Can Scavengers Survive The Overstuffed Battle Royale Genre
Two weeks ago a friend and co-worker of mine popped into Discord urging everyone to sign up for the early access to a new Battle Royale game called Scavengers. I groaned and my eyes rolled all the way into the back of my head so I could look at my brain lamenting another Battle Royale. I’m a huge fan of Apex Legends, I started like most people did with Battle Royales in PUBG and every time a new game announces their own 99 version, I scoffed at it.
But, for the sake of my co-worker and his incessant whining I decided to give it a try, and boy, am I glad I did. Battle Royale games are a dime a dozen and while most of them try to bring something new to the genre, overall they don’t end up holding my attention for very long. For now, Scavengers has me in its grip and they did so by borrowing a lot from other Battle Royale games and arranging them in a way that highlights what makes me happy in games while masking the parts of a competitive Battle Royale that I’m not super great at.
What is Scavengers?
It’s a PvEvP Battle Royale game, which means you’re not just being dropped onto a map to kill other real people but also to contend with the environment and non-player characters as well. In fact, unlike most Battle Royale games the prime objective isn’t simply to be the last squad standing in a fight to the death, but to have the most points and those points do not come from killing enemy players.
Just like in Call of Duty: Warzone, the map is littered with objectives that will reward you with DataPoints. This currency is what determines who is in first place, second place, and so on as squads all across the map race to collect the most. It’s not just about collecting them from objectives though, if you kill anything from a Reaver NPC to an actual player, you can then pick up their Data Points. NPCs have a couple, but Players will have much, much more. So engaging another team means you risk losing whatever you’ve accrued so far.
There are Data Uplink points around the map where you can bank the points you have, so if you die you don’t lose everything. Unlike other Battle Royales, if you do happen to go down and you can’t be revived in time, as long as one team member is left standing you’ll respawn in 1 minute.
How is Scavengers Different from other Battle Royale Games?
The draw for me in Scavengers is the exploration and the focus on something other than racking up the kills. The NPCs of the game, obviously don’t pose as big of a threat as players do, so those who get into Battle Royale for the competitive nature might spend their time hunting down other parties. But if you’ve lost interest in the PUBGs, Fortnites, or APEX Legends of the world because you’re not hyper-competitive, the PvE side of Scavengers offers you access to rewarding gameplay while you hone your skills against other players from time to time.
Now, in order to win, you will still have to go up against players. Similar to games like Hunt: Showdown or Escape from Tarkov, if you want to keep the points you’ve hoarded during a game you need to get out alive. In the last five minutes of a match a ship drops down and after the five-minute timer is up, it leaves. Anyone alive and on the ship gets to keep their Data Points and receives more rewards as a result. This is the end game and the extraction ship is almost always a huge firefight. While you don’t technically have to fight on the final ship, by killing anyone trying to extract you can pick up any Data Point resources they have on their person. But, even trying to sneak into the ship at the last possible second is a valid strategy as the goal is just to be on it when the countdown reaches zero.
The Focus Is Survival
Those are all the basics of playing and hopefully winning a game of Scavengers, but the game runs a lot deeper than that with its focus on being a survival Battle Royale. Since your Explorer is in a frozen wasteland, you also have to watch the heat bar or risk freezing to death. Scattered throughout the map you can find bonfires that will warm you up or even consumable items that will defrost your character. There are food items like raw meat that come off certain monsters, or rations to boost your energy if you’re trying to outrun the storm. There are also smaller localized storms that pass over areas and require you to take cover inside buildings that add to team fights’ chaotic nature against both NPCs and other players.
Outside of the gameplay itself, a research feature allows the player to upgrade survival options within the game. Similar to Call of Duty: Warzone, you can research different weapons or consumables so when you’re in the game you have instant access to crafting your favorite set-up once you have the materials to do so.
Taking a page from Apex Legends book, each Explorer also has its own uniquely designed kit consisting of one ability and one signature weapon.
Developers Midwinter Entertainment and Improbable have only just released the game as early access, but the free-to-play Battle Royale has huge ambitions. Their website bills the game as an evolving experience that will introduce more seasonal objectives, modes, characters, enemies, and map locations. It promises that with each evolution of the game and its world that new strategies will need to be employed to overcome it all.
It’s a promising start to a game that is entering a genre that was over-saturated years ago when Fortnite broke the mold. Whether or not it can withstand the storm and survive long enough to take hold is another question, but for the time being, they have me rooting for them.
Feature Image screenshot: Scavenger’s by Midwinter Entertainment and Improbable.