Midwinter Entertainment is blowing the lid off lobby sizes with Scavengers, which is an intense 9,000-player experience for fans of survival games.

22:31, 01 May 2021

From the intimacy of Apex Legends' 60-person lobby, to Fortnite's 100, and Call of Duty: Warzone's sometimes chonky 200 players, lobby sizes vary from game to game. It seems that everyone is calling for bigger lobby sizes, but as we know, the bigger the lobby, the bigger the bugs. Most servers struggle to handle the lobby sizes they're currently on, meaning increasing the player count by even the slightest amount can blow the whole system.

The first-person shooter is king right now, as millions of us plough hours into competitive play every day. As ApexFortnite, and CoD sit pretty at the top, there's barely a week that goes by that some young upstart isn't snapping at their heels and hoping to muscle in on the market. Apparently, puny lobby sizes are no match for Midwinter Entertainment's Scavengers, which can boast up to 9,000 players. BRB, we're just going to give Activision a call.


Why is Scavengers a 9,000-player game?

The development team is largely made up of senior members of 343 Industries team that worked on Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. They've delivered a massive PvEvP game that's supposed to be the next big one to watch - metaphorically and physically. If you haven't heard of Scavengers, it takes cues from the likes of The Last of Us and Horizon Zero Dawn. Throwing players into a frost-bitten landscape, the Earth has been ravaged by a cold snap when the Moon is hit by an asteroid. If that wasn't bad enough, a chunk of the asteroid has now landed on Earth and is infecting survivors with a mystery virus called the Scourge.

Midwinter has described the game as co-opetition as you have to work with others and against them. The environment is typically harsh, while there are rogue AIs that are ready to finish you off in the blink of an eye. Seeing an angry bear with tentacles sprouting from its mouth looks like a scene from a Resident Evil game. Trying to keep the remaining outposts safe from the Scourge and its mutated offspring is a helpful AI known as Mother. She drops data caches, and it's your job to try and collect them while also staying alive.


If you're confused, the Scavengers description should hopefully try and clear things up a little: "Experience a new kind of competitive shooter, where every match offers multiple strategic avenues. Your objectives: capture more datapoints than rival squads, and stay alive - the rest is up to you. Track enemy players through snow, pit AI wildlife against adversaries, use storms and shelters to your advantage, stealthily navigate outposts, or take on the world guns blazing. It's Player-vs-Environment-vs-Player, and creativity equals victory".

To help you along the way, there are also "signature abilities and weapons" so you can customise your character in a variety of ways.


How is Scavengers a 9,000-player game?

Scavengers is already in early access on PC, and in PC Gamer's review, the site explained how you and another 8,999 players can jump into the action. Although the standard game mode is limited to a modest 60 players, there's an experimental ScavLab mode. Journalist James Davenport joined another 1,700 players in a test weekend, with him claiming there were thousands of others waiting in the wings. It was more of a social experiment as the players were asked a series of questions and had to emote to give their preferred choice. Still, it was teased as having massive potential for live events. 


Davenport explained the "surreal" scene of seeing so many players in one mass: "Watching the strange social dynamics of a crowd that big is fascinating, like teachers trying to corral kindergarteners up when the recess bell rings. Some stragglers in the distance, picking grass, ignoring every request, some excitable players failing to hold the line, sprinting out to the monsters the moment they appear". Even though this is a long way off the promised 9,000, he said the test ended with Midwinter boosting the player numbers to 9,600. Although not all of them were actual human minds, they were added to show what Scavengers can handle.


All in all, it sounds like Scavengers is the start of a new wave in terms of multiplayer capabilities. Davenport described it as "a fascinating playground for huge multiplayer experiences". Despite ScavLab being in its early stages right now, it's exciting to think what the future holds. As for Scavengers, there's no word on when it will get a general release so the rest of us can try out this unique concept. Either way, consider us sold. 9,000-player lobbies might not be for everyone, but behold the snow-capped future of multiplayer combat.


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Images via Midwinter Entertainment

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