Scavengers does the usual multiplayer thing pretty well. It's a unique spin on large scale competitive multiplayer, like battle royale meets a survival game meets Far Cry. For the rundown on what Scavengers is and why I think it could be a surprise multiplayer hit, check out my video preview.
But Scavengers also has an upcoming experimental multiplayer mode that I'm not even sure how to define. Developer Midwinter Entertainment is using Scavengers to play with multiplayer design at a scale like I've never seen. After my last preview round in the base game, I was invited to a weekend ScavLab test session, where over 1,700 live players joined the same game at once with thousands more virtual players waiting in the wings to see if we could burn it all down. Here's how it all went.
We don't play a traditional Scavengers match, where the population is limited to 60 players. I mean, it'd be a mess with this many people. Instead, we're talked through something like a theatrical event. It felt like the first day of summer camp, with a few giant test admins growing and shrinking at will, roaming the snowy mountainside.
With booming voices, they begin shepherding over a thousand players through some simple social activities. We're asked to use our emote wheels to wave a blue stick for yes and a yellow one for no. "Is electronic music the best kind of music?" the tree-sized man shouts. A sea of yellow. There's no dedicated emote for clarifying that while I don't like the bulk of popular EDM, experimental acts like Aphex Twin and Actress are some of the finest—never mind.
"Everyone from North America over here with me!" shouts another giant avatar. Another: "And everyone from Europe over here with me!" The crowds spilt, a couple dozen stragglers left running around aimlessly, like they'd lost connection with the hive mind. I'm hoping we'll sort by favorite colors next, but instead the test leaders play tennis. With us. They're equipped with a force push ability, and send dozens, sometimes hundreds of players flying across the scene at once. Two large glowing men, playing catch with the proletariat. To think anyone said games aren't political.
After the admins' cackling stops, we're guided to a cliffside. Meteors fall from the sky and crash into the mountainside, a towering—like, literally tower-sized—yellow admin emerging from the impact of one. It's Josh Holmes, co-founder and CEO of Midwinter Entertainment. He talks for a while, thanking the community before announcing Scavengers' Early Access release date.
And then we're let loose again, this time down the mountainside. Crouchsliding in Scavengers maintains momentum like Apex Legends or Tribes, and the pants are apparently made of an as yet unknown form of frictionless matter that allows the wearer to glide across any surface unimpeded. Thus, my ass became a snowboard and the mountainside, SSX Tricky. OK, so there's no trick system, but Scavengers' light cel-shaded look sure reads as SSX at a glance, except it's SSX on your butt with 1699 or so other players sliding down the mountain with you.
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