Marauders, developed by Small Impact Games and published by Team17, is an FPS and extraction shooter set in a parallel universe where humankind ventures into space shortly after WWI. Players drop into raids to loot and kill NPCs and other human-controlled players while completing quests to gain access to crafting recipes and other benefits.
Less Military Sim, More Action in this Extraction Shooter
Gaming has seen significant evolution in its various genres over the past few decades. One of the more recent additions is an offshoot of the FPS genre, commonly known as extraction shooters. Part looter-shooter and part survival game, these types of games have gained a sizeable cult following.
At the crux of what makes extraction shooters so great are the stakes involved each time you load into the game. If you die, you lose everything you’re wearing and carrying. In a game where accumulating currency and discovering loot are at the core, dying and losing everything feels especially impactful.
Unlike its counterparts, Marauders doesn’t feel like a tactical military simulation. While there is a stripped-down UI, the gameplay feels much more arcadey than slower military sims in the genre.
While some elements still exist–like crafting attachments, setting a loadout, and battling NPCs and human-controlled players, each engagement will feel exciting and, at times, terrifying. This is in large part because of the environments that Small Impact Games has crafted.
Marauders’ Unique Story Impacts Gameplay
Set in an alternate reality shortly after WWI, humankind has made incredible leaps in space exploration in this universe, enabling the existence of space pirates. This unique lore allows the game to incorporate science-fiction elements while utilizing what has been dubbed a “Diesel Punk” aesthetic.
This unique environment makes the game feel special, and ties into the types of guns and equipment available. Players and NPCs are equipped with guns of the time, like Lugers, Stens, and other rifles appropriate for the 1920s and 30s, creating a unique paradox that makes the game world feel rich.
Each raid is attached to a floating space station you must enter in a ship you control. Most environments are indoors, with many tight corridors. In addition, it’s sometimes very hard to tell if someone is an NPC or human-controlled, making each engagement an exhilarating fight for the player’s life.
Development Still Needed
As an early-access game, Marauders runs surprisingly well on high-end systems; we are using an RTX 3070 Ti as a benchmark, and we run at a pretty constant 100+ frames per second. However, that being said, the game may struggle on systems with older hardware.
Besides the “Airlock is busy” bug, we haven’t encountered too many game-breaking glitches. Though, at times the game at times does feel buggy with bullets going through walls, crafting/inventory issues, and long raid queue times. The developers are active, pushing updates at a pretty frequent pace–so these issues might disappear within a few months of writing this review.
Cheating, as in all PvP games, is of critical importance to fix. If the key gameplay loop is, enter the raid, loot things, extract–having cheaters and hackers instakill you through 5 layers of walls and loot your high-end chest piece (yes, this is personal), it will ruin what would otherwise be a blast to play. Luckily, the developers are keenly aware of this and working with EAC to ban offenders.
The sound design could use some work. While the guns sound realistic, the directional sound (particularly footsteps) needs an overhaul. This is most apparent in scenarios where enemies are directly above or below you. Currently, there is really no distinction between footsteps that are behind walls or a floor above you, and so it will sound like the enemy is a foot away from you when they are not.
Probably the biggest criticism of Marauders lies in the game’s ship gameplay. While an innovative way to enter raids or breach into other player-controlled ships (which results in unique gameplay scenarios), this aspect of the game feels underdeveloped at the moment. There is no real benefit in spending all your cash for a better ship.
If the developers can balance this risk vs. reward and make ship gameplay more core to the experience, the title may attract a whole new audience. They are already signaling this in the upcoming “Ace” update, teased earlier this month.
Marauders is a fun and exciting take on the newly-created extraction shooter genre. The world-building in Marauders feels fresh and unique and will instantly immerse you into the dark and dingy 1920s and 30s sci-fi aesthetic. The gameplay and controls feel okay, and while not the snappiest FPS shooter, it shines above some of its counterparts. Some technical issues, including confusing directional sound and minor glitches, may affect players’ experiences.
If you hate experiencing the loss of gear like in other survival games, Marauders may not be for you. However, if you live for the winner-takes-all gameplay mentality and want to dive into something new and fresh, you should pick this game up early in early access.
Marauders Review: Early Access
A fun and unique take on the extraction shooter genre with a few early-access glitches, but ultimately a good time if you have the right hardware to run it.
You can purchase Marauders in early access on Steam.
[Reviewed on PC]