The Culling : Early Access Battle Royale
Ever since the ancient times, the idea of putting a bunch of people in a wide open space and having them fight to the death for entertainment has drawn crowds eager to watch the bloodshed. Times have changed since then, of course, but with the hunger games franchise successfully bringing the ‘Battle Royale’ theme back to the forefront of popular culture, many mods and modes for various games have sprung up, bringing this fight to the death back into our minds, except in virtual worlds. The Culling is the first fully fledged game to be based exclusively around this idea, and is currently in early access.
Unlike most games that have this sort of system, there’s no survival elements to worry about. There’s no thirst or hunger to keep abreast of, just you, your opponents, and various ways to dispatch them. The game starts with all the players being dropped into the game world with nothing, and you must forage for weapons and supplies to ensure you are the last man standing when the dust settles after 25 minutes. During this time the arena will shrink in stages until the only area left that is safe is the central platforms, where the last players left alive will fight for the winning spot.
Crafting is one of the major cornerstones of the games early stages. You can craft a variety of items to ensure you survive the early rounds. These crafted items are weaker than items found from crates or in the buildings, but are essential until you pick up something more powerful. Each weapon has different stats and can apply different debuffs on your opponent.
Combat was overhauled recently in a patch, which has caused some problems in the community, with some Steam reviews going as far as to say that it has ruined the game. However I didn’t play before this patch, so I cant comment on the changes. Ranged combat is the usual aim and shoot, but the melee is rather more interesting. Melee combat currently consists of an attack, a block, or a push, and you can also throw an equipped melee weapon. Its a kinda rock-paper-scissors approach. If your opponent isn’t blocking, attack. If they are attacking, block. If they are blocking, push them back. It just about works, but takes some time getting used to. Of course you can always just throw your weapon or switch to a different one for a last ditch maneuver.
There are perks and changes you can make to your character before you begin each game. There’s a male and a female character, with some minor visual customisations you can make. There’s also outfits which randomly drop to you after each game. More interesting are the perks and airdrops you can equip. Perks offer things like reduced damage, increased run speed or increased damage with certain weapon types. Airdrops allow you to choose from a list of items that you can have sent down to you during the match, if you have collected enough in game currency.
As a PvP game, its tough, with only one winner (or a pair in its 2v2 mode) out of the 16 people in each game. Of course the upside to this is that when you win, it feels great. Winning gives you tokens that can be put towards the ‘trials’. Special events that only those with tokens can participate in, and participation spends the token. Its not much of a reward, but its a start.
Overall, there’s a lot of promise here. The game kept me engrossed despite the fact I was on the losing end most of the time. All it needs is more variety, and more rewards for the winners. Of course, the whole point of early access is to give the game a place to expand from, so hopefully more variety in the world, more crafting options and more interesting gameplay mechanics will come. However even in its current state, its certainly worth a go in either its solo or 2v2 modes.