19 Jul 2021 9:25 AM +00:00

Interview: How Scavengers Is Looking To Carve Its Own Path Through The Battle Royale Genre

If you’re big into your battle royale games, then you’ll likely have heard of Scavengers. In fact, given the furore and hype around it as it entered into Early Access, you may well have seen your favourite streamer playing it or heard of it even if it’s not normally your kind of thing.

Scavengers has a lot of the same rules you’d expect from any other battle royale game: you drop, loot, shoot, and escape. However, unlike a fair few others in the genre, there’s a big PvE element in this one, as you’ll need to try and collect resources from fallen foes as you go, along with stealing them from other players too.

It’s fun, ultimately, and there’s a lot of potential in what Scavengers already is, so it’s one of those games that a lot of people are keeping an eye on. Well, we got the chance to chat to Josh Holmes, the CEO and Co-found of Midwinter Entertainment, the team behind the game, about how they think the game is doing, what they’re expecting from the game overall and a few questions about what it already is too.

Do you feel as though Scavengers is something that's competing with other battle royale games, or one people will play alongside their other favourites?

A: When we started, we didn’t really see ourselves as competing with battle royales - in fact, the genre was really in its infancy back then with only really PUBG being released at the time. However, we embrace the comparison and there are certainly aspects of the design in Scavengers that have been inspired by battle royale games, much as there has been inspiration taken from across multiple other genres and games. We have hundreds of AI combatants alongside teams of players, there are dynamic storms that blow through the match that offer additional challenge and opportunity, unique player abilities, roaming wildlife, other survival systems - there’s a lot going on. In some ways, Scavengers is an evolution of some of the ideas you find in BR games, bringing a distinct energy and satisfaction to the gameplay that we hope sits alongside battle royale titles rather than being viewed as being in competition with them. I think it was Dr Lupo who described us as a “Survival Royale” and I like that.

What inspired the PvPvE focus rather than one or the other?

A: Many of our team members worked on Halo 5 and one of our initial inspirations came from a mode in that game called Warzone (before Call of Duty co-opted the name). It featured two teams competing against each other to score points, take down AI and complete objectives. We saw potential in that general structure for a much deeper, larger scale and more immersive experience, and that’s where we began. PvEvP was very much at the centre of the concept from day one.

Why the snowy setting versus something less free form?

A: Myself and all the Midwinter co-founders are big winter sports fanatics. We live in Kirkland, Washington, and we spend a lot of our weekends in the mountains snowboarding, biking or hiking. From early in the development of Scavengers we wanted to represent that part of ourselves and give the game a really distinct setting by placing it in this frozen wilderness that can be both beautiful and brutal. It’s very much part of the DNA of who we are as a studio.

How long do you expect to support Scavengers for?

A: Indefinitely, hopefully! We’re only in Early Access right now, which is a key moment in our development. This period is all about testing the game with the community and using feedback and data to guide us when it comes to refining and expanding the experience ahead of our full launch. We’ve already learnt a lot through the process, and we’ve got a long way to go, so our priority right now is addressing the issues that are being made most vocal by our community, delivering content updates, whilst also working towards our full release version. It’s a busy time, but exciting, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Would you ever consider using fan-suggested hero designs and weapons?

A: That’s a nice idea. We’re grateful for all of the ideas and fan submissions we get through the community. We haven’t run any competitions or anything yet, but maybe that’s something we will do in the future. It’s a cool idea, as long as the artists involved are fairly rewarded for their contributions.

Will there be an overarching story for players who are staying with the game from the beginning?

A: Yeah, that’s always been part of our plan. We’re still in Early Access, so there are only small teases to the story at this point with the introduction of Mother and the Explorers. We’ll continue to explore those relationships, whilst also introducing new characters and enemies into the world. And already there are a few points of interest on the map that players seem to be having fun discovering. I’m excited about where we can take the story in the future and how the community will react to that.

Will there be differences between the console and PC versions of the game?

A: We’re aiming to create parity between the PC and console versions so that there’s no meaningful difference between the two experiences - it’ll just be a matter of preference.

Will there be more than one map?

A: We don’t have any plans for multiple maps in Expedition mode right now. However, if you’ve participated in one of our ScavLab events, you’ll see a vastly different map we’ve called ‘Trinity Peak’. This is where we gather together thousands of players to participate in fun minigames outside of our core mode. We’ll be doing more of those in the future, and that map will continue to evolve based on the type of event we’re running.

Will the map see changes if there are in-game events?

A: That’s definitely something that we want to do in the future. It’s still Early Access, so this is something that we’d look to explore when we’re beyond our full release. It brings interesting new dimensions to our ability to tell a story within the world of Scavengers, as well as presenting a fresh challenge for players. Right now we’re focused on continuing to improve our current map and Expedition mode, but who knows what the future will bring.

It looks like Scavengers is aiming to be a game that just keeps growing. There’s definitely enough here already to pique the interest of people looking for a new outlet to shoot in, but whether or not it manages to maintain the audience needed to support it is an entirely different matter.

I’ve enjoyed every match I’ve played of Scavengers, but it’s always tricky convincing your friends to jump into a new battle royale if they’re already entrenched in one. At some point, we’ll reach an oversaturation of battle royale games, but I think Scavengers is doing enough that’s different here to help it survive in the cold-harsh never-ending battle royale that is gaming.