I wouldn’t be surprised if Ravaged hadn’t showed up on some of your radars, but the gaming hardcore probably know it from it’s early days on Kickstarter where the gaming community reached out and TRIPLED the target donation amount. Early days might be simplifying it since the team that put it together have been working on it for three years, the kind of work that involves a day job, coming home and walking the dog, grabbing a bite to eat then working on the game until exhaustion kicks in and you pass out. New day, restart rotation. It was a game of love and already had some good signs of this when they reached out on Kickstarter. I can’t afford to invest in all the great ideas on Kickstarter so I just watched this game and saw those in the community that had the money invested. Money isn’t so much needed to create a project, it is needed to bring that project to the consumer and put a stable support system in.
So then I saw an advertisement here and there in the gaming magazines showing a rough and ragged bald fellow from behind looking across a wasteland with the word “Ravaged” in the upper corner. A nice looking ad but you figured not a gameplay shot, which it isn’t but almost could have been. So knowing my love/addiction to first person shooters when the opportunity to preview the game and chat a bit with the team came along my editor was right to figure he wouldn’t have to ask me twice. The moment I got the invite the game started downloading and the moment it was ready I was in play, and this is what I found.
Damn you solar flares! There you go creating an apocalypse, we appreciate the lack of need for a radiation suit but otherwise talk about the Big Suck! Ah well, some of us have watched the Mad Max, Planet Of the Apes, and Riddick movies enough to understand it is time to start hording resources, making lots of weapons and customized vehicles, and fighting over patches of dirt in the shadow of the destroyed Statue Of Liberty. In this case the Scavengers are a bunch of savages intent on ruling the wastelands and the Resistance is trying to maintain some order in this shattered world. In the end though this is really just a background storyline, there is a red team and a blue team and they each have their own special weapons and fight, fight and when that gets dull, fight a different way.
The graphics and detail are really nice, too nice maybe for some systems. They have actually been working on it the last few days to make the system requirements less graphic intensive so that more people can play and have done that without losing much in the way of detail or gameplay. If you look at the pics in this article they are not just beauty shots and cutscreens (which there aren’t) they are real representations of a third person front view of someone’s character. The vehicles all have their own feel, some more beat up than others and metal fatigue, patchwork and customization are all visually evident on the entirety of the vehicles and weapons. In other words things looks beat up and post-apocalyptic in a nicely detailed manner.
A game can look as pretty as it likes but if the gameplay sucks it isn’t going to get played. In this case it even goes a step further, people invested their money in the project through Kickstarter so this game needs to be worth it to the player and investor alike. Luckily even at the beta stages this game is delivering. There is no leveling or leveling incentive, there are leaderboards and achievements for people who need that kind of incentive (ok I love achievements and sometimes I play a game a certain way to get them myself), but weapons are loaded out by class and can be picked up off the field.
The vehicles are purposely difficult to learn how to drive, especially aerial vehicles which is on purpose, it makes it so that FPS or TPS crazed players can’t come in and be instant masters of the field (average life expectancy on a noob copter pilot is measured in seconds) but because everyone comes in with a preload of weapons even a noob has a chance of scoring a kill. It is a really nice balance between difficult to master vehicles and everyone being able to have the same access to weapons that makes it so that you will see plenty of players on foot taking on vehicles and winning. You also learn which maps you can negotiate best on foot, with certain vehicles and which weapons will serve you best.
Maps are a fairly familiar format to players of FPS. There are two activities and two ways of winning. First the maps all have flags and resources, captured flags becomes spawn points and give points, resources can be captured from a neutral location or an enemy base, depending on the map. In the case of resources at bases you have to defend yours while trying to capture theirs. The team that has the most points when time runs out or gets 8 resources claimed first is the winner. So you can be blasting the heck out of the enemy and wind up VIP but you had better be paying attention to the supplies getting captured to or you can lose. I have been on some of the beta servers where the enemy has three players to my one but I know the map better and I am hustling to capture their resources while defending my own and won even with them capturing and guarding the flags.
I think there are plenty of times that the players are in it more for the fun fray rather than the win. That is one of the nice aspects of this gameplay, you can just jump into a game after a long day at work and just have some ass kicking fun. It is made so that you don’t have to take the game too seriously, you don’t have to worry about leveling so you can unlock certain gear. This is a point the developers wanted to strongly make. This game isn’t taking itself too seriously, heck today in a beta match I got killed by a harpoon. A harpoon! The person followed it up with a taunt, which are fun and while the statements are random the gesture is not…
And in a way that is kind of the point of the gameplay, it is just to have a bloody blasting good time. There is no single player campaign to drag their resources away from the multiplayer fights development as well as the fact people almost always have complaints about the single player games such as too short, not enough storyline, all of which get tossed out the window when the game is just multiplayer. Developing a good AI can also slow down the development process greatly and they wanted to make sure they made good on their Kickstarter promise of a good game by a certain time. This is an Indie team that is trying to put out a multiplayer game that is both fun and easy to jump in and play by the most of it’s gaming base (and investors) that it can.
This game is still in beta and can go through some more changes and refinements by the time it releases in a week. That being said it is a fun game that as great to look at as it is to play. It is a mulitplayer post apocalyptic vehicular FPS as it claimed it would be on Kickstarter when it earned it’s funding and the attention of the gaming community, but it plays well with the big boys which shows a lot of heart put into the little shooter that could. It has all the play elements a player could ask for with 2 ways to win, 8 locations, 10 characters, 10 vehicles and 28 different weapons and up to 64 players in a match. I look forward to seeing how the game fairs after it releases and hope to see map packs and possibly expansions in the future to keep the game fresh, they already have the next vehicle planned.
In the meantime you can expect to see me plenty of times with the beta players.