Marauders: Closed Alpha hands-on impressions

In its first closed alpha test, Marauders takes the “Extract and Survival” concept from games like The Cycle and tweaks it into a formula that has the potential to replace your favorite survival shooter. His moment-to-moment gunplay is uncomplicated and satisfying, and serves as a base upon which all of his other, more eccentric systems thrive. Some things, like ship-to-ship combat, could use some calibration, but overall, life in space piracy is promising.

Your goal in each round of Marauders is to complete a successful pirate raid in one of a limited number of areas. I’ve come across two in my time with Alpha so far,” the Abandoned Space Station and the Derelict Iridium Mine. I loved how different each location looked, but without a minimap, both can feel equally labyrinthine. It takes a lot of repetition to learn how to get to the various landmarks on each map, and getting lost in claustrophobic caves and tiny catwalks is a quick way to get dead.

Marauder – First screenshots

A raid takes place in three parts. Part one is after you’ve geared up and headed to your ship, either solo or with a crew. When you load into a game, you must fly it across an expanse of space to get to the raid location. However, you are not alone on this trek. Other ships with other crews are also flying around. If you’re lucky, it’s an easy sprint to the raid location. I didn’t have much luck most of the time as I was constantly outrunning enemy fire and occasionally returning it against other Marauder crews. Maybe it’s because we all have the same sad dinghy from a starship, with the same mediocre armament and maneuverability, but these dogfights often turned into nondescript standoffs where we bombarded and shot until the other ship was inoperable.

If your ship is down for the count and beyond repair, you can hop into an escape pod to either fight another day or board enemy ships by breaching them. Breaches are bold maneuvers that always felt intense and rewarding as a last resort. If it weren’t for the fact that the ship you exit from is basically lost to you afterward, I’d probably skip the space combat entirely and go straight to the Breach.

Once you’ve made it safely to the destination, the raid can begin. What that actually means is largely up to you. Maybe that means tiptoeing down corridors and filling your limited inventory space with whatever loot you can find. Or maybe it’s sprinting through the halls, wielding your weapons to work against other players and picking their bodies clean afterwards. If you accepted a faction quest before leaving, you will find a specific type of item or destination on the map.

I have found that goal orientation is the best way to move forward in a loop that can be very persistent. Should you die, all about you is lost in the void, making any journey as risky as the attachment you have to the things about you. I would spend entire trips cramming whatever I could find into the next room and getting out as quickly as possible, packing light so I wouldn’t lose as much if I got caught and killed.

I found gunfights in Marauders to be a happy medium between Escape from Tarkov and Hunt: Showdown.

That might not sound so foreign to people who regularly play games like Escape from Tarkov or Hunt: Showdown. But when it’s time to prostrate, I’ve found Gunfights in Marauders to strike a happy medium between them. There is no individual limb health to worry about, so no micromanaging after a stray bullet. Weapons are dated, but reloading and recoil aren’t uncomfortably finicky, so firing feels solid and consistent. Ammo is scarce but also quite deadly as it doesn’t take more than a few hits to knock down enemies.

After filling your pockets, killing your ops, or completing your missions, you must return home safely or it will all be for naught. Returning to the dock where your ship is parked is one option, but if you can’t find it you can escape via a rupture pod – at your ship’s expense. Then it’s back through space for a tense flight to one of the exit gates at the edge of the map. Finally, you can safely store your loot, stock up on supplies at the shifting faction vendor, craft new items, and upgrade your weapons to prepare for the next heist.

The Marauders Alpha was a great proof of concept to take the multiplayer survival shooter subgenre that Day Z started with into new and interesting territory. My limited time with the current build has been hectic, tense and a lot of fun. I’ll be watching closely how this vision of multiplayer space piracy develops in the future. Marauders: Closed Alpha hands-on impressions

Fry Electronics Team

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