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Hot Take: Mavericks - Proving Grounds is the Start of Something Special

Columns By William Murphy on June 12, 2018

Hot Take: Mavericks - Proving Grounds is the Start of Something Special

During the PC Gaming Show last night, we finally got a look at the Improbable-powered Battle Royale, Mavericks: Proving Grounds. Before your eyes roll so far back into your head from the idea of another BR game, take note - Mavericks: Proving Grounds is the first step in what will become a bold new MMO shooter from Automaton. Battle Royale is just the beginning.

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The Open World part of Mavericks is due after the Proving Grounds portion of the game, but that doesn’t mean you should write of this ambitious MMO until it’s more than a Battle Royale. Automaton’s Proving Grounds is going to be a 1,000-player competitive game. It’s also aiming to be extremely immersive with some very interesting ways of highlighting players’ actions in the world. The below is true not just for the Proving Grounds Battle Royale, but also for the eventual open world MMO.

These are some of the ways the world will react to players:

  • Comprehensive destruction throughout, from fragmented trees to fragile plaster stud walls, this truly interactive world will challenge and reward you like never before.
  • Dynamic Fire Propagation - Decimate grassy meadows, spread chaos through woodland and create devastating chain reactions like never before using our dynamic fire propagation system that leaves nowhere for your enemies to hide.
  • Firearms - Armed to the hilt with a heavy sniper, or left out to dry with a 9mm handgun, you'll find an armory of firearms and hardware to suit and influence your play style.
  • Specialist Hardware - Secure your location with claymores, or booby trap an objective with C4 and patiently await incoming competition. Find our specialist hardware and it's sure to change up your gameplay to empower new strategies and opportunities. Keep in mind that they're extremely scarce, so be sure to use them wisely!
  • Wildlife - Take advantage of the roaming wildlife that will dynamically react to player behavior, providing the players with information on nearby dangers and activities as you fight to avoid the ever-amounting conflict in the games.
  • Littering - Using an item such as a first aid kit will drop the empty packet on the floor, providing other players with clear information as to your equipment and location.
  • Footprints - Each step you take leaves a mark in the world, for better or for worse you'll be leading players right to you, so beware and remember that certain surfaces leave clearer footprints than others.
  • Foliage Displacement - As you explore the undergrowth you'll not only be leaving the odd footprint but you'll also be displacing and flattening the foliage beneath you, so tread carefully or know the consequences.
  • Blood Trails - Key to our rich information systems is player health. If you experience health below 25%, you'll leave a trail of blood behind you for the next 60 seconds or until you restore your health. Ensure you heal up quickly or use this as a bait and lure an unsuspecting player into a trap!

I mean, seriously. Look at that list. If it’s more than words and actually works, on the scale of 1,000 players in a huge 16x16km map? PUBG probably just wet itself. I’d say Fortnite is less concerned due to sheer accessibility and market domination, but for the fans of “realistic” competitive shooters, Mavericks is aiming to set the bar.

The Proving Grounds will test all of the game’s other systems too - dynamic weather, destructible environments, time of day cycles, building demolition, and more. Heck, you don’t log into a lobby and queue up for a match in Proving Grounds, either. You shuffle around a bustling social hub/city. Shops, shooting ranges, social minigames and more will help you pass the time between forays into the Proving Grounds. And all of this is due to land in Open Beta in Q4, with a full release of Proving Grounds for December.

And yes, that’s just the beginning. From the website:

Season 1 of the Proving Grounds marks the beginning of the epic journey and adventure to unfold before you. You, the players, decide the narrative direction and fate of the world through our unique reputation system. Earn reputation through in-game performance and achievements and donate it to either The Capital or one of the Factions, each with their own unique benefits.

Choose your allegiance and accept the consequences. Will you support the overlord Capital Forces or the underdog rebel Factions that threaten the stability of the Isles?

We meet with Automaton this week at E3, and we’ll be asking them tons of questions about how they plan to go from ambitious 1,000 player Battle Royale to full-on story and player-driven MMO. The basic gist of what you do in the open world sounds a bit like The Dark Zone in Ubisoft’s the Division:

As you dominate and develop your in-game wealth you'll accrue items, equipment and us in-game economy 'bits'. However, an extraction process is required before these can be ultimately banked. Extraction begins with the player initiating the Preparation stage which will allow for items and currency to be inputted. Uploading will then ensue, taking the items and currency stored and converting them into data, permitting them to be uploaded and extracted. During the Upload process your drone will hover overhead as data is collected, visible to nearby players its progress and value can be comprised so be sure to protect it. Once Upload completes, all value inputted is secured in the owner's bank, and the player and party are permitted a secondary function of safe relocation to The Capital.

But does that mean there are NPCs and other players to guard against in the MMO? Can you go out solo and actually make progress? Will the open world be just another constant battle royale, with a never-ending match? There are four factions presented on the site, so it’s presumably the case that PVP could be relegated between them. We’ll know more when we sit down with the guys this week.

In the meantime, the idea of another Battle Royale may make me roll my eyes. But the promise of Mavericks’ open world MMO shooter has me cautiously optimistic. I’ll definitely be looking forward to trying it out when it hits beta later this summer.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.