what we should do next. Later, we used the shield to force assailants to attack us up close (I had a shotgun waiting for them).
The impact that these abilities have alone is huge, but when used in tandem with your teammates, they can be the difference between living and dying. For example, pairing the drop shield with the healing zone is an excellent way to quickly heal in a fight, and invisibility can be used in tandem with another player's EMP blast to strike enemies from behind while they're disoriented. These types of synergies are a blast to execute, and they also reward good teamwork, which I appreciate.
Get to the dropship at all costs
Finally, Scavengers ends its matches in a unique way that I enjoy greatly. Instead of trying to be the last team standing, you instead need to focus on making sure you're inside of the dropship that extracts you from the map before it takes off. It doesn't matter how many other players are in the dropship with you; as long as you're in before the doors shut for good, you'll be considered one of the winning teams.
Scavengers' dropship extractions are the most unique way I've seen matches end in the multiplayer survival genre.
This leads to an interesting dynamic where the last few teams need to try and kill other players and take their salvage while also making sure that they step foot in the ship before the clock runs out. Will you choose to play passively and try to sneak onboard without being detected, resulting in less salvage collected? Or will you go in guns-blazing to try and get as much salvage as you can before the ship takes off? Both strategies have their pros and cons, and ultimately, they're only a few of the ways that teams can choose to approach this situation.
Overall, I really enjoy Scavengers' dropship extractions, and It will be interesting to see what strategies evolve when players get their hands on the game in Early Access.
Scavengers' PvE elements, character abilities, and unique dropship extraction endings all make the game stand out compared to other games in its genre. I love that the developers at Midwinter Entertainment managed to come up with a solution to the pacing issues traditional multiplayer survival games have. I'm looking forward to jumping back into the game when it hits Early Access.
Will you be playing Scavengers? Let me know. The game enters Early Access on PC on April 28, 2021, and will eventually be released on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, PS5, and PS4. The game has the potential to be one of the best multiplayer games for Xbox, so make sure you keep an eye on it.