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SCUM Early Access Review

Deep, overwhelming, hardcore survival. Scum is a title that will refuse to take it easy on its player base. Your enemies are many and your challenges are limitless. Welcome to the dystopian future that Scum represents in an impressive way. Your avatar is a convict in a future totalitarian regime, sentenced to an island that’s nothing short of hell. Your new life will be televised and broadcasted to the adoring fans of the company, TEC1. Prepare to fight, loot, and scavenge, and even satisfy the human body's most basic needs. Your time in Scum will not be dull, but you may desync from the servers or find some teleporting lag warriors around the airfield. With that being said, Scum is currently in its Alpha build.

FAIR IS FAIR

To review Scum objectively, we need to compare it to the other titles within the open-world survival genre. While the genre as a whole is fairly illustrious, it also has a significant number of deceptive development practices, optimization issues, complete neglect of its relative criticisms, and beloved titles (such as The WarZ) that fall face-first into the sands of Steam's early-access perpetual hell. While Scum is currently in Alpha, I find it to be an incredibly stable build of the initial release. Thinking back on another hype train I boarded so many years ago, I find myself mesmerized by the product’s overall polish, comparatively speaking. I am of course referring to the days of DayZ. Another familiar title would be Miscreated, but I won’t open that can of worms here.

DayZ was widely viewed as one of the biggest let-downs of modern gaming. While many did find enjoyment in the title and are still part of a dedicated fanbase, the majority of players who were on the hype train were quickly dispatched by the title’s overwhelming bugs, graphical issues, slow development process, and overall displeasing user interface. I, for one, was a release-day buyer of DayZ. It seems like developers of Scum saw this tide of melancholy and wanted to “come out swinging.”

While I fully understood I was investing in an unfinished product to support and motivate the development process, I was horrified by the complete lack of content and the crushing amount of issues that arose around every corner of the game world. I truly attempted to pour my time into DayZ, as I had been waiting for the standalone release ever since the original Arma II mod, but was so rapidly beaten down by the awful release condition that I never went back to the title. It has collected dust on the shelves of my Steam library for well over 4 years now. By no means is Scum perfect, especially not on the servers end, but the title at its current state appears to be worlds ahead of DayZ at a similar time in development.

WAKE UP, CONVICT.

You’ve awoken onto the criminal island. You’re in the middle of a lush field, enveloped by a crowd of trees and brush. The shadows cast from the trees devour you in a blanket of shade. You spot an implant in the back of your skull. This is your monitor; the beacon to the entertainment division of the regime that will track your overall health, status, and location. This implant also allows you to monitor all your own bells and whistles, as well. As you TAB into your inventory, you will notice four sections peppered on the top of your screen: inventory, crafting, metabolism, and events. Each of these sections will play a significant role in your time with Scum.

The inventory will look very familiar if you’ve played DayZ. The overall holding capacity will be based upon your clothing or backpacks. This makes the “magical backpacks” of games like Ark and Conan Exiles seem pretty obsolete, as all of your inventory is physical in this title. Larger items take up more slots, and most objects are non-stackable.

Crafting is simple, but it's quite a long process to gain the necessary materials. For instance, to craft a fire to cook with, you will need an ax to cut down trees, rocks to form the circle, and some form of kindling, as well as a way to light it. Acquiring the kindling and the lighting mechanism could take you a while, be it the RNG isn’t cooperating.

The metabolism system is absolutely daunting at first glance. Have no fear, my casual gamers; the 13 different vitamins, nine minerals, sugars, fats, carbs, etc., are not a complete necessity to monitor, but a close eye on these gauges will keep your jailbird in tip-top combat shape. If you’re hungry, simply eat something. With that, your character can fluctuate in weight often. I went from being a muscle-bound freak-beast to a quite hefty individual after eating a copious amount of potatoes. Your weight in Scum changes extremely fast, which can be a little awkward, being that you can start wheezing your way up a mountain and arrive at the top as a stud.

The events are an interesting addition to the genre. Events give you the opportunity to queue up for Free-for-All deathmatches, team deathmatches, and an objective-based game mode called Cargo Assault. These can break the monotony of walking through the woods and can offer you some pretty high-quality loot to take with you back to the world. Kudos to the developer team on giving players the option to engage in combat without risk and truly practice the warfighting skills.

If you had any doubt, yes “nature” does call. You will defecate and urinate in Scum. It isn’t very often, so no need to become paranoid. Yet it does present a rather large dilemma: You cannot cancel the animations. A fear of mine (possibly done by design by the devs?) is that I’ll be mid- business and get attacked by my fellow man, where he will proceed to molly-whop me with any tool that is applicable, but my character will remain dedicated to duty. While this system is a really immersive concept, it may prove to be a little tedious. Though, it isn’t like you’re constantly needing to go.

A WHOLE NEW WORLD

The island of Scum is GIANT. I’m not sure on the exact size, but it will take a hot minute for any individual to traverse the mighty terrain. This is a good thing, however, as the majority of your encounters with other players will be a “kill on sight.” While migrating from village to village, you won’t see much variation in the dwelling of the island. Most homes will have the same layouts and furniture designs, but the RNG will keep things feeling fairly fresh. There are several hot spots within the world, such as a military-style base and the airfield. These areas will attract seasoned players as well as the newly awoken. The players will not be your only issues in these areas, however. Giant walker-style robots wander these lands, leaping at the opportunity to engage their human inferiors. The undead horde has also claimed these lands, so be warned and tread carefully.

Combat in Scum is smooth and responsive, with slight hiccups in lag. Fighting players is kind of a dice-roll, especially with the desynchronization that occurs often, but not enough to induce rage from the players. Fighting the undead is always a pleasure, as the zombies are extremely well-animated and hunt you with purpose. You can outrun them and even hide from them, but it's easy to take out one or two of them at a time. Future content will include vehicles, which may present a whole new level of combat, and more than likely a whole lot more lag.

7

The Verdict: Great

Scum is a fresh, deep, overwhelming, and enjoyable survival title. It shows much promise for the future and is by far one the most stable alpha builds to be released in recent memory. I have definitely located a new time-drain for myself and will happily recommend this title to the masses.

Bric Hudson
Written by
September 07, 2018
Published in Adventure

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Bric is a US Army veteran and a passionate gamer. While in military service, he found gaming to be a way to connect with his friends all over the world. This blossomed into a fascination with the gaming culture and the experiences had while launching up a whole new title. He is fond of a variety of genres, which is reflected on his Twitch streams and on his Youtube channel. Find Bric on YouTube. Find Bric on Twitch.

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