If I were to tell you that there’s a hyped early access game coming to Steam soon, which genre do you think that game would fall under? If you answered survival, congratulations! Very soon you’ll be able to scavenge for supplies and murder players in yet another early access survival game on Steam, however this one is probably worth paying attention to.
The Culling, developed by Xaviant, puts you on an island with 15 other players. From there things play out as a traditional battle royale, with each player scavenging for weapons and supplies. It might sound like a played out premise, but what The Culling offers is a dedicated take on fight to the death gameplay. Most games to feature a battle royale mode have had it as a stapled on extra, what The Culling offers is a truly dark and thought out death gauntlet.
Over the weekend I played a fair chunk of the closed Alpha, which featured tutorials, a mode vs bots, a team based mode where two people fight together against other teams of two, and a free for all mode.
When battling it out on the island players can craft weapons and open crates, however to do so requires Flexible Universal Nano-Compounds (FUNC points for those who don’t understand what that means…. so everyone). For example you can craft two rocks into a knife and then a knife and a branch into a spear, but to do that will cost you some sweet sweet FUNC. Gaining these points requires exploring or winning fights.
Once a player has enough points they can call in a drone to drop off a package. This will usually contain some high level gear and is totally worth doing, however the drop will most likely be noticed by other players who can either shoot down the drone to steal the crate, or ambush the person calling it in. It makes for some pretty tense gameplay.
One of the highlights of the game is its sense of humour. The battles takes place as a form of entertainment for what I can only assume is a society of Patrick Batemans. The commentator of this blood sport often makes brutal murder entertaining with his witty banter and crude jokes.
Another great feature of this televised premise is that the score table is floating in the sky. It states who is alive, who has been killed by who and everyone’s kill tally. It’s a small detail, but one that I instantly fell in love with.
Throughout the weekend I found that the very few modes available still offered plenty of variety and the potential for this game to become an eSport. Despite the game requiring skill points to level up your weapons, most of the time I found winning comes down to tactics. One of the games I won was due to fleeing every battle I came across and then cherry picking kills with my basic bow when three of us were left. An honourable victory? No, but a victory it was!
The Culling is one of the rare instances where I’ve played a game in alpha and thought it seemed close to a complete state. The game already surpasses other survival titles that have been in beta for years now. Aside from some patchy connections, due to the only servers running for closed alpha being in North America, the game was locked in at 60FPS, which is great this far ahead of launch.
The devs have announced that the game is due for a 2017 full release, but the official early access launch will be on March 8.