Title: Deep Rock Galactic
Available On: PC, Xbox One
Version Tested: PC
Developer: Ghost Ship Games ApS
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios, Coffee Stain Publishing
Genre: Action, Co-op, FPS, Exploration
Official Site: https://www.deeprockgalactic.com/
Early Access Release Date: February 28, 2018
Where To Buy: Steam, Microsoft Store
Following the Dwarven tradition of exploration and greed, Deep Rock Galactic blends genres together in a peculiar–yet satisfying–way. It’s as if Johnny and Dizzy from Starship Troopers and the dwarves from The Hobbit movie series got together and formed a mining facility in the outskirts of space, all in an effort to fight off a bunch of space bugs and mine materials essential to their survival.
And this may be one of the simplest ideas to reach gamers since the battle royale genre took off to new heights with Fortnite: Battle Royale and PUBG. You select your class of dwarf (Gunner, Scout, Engineer, or Driller) and team up with players from across the globe or play by yourself. There’s a limited supply of missions to choose from, but what Deep Rock Galactic lacks in content it makes up for in excitement and gut-wrenching gameplay. Space bugs come in various forms, and in high quantities.
The hordes of space bugs closing in on your position required you and your team to change focus from finding and mining materials to defeating the imminent threat. What made this concept even more important to master was that if you got lost, and the horde of bugs was on their way to your group, then your time would be at an extreme disadvantage. Especially on the harder difficulties. Especially if you’re a Gunner. Teamwork and communication are essential to achieving success, and sometimes it was not easier said than done.
Although it’s a cool and unique concept, Deep Rock Galactic didn’t provide me with a lot of new stuff to do after my first couple hours playing. There were only a few missions to choose from (mining materials, collecting eggs, or defeating a certain amount of Dreadnaughts). I was at least happy they were spread out through a variety of different levels, which were organized by the “rare” material available to mine. If I needed Umanite to upgrade my Flare Gun for my Scout, then I’d have to go to a specific map in order to get it. This, at least, forced me to play through different levels without having to do the same one over and over. There was enough variety in that alone to maintain my interest. Suddenly, the redundant gameplay didn’t matter anymore. I was having fun, and that’s all that mattered.
Other aspects besides the map diversity of Deep Rock Galactic also helped with the immersion factor. The flare system allowed my team and me to light up the place for a certain amount of time, without ever running out of flares. Imagine if we were only given a certain amount to use in these darkly lit maps? It just wouldn’t work. The simple upgrading system made it easily accessible to any player, while the different classes let me experiment with playing the game from a new perspective. I think the best part, though, was the loadout screen. The lift right in the center of the area, consoles lined the edges of the launch pad. With these consoles, I was able to upgrade my weapons, armor, and pickaxe; buy new stuff for the dwarf I was using (like a fresh pair of muttonchops), or even jam out to a rockin’ tune. Other sections of the loadout area, like the Memorial Hall, allowed me to see stats from across the world and other achievements.
Even when I wasn’t actually playing Deep Rock Galactic, the game found a way to hold my interest in the simplest of ways. Hint: find the button that turns off the gravity in the load-out screen. It’s super cool.
But, like any early access release, there are a couple issues that can easily be fixed by the developers. For example, choosing servers felt like a more demanding task than it should’ve been. The list of available servers would appear, then they’d disappear almost instantly, then they’d come back again after tinkering with the list for a little bit. It was almost impossible to choose a game I actually needed to do to upgrade my dwarf.
Not to mention that even when I went to the Mission Control console to choose my server–instead of using QuickPlay–selecting a map wouldn’t actually mean I’d end up on the chosen map. The server list should be automatically organized depending on which map and mission you choose from the console. Instead, the full server list popped up, which made the whole Mission Control thing feel pretty pointless when it came to trying to go to a specific map for certain materials.
These issues have nothing to do with the overall gameplay experience, only the selection of which experience you want. In theory, the developers have it set up to be as efficient as possible, but the idea doesn’t translate as well as they might’ve imagined. Regardless, Deep Rock Galactic is a title worth the purchase, even if it’s still in early access. Grab a group of friends or jump in a game by yourself… Either way, you’ll have a blast blowing away a bunch of space bugs–green guts spraying across thick rock–in the deepest and darkest holes of the universe.