|Dev: 2 Dawn Games|
|Pub: Reverb Publishing|
|Release: October 17, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Robert VerBruggen
We all hate it when a first-person shooter has a campaign that feels tacked on. So why not just kill the campaign, lower the price, and focus on delivering a great multiplayer experience?
This is the logic that gave us games like Blacklight: Tango Down, Hybrid, and Battlefield Play4Free. And now 2 Dawn Games, with funding from Kickstarter and a highly accomplished development team, has added Ravaged to the mix. Ravaged is a shooter with a twist—it has the hallmarks of a modern FPS, right down to the post-apocalyptic setting, but most of the maps are huge and there's a strong emphasis on vehicles.
Around every spawn point you'll find a plethora of transportation options, from ATVs to trucks with machine guns mounted in the back to helicopters. These vehicles help you get where you're going faster, but they also protect you and encourage you to work with your teammates. With one person driving and another shooting, you can create a veritable death machine. In Ravaged, two killers are better than one.
But is this enough to make the game stand out among all the other shooters we'll be playing this holiday season? For $25, Ravaged is a decent but not spectacular buy. The vehicle-based combat is a nice change of pace, but the game is a little slight when it comes to its other features. Hopefully 2 Dawn Games will treat Ravaged as a work in progress, adding game modes and other improvements as time goes by.
In each match, you play as a member of one of two factions, the Scavengers and the Resistance. (These are the two sides that emerged after the apocalypse in the game's story—the Scavengers are basically anarchists, while the Resistance wants to rebuild civilization—but who cares about the story of an online-only shooter?) You also choose a class, and you can swap between them at will. There are five class options for each faction, and they give you access to the expected loadouts: assault rifles, SMGs, rocket launchers, sniper rifles, shotguns, etc.
There are also two game modes, Capture the Resources and Thrust. As its name implies, Capture the Resources is a straightforward adaptation of Capture the Flag—you try to fetch "resources" (which look like cans of gas) and bring them back to your base without getting killed, and you try to protect your own resources. Thrust is a little more innovative; you try to maintain control of spawn points, and the game ends when time runs out or the losing team doesn't have any spawn points left.
Almost as noticeable, however, is what Ravaged does not have. So far, the only way to start playing is to join a game that has already started—you can't host your own game or be matched automatically. 2 Dawn really needs to get to work on its matchmaking, and also make it easier for friends to play together.
Another thing I was surprised to see missing is any sort of leveling system. Sure, leveling has its problems in online FPSes—in particular, it makes life hard on newcomers, who not only lack familiarity with the game but also have weak characters. But it's a great way to make people feel like their time investment counted for something even when they lose, and most serious multiplayer shooters have it these days.
The addition of leveling might be too big of a change to implement after launch, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It would give people a reason to keep playing, and to build experience with different classes so they can maintain multiple powerful characters. Thus far, beyond the matches, the only way that players compete is on the leaderboards, which seem like a dated way to keep score.
On a related note, no leveling means no unlocking. Beyond the very basic set of weapons you have access to from the beginning, Ravaged has nothing to offer you: no super scopes, no wild and crazy guns, no armor improvements. From the outset, what you see is what you get—and what you'll be getting for the foreseeable future. It's awfully hard to keep coming back to a game that offers so few tangible rewards.
And perhaps most importantly, the game really needs some more modes. Here the possibilities are endless—team deathmatch would be nice (especially if it encouraged the use of weird vehicles), and some additional twists on the "resource" theme could work wonders. Heck, given that vehicles are what set this game apart, why not have Mario Kart-style battle races or other vehicle-only competitions? If done right, it could be amazing to race with another player manning the turrets.