Capture the gas!
Ravaged is an Unreal Engine-powered FPS set in the post-apocalypse, spiced up with vehiclesm and is playable only in online multiplayer. That’s all you might need to know. If you enjoy the scale and objective-driven gameplay of a Battlefield 3 or Unreal Tournament 2004—and so long as servers are nicely populated—there’s certainly a lot of fun to be had here.
And though there’s no single-player or appreciable storyline to Ravaged, its own development is worth mentioning. The game was built with the free Unreal Development Kit and was Kickstartered back in May; funding came in at more than double the $15,000 goal (two generous souls even forked over at least $1,000 each, which earned them in-game portraits on Wanted posters).
So that’s rad, especially seeing as it holds a level of polish that feels like it's from a bigger studio. No single-player campaign and zero customization might betray a lower budget, but could also be the reason for that nice price-tag: $25.
To drop in, you pick a side (with the prim and proper Resistance or the skull-wearing Scavengers), a class loadout, and grab some wheels. Without them you’re a schmuck; the maps in Ravaged are big and exclusively outdoors.
Deathmatch isn’t all that popular around here. Much more so is Resource Control, a CTF mode where fuel canisters replace flags. Bring back eight to win, capturing respawn points along the way to gain an edge. Your HUD and map grant you nearly full disclosure, always pointing to the location of the enemy’s fuel and your own. The result? Midfield pursuits are more common than they might otherwise be.
With this info and a growing familiarity with the maps, I found vehicular collisions to be a good defense tactic. Vehicles have their own hit points, but the threshold for mutual totalling is set pretty low. If your fuel has been kidnapped, think of a good chokepoint, or even an open dustbowl, and go in for the damage. That each vehicle has unlimited turbo doesn’t hurt, either.
Ravaged’s vehicles have a lot of personality, their models rich with pragmatic, survivalist details like spare tires and bedrolls. The Resistance salvaged SWAT tanks from civilization’s crumbling remains, while Scavengers prefered to deck out their rust buckets with the word “murder” scrawled in white chalk and capitals. The trike (two wheels in the front) challenges you to shift your character’s weight for tight turns and nimble escapes.
The game’s stable also includes a few flyers, among which is the Gyro Copter: a single-seat, steampunkish contraption. Distinctive touch: Pitch and roll are determined by the mouse’s position rather than any keys. It’s fragile, spawns less often than other vehicles, and was deliberately made hard to fly. Naturally, all of that is balanced by a scary amount of firepower, in both guns and missiles. Yes, an enemy bird in the air will make you one unhappy, little peon. I suspect the Gyro Copter to make for an especially cherished element of Ravaged’s online community as time wears on and players become more comfortable with its controls.
At its finest, Ravaged is a competitive delight. In one especially tense round of Resource Control, my team had successfully stolen a canister to make the score 7-6. With less than two minutes on the clock, we Scavengers agreed to play defensively. Most of us kept to our base’s higher ground, crowding out our gas canister while others plugged up the central route with idling hotrods and jeeps.
After the game, many lines of "gg" were exchanged. It had come down to the wire. One player ventured: “When people play, this game is really good.” Ah. It’s all there. Because as with any large-scale military shooter (24 and 32-person games in this case), Ravaged can sometimes cough up a lot of emptiness... a majority of servers with fewer than five people, or starting situations that force you on a cross-country sprint to the closest vehicle.
But I suppose big shooter fans are used to that. If and when the lobbies start getting fuller, many players will find that they can leverage Ravaged’s solid mechanics and vehicular mayhem for one hell of an Unreal-fueled time.