Deep Rock Galatic is a cooperative first-person Shooter Developed by Ghost Ship Games. It is available on Steam Early Access And Xbox Game Preview for $29.99. This early access look was conducted on a standard Xbox One console by Joseph Pugh.
I’ve been playing Deep Rock Galactic off and on since its early access debut. I make an effort to hop in and play for a while after every major update and it has received several. The most recent one, titled The Horrors Of Hoxxes, expands the enemy variety and I decided its time for an early access look.
You play as Dwarves, employees of a mining company called Deep Rock Galactic. You take a drillship to the underground of a planet named Hoxxes to take on various missions. You could be mining a specific material, salvaging the leftovers of a failed crew or even stealing some eggs.
The problem is the planet is infested by insectoid creatures called Glyphids, giant bugs that will attempt to devour you and your team. Not only that, the environments are varied and dangerous as well with a variety of environmental hazards. At times, even navigation itself can even prove deadly.
The environments are a character of their own and are a core part of the experience.
Deep Rock is a cooperative game, you can play with up to three other players online and teamwork is a pretty crucial aspect of the experience. Each of the four classes you can choose has their own gear, strengths, and weaknesses. Combining them together is crucial to your success, especially at higher difficulties. You aren’t locked into any one class though, you can switch between and level all of them in between missions.
The game is playable and fun solo though and the difficulty does scale, plus you are never truly alone. When playing by yourself you are accompanied by a flying drone named Bosco that you can buy upgrades for. Bosco will follow you around, shoot at enemies and revive you if you go down. You can also command Bosco to mine for you, useful on those hard to reach mineral veins. You sacrifice some utility when playing alone, but you are still effective from a gameplay standpoint. Most importantly, its still fun.
Many missions, online or solo also have you accompanied by Molly, the mule. A four-legged robot that follows you around providing a tiny bit of light and allows you to deposit any minerals you mined. At the end of a mission, Molly also will lead you back to the dropship, leaving markers to guide you back. This is very useful as the levels are procedural, and often times complex mazes, deep pits, and multilevel caverns.
You can upgrade the gear of each class with gold and rare minerals.
The environments themselves are practically a character of their own. They are procedural in nature, very dark and can be one of many biomes each with their own environmental factors. A cold biome will have you slipping on ice, trudging through snow and being frozen solid with icy blasts, in a lava zone you will contend with fire, streaks of burning land and exploding plantlife.
The Glyphids themselves can take on various attributes of the environment. A Glyphid Praetorian’s breath attack will freeze you in an ice zone for example. Every stage is dark, you have a flashlight and flares that will help light your path. Yet the darkness is always another obstacle standing in your way. When combined together the Glyphids, darkness, and environment provide an always interesting and unpredictable challenge.
The Glyphids are varied as well, from standard grunts, ranged attackers, small swarmers or ones that even disable you. A couple enemies can even grab you and fly or run off with you in their grips. The game takes some inspiration from Left 4 Dead with its random horde mechanics and disabling enemies types, but it fits the theme very well.
While solo, you command a robot friend named Bosco who fights alongside you and can help you mine.
Getting hit by a swarm in bad terrain can devastate you, but the terrain is also very moddable. The entire environment can be mined through, making your own tunnels to other caverns. The point I’m trying to get across is how important Deep Rocks environments are to the game. In most games, the environment is pretty meaningless, something pretty you notice only in passing, but in Deep Rock it is a central part of the game.
Every class has at least one tool to help alter or navigate the terrain, the scout can grapple, the driller has a power drill for digging, the engineer can make platforms and the gunner can fire ziplines. Learning how to best navigate and use the environment is part of the challenge, fall damage can be lethal and the insectoid aliens can crawl on walls and ceilings.
In addition to whatever your objective is for any given mission, you can also mine secondary resources such as gold and rare minerals. You can use these rare materials outside of missions to buy upgrades for your gear and cosmetics for your dwarves. Later on, you can even unlock some new weapons for your classes as well as accumulate perk points to spend of certain buffs.
You will contend with the oppressive darkness of the cave systems in addition to alien bugs and environmental hazards.
In the game, you will also need to try and mine nitra, a resource used to call in resupply pods mid-mission. Ammo is limited and the Glyphids will wear you down through attrition. When taken together these systems really combine into something cohesive wonderful and fun to play. You have to constantly figure out how best to navigate the environment to complete your tasks while being slowly worn down by the alien menace.
It can get repetitive though, you can unlock some new weapons, but each classes gear is largely set in stone. You can upgrade them, but they are mostly statistical improvements, not something super noticeable in the thick of things. This can lead to a feeling of sameness after several hours, but the mission variety and fantastic environments do a good job of freshening it up.
The classes themselves also play very differently, if it ever starts to feel stale you can switch it up for a new style of gameplay. The Gunner carries a chain gun and revolver. He can make zip lines that go up or down and deploy a forcefield around himself.
You choose the mission types you want to take on and the environment of which they reside, there is a decent variety of both!
The Engineer has a gun that fires foam platforms for navigation, a shotgun, grenade launcher and can build turrets to fend off the horde. The Scout has a personal grappling hook and flare gun for lighting up wide areas while the Driller has a potent powerful drill and explosive charges.
You aren’t following some quest or story, mission advancement is very free form. You choose what areas and what type of missions to take on. Each one details its rewards and what potential minerals can be found there. Some missions even have types of mutators active, changing some of the dynamics of the mission. For example one might disable your shields, another might lower the gravity in the mission area.
They may be bugs, but the Glyphids have several subtypes, from ranged attackers to flyers that pick you up, fly away and drop you to your death.
The greatest thing about deep rock is that if the game didn’t explicitly tell you that it was an early access title, you wouldn’t know it was. It feels like a solid and complete experience. This means that future updates really have the potential of making the game improve as a whole as opposed to making the game feel finished in the first place.
This means I can easily recommend it. There’s no fear of being left with an unfinished title because if the developer dropped support right now, I wouldn’t feel ripped off. However, the updates have come steadily since its debut and they have a great road map for features on the horizon. You really can’t go wrong with Deep Rock Galactic.
Got a little too much ore in your pockets and Mollys taking to long to show up? Feel free to toss one this way to help keep the lights on and the Glyphids away. However do check out my Patreon, patrons get access to audio logs of my tabletop game groups shenanigans.
- Four varied classes and cooperative gameplay
- Procedural, varied environments with personality
- Smooth progression system
- Free Form mission selection
- Multiple difficulty settings
- Useful robot companion makes even solo play fun
- Fleshed out early access game that does not feel like an early access game.
- Can get repetitive over time.
- A small number of gear choices within each glass