Deep Rock Galactic Hands-On Preview: Digging In The Dirt

They may be a few dwarves short of seven, but these fellas can still get the job done. 

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In the vast library of science-fiction history, things never seem to go easy for space mining operations. Whether you’re talking Ripley fighting an Alien, or Isaac Clarke cutting up Necromorphs, nothing ever really goes as planned. Fortunately, the Space Dwarves of Deep Rock Galactic seem a little more prepared for a tussle than those previous adventurers. I got a chance to sit down with a keyboard and mouse to check out the PC build of Ghost Ship Games’ first title and their partners from Coffee Stain Studios to see what I could dig up. While Ghost Ship Games is a new name on the scene, some may recall Coffee Stain Studios as the team behind Goat Simulator and Sanctum.

Conceptually, Deep Rock Galactic takes a little from titles like Left4Dead, Minecraft and a little bit of Borderlands, then adds a healthy dose of customizable beards into the situation. At its core this a co-op FPS shooter in which up to four players can group up to explore randomly generated, fully destructible, mining tunnels on the planet Hoxxes. Players will have to dig their way through seven dangerous environments like crystalline caverns with tentacles that pop out of the ceiling and tunnels full of mushrooms that can be used as platforms.

Each territory is full of insect-like creatures that reminded me of the Spiderants from the Borderlands series. Some of the smaller common creatures are easy enough to kill, but the larger, less common critters have better armor and can do things like explode on death or leave a giant pile of acid behind.

In order to survive such a tumultuous work environment, each player will take on one of four rolls each with their own weapons and skills: Engineers can make sentry guns and platforms to stand on, Gunners get a big Gatling gun and zip-line, Drillers appropriately enough can drill through tunnels, rocks, and dirt and have a flamethrower, and Scouts can use their flare gun to heavily illuminate caves as well as a grappling hook. Each class is also equipped with throwable flares and a pickaxe for digging out minerals.

Along with each classes unique loadouts, players will be able to call upon a quadruped robot named Molly for assistance throughout missions. Molly can be used for mining, to store minerals when a player's pockets get full, and can be used for supply drops when ammo is running low. Once a mission is complete, players will also have to follow Molly’s tracks back to an extraction point. As long as one player can make it out alive a mission will be considered successful.

Teams will be able to choose from five various types of missions which include standard mining expeditions along with clear out and kill tasks and hunts for specific gems. Missions may have a sub-objective on top of the main task, such as collecting a certain plant while hunting down minerals.

While Deep Rock Galactic has a strong emphasis on co-op multiplayer, players can still choose to take on a mission solo. In solo mode, players will get a leg up with a little help from Molly and an additional attack drone.

As players build up resources, more customization options will unlock and allow for the purchase of equipment upgrades and cosmetic options. I have been assured that there are plenty of beards to choose from along with a few other facial hair options. Since certain minerals or items are only found in specific regions on Hoxxes players will have to keep an eye out for missions that have the right materials available. The higher the difficulty and complexity of the maps chosen, the greater the rewards will be.   

Deep Rock Galactic is definitely looking like an interesting blend of FPS co-op titles mixed with the mining part of Minecraft and none of the crafting. During my personal hands-on time, I found the emphasis on sticking together and using each player's unique skill sets in tandem to be key, especially during the more intense combat situations. Players will get a chance to check out Deep Rock Galactic for themselves when it goes into Steam Early Access on PC and launches on Xbox Game Preview for Xbox One on February 28.

Reviews Editor

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