by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
One of the most promising games I saw at Gamescom this year was Deep Rock Galactic, a squad based first person shooter with a lot going for it. A reductive way of describing it would be to say it’s a mixture of Minecraft and an FPS, but there’s much more to it. I played a full mission with the developers, and it left me eagerly anticipating what else is to come when it releases next year.
In Deep Rock Galactic you and your team will be delving into procedurally generated cave systems as members of an interplanetary mining corporation. It’s their job to secure dangerous dig sites and bring back as many of the mineral riches as they can. The first thing to do before going on a mission is to select your class from one of four available. The Scout has a shotgun, the Gunner has a huge minigun, the Engineer is able to create automated turrets, and the Driller can quickly tunnel through rock and obstacles for his team.
Our mission consisted of clearing out some caves infested with insect like creatures, and bringing back specific materials. The levels in Deep Rock Galactic are completely deformable, and break apart when you mine them in a manner similar to No Man’s Sky. If there’s a wall you need to break through, you can mine your way through it with pickaxes, or the Driller can make short work of it. The game also has a nifty lighting system. Space caves are obviously dark places, but you have an unlimited amount of flares which you can hurl into the darkness. They light up your surroundings in really satisfying ways, and are a great tool for scouting ahead and making sure you don’t run into a pack of enemies or blunder your way off a steep cliff.
Playing as the Engineer, I was able to set up defensive positions when we could hear enemies skittering nearby. My auto-turrets blew away anything that got too close, and I was also able to use my shotgun to clean up anything that they and my teammates missed. These action sequences are frantic, as a horde of enemies might descend on you at any moment, and the eerily flare-lit cave suddenly comes alive with flashes of gunfire and colourful foes.
These moments of panic are offset by quieter moments where your team is navigating the terrain and mining resources. A robotic pack mule canters over to you when you call it, and you can deposit anything you’ve gathered into it. The inability to jump across a large crevasse might be solved by your teammate setting up a zip wire across the gap. My secondary tool created platforms out of thin air, meaning I could help my squad harvest ore that would otherwise have been out of reach.
The 15 minute mission went by in a flash, and ended with a mad dash back to the ship while bugs swarmed towards us. Hopefully the randomly generated nature of the levels and the variety of character abilities and the way they interact with each other are enough to keep Deep Rock Galactic fresh throughout the time you’ll spend with it. You are able to play the game alone, but it certainly seems that this one is something you’ll want to play with a group of friends working together.