I’m not really into battle royale games. There’s too much down time and too much inventory management for my liking. I like Spellbreak because there’s no inventory management and magic is cool and I don’t mind Apex Legends because I love anything related to Titanfall. Overall though, it’s a genre that I don’t have much interest in gameplay wise. Scavengers, which is now in Early Access for people who played the closed beta or got a key from Twitch drops, solves both of my battle royale complaints. I actually even struggle to call it a battle royale.
Scavengers drops 60 players into the map, split up into 20 teams of 3. So far, so standard. You start with nothing and have to scavenge for weapons and supplies to use and if you encounter an enemy team, it will end up with one of you dead. The reason I struggle to call it a battle royale game is because the objective isn’t to be the last team standing. The goal of Scavengers is to extract out of the map with the most data points. You get data points by going to various spots on the map to mine for them and by killing other players to take theirs. If you do get killed, you drop half the data you’re carrying but you respawn as long as you have a team member alive so comebacks are always possible. If your whole team dies, then you wipe. After a certain point, a ship will land that you must get to in order to extract and whichever team does so with the most data, wins. You could win without killing a single other player. But you’ll still be doing lots of killing.
The game is described by developer Midwinter as PvEvP and it’s exactly what it sounds like. You will be facing off against not just human players, but A.I. enemies. It’s not just a multiplayer game filled with bots that mimic other players though. They are actual enemies that you might fight in a single player game. They don’t have the same objective as the human players, they just want to kill you.
There’s two types of enemies, Scourge, which are mutant creatures and Outlanders, which are crazy humans. Each enemy group has some different types and there’s even boss types you can come across. The inclusion of these enemies is refreshing for two reasons. The first is that it allows players who are less skilled in PvP to be able to progress at a nice rate as killing these enemies awards XP, crafting materials and they can even drop data points. So even if you suck against other players, you will still feel like you can contribute. The other is that it fixes the problem I have with most battle royale games. The downtime. There’s a lot of downtime in these types of games where you can go awhile without really doing anything. Here, because there’s enemies all over the map, even when you’re not engaging with enemy players, there’s still stuff to kill.
The map in Scavengers is procedurally generated so there’s no landmarks to rush to every time. Building and chest placements will be different each game. You really have to scavenge to survive. When you’re not fighting enemies, you’re looting and surviving against the elements. You have a stamina meter that will go down the more you do things like sprint and roll and a temperature meter that goes down the more you stay out in the cold. If it fully depletes your health bar will freeze over until you either warm up or die. You warm up by taking shelter or standing by a fire.
There’s a few different types of things to loot. There’s weapons, you can carry two at a time plus a grenade. There’s consumables, some will restore your health, some will restore your stamina and some will restore your temperature. There’s also scrap that is used to craft things which I’ll get into in a moment. What’s great about Scavengers is how streamlined the act of looting is. I didn’t have to stop to go into my inventory a single time, I just picked things up or swapped out my weapons for better ones.
During a match you’ll pick up scraps for crafting. You have an in game level that goes up as you do things in a match and this will determine what items you can craft. Craftables include things like better shields and your character’s signature weapon. Yes, Scavengers also has characters with different specialties. Early Access has 7, with three unlocked immediately and the other 4 available to get with in game currency that you acquire form leveling up. Before the match starts, each member of your team picks their character. Each character has their own signature weapons and a special ability such as healing or a bubble shield. When you play as a character, you level them up individually from your account level.
Other things to watch out for in a match are roaming snow storms that move around the map and if you get stuck in one, not only will it decrease your visibility but it will also quickly deplete your temperature meter. These take out fires so the only safety is to get to shelter and let it pass then relight a fire to warm up. There’s also an extremely fun slide mechanic that lets you slide down any hill or slope in the game. I’m sure more skilled players will use this to get cool kills for their YouTube compilations but honestly, it’s just fun to do. While the team who extracts with the most data wins, as long as you extract, you keep whatever data and materials you gathered to use for research between games. So even if you lose, it’s still rewarding and gives some extra incentive to not die.
When you’re not in a game, you’re using your materials for researching different items and weapons that you can add to your loadout to be crafted during a match. Some of these are account wide and some are for specific character signature weapons or buffs. It’s a satisfying gameplay loop, to collect materials and data in a match and then using it to research things that will help you perform better. It’s almost like winning is more of the cherry on top than the main objective. Something you can brag about but as long as you gained materials, you still feel like you accomplished something worthwhile.
There’s also a store that allows you to buy cosmetics and other characters with an in game currency. Currently the only way to earn this currency is by leveling up your account but they do plan on adding real money transactions when they get closer to full release. There’s also an account wipe planned for later in Early Access once it’s more openly available. So when more players come in, everyone is on an even playing field but there will not be an account wipe when it leaves Early Access.
It’s hard to describe Scavengers because parts of it feel like a battle royale and parts of it feel like a survival game but it isn’t either of those. What I can describe as it fun. The shooting is solid, A.I. enemies are satisfying to kill and if you do chose to engage with enemy players, the threat of losing your data and materials keeps things tense. I think it’s off to a solid start and will provide an enjoyable experience even for players who might usually avoid a game like this because the PvE elements add a level of accessibility that these types of games usually lack.
Scavengers is currently in Early Access on PC with plans to come to Xbox and PlayStation some time in 2021. When the game launches in full, it will be free to play.