In a sentence, Ravaged is a Kickstarted, multiplayer only, post-apocalyptic shooter with a heavy focus on vehicles. There are three points I would like to make at the outset. First, I am on the fence about a lack of single-player. A part of me believes that 2 Dawn Games should be lauded for making the bold decision not to tack on a wonky, ill-explained and highly disingenuous single-player campaign because that is the industry standard. But then I see a frozen Paris, a New York with the Statue of Liberty in ruins and expansive, exclusive-outdoor environments, and I wonder: "what happened to this world?" This question, by and large, is left up to the imagination.
Second, the game has been praised for the low price tag of $25, but please bear in mind two very important factors. The game is multi-player only, and with F2P titles like Blacklight: Tango Down, Battlefield Play4Free and Tribes: Ascend, it makes me wonder why I should pay $25 for a game with limited servers and a minuscule player-base. Third, Ravaged feels like the multiplayer component that iD's Rage never had.
Pick A(n Arbitrary) Side
That being said, when you can get enough players in a match, Ravaged is a stupid amount of fun. You can choose to be the volatile Scavengers or the self-righteous Resistance, pick a class, which is closely tied to weapon choice, and jump into the world. Vehicles are as critical to success as all manner of bullets, as it is highly impractical to traverse the enormous maps on foot. Technically you can hoof it, but expect to get run over or gunned down quite promptly.
The only game-mode I was able to test with an appropriate number of players was a CTF mode, where you have to steal eight fuel canisters within a certain time limit to succeed. Respawn points along the way can be captured, adding a control-point element to an already tense situation. Natural choke points in the terrain make for some intense standoffs, with both sides vying for control. The other mode, Thrust, is the same, except without the fuel cans. You try to capture spawn points and the game ends when one side loses all points or the time runs out.
There are a ton of vehicles to man, ranging from rust buckets, dune buggies, ATVs, trucks and salvaged tanks to odd contraptions like the trike and the Gyro-copter. Most vehicles behave and respond how you would expect them to, have infinite turbo boost, finite hit points and pack all kinds of terrifying firepower. Mid-match often turns into an all-out vehicular manslaughter-fest, with bullets and car parts flying every which way. Adorned with a variety of details, the vehicles have a lot of personality, subtly leaking little details of life in the wasteland.
Praise for vehicle design notwithstanding, who the hell programmed the Gyro-copter? Seriously? Has anyone figured out how to fly this stupid thing? What? I am the only one who cannot seem to figure it out? Damn it. In all seriousness, the Gyro needs some sort of a tutorial. I suppose the design decision is grounded in the fact that air-superiority should come with a price, but this deathtrap masquerading as a copter is just ridiculous.
Replay value is a department that Ravaged lacks in. Sure it is fun while you are playing it, and when the player population allows it. However, the matchmaking is non-existent, there is no leveling system in-game, there are thus no upgrades, or incentives to continue playing often, and only two game modes. These factors make no sense to me. This is a multiplayer-only game, crafted by industry veterans, yet the most pressing multiplayer components are absent. My hope is that 2 Dawn steps up their marketing effort, incentivizes the influx of new players and rewards existing loyalists. Maybe then, there will be some hope for the wasteland.
Great vehicle design, tons of personality in the little details, fun shooter, tense battles
No match-making, shoddy Gyro-copter mechanics, limited replay, tiny player-base, lack of servers