When post-apocalyptic title Rage was released by Bethesda, many wanted to take to the sun-laden environments in an all-out multiplayer, where its vehicles and gorgeous wastelands would truly come to fruition. Rage did not fully adopt this method, but the indie title Ravaged does. This online multiplayer shooter takes the themes to not-so-new heights, but instead offers a serviceable method long fully explored with lesser elements added. If anything, this title proves that more is needed than just stunning visuals in order to obtain an entertaining competition worth spending time on.
Let’s be clear: Most of Ravaged looks absolutely stunning, certainly seeing its indie platform. Fans of post-processing will get a kick out of the streams of light kissing the expanses of this universe. Its fine textures make the best of a monochrome map, whether it is a mostly brownish desert or a city hit by nuclear winter. Yet, before long, some of these detailed images will stop wowing the immediate vision and start seeping through the many faults that will stack up in this shooter. Some levels overdo the sunspots, to the point of total blindness.
Yet, this headache-inducing brightness is only one constant annoyance. Let’s shift the focus of this review: Ravaged is consistent in defending its points in one way, but actually means differently. For instance, it would like to believe it offers multifaceted level design, filled with nooks and crannies. What it actually does is create levels that are either desolate or flawed with absurd choke points that favor one specific side and cripples matches. For instance, an oilrig is a nice change of pace from open deserts. With its many shanties, structures and levels, what it should do is create a highly tactical battle where no one point is safe. What it does, is favor the Resistance team, by providing it a funnel towards controlling the rig above. The Scavenger side then has 1 closed point of entry, switched with lower points that are easily dominated by the high ground. In each level, the overall view made it look like there would be an engrossing time ahead, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. This is without aesthetic glitches such as wonky vehicles, characters remaining stuck in scenery, crashes deadlocking players and so on.
Making matters worse, the 5 identical classes for both sides don’t add any fun of their own. Though not flawed themselves, their poor and restricted loadout choices limit creativity. The assault, all-purpose, sniper class and so forth have been played out and Ravaged adds nothing to it. In fact, the game takes a step back, as weapons feel the same and lack any impact. The main argument for Ravaged is that it wanted to bring the fun back in shooters that strayed from the path. Either they held true to this formula so much that they delivered an experience dated back to a decennium or their priority was to overwhelm people with a shiny package. Masking a grenade as a tennis ball does not make it more fun; giving a character a funny hood does not make its weapon handle better; giving the option to throw a butcher knife does not make it appealing.
The same could be said for the list of interchangeable vehicles, though some do offer some interesting weapon options. Depending on the seat, players can either stick their torso out, Mad Max style, to shoot at enemies or they can use anything from heavy caliber machine guns to machine launchers. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, but at least that functions within the limits of the dreadful shooting mechanic from weapons in general. However, handling cannot come to the same conclusion, which leaves vehicles to be desired. Cars and in particular choppers react poorly to commands and swerve heavily, making them a challenge upon themselves to control, let alone enjoy their presence. Ravaged mentions this game requires skill to play, but what it does is create needless obstacles in system’s that don’t need them. Driving is not set on realism; therefore it shouldn’t operate in an overly produced manner.
Luckily, there is nothing wrong with playing in itself. Connections only sporadically offer issues, which is an indie victory in itself. Additionally, servers are either available as a quick solution or scoped out. While upon release, almost all action is locked on demo servers that offer the game to unsure gamers, this can’t be held against them. The sad truth is that there is little incentive in playing some traditional control point games with old mechanics that lack any punch and have flaws throughout them. Especially when an announcer gives an update every 2 seconds about something that seems eons away through the vast infinity of levels, it becomes irksome just to take part in this peon game.
Go there, capture a point, find out the other side of the map is now in danger, hop over there, rinse repeat; either this is happening or nothing is happening at all. It never feels engaging or even thrilling to have to fight the clock. Ravaged argues that team mechanics are needed to win, but just 1 person in a vehicle can easily take over 1 point or two on expansive maps and turn the tides. In other regions, games are either pinned down by default or too open to devise any tactic. At no point is it a matter of wits or skill.
Battlefield 1942 celebrated its tenth birthday at the time of Ravaged’s release. While the art might not have been as drenched in spectacular lighting, it presented a revolutionary gameplay model based on skills and team efforts. This was an engaging race against time for any multiplayer shooter fan to enjoy, with a series of great maps, classes and vehicles that joined forces for an addictively good game. While Ravaged shouldn’t be compared to it by default, seeing as it’s its own game, there’s also no excuse to not only take a step back from tropes of ten years ago, but to break down in other segments of its drab, uninspired gameplay. Even the most dedicated first person shooter fanatic can turn to bland free-to-play shooters, without having to resort to this last resort.