Survival sandbox Scum may boast astonishingly detailed health management systems (shown above) but under that veneer of hyper-complexity beats a familiar heart. Published by Devolver Digital and entering early access today, Scum resembles zombie survive 'em up DayZ, brief source of zeitgeist before battle royale shooters took over. Set in a massive open-air prison, up to 64 players per server try to feed, clothe and arm themselves while dodging rivals, undead hordes and the occasional security robot.
Developed by Gamepires (with some help from Croteam) Scum is framed as a dystopian sci-fi reality TV event. Between organised arena fights, (which are queued for and take place on a separate map), swarms of cyber-undead ('Puppets' in Scum's fiction) and big ED-209-styled security mechs that chase players out of their patrol areas, there's plenty besides nature that's trying to kill you or keep you moving. While survival-focused, Scum isn't a battle royale game, and players can respawn and recover lost gear from their body, if others haven't looted it already.
While the most immediate threat to life and limb seems to be murderous players, robots or the undead, the complex survival systems mean you have to pay some attention to your own body. This mostly means just eating, drinking, resting and (manually) peeing and pooping, but more can go wrong with your body than starvation or excessive lead intake. It's even possible to be laid low by a heart attack, as captured by streamer "Fadez" here. Judging by his health monitors, he was suffering from hypothermia at the time, too.
The game also models firearms with unusual detail. During one of the pre-release streams I watched, a player found an assault rifle and a box of ammo of the right calibre, but no magazine. Forced to load and fire bullets one at a time, it made for a more intense round of zombie hunting than he had planned. As with any online game, don't be surprised if there are server issues surrounding launch. We'll know soon enough what shape the game is in, but anyone going in early should be prepared for a few bugs, as some of the early streamers seemed to have a rough time.
As with some other recent (and rightfully criticised) early access debuts, the initial version of Scum only has angry murderblokes playable, with angry murderlady models in development and planned for release in time for version 1.0. Vehicles are also conspicuously absent at present, another feature promised for a later version. At present, Gamepires think that the game will remain in early access for at least a year as they've got plenty of features yet to implement, including the story and side missions.