Ravaged hands on: fighting to survive

Ravaged_2

For my money, 2 Dawn Games’ Ravaged, which was successfully Kickstartered earlier this year, is all about the vehicles. Sure, it’s a team-based first-person shooter set in a near-future wasteland world and it has your standard classes like snipers and assault troopers, but for me it’s all about straddling that quad bike. It’s all about a couple of teammates piling into an armoured pickup with you (on on the gun and one sticking their rifle out the window); it’s all about that helicopter gunship which, just like Grand Theft Auto 3’s plane, proves incredibly, cruelly, punishingly difficult to fly.


So far, the vast majority of my Ravaged games have been in the Capture the
Resources game mode; that’s what most of the servers are currently

hosting. Similar to Capture the Flag, it tasks both teams try to take
supplies from their opponent’s base and bring them back to their own,
something that’s quickly becomes very dangerous and very messy. There’s
also a Thrust game mode, which involves pushing forward to take point
after point from the enemy, but that’s not yet popular online.

It’s
the amount of distance you need to cover to do this that brings
vehicles into play. Without them, you’ll be running for hundreds of
yards before you can find yourself a firefight. Plus, a lone warrior on
the desert floor is nothing if not a target for snipers. When you do
fight on foot, something that’s inevitable when your vehicle is blown
apart from under you, you’re playing a solid, if unremarkable FPS. It
doesn’t quite give you a sense of the weight or the deadliness of its
weapons. Though I usually say that less is more when it comes to weapon
loadouts, I wouldn’t mind a few more firearms to my name too, or a
little more variety sprinkled among the standard character classes.

You’ll
have much more fun grinding your backside into the driver’s seat,
bounding that quad across the desert or weaving your truck in and out of
enemy fire. While one of Ravaged’s armoured pickups doesn’t quite have
the slickness or responsiveness of a Warthog, I quickly found myself
having flashbacks to my first few games of Halo, with teammates piling
in alongside me and gawping in terror as I bounced us off every other
cliff face.

Skidding
up to the enemy base, piling out to grab their resources and then
pushing the accelerator through the floor to get back to safety can be a
great deal of fun, particularly when a glance in the rear view mirror
shows a helicopter chasing you down the canyon. It’s also quite the
challenge, since even just a few players providing a rudimentary defence
can do a pretty good job of gunning down any attackers either as they
arrive, as they dismount or as they leave. A proper assault can demand
an element of timing or even organisation, not something that’s always
possible when you’re playing on the internet with total strangers and I
think Ravaged might well benefit from a few more communication options.

Having
played maybe a dozen games now, I’ve encountered a few technical issues
here and there, mostly connection issues. While the game engine is
lovely, the combat works just fine and the Mad Max car chases can be a
delight, I’m sometimes unable to log into servers or, even when I do,
spawn and actually play the game. If I’m in, I know I’m in, but the road
there is occasionally rocky. Sometimes the server browser flat out
ignores my attempts to play on some servers, leaving me clicking the
join button over and over, and for no apparent reason. I couldn’t get
the game’s quickmatch function to ever find me a server and half the
time it just crashed the game entirely.

But
I’ve had fun with Ravaged and I’m keen to see it grow. After its
connection bugs are exorcised, I think it would benefit from more
servers hosting a few more game modes and a greater variety of maps, not
least because many of those maps look fantastic. One depicts a ruined
bridge stretched out across a parched and dusty valley, another features
an oil rig towering above a dried sea bed, another has you fighting
around the ruins of the Statue of Liberty.

Ravaged’s
biggest problem may not be anything technical or conceptual, but the
game’s price point, or that it even has a price. It’s selling itself as a
budget online shooter (it’s currently priced at £16 on Steam), which
places it somewhere between established AAA shooters with enormous
audiences, such as Battlefield 3, and the free-to-play titles like Team
Fortress 2 and PlanetSide 2. The former also has a single
player-campaign, while both already offer some pretty impressive
vehicular combat at no cost and, most importantly, both ends of this
spectrum offer polished and very popular games.

But
who lives in this middle ground, or who will come to visit? Sure, if 2
Dawn Games can work out the lumps in their mix and inject just a little
more jam into their doughnut then they’ll have a fine FPS title that’s a
lot of fun to play, but they’ll also need to find an audience for it
and build a community that can fill out some of those half-empty
servers. That, more than anything, is the real challenge.