Ravaged Hands On
Developer: 2 Dawn Games / Publisher: Steam / Release Date: October 14, 2012 / Platforms: PC / ESRB: Not Yet Rated
Reverb Publishing’s Ravaged is, quite simply, a fairly straightforward post-apocalyptic take on the Battlefield-style FPS (with a self-proclaimed heavy focus on vehicular combat), set amid the ongoing conflict between two warring factions of humans. There’s the bloodthirsty, leather-and-metal-accessorized ‘Scavengers’ (who look exactly like you think they do) and the slightly-closer-to-the-remnants-of-Civilization members of the ‘Resistance’ (who have thus far just barely managed to more or less hold onto a semblance of quasi-military fashion). The terra-firma world at large, meanwhile, has gotten it badly with the knobbly end of the Cataclysmic Climate Change stick: were it not for the semi-intact ruins of the odd (former) world landmark jutting up through the barren wastes, you wouldn’t be likely to recognize the (former) real-world locales in which Ravaged‘s battles are purported to be taking place.
The good news: Just before the world’s last halfway-decent day, a small group of Resistance warriors were able to sock themselves and a store of weapons and food in the deepest, most secure shelters…and then wait for the worst of it to be over so they could emerge, assess the damage and rebuild. The bad news: The toughest of the less-fortunate surface dwellers were waiting for them, ready to Ravage, plunder and kill, and not necessarily in that order.
If we’re going to call Ravaged a ‘Battlefield-style’ FPS, then it should also be fair to compare the game’s general visual tone to Mad Max and its overall color-palette to Borderlands; sprawling, rocky, desert-toned wastes (the world at large seems to have lost a crapload of water, among other things) with the occasional familiar bit of wreckage haunting the place. To illustrate the form behind the flair, one of your multiplayer-mode duties is to swipe unguarded containers of fuel from the enemy’s outposts and hoard the stash back at your own bases. The game’s post-Apocalypse battle maps include those ranging from arenas big enough for 32-player on-foot and vehicular combat to closer-quarters, infantry-only maps meant to force eight players into tense furballs.
Creased and dented picture-postcards of the End of the World: The Golden Gate map, featuring the sagging remains of the famous bridge, as well as lots of available oil-barrels from the once-active container ship Vantroyska scattered on the dry basin of the Bay. The Icebreaker map is a small frozen-climate combat arena not suited to vehicles, near what folks used to call Quebec. The Grand Canyon map, that’s strangely enough not actually one of the largest maps. The medium-sized Chasm map, featuring the remains of the Indian Point nuke plant. The Derelict map, also a medium one, featuring a large cave that boasts some of the game’s comparatively-rare vegetation. Rooftops, another snow-and-ice-intensive medium map set in the no-longer-so-romantic city of Paris. The Oil Rig map is for two-legged combatants only; and of course the near-obligatory video game battle map, open to infantry and vehicles alike, set on and around the long-beheaded Statue of Liberty…with rusted-out hulks of boats sharing the dry bottom of New York Harbor with presumbably-poisonous cacti. Whatever the nature of the world-changing climate change, it sure did a number on the late, great planet Earth, all right.
Each of Ravaged‘s two factions offers players a choice of five character-class types: Bandits, Warriors, Bodyguards, Assassins and Grunts for the Scavengers, and Recons, Weapon Specialists, Snipers, Soldiers and Support classes for the more civilized Resistance. While there are minor faction-specific tweaks to certain character types, the five classes of one side are effectively mirror-roles of those for the other side. In other words, there aren’t any exaggerated differences that would inherently dictate play styles—no Zerg hive-tactics to the Protoss’ exotic technology (to mix game-genre metaphors). In fact, a total of 28 currently-announced weapons in the game means that, regardless of their faction allegiance, players shouldn’t expect to find particularly large variety in the armament department—at least as of this writing and current state of the open beta.
Whether sitting on a high outcropping making new server-enemies with a sniper rifle, chucking grenades, picking off exposed foes with the game’s surprisingly capable (read: “ridiculously hyper-accurate”) submachine gun or just getting in good and close for an old-fashioned, never-jamming baseball bat with spikes through it, players at home in the realms of Blacklight or Battlefield will instantly have a sense of familiar country. Ravaged will also offer 10 types of vehicles for both land- and air-based attacks, including a truck, a jeep, a quick, skeletal dune-buggy, a proper 8-wheeled armored fighting vehicle, two types of quad-bikes, both a helicopter and a gyro-copter (both real bears to effectively use or even fly properly, until you get the hang of them; this is exactly as it should be), and what can only be described as a dump truck converted for the purposes of war…which is of course what any red-blooded human being thinks of when he/she sees a dump truck in the first place. So…yeah.
Ravaged is, as mentioned previously, still in open beta…and for the moment, it still kind of shows occasionally, most notably in the vehicular department. There just isn’t any particular gas tank-half-full way of saying it: The vehicle physics are still a little, ah, wonky. The mid- and larger-sized vehicles in particular seem queerly devoid of mass and kinetic energy. Get one up to full speed and suddenly bail out the driver side door…and your just-abandoned mode of transport just sort of comes to an inexplicably-sudden stop, which can rather take some of the vehicular blood-lust right out of your intended ballistic attack, because that is why you bailed out of the vehicle to begin with). Also, unless the aforementioned climate-change has had the totally-unprecedented consequence of changing the planet’s gravitational effects on metal, even the nimbler wheeled vehicles seem to have just slightly more trouble getting actual ‘air’ on certain jumps-of-opportunity than they rightly should. Of course, these are tweaks that any FPS game worth its ammo-clips can easily address over the course of a beta (and the Ravaged beta certainly seems to be going strong)… but this just writer really likes using vehicles as impromptu ballistic missiles, so I feel the need to say something.
Surprisingly, there are still fewer all-out multiplayer FPS games—not action-RPG ones, mind you, but straight-up mulitplayer death-fests like this—which actually take place in a proper, recognizable, post-Doomsday Earth than one might immediately think. Ravaged certainly seems poised to address that great wrong, and we look forward to seeing its frantic, mixed, on-foot/vehicular clashes amid the eerily-familiar ruins of the world we know today.