Got a Hunger for survival Games?
The Culling is a very exciting new multiplayer FPS with a twist. Instead of competing for frags in a bog-standard deathmatch, you’re one of many players thrown into a Hunger Games style battle for survival where only one player, or one team of two can emerge the blood-soaked victors. Another key divergence from the standard deathmatch formula is the elegantly straightforward menu-less crafting system. For example, you can combine two sticks to make a bandage or two rocks to make a knife. Combing the various items you make will. Your crafting currency is F.U.N.C. – a type of magical blue energy that allows you to create sophisticated items out of these seemingly simple components. F.U.N.C. will also allow you to open locked crates you’ll find strewn around, and call down airdrops filled with supplies.
What really focuses the experience, and stops each match from dragging out, is the poison gas which slowly pushes you towards the middle in stages. After the thirty minute timer runs out, the gas will have forced all surviving players into the centre arena for a final fight to the death (and suffocated the ones not quick enough to relocate).
There’s also a degree of RPG-like character building going on. You can customize your character’s appearance and clothing (including a vast array of hideous hairstyles and baseball caps the most hardened trucker would find tacky). You can also pick from three stat bonuses that make your character proficient in different areas, allowing you to emphasize the strength of your own playstyle. Fancy yourself an archer? You can pick a perk which gives your bow shots 25% more velocity for those pinpoint shots, letting you arrow an opponent in the eye, Battle of Hasting style.
There are all sorts of weapons in The Culling. Simple killing implements can be crafted, such as hatchets, spears and wooden bows. The more advanced weapons you’ll find in airdrops and locked crates range from shotguns, rifles and revolvers to grenades, compound bows and sledgehammers. Melee combat is more involved than many FPS games, harkening back to such titles as Zeno Clash. With you fists, or with a close-range weapon, you can block to counter an opponent’s attack, shove a blocking opponent to break his guard and attack an opponent when he is vulnerable. Attacking an opponent with a ranged weapon will disarm them, making melee combat even more lethal if you can close the distance. This more nuanced combat system means you’ll need to do more than just button mash or have a fast trigger finger, with positioning and carefully timing your attacks being all-important.
The Culling isn’t just about outfighting your opponents but also outsmarting them. You can create traps such as caltrops and snares, which tangle your adversaries and leave them vulnerable to a unsportsmanlike, but effective stab in the back. Manipulating another player’s bloodlust by feigning a retreat into a doorway webbed with snares can really ruin their whole day.
Overall, I was left with the impression that The Culling represents the right direction for multiplayer FPS games to be moving in. It has crafting like in Rust, but your resource management and item creation is focused by the timer and the continuous pull to the centre of the map for the final showdown, so crafting doesn’t feel like such a grind. Twitch reactions and skill at the rock-paper-scissors melee combat system are important, but ingenuity and using scarce items creatively are equally vital. The Culling creates a more complex and involved mutliplayer deathmatch that really stands out in the crowded and repetitive field of online FPS games out there. After thoroughly exploring The Culling’s corpse-littered deathscape, I’m very excited for the possibilities of more tense, nail-biting battle royales to the death when The Culling reaches full release.
And hey, just because I’m a shameless, self-promoting bastard, here’s the Let’s Play I did of the game! In this exciting, pulse-pounding video, you can see all the various weapons and traps in The Culling used… on me.