Recently, GameCritics was invited to get a hands-on demo of Scavengers, the new third-person team action game coming from recently-formed Midwinter Entertainment.
Although it’s still deep in the development process and much of what I saw is under embargo, I was able to play two full missions and I got a good sense of what the team is aiming to bring to PC and consoles next year.
Spoilers: it’s pretty cool.
What I can share about the story is that a cataclysm has stuck Earth and plunged it into a deep freeze. Cloned humans living on an orbiting space station are dropped down to… scavenge… for supplies and for samples (basically, EXP) from the mutants and Outlanders running amok on the surface.
In terms of gameplay, Scavengers takes place in a huge open world and teams of three are dropped into random locations. Upon arrival, each character starts with nothing and must quickly scout nearby ruins and corpses for gear – melee weapons, discarded pistols, bandages and the like. They can equip whatever they grab and share extras with their teammates, but the best course of action is to find enough resources to craft specialized gear.
There will be eight different characters when Scavengers launches, and each one hits the planet with a pocketful of blueprints for their class-specific items. My first character was a melee-focused type, and once I found enough scraps to cobble it together, I started wielding a wicked halberd instead of the random club I found laying around. During my second match I found more resources and was able to create a strong assault rifle and upgraded armor for the healer I had switched to.
While I assumed the loop of an average match would be drop to planet, scrounge, level up, get samples, collect EXP, leave planet, repeat I was assured that there’s more to it than that due to the ambient events found in the world. While players will have to contend with the physical effects of cold, hunger and becoming contaminated, they’ll also be fending off attacks from roaming wildlife, storms sweeping across the terrain and hostile NPC factions – and along with that, there will apparently be other PVE-oriented things to do that were not shown during my time.
My one concern for Scavengers had nothing to do with the PVE — it was the PVP. While I didn’t have much interaction with the other teams that dropped down with me, the rep talking me through the game stated that not only is friendly fire a thing, but that players can rob others of certain items or EXP if they choose to.
In a way, this setup reminded me of The Division’s Dark Zone where people can work together for greater rewards or stab each other in the back if they think they can get away with it. The thought of having to deal with trolling campers every time I collect a stack of EXP immediately deflated me, but I was reassured several times that it won’t be as common as it is in other titles because everyone will largely be concerned with keeping themselves and their team alive – they won’t have the time or resources to constantly troll, I suppose?
I do hope that the PVP element won’t spoil what Midwinter has created, because it’s looking great so far. The combat and gunplay felt satisfying, and the idea of dropping into an area at random means that each session will feel fresh and different, not only in terms of terrain but also in random PVE elements teams will encounter.
I could easily imagine the devs taking the framework of what they’ve crafted and bolting on new events, new areas, and new enemies over the course of several campaigns or seasons similar to how Fortnite keeps itself fresh, and if they include enough progression elements and customization to give goal-oriented players a reason to keep coming back, I think they might have a real winner on their hands – the hooks seem to be in place, even at this early stage. After two sessions, Scavengers seemed like something I’d want to play with friends and family as a weekly social event, and from where I’m standing, that’s pretty high praise.
Look for Scavengers to hit PC and consoles sometime in 2020.
Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.
Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway or contact him at bradgallaway a t gmail dot com