Now that it’s been a few days since The Culling’s closed alpha, I’ve had some time to think about the gameplay and gather something of an opinion, a subjective opinion, but an opinion nonetheless. The Culling brings an awesome idea to the table, and executes it quite well, but for some reason, it still left somewhat of a bitter-sweet taste.
Keep in mind that this is not a review of the game’s features & mechanics, but some impressions which were left on me after putting a few hours into the closed alpha. Also, the mechanics mentioned below may change prior to the game’s release into early access.
For starters, The Culling is a 16-person deathmatch where you have 20 minutes to scavenge gear & survive to be the last person standing. There’s also a 2-person team mode, which is lots of fun if played with a friend. Think Rust crossed with Hunger Games or Battle Royale and you pretty much have The Culling.
Crafting & Customization
The crafting mechanics are interesting and they create quite a bit of diversity in early-game PvP. But, as you progress through a match, crafted items essentially become useless as firearms overtake the playing field.
In my opinion, this kind of ruins the whole “craft to survive” idea and turns The Culling into something more along the lines of “run around looking for a firearm”. Or, “find F.U.N.C and airdrop my magnum”. Plus, creating more ammo only requires you to loudly bang your firearm on an easily found explosive barrel, and voila you have more ammo.
Crafting progression is a little strange, and you’ll find yourself building things out of other things that make little sense. Like rubbing a spear together with a stick to make a simple bow…. But, whatever, it’s not a game built on realism and this type of progression system makes gearing up a lot faster than in other games. It’s not that I didn’t like the crafting system, but that I found it a little strange in how it progressed and had to make ample use of the recipe page for my first few matches.
Character customization was somewhat interesting, but also kind of basic. To start out you get some basic items like different colored t-shirts, hair, and some pants, but every match you finish will unlock another item to customize your character with – with different tiers of gear depending on how you placed. There are currently over 100 items to get, and I’m sure Xaviant will add more in the future.
PvP feels very similar to Rust, but like you’re fighting with rocks, especially in the earlier stages of a match. For instance, one of the more powerful crafted weapons is a spear, which does something like 8-12 damage, but with people starting at 100 health it takes roughly 10 hits with that spear to down someone.
Looted items get significantly more powerful, but looting is really loud and can easily draw people to you. On the other hand, if you die that’s it and you have to either spectate or leave the match (no respawns!), so having slightly drawn out combat might not be such a bad thing.
Overall, I found PvP in The Culling relatively similar to a good ol’ game of “rock, paper, scissors”, and if you pick the right tool there’s no reason why you can’t crush a better-equipped opponent – to an extent. Even if they have a firearm you can counter it with a blowgun (blurs vision and makes the person ill) and then mess them up. Or lure them into some kind of deadly trap before closing in to finish them with melee.
Performance-wise, I was really impressed with The Culling. Some people were definitely complaining about performance issues, but I had smooth frames & very minimal lag for the entire time – and my PC is maybe mid-grade at best.
That said, it did take foreeeveer to find matches (usually 3-5 minutes or more!) and I have a super beefy internet connection, but this might have been due to the limited number of people taking part in the closed alpha.
All-in-all, The Culling’s closed alpha definitely showed a lot of potential, but for some reason, it left a bitter-sweet taste once it was over. I’m not sure if it’s the strange crafting progression or the firearm > everything offset that put me on the fence, but there’s definitely something. Either way, The Culling was in no way a bad game, and it’s something you should keep your eye on as it goes into early access on March 8th.
What are your thoughts? Let me know below!