SCUM Preview: The Most Realistic Open-World Survival Yet
At a passing glance, SCUM might appear to be just another gritty open-world survival game in the same vein as DayZ and H1Z1, but if you take a deeper look, you’re sure to find that its most striking feature also happens to be what sets it apart from the competition. When the developers, Gamepires and Croteam, talk about “unprecedented levels of character customization, control, and progression,” they are only preparing you for what most definitely will be the most realistic open-world survival game I’ve seen.
The basic premise of SCUM is that you’re a prisoner on a reality show about survival, and each participant has a device located on the back of their head called the Body Control Unit, or the BCU. This tracks practically every bodily function that you can think of, including things like heart rate, metabolism, vitamin and nutrient intake, and even seemingly trivial things like the number of teeth your character has (lose too many and you won’t be able to chew solid food). Although the option to disregard all that stuff is there, SCUM opens the door for some very thorough and, dare I say, fascinating survival micromanagement.
Each player must create a character before starting a campaign. Unlike traditional survival games, this process isn’t purely superficial. Some people may prefer to randomize their character, but if you enjoy spending a good hour or two on building the perfect avatar for your game experience, then you’ll enjoy all that SCUM has to offer.
Things like fat and muscle mass determine how many calories and how much exercise you’ll need to keep your character at their current size, and with proper (or improper) maintenance, it can eventually impact your character's body and stats. Age can influence skills such as endurance and intelligence, while flaws like alcoholism can give your character skill bonuses but at the expense of suffering from withdrawals if you drink too little and liver failure if you drink too much.
Skills also play an important part in staying alive in SCUM and have the propensity to impact each other. For example, using rifles in the game will naturally level up your Rifle skill, but sniper mastery requires some points in intelligence. It’s important to note that this game isn’t all about shooting guns. While skills like cooking might seem pointless to have, talented chefs can conjure up stat-boosting entrees that can give players the upper hand in combat.
The ultimate goal of survival mode in SCUM is to last long enough to remove your BCU and escape, which I’ve been told by the developers is much easier said than done. This mode is playable solo or in online multiplayer with up to 64 players.
The above video from lemmingzappa on YouTube shows off a new mode that was revealed at PAX East 2018 called Cargo Capture. This mode is geared more toward players looking for that quick-paced multiplayer shooter experience many have come to expect. It spawns you and a group of teammates in a pre-game lobby where you can run around and get familiar with the surroundings, similar in style to the starting areas of Fortnite and PUBG. A countdown takes place before moving you and all of the other players onto a map where you’ll find a group of tables loaded up with weapons, clothing, handheld explosives, and other combat accessories. Once players are armed and ready, they head to a part of the map with a crate that they must capture before the opposing team does.
As someone who’s a big fan of the survival genre, I found the survival aspect of SCUM far more appealing than Cargo Capture mode, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless. There’s still a lot about SCUM that is yet to be determined, but I do believe the potential for something incredibly fun and unique is there. Players interested in SCUM will be able to get it on Steam as part of the Early Access program in the second quarter of 2018.