I may not be good at them, but I like survival games. I tend to spend some time on H1Z1 when I have the time, and find the Battle Royale (or as they call it now King of the Kills) the more fun side of the game. This is why I decided to try out the closed Alpha test for The Culling.
NB: It is important to note that this preview is based on an alpha version of a game that will soon be entering Early Access so with that in mind you have to be prepared for bugs. I did encounter a few, but they didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment.
When describing The Culling I guess it depends on your age and level of film geekiness. To some, if you explain that this is like The Hunger Games, then they’ll get it. Others will be more interested if you describe it as The Running Man without Schwarzenegger, or even just plain Battle Royale but without the school kids. The key to the game is survival, and killing your opponents to make sure you are the last one left.
The Culling sees you placed on an island with 16 other contestants. Waking up inside a box, you are then given 20 minutes to explore, find weapons, craft them, then use them. You can also build traps if you want, but I don’t think you’ll have much time for that. Soon you find yourself hunting other people, or being the hunted.
Although I didn’t spend too much time in it, I have to say that the crafting system is impressive. Designed to be easy to use, it doesn’t over complicate things. You get a menu of items that can be put together to make tools, weapons and traps and it is up to you to learn them. This is an approach that can be seen a lot in The Culling. It is designed to be to the point, to get the player into the game and to give them up to twenty minutes of action.
I tried a variety of approaches, and hiding (being stealthy) is one option, but it isn’t really the style that fits with The Culling. Giving a twenty-minute countdown gives a feeling of urgency to the situation and pushes you to hunt down your opponents.
A nice approach by Xaviant, the developers of the game, is to project the leader board into the sky. All you have to do is look up to see who is still alive and how many they’ve killed. These leader boards can also be found in buildings, which can be useful when scavenging. In the alpha it was nice to see some weapons turn up in the buildings. I won’t hide the fact my attempts at being aggressive sucked. It is clear that people were putting in some serious time with the game, even in its alpha form and appeared way more skilled than me, and with better weapons. It was satisfying to play, and I even managed to kill a few people, which is always a plus.
One thing I also tested out was streaming the game on Twitch which the game seemed to handle fairly well, and you can tell just like other Battle Royale style games, this is made to be streamed. Just looking on Twitch now it says there are 30,361 viewers on various streams and this will be getting good publicity for the game, which it richly deserves.
What The Culling does is take the Battle Royale concept from games like H1Z1: King of the Kill and make it a little simpler and more focused. Even in this alpha stage which was just to give the servers a stress test, the main components are working well. Kill people, get rewarded, and most importantly survive. One thing I know is, if you like survival games then keep an eye on The Culling.
Even if there is a risk that the market is going to be over saturated soon with the amount of these styles of games coming out, The Culling offers a fast paced dose of hunt or be hunted action and its quick-fire style of gameplay has real potential. Definitely one to keep an eye on when it comes to early access.