Marauders is a brand new Tarkov-style space survival FPS game
Marauders is a Tarkov-style survival FPS that wants to teach a key lesson – that life is cruel. In fact, it has to be that in dieselpunk’s alternate history, the “big war” never ends, and everyone is fighting over the debris of the asteroid belt in the early ’90s. Darwinism reigns supreme, and if you lose everything, the looters won’t give you a shiny insurance payout.
“It’s hard to lose everything you have,” Cameron Small told me. He’s the lead designer at Small Impact Games, a four-person studio that’s working with Team 17 on the Raiders. But I don’t think any feeling in terms of progress beats it. It’s also a very risky strategy for an indie game in a space adjacent to Battle Royale, as he is quick to admit, but: “As long as we can educate players, they can go in and take out nothing. everything, maybe it’s worth it [the risk]”.
Small Impact was built on a love of survival games, hardcore shooters like Escape from Tarkov, and about half a dozen other influences combined to make Marauders. The studio apparently revels in the rigor of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory and the winner-take-all chance it implies; Cameron told me he likes to play Tarkov naked to see what he can get away with . “Your first raid could be your best raid, or your worst raid,” he muses.
For me, my biggest raid in the Marauder was my third. The premise is simple: you and up to three crew members spawn on a ship in space. The only map types we’ve seen so far are asteroid fields, each with two exit gates for extraction. There are also tons of AI-controlled turrets, hostile spaceships (controlled by NPCs and other players), and “devices” that can dock and find loot.
You can install one, a few, or just wait in space to hijack some other fool who has trouble and steals Their but plunder. If you’re smart enough, you can even board another player’s ship, hide somewhere on the ship, and sneak out with them. Whatever you decide, you must leave the area alive with your loot if you want to keep it. If you die, you lose everything you took with you – ships, gear, and more.
Your first raid could be your best raid or your worst raid
At the end of my third raid, I was on my way to the gate. The first two were truncated due to the usual learning pains and some technical issues, but the third has been going well so far. I raided a facility, got loot, and even took down some NPCs and enemy crew members in an abandoned mine. To experience the full game loop as intended, my boatmate and I (The Loadout’s Jess Wells, who loves Tarkov) decided to call it quits there.
We head to the nearest gate. On the way, I spotted the glow of an engine plume in space. It’s near the gate, but on the other side of a large planet. Putting on my best stealth hat, I slowly embrace the boulder, looking “down” at the boat from above. This is a top-of-the-line military frigate, the best you can (currently) get in the game, but it doesn’t seem to spot us. Soon, Jesse and I rushed to our escape pod.
These nimble single-person craft are fast, but weak and lightly armored. They’re only designed for two things: quickly escape the nearest gate, or board another ship. Through its hull, we boarded the frigate. It seemed deserted at first, but then I stumbled across someone playing with weapons — and not Jess — near the docking hatch deep in the cargo hold. With the surprise factor, I sent strangers and we finished sweeping the ship.
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We’ve hit mastering. Not only did we have a full military frigate, we also stole something from this poor soul – a bunch of top-of-the-line weapons and gear. We rushed to the bridge, flew to the door, felt like a (pirate) king, and I suddenly understood why the Marauders existed.It’s such a pure, cruel moment, I hope so no way happened to me. once. Remind yourself: there is always someone watching.
No matter who that person is, they won’t fully bottom out. While not wanting to offer too much damage mitigation, Small Impact Games is willing to give everyone a free starter ship (“Rust Bucket”) and a base loadout for every game, no matter what happens. From there, you will be in charge of your own destiny.
There’s a lot of promise for Marauder, but the real test will be how well it can scale up and manage the final piece of the puzzle to keep players interested. Small Impact plans to be in Steam Early Access for a while – and I’m not being mean when I say it will be necessary – and I can’t wait to see what the team builds on top of these.
There’s a lot more that I haven’t mentioned, like a meta game that involves making everything from gear to ships. There are ship-to-ship battles themselves, in which players have individual jobs, like Sea of Thieves: someone to drive, someone to operate the turret, and even a fire extinguisher for those in charge of damage control. Cameron wanted to design a rewarding reputation system that would reward a special currency that could buy endgame items. There are also factions and contracts (read: quests) for you to take on.
Marauders plans to offer a closed alpha to anyone who pre-orders the game “soon”, but if you happen to be at WASD – the new UK consumer gaming show for which PCGamesN is its official media partner – you’ll be able to try it out early. In the meantime, this is one we’ll be following with great interest. I just hope it doesn’t get hijacked by pirates before its ambitions are fulfilled.
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