I did not know what I was getting into when I jumped into Scavengers, but I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. Set in a brutal winter wasteland, Scavengers is a free-to-play strategic shooter that sets teams of three players loose in an unforgiving sandbox as they fight for survival while battling the elements, creatures and other players. It may be hard to describe with the vast array of elements, but once you jump into the Scavengers, it all comes together as a wonderful mix of chaos, strategy, and destruction.
At first glance it could be mistaken for another survival game, or a title looking to profit off the popularity of Fortnite. It is not until you give the game some time that the unique mix of elements makes the experience seem something special. As a free to play game, there will always be comparisons to other games on the market. Titles like Apex Legends, Valheim, Fortnite or Call of Duty: Warzone are rather large shadows to try to escape from, but once you are past those comparisons the depth at play within Scavengers becomes apparent.
With a bitter winter wasteland, a massive sandbox and hordes of potential threats, the pressure is on for players as they jump into the game. There is no time to waste as you need to scavenge for everything you use, with the potential of death around every corner. With a procedurally generated world, AI-controlled creatures and raider gangs, and a slew of potential threats, this is a game that keeps you on your toes and working as a team.
Jumping onto a team with another journalist, I quickly got a feel for how the game would play out. From the early stages of forging for weapons and ammo, to how every potential tool in the world needs to be exploited for you to hope to survive. With a member of the dev team acting as leader, we finally made our way out, and got a taste for what Scavengers had in store.
“I think, I think the thing that makes you scavengers stand out is the way that we approach strategic gameplay and, and the depth that comes from that.” Josh Holmes, CEO and Co-Founder, Midwinter Entertainment explained “We give players a great variety of different tools that they can use to succeed. And we placed them in a world that is alive and brimming with danger, a huge number of AI threats in addition to PVP. And I think it’s the combination of those things alongside some of the character-based shooter elements that really sets the game apart.”
This is a game that has many ways to play, and a range of objectives you and your team can try for. But to win at the game, you must survive against all potential baddies looking to kill you — human and otherwise — all the while trying to collect data points that litter the map. But thanks to the sandbox nature of the game, it does allow you to play how you want. If you want to work stealthily, killing from the shadows, there are ways for that. Conversely, if you want to go in guns blazing, provided you have the ammo, there is most likely a way to make that work, and since you don’t fully lose until all members are killed off, if you work as a team, anything is possible.
As this is 2021, and the battle royale genre is the top-dog on most platforms, there are a few elements fans of the genre will feel at home with. Much like other games in the space, Scavengers does have the map slowly shrink as the game progresses. As a large border storm collapses inward, you and your team will be forced into closer spaces with all the things looking to make you into lunch. But even with this storm, the map never feels small or limited. The storm acts more as a catalyst forcing people to move and take action, rather than something stopping players from experiencing the world.
The cold and the weather are some of the most exciting aspects of Scavengers. It gives a sense of urgency and dread to everything you and your team does. These are all aspects that play an important role in the strategy of play. While it may be more exciting to push forward into an enemy camp, if you or your teammates are suffering from the cold, stopping by a fire is almost always a better choice. The cold is as much your enemy as the other players and the AI, so your team needs to manage this to ensure you are ready for the next fight. It is a sense of tension I did not expect when jumping in, and as frustrating as it may sound, it was fantastic to play and experience.
“I think a lot of the game balance comes from having to adapt.” Mary Olson, Head of Production, Midwinter Entertainment outlined“this is not just going to be purely skill based, but just providing opportunities to be successful. it lends itself to a bunch of different play styles and a bunch of different tactics, but also you’re forced to use different strategies and adapt because of the survival elements.”
The same goes for the weather and storms. With resources so limited, it is often difficult not to spend too much time in one location trying to get everything you can to carry you through to the next fight, but when a storm starts rolling in, you need to run, or you will quickly find that gun is not useful as you are freezing to death in your frantic escape.
There are a range of characters to play and each of them have a selection of aspects you can invest in to give an edge in battle. As you explore the world, the data you find can be invested in research. These skills and perks go a long way in helping your team get a leg up on the competition, and the range of characters ensures there is enough variety to keep things fresh even over longer game sessions. It quickly becomes a fight to the death, with each team working to come ahead and get an advantage in the fight, and it is a blast when everything works the way you want.
There of course is a marketplace where players can buy skins, emotes, and upgrades for your character between matches, and this is where the monetization will come into play. “By offering a game that’s free to play we’re able to bring in a maximum number of players” Josh Holmes explained “Number two is we want everything that you can buy in the game to be something that you can earn in the game and our focus around the types of things that we offer are more for personal expression, customization, cosmetics. We don’t want to build a game that is pay-to-win, and we don’t want game breaking abilities.”
In the short amount of time I had with the game, I saw that Midwinter Studios has created a unique experience that has a lot of potential. There is a lot to love within Scavengers, and it manages to blend enough elements offering something exciting and new while having enough familiarity to draw in new players. It is an odd mix that could have failed miserably, but the team managed the perfect blend to make the game well worth exploring. Currently out in early access, if you love the genre and are looking for something new, Scavengers may be just what the doctor ordered.