Former Halo lead’s new game is a spiritual successor to Warzone

Midwinter Entertainment

Former executive producer on the Halo franchise, Josh Holmes, brings a new indie studio called Midwinter Entertainment out of stealth mode today. Its first project is called Scavengers, and it will be the spiritual successor of the Warzone game mode from Halo 5: Guardians.

In Warzone, 24 players fought over a massive Halo 5 multiplayer map. Players were divided into two teams, battling each other and AI-controlled enemies to earn points and control the map. In the promotional video for Scavengers, embedded above, Holmes said that his team had a lot of plans for Warzone in Halo 5, but was ultimately limited by the Xbox hardware.

Holmes explained Scavengers as a multiplayer survival shooter “co-opetition” where multiple groups of players will have to compete against each other and powerful AI-controlled enemies for scarce resources. Holmes told Polygon that the game is set in the not-so-distant future, when an asteroid has shattered the moon, pushing our Earth into a new ice age. Complicating things is a mysterious disease that has begun to infect the wildlife on the planet.

Midwinter Entertainment
Midwinter Entertainment
Midwinter Entertainment
Midwinter Entertainment
Midwinter Entertainment
Midwinter Entertainment
Midwinter Entertainment
Midwinter Entertainment

Scavengers’ gameplay will be session-based, but the length of the rounds and the number of players is still up in the air. What is certain, Holmes said, is that each session will have a kind of spine with a beginning and a middle and an end. It’s just that groups of players will experience that session very differently from one another.

Say that you’ve started a session with a large group of players, maybe a clan of 20 or 30 players all on one side. As you move toward your objective in the game world, your group may come across a much smaller group — say, two to four players — going about a completely different task. At that point your clan leaders have a decision to make.

“I’m immediately asking myself, ‘What threat do they pose to us?’” Holmes said, “‘Is there an opportunity here? Should we deviate from our goals and try to take them down because they have something of value that we can carry forward with us, that can help us within our session objective?’ Those kind of free-flowing and emergent gameplay opportunities are things that we’re really excited about as a team and we’re exploring.”

Survival games right now inhabit a kind of spectrum between the cartoony, low-stakes scenarios provided by Fortnite and the hyper-realistic, high-stakes scenarios found in Escape From Tarkov. Holmes said that the goal is for Scavengers to be more near the middle of that spectrum, leaning ever so slightly toward the Tarkov side of the scale. But there are lots of things up in the air right now.

“Personally, this is the earliest that I’ve ever spoken about a game that I’m working on,” Holmes said. “So that’s exciting, in part because we want to involve our players and our community much earlier in the development of the game.”

No release date or platforms have been named.

Scavengers will be built on the scalable SpatialOS cloud-based game development platform. Midwinter is the first developer to receive funding directly from the platform’s maker, Improbable.

This isn’t the first survival shooter to announce it will be built on the SpatialOS platform. Automaton, an “innovation-focused” developer based in the United Kingdom, recently announced Project X (later renamed Mavericks: Proving Grounds) would also use the cloud-based platform for its 1,000-player battle royale-style game.

Comments

I commend Holmes for thinking that a group of 20-30 players encountering a group of 2-4 players would have anything else on their minds other than "Haha look at these jokers! Let’s gank the crap out of them and take their stuff!!!"

Perhaps it’s just the cynic in me but I have found that, in a game which presents both cooperative and competitive options in the same shared space, most players opt for the latter, especially when they’re in a group.

Totally agree. I think of the Dark Zone in The Division. You enter that area and can ‘do your own thing’ killing enemies, clearing areas, etc. Then you get players who want to interfere with your game and will confront you just for kicks – especially if they’re high ranked/outfitted or are in a group.
So I can pretty much see the same approach with this, if you’re in a group of 2-4 players and come across a bigger group, the likelihood of ass-hattery is pretty high.

Considering that Ubisoft actually changed the Dark Zone to be far more player friendly after many months of this exact sort of trolling, it really makes me question how well such a similar-sounding gameplay loop would actually play long term.

The DZ initially was really a free-for-all. The changes to it improved it, but also the player count now is SO much lower vs. initially that it’s hard to know if less players are jerks or the jerks simply moved on to new titles. But the online semi-anonymous aHole is a blight of our society, this game avoiding that seems unlikely.

Fuck man, all of World of Warcraft on a PvP server.

Agreed – for someone who makes online, multiplayer games for a living, he sounds extremely naive about how these encounters will likely play out.

"I’m immediately asking myself, ‘What threat do they pose to us?’" Holmes said, "‘Is there an opportunity here?

Nobody’s going to ask those questions!

Shoot first, teabag second!

I too have noticed the exact same thing and it was on full display during several streams of the Sea of Thieves beta (several of which were done by our fine lads here at Polygon). The large ships of 4 were always running around and sinking the ships run by 1 or 2 guys and laughing the entire time while doing so. Sure its "immersive" since ‘we are pirates and pirates are this way’, but to have the mentality that a group of 20-30 people are going to look at a group of 2-4 and not blow them away just because they can, is naive at best.
If there was no benefit, like you couldn’t loot them or you got a penalty, people would still do it. Hell hackers in GTA online will give normal people items/cash just to screw with them and get them kicked from the game for ‘hacking’. This guy is living in a fantasy land.

Josh Holmes presided over Halo 5, which was … not the best game in the Halo series. Warzone was surprisingly fun, but I can’t imagine centering an entire product around it.

To each their own, I thought Halo 5 was the best Halo since 3. But I’m a multiplayer guy.

I can understand that; but I look at this differently. When you think about Overwatch, it’s a very simple game. The competition and attack variety is what drives it. I think that’s what this is going for.

PVP & PVE simultaneously? Has it ever worked? All I remember is forums flooded of threads titled "give us a pve only server" each with its own "stfu carebears" reply.

I thought Warzone was super fun in Halo 5, so this intrigues me. But if the Xbox One was limiting what they wanted to do with that less ambitious game mode, how likely will it be this new game is capable of running on consoles? (Seems slim to me.) If that’s the case, I’m out of luck, as I and my friends don’t game on PC anymore.

Exactly. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot right out of the gate…

Uh… "limited by the Xbox hardware"… So I guess I shouldn’t be excited for this on Xbox One S or X…oh well, back to stuff I care about.

I was bummed out when I read that too.

Will Scavengers have ATMs?

I’m excited to see what their results will be.

Sounds pretty cool.
I agree with other commentors that I can’t imagine a clan deciding against taking out the small group unless there was some kind of penalty (karma, reputation?).
I wonder if the studio name is a coincidence, but Midwinter was the name of one of Mike Singleton’s pioneering games that was set in a world that had fallen into a new ice-age, it mixed FPS with strategy and allowed you to recruit allies whilst trying to defeat the main bad guy’s forces. It spawned a sequel Midwinter 2: Flames of Freedom

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