I know what you’re thinking. Another rushed early access game on steam = Skip. I must stop you right there. Although The Culling may look like a generic battle royale type game, once you delve deeper into the game, you realize that it is much more than that. ‘The Culling’ by Xaviant games is a stand alone entry into the battle royale genre. This is a great game for learning about friendship and betrayal. Nothing screams life lesson like the guy that you just helped turning around and stabbing you right in your heart. A great educational game for adults who want to find out what the corporate world is like.
The very first comparison you will make is with H1Z1: King of the Kill. Let me tell you right now that this is a futile comparison. It is like comparing the German national football team with the Brazilian national football team, no matter what one group says, we all know which team is better. It must be pointed out that, whilst H1Z1 was unceremoniously split into two separate games, the developers behind The Culling have been very transparent with their road map for the future and have already released a number of patches in a short amount of time. Xaviant Games have clearly stated that they want The Culling to develop into a genre leader and grow into a popular E-sport. I believe this goal can be achieved if The Culling continues to receive the support it has received thus far.
Moreover, I believe it is time to move onto the meat of the game and how it performs so far. The goal of the game is simple, kinda like that Jennifer Lawrence film, ‘American Hustle’. You have to devise a cunning ploy in order to overcome your adversaries. Or you could just kill them. The game revolves around 16 ‘contestants’ being dropped into an island and forced to fend use their environment to survive and kill all other contestants until only 1 person is alive. Just like my family’s Christmas dinner, it soon becomes a tense game of cat and mouse as you are forced to make decisions that are crucial to your survival. Should I spend my in game points to open this crate? Or should I save them up so I can open an even better crate later on. These decisions are often pivotal, especially if you decide to open a crate and then run into an unsuspecting enemy. The game also features a fully fledged, if odd, crafting system. You can pick up rocks and sticks to craft several in game items. For example, combining two rocks and a stick will craft you a knife. The recipes are easy to learn and quite basic. The real trouble is finding all the requirements without meeting an untimely end. If you don’t like crafting, you can also use your F.U.N.C points that you earn in game to open various crates. These crates often have better gear or if you’re really lucky, a gun. Speaking of weapons, the game has a nice little variety of weapons. I do enjoy when games provide you with several ways to decapitate, bludgeon or shoot your enemies. There are all the basic weapons to start your own prison gang.
Not much point in all these weapons if killing an enemy is unsatisfying right? Thankfully, killing an enemy is satisfying in The Culling. Sure they could do with a bit more gore and weight just like Chivalry, but the current combat system is probably the best in the genre. You are able to block, shove and attack enemies to ensure you come out on top. It does take a fair bit of time to get used to it, but I think the tutorial does a fantastic job of getting you used to the mechanics of the game. Whilst I praise the combat for being the best in the genre, I do still think it can be improved. As mentioned above, some of the attacks feel a bit ‘floaty’ at times, but this is a common issue with all battle royale games that I have previously played. The game could do from learning a few tricks from Chivalry. Got bored of hacking and shooting enemies? You can also set traps to dismember wandering enemies or set off poison clouds to teach them a lesson. This latter causes everyone to be on the move, eventually converging upon the middle of the map like a discount SWAT team getting ready for a final stand.
However, I must also point out a few issues with this game. Currently, in its Early Access state, the game only contains North American and European servers. This may cause a few issues for all of the Aussie blokes looking to satisfy their blood lust. I am certain this will be rectified in the future by the developers, but it remains an issue currently. In my 5 hours or so of the game, I have also run into a few hackers, whilst this remains an issue for a whole host of PC games, it is still a rather annoying issue currently. The game also has a few flaws that need to be addressed in the current meta. For now it is a bit too easy to just set up traps and wait, this discourages a proactive style of play and encourages camping. This works for the majority of the game and can be a rather cheap way of winning games.
Overall, the game is actually quite deep for an early access game. Not only does it include the flagship 16 player battle, it also has team battles in which 8 teams of 2 players gang up to slaughter each other. What could be more fun than killing people alone? Killing people with your best mate. The game also has a robust perk system, allowing you to pick a total of 3 passive perk points from a big list of 50. This, coupled with a a lot of options for character customization, really allow you to create different loadouts for different styles of play. It can be very easy to give this game a 7.8/10 and say it has too much water, but the truth of the matter is that this game definitely has potential. It will be interesting to see how the developer is able to communicate and handle issues in the future as they inch closer to the projected launch date in 2017. Right now, it is definitely a really fun and tense game.
Early Access on Steam. Release date in 2017.
Hours Played: 5.2 hours.
I will revisit and review this game upon the full release.