Ravenfield fascinates me. The Battlefield-inspired large-scale FPS just launched on Steam and rocketed to the top of the sales charts. Its reviews are over 90 per cent positive. I've played it, however, and it's barely functional in some places. Why is it getting a free pass from the Steam quality control mafia?
I can see what Ravenfield's developer — who's apparently just one guy — is going for. The game is a cartoony single-player take on Battlefield, a kind of mad science lab for wide-open combat antics. You can spawn as many NPCs as you want and marvel as they enact a spectacle that's less Saving Private Ryan and more Three Stooges, with ragdolls soaring and vehicles ploughing mindlessly into each other. It's Battlefield by way of Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator by way of Lemmings.
It's definitely amusing. Sometimes, it's even hilarious. As you'll see in the above video, I did have fun. Granted, I think I might have spent more time laughing at the game than with it, but I'm all for games that will let me test their limits until they break. And to Ravenfield's credit, it was still playable after I spawned 666 dudes as a digital sacrifice to digital Satan. That's no small feat!
But it's so early. While you have a handful of levels, modes and difficulties to work with, the underlying basics are so janky that I wasn't sure what was a glitch and what was a feature. The majority of the time, my guns wouldn't fire or zoom, even as I mashed the mouse in vain hope of retaliating against an enemy who, fortunately, was too distracted by the other 665 dudes flailing around on the battlefield to notice little old me.
I guess people love it because they see a lot of potential in it? Or maybe the game isn't glitching as bad for them as it is for me? There's also the fact that Ravenfield had a series of betas and built up a fanbase before its Steam release. I imagine that's where some of the rainbow beams of pure positivity are coming from. Seems like a handful of those folks are disappointed with the state of the Steam release too, though.
Right now, Ravenfield is like a stick of bubble gum: Good for a brief burst of flavour, but insubstantial and prone to blowing up in your face. I hope it will live up to people's hopes once it's more polished and things like mod support are in the mix, but for now I can't recommend it.