Contributing author: Marielle Bokor
Some of my favorite video game experiences have been in co-op games. Playing with friends and overcoming challenges and obstacles is extremely satisfying, and it has proven to be a great way to hang out remotely over the years. Deep Rock Galactic has been exactly that game for almost two years, and I’m excited as hell that it’s finally exiting early access, and has a proper release date. In early access since February of 2018, it’ll finally be fully released in one week, on May 13th.
Deep Rock Galactic is a game about mining as dwarves. But, you’re future space dwarves that deploy from a space rig onto the planet of Hoxxes IV to mine its depths of gold and other valuable minerals. But it’s not as simple as grabbing a pickaxe and drilling through the crust of the planet with large drilling drop pod—Hoxxes IV is full of all sorts of angry bugs.
Deep Rock Galactic is a first person co-op game for one to four players. You play as one of four classes of dwarves, each with their own weapons and abilities—and eventually you’ll be unlocking cosmetics, and weapon mods. The caves are dark, so you have your personal flares, but the scout’s ceiling flare helps to illuminate entire caves, and his grappling hook gets him to hard to reach places. The gunner is the firepower, and has the weapons to take down the hordes of bugs you’ll encounter—and carries zip-lines and a shield to add lots of team help outside of firepower. The Engineer has auto turrets to compliment his shotgun, and he can build platforms to span gaps, or they can be used as stairs. The driller has arms that drill easily through any environment, and C4 charges to blow huge chunks out of the opposition.
The environments are procedurally generated, and fully destructible. You’ll never know exactly what you’re going to get when you jump into one of the different mission types. Even after playing for over two years, I’m still impressed with the levels that are generated, and I still run into a surprise or two from time to time. In addition to the regular objectives for each level—usually mining a number of a certain mineral, locating eggs or murdering giant boss bugs—each level has secondary objectives, and even a chance to find events and collectibles that can give you weapon mods or cosmetics.
There are several different biomes you’ll encounter in Deep Rock Galactic, each with their own materials and hazards. Some of the biomes, like the molten and glacial biomes create never-ending environmental hazards. But that’s not to say each environment doesn’t have its own quirks, as from sandstorms to heavy rain, the caves in Hoxxes are strange.
Deep Rock Galactic is a multiplayer game at its core, but if you don’t have friends to dive in with, you can still play solo. And if you don’t have three other friends, the empty slots aren’t filled with bots. Instead, the difficulty scales for the amount of people you have—and it’s done remarkably well. Playing solo also means you’re assisted by mining drone Bosco. He can carry larger chunks of mineral, but will only knock down smaller ones for you to pick up. He also has guns, and a rocket launcher—even though he’s only slightly helpful in a fight.
All of this mining and bug splatting is done to an incredible soundtrack with synth music that is much like something you’d hear from John Carpenter in the 80’s. It reminds me of artists like Carpenter Brut, but less dance-y, and more cinematic. The soundtrack is absolutely amazing, and something I listen to regularly. And developer Ghost Ship Games announced that they will be expanding the soundtrack for the full game’s release.
On top of the great gameplay, fantastic soundtrack and great procedural generation, Deep Rock Galactic is a game with a great sense of humor. Your boss is predictably terrible, your equipment is subpar, and your characters can and will bitch about it. You can dance if you want to, at the jukebox by the bar back at home base while you knock back a cold beer, but if you do your boss will definitely get on your case. There are side games and beers with strange effects, and when you’re careening through the crust of Hoxxes you’ll often hear you or your fellow dwarves screaming “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!”, mutter about forgetting their sandwiches, or call someone a “pointy eared leaf lover.” Dialogue seems to be added with almost every update, and never fails to make me laugh.
Deep Rock Galactic has been my go-to game for about two years now. I have a group that plays two nights a week regularly, and I like to jump in solo from time-to-time. It has extremely satisfying gameplay, and a progression system that gives it longevity. Early Access has been good to Deep Rock Galactic—adding so many features over the last two years, it was always a surprise to jump in and see what was improved upon, and added.
Deep Rock Galactic is available now in Early Access on Steam, and Xbox/Windows store.
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