Deep Rock Galactic is an early access cooperative multiplayer first-person shooter Developed by Ghost Ship Games. It is available on Steam , Humble Bundle 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 it’s time for an early access look at this multiplayer co-op gem.
You play as Dwarves, employees of a mining company called Deep Rock Galactic who travel aboard a drillship to descend the underground of a planet named Hoxxes, taking on various missions. You could be mining a specific material, salvaging the leftovers of a failed crew, or even stealing some eggs.
There is a problem however, the planet is infested by insectoid creatures called Glyphids, giant bugs that will attempt to devour you and your team. Not only that, but the environments are also varied and dangerous as well with a variety of environmental hazards. At times, even navigation itself can even prove deadly.
Deep Rock is a cooperative multiplayer game, you can play with up to three other players online. Teamwork is a pretty crucial aspect of the experience. Each of the four classes you can choose has its 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, a robot named Bosco assists you. Bosco will follow you around, shoot at enemies, and revive you when you’re down. You can purchase upgrades for Bosco, and command Bosco to mine for you, useful on those hard to reach mineral veins. Playing solo sacrifices some utility, but you are still effective from a gameplay standpoint. Most importantly, it’s 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 have 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 oftentimes complex mazes, deep pits, and multilevel caverns.
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 an icy blast. In a lava zone, you will contend with fire, streaks of burning land, and exploding plant life.
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 of 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 enemy types, but it fits the theme very well.
Getting hit by a swarm in bad terrain can devastate you, but the terrain is also very moddable. The entire environment is malleable, allowing you to mine 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. In Deep Rock, it is a central part of the experience.
Every class has at least one tool to help alter or navigate the terrain, the Scout can use a grappling hook, 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.
You will find resources such as gold scattered around the caverns. You can mine and 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.
In the game, you will also need to try and mine Nitra, a resource used to call in resupply pods mid-mission. Since ammo is limited, 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. In the meantime, your resources are slowly drained by the alien menace.
It can get repetitive though, you can unlock some new weapons, but each class repertoire 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 mini gun and revolver. He can make zip lines that go up or down and deploy a forcefield around himself.
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.
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. 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.
Interested in more cooperative bug killing multiplayer games? Check out my review of Earth Defense Force 5!
- 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.
- It can get repetitive over time.
- A small number of gear choices within each glass