At last, the day has come. I have avoided it and postponed as long as I could but in the end, there is no escape. A flurry of battle royale games was thrown in my direction and I’ve dodged every so far. It’s time to finally pick something out of the bunch and see what all the fuss is about. I’ve settled on SCUM for a couple of reasons. It’s newly released, backed by Devolver and made by my Croatian neighbours. As of right now, we can traverse 144 sq km of terrain by foot but developers assure us that vehicles will be added at later date. But let’s get through one thing at a time – where, who what and how?
SCUM is a battle royale game that pits you against other prisoners in a huge terrain and oh boy, the game sure goes a long way to emphasize the scum and disgust of it all. Aside from all the usual things you can do in a BR title such as crafting, looting, exploring we now have the liberty to piss, poop and vomit as much as we please. I spent a good hour fertilizing Mother Nature like that until I remembered that there are other players around me and I should probably seek shelter if I want to survive.
I can’t say that the start of the game was exactly user-friendly but I managed to figure out how to craft a small knife (pretty much anything you can pick up from the ground has some use), a spear and find new clothes. The last part was done by sneaking up and killing some Puppets. Puppets are SCUM‘s version of zombies but they are not the sole inhabitants of the huge map. Some of the most useful items (such as weapons, backpacks and ballistic vest) are found in restricted areas, guarded by huge robot sentries. These nasty buggers can kill you in a second so the best strategy is to sprint from cover to cover and search the zone when you’re out of the robot’s reach.
Oh and let’s not forget the most important thing – the players. Usually, you’ll be sharing the server with 63 other prisoners which sounds like a lot but remember how insanely huge the map is. The good way to attract attention is to make some noise in the open (which could also attract the Puppets) or converse with others through in-game chat. And that is the selling point of SCUM (besides hurling vomit and pooping on command). Being on your own, surrounded by unwelcoming nature and some Puppets & robots isn’t enough for SCUM. Out of the 63 other players you meet, you never know if they might be a kind stranger or an enemy. Sometimes even both. Being all friendly until they make sure you pose no threat so they can stab you in the back and steal all of your stuff. It was a harsh lesson I learned after organizing a meetup by a lake with my new “friend” from Sweden. A valuable life lesson was learned that day. Never trust a stranger you meet through SCUM‘s in-game chat, especially if they’re from Sweden.
With all said and done, there is one thing I have to point out about SCUM, for all the potential buyers out there. Considering the enormous playfield, danger in form of other prisoners and enemy NPCs – the path of staying alive is long and a hard one. I was lucky for deciding to play this over the weekend or else I would not have much fun dropping in and out for an hour or two after work. An hour or so is barely enough to do anything (unless you’re specifically going for getting yourself killed) and there is a huge checklist before you should decide to roam around the map. Making some basic tools/weapons, setting up a camp and finding food is an absolute necessity. Of course, there is a shortcut for all that by killing another prisoner and robbing them of all their grind. It is also way more fun with someone else, just like any survival MMO. A couple of friends already got their copies and they’re having more success staying alive, exploring and defending their home turf from other players.
All in all, my first experience with a battle royale game went far better than expected. I only died once by the hand of that horrible Swede, a couple of other times I got killed by Puppets and robot sentries but soon enough I got the hang of it all. Despite the steep engagement curve, there is a lot of fun to be had in exploring the environment, hoarding everything and checking the surroundings. You never know if some unfriendly prisoner is patiently stalking you, only to dismember you while you poop and run away with all of your prized possessions.