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Vehicles are the real stars in the chaotic world of team-shooter Ravaged (hands-on preview)

At first glance, Ravaged doesn’t look very enticing. A postapocalyptic setting? Yawn. Adding vehicular combat in a first-person shooter? It’s been done before. Living long enough in a firefight to capture a flag while an armored dune buggy soars overhead, looking like a spontaneous homage to the climactic scene from Free Willy? Well, that’s new.

Due out for PCs on Wednesday for $24.99, this multiplayer-only team-based first-person shooter may borrow a lot of elements we’ve seen in other games, but it manages to distill them into a fun, if chaotic, formula.

“That was actually a good moment,” laughed Joe Halper, the executive producer at developer 2 Dawn Games, in an interview with GamesBeat. “And that’s the thing, too: Those memorable moments you have with the way that these vehicles [behave]. And we don’t take the game as seriously, as like the Battlefields or the Call of Dutys do … you can actually taunt people, too. You can give them the finger, and you can call ‘em out. It’s fun. It’s kind of like Team Fortress meets Battlefield.”

Fighting for the world’s last resources

A series of natural disasters turned the world upside down, with nature reclaiming much of humanity’s urban jungles. The famed Statue of Liberty now lies in pieces across a desert formerly known as New York City, and potential snipers can hide within its broken arms and torso. On the other side of the world, the Eiffel Tower stands under a sheen of ice, along with the rest of Paris, as survivors wage war across its frozen streets.

Ravaged Icebreaker map

At the heart of the conflict are two factions: the organized and well-equipped Resistance, who’s trying to restore order in society; and the rag-tag Scavengers, whose ranks include marauders and ex-cons, and their goal is to hoard the few remaining resources left on the planet. Each side has five classes, along with their own faction-specific guns and melee weapons.

For now, you can join their fight in two multiplayer modes. In Capture the Resource, your team must grab the orange gas can and return it to home base while protecting your own blue gas can; and in Thrust, you must capture all the flags and hold them for as long as you can.

Vehicles with attitude 

Though some of the eight maps Ravaged is launching with only have on-foot combat, others are large enough for vehicles that, as you can probably tell from the some of the screenshots here, are a major part of the game. With tricked-out dune buggies and mortar-spewing trucks, picking out what vehicles you’ll use in a match is just as important as picking out your character class.

Many of these metal behemoths support multiple passengers — like the four-door Charger, which holds up to six seats for your teammates, including a small exposed bed behind the vehicle where you can just hang back and shoot with your normal weapons. Of course, the more people you pack into a car, the greater the risk of being taken out with a rocket launcher or explosive, so you’ll want a really good driver at the wheel. This is especially true if you’re manning any of the mounted guns, as they have a limited firing range and can only swivel around so much, so it’s important that you work together with your driver to decide which targets to pursue.

The mechanics are a little different with vehicles that don’t carry weapons. With quads and ATVs, you can lean from side-to-side to give you more control; this is useful for chasing other players or doing daredevil jumps from ramps that pepper the map. And if you want to inflict damage from above, you may master either use the Gyrocopter or the MH-6 Mini Helicopter: You can’t just hop in and immediately fly them without some practice first. I could barely get it off the ground without flipping over and crashing.

“You really have to actually put some time into learning how to fly them, especially with mouse and keyboard,” said Halper. “But once you do learn to fly the air vehicles well, you get respect from your team, and they’ll leave the helicopters for you to fly. And you can just totally decimate the other side pretty easily. … We try to make it so you don’t have to traverse a lot of terrain. You always have a vehicle to hopefully go to. These are the types of things we always shoot for.”

Ravaged Charger vehicle

Homemade weapons and ketchup-pack explosions

When Halper tried scaling a small hill in a map known as Icebreaker, serving as my virtual tour guide, a hidden sniper took him out and his body inexplicably burst into unrecognizable pieces. He affectionately calls this a “ketchup-pack explosion,” and it’s a good example of the type of mayhem you can expect to see a lot of in Ravaged with its plethora of odd-looking weapons and explosives.

I saw the bloody spectacle in action again when I loaded up the harpoon gun, a staple for the Scavenger’s sniper class, and shot someone who was charging at me with a nailed baseball bat (which you can also use to whack vehicles away if it gets stuck in the environment). The other one-hit kill weapons are the skill-based projectiles, like a meat cleaver or throwing knife, but you’ll have to compensate for the bullet-drop effect: After traveling a certain distance, the projectile will gradually fall to the ground due to the force of gravity.

Perhaps most deadly of all, however, is the Scavenger’s soda bomb. It doesn’t look like it, as it’s just a plastic soda bottle duct taped together with spare parts and a fuse controlled by a small MP3 player, but you can wave farewell to anything (including vehicles) or anyone caught within its large blast radius.

“There are so many weapons that you can have, [and] we’re trying to figure out what’s the base weapons,” said Halper. “We’ve got a lot in here already. There’s just no end to what we create for the future weapons we’ll be releasing. I won’t go into details … and I won’t say that there will be a chainsaw, but there will be!” [Laughs]

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