Adventures in SCUM

I have a strong background in survival games. Shortly after the death of one of my favorites, DayZ, I was extremely excited for SCUM to release.  It had been on my radar for the better part of a year and honestly, I had forgotten about it.  My gaming crew and I were discussing one night after an especially arduous night of Siege (Siege players will know that feel) which game we could go to next to get our multiplayer fix.  Someone mentioned SCUM and the sparks went off in my brain.  We all got it that night and installed it for playing the next.

I hopped into a game and was surprised at the games graphic and how well it performed on my computer.  It was pretty seamless for me and it felt great to be back in that open world experience.  In the following passages I’m going to try to break down the pros and cons of SCUM.

ScumSplash

The first thing you’ll do in SCUM is create a character.  At this point the character creation process is pretty limited, but we do see how their stat allotment is going to be implemented.  Currently it appears you have four primary statistics that directly impact your skills.  For instance, Strength dictates how many points you can pump into strength related skills i.e. Melee weapons, rifles and other damage dealing skills.  Most of the skills are self explanatory, but there are three skills (stealth, camouflage and awareness) that are a bit more mysterious.  Upon some research I found that the stealth skill makes your character harder to hear.  Camouflage makes your character more difficult to detect by other players.  Your awareness skill is how well you can detect enemy players.  For instance, if I have a very high camouflage skill and a nearby enemy has a low awareness skill, they may not be able to see me from a certain distance at all.  The awareness skill also allows you to use the focus ability, which you can use to track wounded animals or players.  This is shown by a brightly colored arrow on the ground every thirty steps or so which shows which direction your prey is moving in.

SCUM BOAR

The first time I played I loaded in with my brother.  He was in a town to my north, so I started moving towards him in order to group up.  I continually slammed on the left shift key to sprint, but nothing happened.  It turns out, in order to change the speed of your character, you have to use the scroll wheel.  Rolling the wheel forward increases your speed to a sprint, rolling it back towards you decreases it to a walk.  Sprinting burns a lot more calories than running and thus, you will need to intake more calories to keep yourself healthy.  There is a pretty in-depth nutrition system in SCUM that will take some getting used to.  Currently, it doesn’t appear to do much other than track your calories.  If you intake too many calories, your character will begin to get fat.  Being fat makes you considerably slower so it is wise to avoid, however it appears nearly impossible to do.  Every character I created got fat at some point.  Gone are the days of eating entire bags of rice in one sitting.  I’m sure getting the proper vitamins and minerals in later iterations of the game will help stave off disease and illness.

SCUM Nutrition

SCUM nutrition monitor

A fairly large lake stood between my brother and I so I traveled as the crow flies.  This was a mistake – swimming is incredibly slow and it would have been wise to go around the lake.  Also, if your carry weight becomes too great, you just sink to the bottom of the water like a rock.  I made it to a small island on the northern end of the lake which had a church, a tent and a tree-stand.  I wound up finding a shotgun and a pocket full of shells and an old world war 2 helmet that I had to drop due to my impending drowned death (I guess the helmet was too heavy).

My brother met me on the northern end of the lake and gave me some food.  We then traveled into the town and started looting.

Looting is fun for all of 10 minutes.  You end up getting pretty well geared and then, once you are geared, really don’t have anything to do.  We were lucky that some unfortunate player ran into us and started harassing us, not realizing I had a shotgun.  I was holed up in a building, my brother was on the other side of town looting and the other player was outside of my building talking to me.

SCUM GRAPHIC TOWN

At first, he was very wary of my existence, but not in a smart way.  You learn to traverse these interactions when you play a lot of survival games.  In the event that the player you have encountered is friendly, it’s important to not make yourself seem suspicious or malicious in any way.  Many times, you don’t have a chance to make this interaction, as killing other players on sight is a pretty good tactic for survival; if you kill them before they can attack you, you can’t get attacked.  That being said, it’s fun to negotiate with other players, so I did my best.

The player first informed me that

he saw me and knew I was in the building.  I knew immediately that I had a real Sherlock Holmes on my hands.  He asked me if I was the player who killed him earlier in the same town.  I let him know it couldn’t have been me as I had just started playing and had only just gotten to this town.  He accused me of lying, but stayed outside the building.  He then asked if we could be teammates.  I’m not sure the logic here – he didn’t trust me and at the same time wanted to team up.  Meanwhile, my brother was swooping around to flank our new “friend”.

This player is seriously incessant about teaming up, even after me telling him several times that I am not interested and asking him nicely to leave me alone.  He does not and so begins the negotiations, which go a little something like “Leave now, I do not trust you and if you do not comply I will kill you.”  He spots my brother and they start to talk while I try and find a better vantage point; I cannot.  At this point, this player has annoyed me so much that I decide I have to deal with him.  I’m thinking he is stalling us while his friend makes his way to us to try and ambush us.  I tell him to come on up into my building and we can team up.  For the first time in this interaction the player listens to me and that winds up being his mistake.  As he ambles up the stairs I burst out of the door, shotgun in hand and hip fire point blank at the enemy; clear miss.  The shot (which was pointed directly at his chest) missed above him and to the left.  I instinctively aim down sights and put two shells into him.  My brother, surprised by the shots, starts laughing. “I knew it was a matter of time…” he told me.

We looted the player’s body, chopped him up into smaller body parts and fought off a few puppets (zombies) that I had attracted before leaving town to make a campfire and cook up some human.

The crafting is a little bit strange but once you get a hang of it, it is pretty intuitive albeit a bit clunky.  I tried for awhile to craft some sort of animal hide clothing, but it turns out some bug prevents you from crafting it unless you find a perfect quality sewing thread, which are fairly rare.

Awhile later, we set off to another town and a military base.  The military areas are “restricted” by the players and are guarded my big bipedal (seemingly invincible) mechs that shoot at the player on sight.  We ended up sneaking in and finding all sorts of loot in some underground bunker.  All in all, if you went straight for one of these, you could be fully geared in a matter of minutes.

SCUM MEch

Overall, SCUM is pretty boring.  The spear throwing mechanic can feel pretty rewarding but after killing a handful of puppets it begins to grow stale.  I did throw a spear through my friend’s head after we spent half an hour trying to meet up.  He rage quit and I haven’t played with him since.

I find that I tore through all of the content in a matter of a few hours so now my crew and I are waiting for updates to add interesting content.  I am hopeful that the devs behind SCUM can do some interesting things; they are already in talks about adding vehicles and have since writing this article added improvised guns to their crafting menus.  In it’s current state, I wouldn’t recommend buying this game.  On top of the mounting discern of making a survival game fun, SCUM has been met with plenty of rumors of being unable to deal with hackers.  Now imagine playing the game and looting up for 30 minutes to an hour and then being teleported to by an enemy and insta-killed.

I am excited to be SCUM in the future, but for now I’m going to try my best to stay squeaky clean.