Survarium is a post-apocalyptic FPS that pits players against each other in three arena-stylized game modes. Level up and earn skills to purchase new guns and equipment and survive the battlefield at the end of the world.
|Publisher: Vostok Games
Type: Arena FPS
Release Date: January 05, 2015
Pros: +Extensive skill system. +Post-apocalyptic Atmosphere +Arcade gameplay.
Cons: -Bland character models. -Numerous Bugs. -Serious grind for upgrades.
Survarium is an arena apocalypse FPS that pits players in intense, fast-paced matches. Play in one of three game modes: Team Deathmatch, Battery Retrieval, and Research, where two teams fight for supremacy. Only a few hits are needed to render a player lifeless, so the environment must be used to your advantage to survive. After each match players earns experience, translating into new skills such as faster aiming time and more health. Choose from one of four factions and specialize in a battlefield role, whether it be sniping enemies from afar or taking them down up close with a shotgun. Anomalies are scattered across the map, providing irradiated hazards that will kill careless players. Enter the apocalyptic arenas of Survarium and find out how long you can survive.
Survarium Key Features:
- Apocalyptic Atmosphere - fight in maps inspired by a vision of nuclear apocalypse, complete with irradiated artifacts and buildings overrun by vegetation.
- Skills - complete matches and earn experience to level up, unlocking new skills to turn you into an apocalyptic warrior.
- No Classes - customize your loadout however you please, with no class restrictions or right or wrong way to play.
- Factions - four unique factions offer the opportunity to specialize in a battlefield role.
- Large Arsenal - choose from a huge catalog of weapons and equipment to dominate the battlefield.
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Survarium Featured Video
By, Sean Sullivan
Survarium is in Early Access. MMOs.com will update this review when the full game is released.
Thanks to a library bursting with survival games Steam has recommended I try Survarium with the persistence of a Jehovah’s Witness. Caving in I finally installed the game, if only to free up my “Recommended For You” tagged queue. I didn’t realize some of the developers who created S.T.A.L.K.E.R. formed Vostok Games to create a spiritual successor to the apocalyptic shooter after the cancellation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2. My interest peaked. While Survarium is not set in the same universe, it does draw inspiration from the same Russian novel as S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Roadside Picnic. Does a multiplayer take on a world filled with anomalies and artifacts hold up with its spiritual predecessors?
More FPS Than Survival
Beyond being a combination of the words “Aquarium” and “Survival,” Survarium is a fast-paced first-person shooter that sits next to Call of Duty rather than survival games such as Rust or 7 Days to Die. It is not the product as advertised on the website. There is no open world. There is no cooperative playthrough. There is barely any teamplay. The former features are promised to a future update, and as the game is in Early Access it can’t be fully judged until complete. But for now Survarium is solely an arena shooter, with fast-paced combat, skill trees, and customizable loadouts. Every match is a team deathmatch; even though there are three game modes. Judging it for what it is, and not what it purports to be, it’s a fairly solid arena shooter.
You’ve survived the end of the world and now that DMV’s and the Social Contract have been incinerated you’re free to choose a new name (Hobbes be damned). Donning a new identity as Horsefat Lover I would carve out a new life in the bleak landscape. A tutorial guides you through the game’s basics, with shiny rewards doled out for those brave enough to endure the training. But no matter how brave you may be, wandering the world without equipment is ill-advised. An equipment menu shows off some starter weapons and ammo to choose from. Your character is customizable through the available gear—sadly there is no physical character creation (yet). Equipping a Mosin Carbine, for some sweet DayZ nostalgia, I set out to pop some heads.
I said “wandering the world,” but I really meant wandering the enclosed deathmatch arena like an American slaughter farm. Games are broken into three types of matches: Battery retrieval, Team Deathmatch, and Research. My first experience placed me in Team Deathmatch, on a map carved out by labyrinthian trenches and abandoned tanks. The match rules are simple: whichever team burns through the opponent’s lives wins. Whereas Battery retrieval tasks players with returning a charged battery to their base, and Research is a capture-the-objective map.
While there are three game modes, every match devolves to a Team Deathmatch where players rack up kills. Even Battery Retrieval maps become an alleyway fragfest with players seemingly ignoring the objective. Whereas areas A, B, and C in Retrieval became nothing more than rallying points for each team to gather around and fire off fusillades. It’s not an issue, but the game modes are more of an illusion of diversity than a mark.
Scattered throughout each map are anomalies. If you have played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. then you may remember anomalies played a central role in its broken world. But Survarium tacks them on as an afterthought. Throughout a match anomalies randomly spawn in areas on the map, damaging anyone who dares to walk through them. They become barriers, blocking off parts of the map's maze, and serve as a nuisance more than a core aspect of gameplay. While looking through the distorted disco ball rewards you with a neat warped reality, only players who joins the Artifact Hunters faction can harvest an anomaly, uncovering menial rewards if someone doesn’t shoot them in the back of the head while they do so. Anomalies are a feature with potential, but need work to play a role in the PvP arena.
Life in Survarium is precarious, and bad positioning will see your ear blown off before you see the enemy. Every step is tense, as each map has enough passageways to allow enemies to approach from any direction. Covering 360 degrees, or finding a nook to jam your body in is the only way to survive for long. You need to always keep moving, to prevent players from connecting bullets with your flesh. With the Mosin I typically only needed to land one shot on an opponent to kill them—I was a regular Vasily Zaytsev. But the same was true for me, as far as any bolt action rifle is concerned. Each firefight is fast, with momentary decisions deciding your fate.
Controls are typical, but I was disappointed when I learned there is no way to go prone. Considering the tall grass decorating the landscape of every map, prone could serve as a tactical tool for a Ghillie-suit style of play. Maybe in a future update the ability will be added, although S.T.A.L.K.E.R. didn’t let you prone either.
Jumping feels awkward. Instead of spacebar rewarding you with instant lift-off, jumping feels like you're swinging your arms forward to gain momentum before your character can hop. It is more realistic. But as a fast-paced team-deathmatch shooter realism is typically left to simulators in favor of arcade mechanics.
Survarium runs on Vostok Games’ own engine, aptly named Vostok Engine, and it gives the game a pleasant appearance. Vegetation throughout the levels is abundantly thick and unnatural looking; the flowing coral-look of shrubbery gives it the appearance of an ill mutation. Sunbeams are blinding and can obscure distant snipers locking on to your position. Larger objects such as buildings, tanks, and barrels are finely detailed and look excellent at a distance. But smaller, or seemingly irrelevant objects, have a soupy blur that even the imagination can’t detail. Even on Ultra settings some scattered vehicles had details carved in MS Paint. However, the best aesthetic feature is the sound effects. Hearing a gunshot for the first time is terrifying. It rings out and echos with impressive force.
The engine is well harnessed to create solid maps. Varied environments provide enough novelty to keep the experience from becoming repetitive. In contrast, every character models looks like a stoic Jack Bauer. Survarium is in Early Access, the categorical free-pass on any lacking content, but my hope is that some model variation is introduced in the future. As of now, watching a team of clones cheer for victory is laughable.
Skills and Equipment
I’m always a bit disappointed when FPS games introduce levels and skill progression. It’s an artificial barrier that devolves the game to a grind. And Survarium is a serious grind to reap worthy rewards. You have two levels, one for your character that unlocks skills in a skill tree and one for your faction that unlocks new weapons and equipment. Both take innumerable playthroughs to level up, and provide nugatory incentives to keep playing. Skills provide bonuses like Quick Response, rewarding a 2 percent increase to aiming speed. Or, you can throw a point in Rapid, increasing movement speed by 1 percent for each level. Considering their low impact they don’t provide an overwhelming advantage to players but serve as an added RPG element to immerse players in a particular play style.
As for equipment, it's locked behind your character level. And access to equipment depends on your Rank within a faction. I want to buy the Remington 700 but must be ranked Experienced within my faction and level 5, the double-level. I’m only a Survivor and with 3 ranks to plow through before I unlock the scoped sniper rifle I’ll be uninstalling the game before I get to try it. It's a long grind to unlock new weapons. And vastly interspersed rewards don’t do enough to motivate playing the game over and over again. Part of Rocket League’s draw is that it provides rewards for nearly every match played. You can purchase new weapons with gold, if you want to inject cash into the game.
While Survarium isn’t necessarily pay-to-win, spending cash undoubtedly provides players with a significant advantage. However, items are level locked, so you can’t acquire the top-tier gold-purchased sniper rifle without being the requisite level; even wealthy players have to grind to purchase weapons. I can’t tell if I came up against any big spender players, but I easily held my own in every match with the starter Mosin rifle, leading me to believe that even if you spend money you still have to be able to aim to get a kill.
However, the fact that you can’t unlock every gun with in-game currency is disconcerting, and worries me about the developer’s intentions. Even if the price of premium equipment was ludicrous in comparison to the gold cost, at least give players the opportunity to acquire those items. Although comparing premium guns with earned in-game guns doesn’t indicate too much of an advantage. In-game currency weapons are comprable to paid weapons.
Moneybag players can purchase a premium account, buffing the amount of experience, reputation, and income earned from each match by 50 percent. It’s made for those players who hate grinding but love every other aspect of the game.
Survarium is an arena shooter, not an open world survival game. Typically a product in Early Access resembles the finished product to some degree. Even Rust, which is drastically different today, maintains a semblance of mechanics featured in its first rendition. But, Vostok Games is promising a future game that is radically different from the one currently available: one with an open-world, cooperative gameplay, and emphasis on exploration. With the latest updates introducing slight visual tweaks and an assortment of new guns, I’m hesitant about the near future. However, Vostok Games has been active on their YouTube page and website, responding to comments about the future of the game. It seems they do intend to release each promised feature. How long players will have to wait remains to be seen.
Final Verdict - Good
If you install Survarium expecting S.T.A.L.K.E.R., then turn around. Survarium is closer to a post-apocalyptic Call of Duty, with weaponry typically reserved for World War II shooters. It is fun, but gameplay is linear, and not varied enough to warrant a long-term investment. Survarium holds its own compared to other team deathmatch FPS games, with an exciting apocalyptic atmosphere. If you have any interest it’s worth trying with a few friends (it is free). Future updates may transform Survarium into a radically different game from what it is today. But, for this writer I’m more tempted to go back and install S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (with the Misery mod) after playing Survarium.
Survarium System Requirements
Operating System: Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
CPU: Core 2 Duo E4400 2.0GHz or Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4200+
Video Card: 512 MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GT or Radeon HD 3870
Hard Disk Space: 10 GB
Operating System: Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
CPU: Core 2 Duo E7600 3.06GHz or Athlon II X2 270
Video Card: GeForce GTX 260 or Radeon HD 4850
Hard Disk Space: 10 GB
Survarium Music & Soundtrack
Survarium Additional Information
Developer(s): Vostok Games
Engine: Vostok Engine
Announcement Date: April 25, 2012
Alpha Test (RU): May 13, 2013
Closed Beta (PvP Mode): December 20, 2013
Open Beta: January 05, 2015
Release Date: January 05, 2015
Steam Release: April 02, 2015
Development History / Background:
Survarium was developed by Ukranian video game development company Vostok Games. After the cancellation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 former employees of GSC Game World (responsible for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.) formed Vostok Games, funded by Vostok Ventures Ltd. Survarium was announced on April 25, 2012. Although Survarium is independent of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. it does incorporate similar elements, such as anomalies and artifacts—inspired by the Russian science fiction novel Roadside Picnic. Survarium entered Open Beta on January 05, 2015 with a subsequent release on Steam on April 02, 2015.