Recently released into Early Access, SCUM is an Early Access survival game that’s totally uncompromising and boasts a depth never seen in its peers. In between killing zombies and avoiding giant robots, there’s a lot to keep track of that can pass you by if you aren’t careful, which is why you need some SCUM tips if you’re just starting out.
The pointers you’ll find below have been learnt the hard way from over a dozen hours of gameplay — I’ve suffered so you don’t have to. They mainly focus on playing an expansive game and not just camping the airfield for some slow-burning PVP, so bear that in mind. These SCUM tips will help you to survive and, most importantly, thrive before you inevitably get killed for needing to poop mid-fight.
1. Your starting skills matter There’s a temptation to click randomize when you first enter SCUM’s character customisation screen and away you go. Don’t do that — what you choose here may actually handicap you from the early goings. Try to find a balance of skills and perhaps one that you specialise in, as well as avoiding choosing a heavy-set character unless you’re playing SCUM for the memes.
2. Find rocks You can search for rocks on the ground in SCUM, which is vital for any new spawns. Two rocks can help you build a knife, which can then be used to cut down small trees that will contribute towards you being able to craft better gear. A stone knife will also do in a pinch in combat, though you might be best served trying to retreat instead.
3. Cut up unwanted clothes Found some shorts that will clash with your aesthetic? Cut them into rags, which can be used to patch up wounds. You can even cut them down even further into rag stripes, which are vital for crafting. If you ever want to follow the next tip, for instance, you’re going to have to cut up some raincoats.
4. Craft a shelter and storage boxes Death can come at any time in SCUM, and so too can the items you’ve been haphazardly keeping on the floor disappear. Shelters can be respawned on using fame points and wooden boxes allow you to, you guessed it, store your precious goods. They both take a fair wedge of time to farm for, but they’re really worth the hassle — you’re going to need that axe you just crafted.
5. Cut down trees for fame If you’re feeling a little on the passive side and don’t want to take part in PVP, you can farm fame points quite easily by chopping down trees, which will give you a variety of wood of all shapes and sizes. As a bonus tip, some trees allow you to search them and harvest whatever they’re growing. I have a respawning parade of trees near me that offer up dates (a nutritious food) fairly regularly.
6. Use events to practice shooting Firing your gun in SCUM is like ringing a dinner bell for zombies and other players. So how do you practice the gunplay? Press tab, scroll over to “Events”, and take part in risk-free deathmatches with other players at the expense of fame points that you can quite easily earn back through murder. The concept of these events is solid, though a little rough around the edges thanks to the “teleporting”, so bear that in mind.
7. Establish a HQ You’re going to want to explore SCUM’s gigantic map, but you’re also going to want to set up camp as a place to lean back on if things go to hell. I have a town called (I think) Preko as my alamo: a coastal area with plenty of loot and easy navigation because of distinct landmarks. Only twice have I been interrrupted there, both by the same guy, who I ended up eating both times. Oops.
8. Eat human meat There’s currently no penalty for eating human meat in SCUM, which means no twitchy Book of Eli weirdos just yet. You’re going to want to take advantage of that while you can, so chop up other players or the not-actually-zombies, start a small campfire, use a skewer, and have a long-lasting source of food. You can worry about the ethics as you’re pooping them out.
9. Use a baseball bat for melee And particularly one with nails in, affectionately known as “Lucille”. If you know other players are close, you can’t depend on firearms as they will give away your position if you’re dealing with zombies. A baseball bat can kill most of them in a couple of blows and also make you feel like a complete badass. Just don’t do what I did and absent-mindedly let some “friendly” steal it when they visit your HQ.
10. Avoid water at all costs when geared up I learned a truly terrifying lesson in regards to swimming that I only escaped from because of a bug. After accidentally falling in water, my character was unable to swim to the surface as they were rocking an assault backpack and heavy military gear. He (somehow) passed out underwater and then regenerated his health before coming to, leading me to quickly drop all my gear and then swim to safety. I had to go back for each bit of gear bit-by-bit, which was a nuisance I could have avoided.
11. Load up on scrap metal and gunpowder These two items are necessary to create bullets, which aren’t always that easy to come across. You can find scrap inside cars or in piles of junk and gunpowder is just in random places like houses. You do need specific skills to craft ammo, however, so keep that in mind before you spend hours finding scrap and just end up looking like a confused idiot.
12. Abuse the dumb zombies If you’re prone, zombies can’t hit you. This will almost definitely be fixed in later patches, but you need every advantage you can get in SCUM as a fresh spawn so use and abuse it while you can. If you can hit them in the legs and down them, they’ll also be easier to dispatch with finishing blows to the head.
13. Loot, and then loot again Just because you’ve looted every inch of a town doesn’t mean that it’s all been done forever. I’m not sure of the refreshes in SCUM, but if you log out and log back in, you may find that all the looted houses have been delooted. You may also be able to just leave the area and return slightly later on, but I’m not 100% how it works. Basically, if you have a HQ in a fairly low-traffic area, you can depend on it being a constant source of loot.
14. Shoot the drones for fame You know those irritating little robots that sometimes appear out of nowhere? A quick shotgun blast will deal with them and also give you some fame points for your trouble. You get no loot to the best of my knowledge, but fame is fame and fame is the aim of the game.
15. Always search the vicinity Whenever you enter a new room (or heck, even if you’re just out in the wilderness sometimes), always use tab to search the vicinity. You will likely find items a lot easier than blundering around and hoping to find something on a shelf; I once found a pistol just randomly sat on the floor of a house that I otherwise would have missed. Also, as evidenced by some streamers, it is open to abuse as you can use it through walls and floors to snag something off a dead body without actually being right next to one.
16. Craft wooden spears You can actually have two fairly decent weapons within seconds of starting a fresh spawn in SCUM. Look for stones to create a stone knife and then use said knife to cut down a bush and find a long wooden stick. Take your self over to the crafting menu and there you go, a spear that can one-shot most enemies. You can carry two of them on your back holsters and they travel a hell of a long way, so go nuts.
17. Eat sugary foods for a quick energy boost If you’re a player constantly on the move, you may find your energy levels constantly sapping away. In these situations, crack open a cold one, i.e. a Coca-Cola, or eat some fruit to see a quick energy spike. Just like real-life, the “high” from these foods is a short one, so you’ll want to find something weighty (like human meat) and give your body time to digest it before you start panicking.
18. Have an alamo alamo Wooden boxes are great, but they aren’t secure. I found this out all too well when I logged back in after being away for a couple of hours and found that almost all of my valuables had been taken. Since then, I’ve been keeping an emergency stash separate from my HQ, which is hidden in foliage about half a mile away. I’ve packed it with the bare essentials (pistol, water, food, rags) just in case I am killed at my HQ and can’t get back to my gear, or it’s already been taken. I would love to see someone make me have to use it.