Survarium, a multiplayer FPS by Vostok Games, and a game I have to check the spelling of every single time I type it, arrived on Steam (opens in new tab) this Thursday in early beta. As a longtime enthusiast of the Stalker series, I naturally wanted to check it out as soon as I could. Right now, there's only a team deathmatch mode available, with other modes like Freeplay PvE and co-op modes planned for the future.
In the hour or so I played, my high point was when I killed a guy with a bear trap. My low point happened a few moments earlier, when I killed myself with a bear trap.
You begin with your choice of either a mosin rifle or submachine gun, and a pistol, and the matchmaking system attempts to find you a suitable server (in this case, one with a bunch of other fresh players). Team deathmatches take place in the sort of bleak environments you'd expect: scarred landscapes with crumbling rock walls, ruined buildings, abandoned tanks, and overgrown vegetation. The guns are loud and startling and bullets quickly shred you to pieces. It's the sort of quick-death scenario that should inspire slow and careful advances through the map and tactical cooperation with other players on your team, but honestly, right now, everyone is just running at top speed all over the map and shooting each other in the face.
Being free-to-play, there's naturally a whole lotta rigmarole between matches, where you take the money you've earned in the round and browse through the shop to see what you can afford, and if you've gained a level you can pick from available skill modifiers. You're allowed three profiles you can switch between during a match: for instance, you can equip one profile with a mosin for long range combat and another with a shotgun for close range, and swap them while waiting to respawn.
You can also purchase other items like protective gear, bandages, grenades, and the bear traps I mentioned earlier. You also may be awarded gear after a match to add to your arsenal.
I bought two bear traps, because how can you not buy bear traps in a video game? One I walked into myself while I was trying to figure out how to place it. The other I set down on a narrow trail and backed away from, and about three minutes later I got a notification when some poor dope on the other team wandered into it. It was pretty great. For me, I mean.
The game looks pretty good. The character models are fairly plain and the animations aren't particularly well done, but I like the look and atmosphere of world itself. None of it really feels like a Stalker game, except for the anomalous areas of the map, which are extremely hazardous to blunder into and made me wish I could stop the match, shoulder my rifle, get out an artifact detector, and hunt for a Mama's Beads or a Meat Chunk or a Stone Blood. Y'know?
Sigh. I think I'm gonna have to play Stalker this weekend.
The maps themselves aren't designed particularly well for team deathmatch, though. If one team pushes in far enough, they'll basically swarm the other end and just spawnkill everyone, and the match timers feel a bit too long. Still, I had a decent time with it, plus it's free and you can use your Steam account in place of filling out a registration form, so there's that. Like most, I'm far more interested in the upcoming Freeplay mode, but Survarium's deathmatch is fun enough in small doses while we wait.